Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders


Aspergers Checklist: Difficulty With Reciprocal Social Interactions

Aspergers Children and Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions--

A. Inability and/or a lack of desire to interact with peers. Parents are concerned with the child’s reciprocal interactions with others and the quality of those interactions. It is very important to observe how the child interacts with same-age peers. This category comprises two separate issues: the ability and the desire to interact.

1. Displays an inability to interact because she does not know how to interact. She wants to interact with others, but does not know what to do.
  • Observes or stays on the periphery of a group rather than joining in.
  • Initiates play interaction by taking a toy or starting to engage in an ongoing activity without gaining verbal agreement from the other players, will ignore a negative response from others when asking to join in, will abruptly leave a play interaction.
  • Lacks conversational language for a social purpose, does not know what to say — this could be no conversation, monopolizing the conversation, lack of ability to initiate conversation, obsessive conversation in one area, conversation not on topic or conversation that is not of interest to others.
  • Lacks the ability to understand, attend to, maintain, or repair a conversational flow or exchange — this causes miscommunication and inappropriate responses (unable to use the back-and-forth aspect of communication).
  • Lacks an understanding of game playing — unable to share, unable to follow the rules of turn taking, unable to follow game-playing rules (even those that may appear quite obvious), is rigid in game playing (may want to control the game or those playing and/or create her own set of rules), always needs to be first, unable to make appropriate comments while playing, and has difficulty with winning/losing.
  • Is unable to select activities that are of interest to others (unaware or unconcerned that others do not share the same interest or level of interest, unable to compromise).
  • Compromises interactions by rigidity, inability to shift attention or “go with the flow,” being rule bound, needs to control the play/activity (play may “look” imaginative but is most likely repetitive — e.g., action figures are always used in the same way, songs are played in the same order, Lego pieces are always put together in the same way).
  • Displays narrow play and activity choices (best observed during unstructured play/leisure activities: look for rigidity/patterns/repetitive choices, inability to accept novelty).
  • Engages in unusual behaviors or activities (selects play or activity choices of a younger child, seems unaware of the unwritten social rules among peers, acts like an imaginary character, uses an unusual voice — any behaviors that call attention to the child or are viewed as unusual by peers).
  • Displays a limited awareness of current fashion, slang, topics, activities, and accessories (does not seem interested in what peers view as popular or the most current craze, unless it happens to match a special interest).
  • Displays a limited awareness of the emotions of others and/or how to respond to them (does not ask for help from others, does not know how to respond when help is given, does not know how to respond to compliments, does not realize the importance of apologizing, does not realize something she says or does can hurt the feelings of another, does not differentiate internal thoughts from external thoughts, does not respond to the emotions another is displaying — misses cues).

2. Prefers structured over non-structured activities.

3. Displays a lack of desire to interact.
  • Does not care about her inability to interact with others because she has no interest in doing so. She prefers solitary activities and does not have the need to interact with others, or she is socially indifferent and can take it or leave it with regard to interacting with others.
  • Sits apart from others, avoids situations where involvement with others is expected (playgrounds, birthday parties, being outside in general), and selects activities that are best completed alone (e.g., computer games, Game Boy, books, viewing TV/videos, collecting, keeping lists).
  • Is rule bound/rigid and spends all free time completely consumed by areas of special interest. Her activities are so rule bound, it would be almost impossible for a peer to join in correctly. When asked about preferred friends, the child is unable to name any or names those who are really not friends (family members, teachers).

B. Lack of appreciation of social cues. The child, unable to identify or interpret the “messages” others give in conversations or interactions, demonstrates social thinking deficits.

1. Lacks awareness if someone appears bored, upset, angry, scared, and so forth. Therefore, she does not comment in a socially appropriate manner or respond by modifying the interaction.

2. Lacks awareness of the facial expressions and body language of others, so these conversational cues are missed. He is also unable to use gestures or facial expressions to convey meaning when conversing. You will see fleeting, averted, or a lack of eye contact. He will fail to gain another person's attention before conversing with her. He may stand too far away from or too close to the person he is conversing with. His body posture may appear unusual.

3. When questioned regarding what could be learned from another person's facial expression, says, “Nothing.” Faces do not provide him with information. Unable to read these “messages,” he is unable to respond to them.

4. Has difficulty with feelings of empathy for others. Interactions with others remain on one level, with one message.
  • Ignores an individual’s appearance of sadness, anger, boredom, etc.
  • Fails to assist someone with an obvious need for help (not holding a door for someone carrying many items or assisting someone who falls or drops their belongings).
  • Talks on and on about a special interest while unaware that the other person is no longer paying attention, talks to someone who is obviously engaged in another activity, talks to someone who isn’t even there.

C. Socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviors. This is a direct result of not understanding the rules of social interactions. If you don’t understand what someone is saying or doing, you will be unable to give the appropriate response.

