What Is Asperger's Syndrome?

Puzzling question

If you aren't familiar with the characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome (AS), it can be easy to misinterpret the behavior of people with this disorder as rude, selfish, or spoiled. Understanding what Asperger's Syndrome is and how it affects social interaction can lead to greater tolerance for the common traits of this disorder and increased acceptance of individuals on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum.

What Are the Characteristics of Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's Syndrome is a disorder on the autism spectrum. To really learn about Asperger's and determine whether you or someone you know has this disorder, it's important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional about your concerns. However, if you're just curious about AS and want to understand it a little better, this list of common characteristics can help.

Extreme Social Awkwardness

You've probably met a number of people who are socially awkward and may even struggle with shyness yourself. However, people with Asperger's experience significant challenges when interacting and communicating with others. Here are some of the behaviors you might notice:

  • Talks too much and in great detail about something that isn't interesting to others
  • Misses non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language
  • Has a hard time showing concern and empathy, despite being kind
  • Has a hard time taking other people's perspectives in situations
  • Speaks formally and sometimes in a monotone or robotic voice
  • Has problems starting a conversation and keeping it going
  • Doesn't make eye contact
  • Has a hard time understanding humor, sarcasm, and layers or truth or meaning

Average or Above Average Intelligence

In order to be diagnosed with Asperger's Disorder, the person has to have an IQ that is at least within the normal range. Many people with AS have above-average intelligence that sometimes far exceeds their peers.

Intense Interests and Rigid Behaviors

While some people have hobbies, people with AS have intense interests that can verge on obsession. Sometimes called "special interests," these topics are incredibly fascinating to the person with Asperger's, but they may not seem at all interesting to other people.

Additionally, someone with AS may struggle with changes in routine or unexpected events. He may prefer things the same way each time they are done, such as always eating breakfast using the same bowl or always getting dressed at a precise time.

Certain noises, textures, smells, and sights may really bother this person. He may not like to be held, hugged or touched.

Showing Tolerance

It's important to understand how these characteristics affect a person and present challenges when it comes to making and keeping friends. Although they may not appear to care, people with AS are often very sensitive and kind and may crave relationships and acceptance. If you show an understanding and tolerance for the behaviors that go along with this disorder, a person with Asperger's Syndrome may reward you with a loyal and lasting friendship.

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