Asperger’s syndrome/disorder (a.k.a. high functioning autism) is a milder form of autism. It is actually closer to “normal.” Symptoms can range in severity from one person to another but is known to affect a person’s socialization skills, language and behavior. These high functioning autism symptoms and characteristics resemble those of traditional autism but there are some subtle differences.
Learning what high functioning autism is will help you learn strategies for dealing with autistic people that have high functioning capabilities. High functioning and mild autism are similar, yet different in many ways. There is no high functioning autistic test to find out if your child is a high functioning autistic person or not.
Asperger’s Disorder(High Functioning Autism) And Restricted Interests
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Children who have Asperger’s syndrome are oftentimes obsessed with or fascinated by a particular topic. Both Asperger’s children and adults will develop an intense interest in restricted subjects that they will then be able to talk for hours about. Some of these interests may even last throughout their lifetime and thus help to determine their careers. For instance, if a child is obsessed with weather patterns, they may become a meteorologist once they are an adult.
However, there are also times whenever these interests will only last for a short while. Regardless of how long their interests may last, the intensity of these interests (oftentimes to the exclusion of all other interests) will still be the same. Adults can witness this because whenever the person is given half a chance they will talk incessantly about their topic of interest. This is why some adults will refer to them as “little professors.”
High Functioning Autism Symptoms And Social Impairments
There are also characteristics of impairments in the way of social development that make it difficult for someone who has Asperger’s to judge when someone is bored or frustrated by listening to their endless wealth of information. This is just one of the many impairments in the form of social skills though. Others include:
- Avoids eye contact
- Has difficulty making and maintaining friends
- Has difficulty understanding how to take turns and share
- Has difficulty understanding and identifying emotions
- Their conversations center upon themselves
- Their interactive play is impaired
- They have narrow, restricted interests
- They engage in socially inappropriate behavior
Communication And Language Development In High Functioning Autistic Children
Many high functioning autistic children who are diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome also have developmental delays whenever it comes to language but this usually isn’t in the way of language development. In fact, most of these children actually have a very large, complex vocabulary, especially whenever you consider their age. Instead what their problem has to do with impairments in the subtleties of social communication. Many of these children find it difficult to understand the nuances of such things as irony, sarcasm and fanciful or metaphoric language. This is because autism causes them to tend to take language literally. So, whenever you say something like “watching paint dry” or “smart as a tack” they become very confused.
Oftentimes the speech patterns of someone with Asperger’s syndrome will seem odd to people who don’t know them. Their tone, intonation, and volume are often restricted and may seem inappropriate or they may even appear to be at odds with what is actually being said.
People who have Asperger’s also have difficulty interpreting and displaying non-verbal communication. Such things as facial expressions, body language, personal space, gestures, and postures are oftentimes mysterious to them. This is because they are unable to instinctively comprehend unspoken communication. As such, some experts have actually gone so far as to suggest that Asperger’s syndrome is a type of non-verbal communication disorder.
Motor Skills And Sensory Integration in High Functioning Autistic Children
Children who have Asperger’s will oftentimes appear clumsy or klutzy because they have developmental delays in their motor skills. Therefore it is difficult for them to learn how to catch balls, ride a bike and do other such childhood skills. This will also manifest it in school where they will have terrible, almost illegible handwriting.
Asperger’s children will also have sensory integration problems. This means that certain sounds, smells or physical sensations are unbearable to them, even though “normal” people cannot even detect that they are there. For instance, a light touch may feel painful to a child who has Asperger’s.
This child may also develop what are known as “stims” (physical activities that are designed to help stimulate their senses). One of the most common ones is spinning in circles for long periods of time that would cause most other people to get dizzy. This is part of having autism and sensory integration problems.
There are also some Asperger’s children who experience a rare sensory integration condition that is known as “synesthesia.” Herein their senses are very different from those of a normal person. For instance, they may be able to “see” music, “hear” colors, or have other such unusual combinations of the senses.