1. Laughs at something that is sad, asks questions that are too personal.

2. Makes rude comments (tells someone they are fat, bald, old, have yellow teeth).

3. Engages in self-stimulatory or odd behaviors (rocking, tics, finger posturing, eye blinking, noises — humming/clicking/talking to self).

4. Is unaware of unspoken or “hidden” rules — may “tell” on peers, breaking the “code of silence” that exists. He will then be unaware why others are angry with him.

5. Responds with anger when he feels others are not following the rules, will discipline others or reprimand them for their actions (acts like the teacher or parent with peers).

6. Touches, hugs, or kisses others without realizing that it is inappropriate.

D. Limited or abnormal use of nonverbal communication. The child uses gestures, body language, or facial expressions infrequently or atypically when interacting with others.

1. Averts eye contact, or keeps it fleeting or limited.

2. Stares intensely at people or objects.

3. Does not observe personal space (is too close or too far).

4. Does not use gestures/body language when communicating.

5. Uses gestures/body language, but in an unusual manner.

6. Does not appear to comprehend the gestures/body language of others.

7. Uses facial expressions that do not match the emotion being expressed.

8. Lacks facial expressions when communicating.

9. Does not appear to comprehend the facial expressions of others.

10. Displays abnormal gestures/facial expressions/body posture when communicating.
  • Looks to the left or right of the person she is talking to.
  • Does not turn to face the person she is talking to.
  • Confronts another person without changing her face or voice.
  • Stands too close or too far away from another person.
  • Smiles when someone shares sad news.
  • Has tics or facial grimaces.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if my now 21 yr old nephew has Asperger's. He went to rehab last Summer for drug use, has tested clean ever since, but continues to be "weird" as my kids, his cousins, maintain. He started fights in high school due to torment from others. He can't look people in the eye, he repeats himself, cannot hold even the most menial of jobs due to aggressive behavior (threatening; not out and out violence). He seems to want to interact, but can't think of the right things to say. He repeats annoying actions that make his brothers want to smash him (the latest was turning on and off a bright light repeatedly while we were attempting to watch 4th fireworks-as if he simply could not control it)Am afraid to mention this to his parents before really knowing if this could be a possible diagnosis. Could he actually have this and not have been tested at some point before? He was in "tard" lab in junior high and high school due to learning issues. He's been to a psychiatrist (due to his previous drug usage) and was given a diagnosis of depression. Anti-depressants helped initially, then he got worse. Very angry, always ALWAYS blaming his parents (his mom in particular) for every single thing that has ever happened in his life. Brings up decades long "grievances". This sounds so much like Aspergers to me, but I'm clueless. Where would you guys turn for help? His parents have basically given up. He lives at home, having flunked out of college. He talks of getting this or that job and getting away from home, but does nothing. Just repeats that if he made $300 month, he'd be "gold". In what century did $300 month liberate one from life's problems??? Thank you- I love my dear sweet nephew and want to help him.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like he has some Aspergers symptoms - have him take the test at the bottom of this site.

Anonymous said...

I have a 15 year old step son he is different I have had 3 kids and he is so strange in compare. I dont know what to do with him he is driving everyone insane. He has to be told every day to have a shower clean his teeth put on deodorant etc. He has out bursts which are totally in acceptable swears at myself and his father lies all the time spends most of the time in his room playing x box or reading does no team sports cant ride a bike and is supposedly dislexic however other than his spelling his reading level is high for his age. He has problems expressikng himself and gets out of control with the things he does and says. There has been a problem that he watches porn on the net eg kiddie porn and has been to councilling to no avail. i could continue but I have put enough down now What are others comments????

Anonymous said...

This is so very true of my daughter. I was actually stopped twice by a
lady in a zoo who commented on why I was talking to my "big girl" luke she was a baby. My mouth fell to the floor and i just said "she needs thorough explinations" and
the lady just said "oh please, all kids are like that". I didnt want to nor did I have to but i went there and said "well I need to explain the outside world to her, she has Aspergers". The lady then replied and said "No she doesnt, she looks fine" then I got pissed and yelled "Aspergers doent have a "look" you ingnorant twit!"
My hubby and my friend said I shouldve just ignored her. Yes, I should have but you know what, shes just another ignorant person that doesnt understand Autism/Aspergers.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, and definitely made my alarm bells ring louder for my Ds who has been diagnosed with dyspraxia (we think aspergers).

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else have anxiety when around other adults with your child? I feel everyone has there "opinion" as to what I should or shouldn't do when my son speaks his mind.. Usually just calling it like it is!! I feel sometimes it's easier
to just stay home.. Not good!! He will be going into the 3rd grade and I am truly worries that the peer issues and bullying will get worse. Also does your little one have a terrible struggle crying?

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually. Thus, the best treatment for Aspergers children and teens is, without a doubt, “social skills training.”

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes. The hardest part is you feel like you’ll never actually get to know your child and how he/she views the world.

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