Welcome to Suivez le Zèbre, the first blog dedicated to neurodiversityin France. Here you’ll find information on Giftedness (High Learning Potential), hypersensitivity, autism spectrum disorders (including Asperger’s syndrome), DYS disorders and ADD/ADHD.
Asperger’s and ASD
Asperger’s syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder on the autism spectrum. It was first described in 1944 by the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger.
Asperger’s syndrome was recognized as a separate diagnosis from autism until the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013, when it was integrated into the broader category of autism spectrum disorder.
Do you think you have an autism spectrum disorder similar to Asperger’s syndrome?
Let’s take a look at 20 signs and characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome.
20 characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome
Contrary to some preconceptions, Asperger’s syndrome does not include mental retardation, learning delay or language delay.
Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder characterized by social difficulties, atypical communication, repetitive behaviors and restricted interests.
The main characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome may include :
1- Difficulty speaking
Difficulty in expressing oneself stems from an inability to adapt to the codes of a conversation: not knowing when to speak, interrupting, mismanaging volume. But also to block more often than others to find the right term or formulation. These difficulties are even more noticeable during telephone conversations.
2- A block to initiate interaction
It can be complex for an Asperger’s individual to approach other people, knowing what to say to start a conversation. Conversely, when someone approaches them, they may find it difficult to know how to react, and also to maintain a topic of conversation already started.
3- Difficulty understanding non-verbal messages
There is a difficulty in interpreting other people’s facial movements (mimics), hand movements and body movements. Either because they fail to discern them, or because they interpret them in the wrong way.
4- Difficulty using non-verbal communication
As people with ASD or Asperger’s have difficulty understanding non-verbal cues, they also have difficulty using them.
This can often be seen in a poor combination of verbal and non-verbal communication: moving too much, lacking facial expression or even the wrong tone.
An Asperger’s person does not pick upall the signals that may be sent during a conversation. You need to state your ideas clearly, avoiding innuendo,irony or cynicism. If you have something to say to an Asperger’s person, say it clearly.
5- Eye contact problems
People with Asperger’s may find it difficult to make eye contact, and especially to maintain it. But this may be due to other characteristics, such as staring intently at a fixed point during a conversation.
6- Repetitive language
It’s a behavior that’s quite common in people with ASD or Asperger’s syndrome, and it’s calledecholalia: communicating by repeating over and over again an overheard phrase (e.g. a line in a film) or immediately repeating what someone else says.
Special sensory stimulation
7- Sensory hypersensitivity
There is often ahypersensitivityto certain sounds, smells, light, the texture of clothing on the skin and/or the texture of food in the mouth. It can be constant or episodic.
Conversely, some Asperger’s sufferers have very low sensory sensitivity to certain stimuli. For example, they may be insensitive to the cold (I can go out in winter in a T-shirt without any problem) or very insensitive to pain (I feel almost nothing in the event of an injury).
9- Repetitive movements
Usually, at some point in their lives, Asperger’s sufferers have repetitive movements. Particularly with hands or bodies, such as waving or clapping, or swinging.
10- Using objects to relax
It’s self-stimulation. It’s a trait shared with all forms of neurodiversities present on Suivez le Zèbre: ADD,hyperactivity,hypersensitivity or giftedness. They’ll be entertained by an object that’s fun to handle. Among children, one of the best-known examples islining up toys rather than playing with them.
Many people, including neurotypical people, like to let off a little nervousness by handling objects.
If this is your case too, we suggest you take an interest in stim toys, these increasingly popular products are specifically designed to be pleasant to handle.
The best-known is probably the hand spinner, but there are many more and much better ones.
What about you? Would you have one to recommend? Feel free to leave a comment after the article.
A focus on habits
11- Specific interests
Specific interests are also called hyperfixations. People with Asperger’s syndrome have intense fascinations for certain subjects: works of art, hobbies, more or less specific areas of research. This is the case of Sam in the Atypical series, who has an interest in penguins. It can take a long time, talking about the same film for a week and then losing interest, or it can never really go away and become a comfort topic to which we return regularly.
