High Functioning Autism Symptoms

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Girls playing

Not everyone with autism can be picked out of a line up. Many parents don't realize their child has a pervasive developmental disorder until they begin to notice social awkwardness among his peers. To further understand the complexity of this spectrum disorder, it's important to understand the symptoms.

Signs of High Functioning Autism

According to WebMD, symptoms of high functioning autism also known as Aspergers syndrome do not include language impairments or low intelligence.

Symptoms that are indicative of high functioning autistic disorder are:

  • Motor skill delay
  • Obsession with specific items or information
  • Reactions to stimuli such as smells, textures, sounds and sights
  • Pedantic speech
  • Rigid need for rules and routine
  • Average to above average intelligence
  • Perseverative thought
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Difficulty organizing time
  • Inability to manage conflict
  • Anxiety in crowds

Social Characteristics

Individuals with high functioning autistic disorder may want to interact with other people. However, they don't know how to behave correctly. They have a difficult time understanding abstract language. For example, someone who makes a joke may be taken literally in conversation, causing confusion and miscommunication.

According to Dr. Susan Mayes, children with this type of autism may do well socially with adults. When it comes to peers though, the social rules become unclear. They don't understand the give and take of conversation. They may dominate the discussion without awareness of the other person's emotions or thoughts. They don't understand body language or facial expressions and this can lead people to distance themselves from someone with high functioning autism.

Due to not understanding how to interact with others, many individuals with this disorder will isolate themselves, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

How It Differs from Classic Autism

To understand a high functioning autism, it's important to know the symptoms of the more classic or severe types that are not evident in this milder form of the disorder.

  • No physical or outward appearance of the disorder
  • May be able to perform most physical tasks without difficulty
  • Do not appear to have speech impediments or developmental delays
  • React appropriately when touched
  • No cognitive delays

The Many Levels of Pervasive Developmental Disorder

It's important to know that there are many degrees of high functioning pervasive developmental disorder. Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means there is a full spectrum of levels even within the levels. Therefore, some children with this level of autism may have all the symptoms, struggling with minor emotions and social interactions, while others may only have a couple symptoms and display remarkably normal behavior. To understand the degree of autism fully, the individual has is to receive a medical evaluation.

Medical Consult Is the Next Step

Notice your child in his next social interaction. Does he exhibit some of the signs of high functioning autism? If you believe so, contact a medical professional. You won't know for sure that your child has autism until he has an evaluation. The doctor will start with a medical examination to rule out any health issues that may cause the symptoms you notice, and then will proceed to determine if he has high functioning autism.

High Functioning Autism Symptoms