What are the Signs of Aspergers Syndrome?
With the DSM changing this year, I wanted to address something that many parents of kids on the Autism Spectrum have been saying for a long time. No matter what you call it, it’s Autism!
When I tried to research what the signs and symptoms of Aspergers are, I found that many of the traits are found in those diagnosed with Autism or PDD-NOS. There are degrees to the Autism Spectrum, and I think, until now, these labels have been used to try and demonstrate the degree or the place on the spectrum where the child fits.
My experience, though, is that you can’t put a kid (person) into a slot on the chart and expect them fit exactly or even stay there for long. My daughter has changed quite a bit in the last 5 years, but in some ways, she’s stayed very much the same too!
So, lets look at the information I gathered about Aspergers.
Aspergers is a form of Autism. People with Aspergers syndrome are on the higher end of the spectrum. They usually have normal language skills. Their main problem is dealing with people socially. (watch a few episodes of Big Bang Theory and Dr. Sheldon Cooper to see what this looks like) Usually these problems are first noticed when a child begins school. The child can have all the signs of Aspergers, or only a few.
Here are some of the common signs of Aspergers syndrome.
1. Have a hard time talking to other kids. Kids with Aspergers syndrome have a hard time going up to someone and starting a conversation. (as opposed to my kiddo, diagnosed with PDD-NOS who will talk to almost anyone)
2. Speak in words that are very advanced for their age. The Asperger’s child may use words that adults would use.
3. Have trouble understanding when someone is joking, or being sarcastic. Children with Aspergers have a hard time understanding tones of people’s voices. They tend to take everything very seriously. (Big Bang Theory – Sheldon always has to ask his friends if they are being sarcastic)
4. Have very limited interests. A child with Aspergers syndrome may only want to focus on one thing. They may take a liking to puzzles, and only want to do puzzles all the time. They will often learn everything they can about one subject. That will be all they focus on. (Again Sheldon loves Model Trains – but they are specific sizes, models)
5. Have a hard time with changes in their routine. This can be hard for a child starting school. They had a routine at home and now that is being changed. The same thing can happen during breaks during the school year. This is a common problem of Autistic children. (change is hard for most anyone with Autism)
6. Talking a lot. Children with Aspergers usually talk a lot. They often say whatever they are thinking whether it is appropriate or not. Most of the conversations they have are one sided. While it looks like the child is talking to you, they are really talking at you.
7. Problems making friends. Kids with Aspergers have trouble making friends due to their inability to relate to the other children. They sometimes try too hard to make friends and scare the other kids away.
8. No eye contact. Children with Aspergers usually will not look you in the eye when speaking. This is another common trait of an Autistic child – but by no means shows up for everyone. My daughter doesn’t have a problem with eye contact.
9. Using repetitive movements. This can be a movement like spinning around, or bouncing back and forth while sitting. These movements are calming to the Aspergers child. (My daughter, with PDD-NOS, spinns in chairs or standing up – for long periods of time without getting dizzy)
10. Problems with speaking. The Aspergers child may speak really fast. They usually do not stop to see if the person they are talking to is paying attention. Their tone of voice is flat and does not change to show emotions.
11. Problems with movement. Children with Aspergers often have trouble with their coordination skills. They may always be tripping or stumbling over their own feet. They may take a long time to learn how to ride a bike.
So, how many of those traits are also present in your child not diagnosed with Aspergers? Many of them fit for my daughter who has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. This is probably why they are changing the SDM this year, in order to better qualify what Autism is, and what it looks like. Asperger children have the most positive outcome on the Autism spectrum. They have high intelligence and language skills. They can often be taught the social skills they need to get by. If you notice any of these signs in your child mention them to the doctor.