12- Unusual hobbies
Hyperfixations can be applied to anything. Some of these areas may seem unconventional to neurotypical people, who may find it confusing to be interested in airline flags or the history of subway stations.
13- Passion for your passions
It’s common for people with Asperger’s to want to talk about their current fixations, sharing everything they’ve learned about the subject even if it’s irrelevant to the current conversation.
14- An attachment to routines
Routines are essential for Asperger’s sufferers. Even small changes can be a source of anxiety: an unexpected appointment in their schedule, or a more significant change such as a loved one moving house. People with Asperger’s are particularly keen to follow the rules. These are people who don’t cheat.
Many people with Asperger’s and ASD need to draw up schedules to organize their time.
If you want to suggest an outing or an appointment, try to do it as far in advance as possible so that they can anticipate it and fit it into their schedule. If you want to see them regularly, avoid last-minute offers as much as possible!
15- Difficulties in social relations
The Asperger profiles often have difficulties in adapting their behavior to social circumstances. As adults, they can lack of subtlety in the way they express themselves. As children, they may find it difficult to play imaginative games (such as role-playing) with other children. This difficulty can lead to isolation and disinterest in social interaction.
16- Difficulty making friends
For an Asperger’s person, it is common to have difficulty make friendship with people who are more than just acquaintances. This difficulty in making friends is explained by the difficulty in developing, understanding and maintaining relationships with others.
17- Not understanding social conventions
For a neurotypical person, social conventions are an automatism, but for Asperger’s people they can be meaningless and, for some, even uncomfortable. So, for people with Asperger’s, social conventions can be experienced as constraints during interactions, encounters or conversations.
18- Difficulty sharing feelings
Know when and how to share your emotionsis part of the grey area of social interaction that can be very complexfor people with Asperger’s to grasp. It is then difficult to share your feelings with others.
19- Having a bank of preconceived answers
To better integrate into society, Aspergers use scripting. Scripting consists in having preconceived phrases and repartees in your head so that you can deal with a variety of social situations. This characteristic is linked to echolalia. By mimicry, Aspergers copy and appropriate responses from other conversations and reuse them in similar situations. It’s a tool for adaptation, because people with Asperger’s syndrome sometimes have difficulty understanding what is expected of them in certain social contexts.
20- Masking behavior
Like scripting, people with Asperger’s syndrome can use masking or camouflage. They compensate for their behavior by adopting the habits of the groups they are in contact with, and avoid bringing out the aspects that may have been mentioned in the previous points. Obviously, this is a considerable effort for Asperger’s sufferers, and costs them a lot of energy on a daily basis. They need to consider all the social clauses they find hard to envisage in order to comply and not be perceived as ill-adapted.
The scripting or masking could be perceived as rude or even hypocrit, because the Asperger’s person does not communicate They use these communication tools to adapt to social situations that can be complex for them. The most important thing is to create environments where they feel comfortable enough to use these tools as little as possible.
If you want to go further, you can compare the characteristics of other atypical profiles.
All these characteristics and signs are examples of behaviors regularly found in Asperger’s sufferers. If you recognize yourself in several of the points mentioned, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have Asperger’s. This list does not replace the opinion of a psychologist and, above all, a proper diagnosis.
You can also find more information, resources and tools on Gifted in Mel POINAS‘ book. With a lot of humor, Mel tells the story of the discovery of her giftedness and the routines she put in place to finally find her place!
Écrit par une HPI !
Un témoignage et des solutions concrètes pour découvrir, comprendre et apprendre à vivre en étant HPI.
To find out more about this topic, read also :
- What is neurodiversity?
- How to manage your emotions
- The different types of hypersensitivity
- Giftedness : 20 characteristics of complex and laminar profiles
- Giftedness and Hypersensitivity