Social Interaction Difficulties—
A child with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulty with the following aspects of social interaction:
• Difficulty playing with others: She may not understand how to initiate play with her peers or how to play by common social rules. For example, she may take a ball from a group of kids playing a game without asking to join the game first. She will not return the ball if they ask for the ball back because she does not understand the negative reaction.
• General social skills: She wants to socialize with others but does not understand how to interact.
• Inability to understand common social cues: She may not comprehend common social cues such as facial expressions, body language or gestures.
• Inappropriate responses: She may behave or respond to social situations in an unusual or inappropriate manner. For example, an affected person may laugh at something sad.
• Problems with two-way conversation: She has trouble with initiating and maintaining a two-way conversation. She may appear to talk at someone than with them. Conversation topics may focus on an obsessive interest. She speaks inappropriately such as talking too loudly or softly.
• Relating to others: She does not understand other's emotions or social responses accurately in a group situation. She may not understand if an activity or conversation is boring or upsetting to another person.
• Rigid range of interests for social interaction: She will only engage in a narrow range of activities or talk about certain subjects.
An affected child experiences a number of communication difficulties. Communication problems can include the following symptoms:
• Easily distracted: He has trouble concentrating his attention on people and objects that are not connected with his favorite subjects.
• Eye contact: He may not make eye contact.
• Facial expression: Facial expressions are either absent or inappropriate to the conversation or situation. He may have facial tics.
• Monotone speech: He may speak in a monotone voice, without expression or emotion.
• Personal space issues: He might stand too close to a person during conversation.
• Unusual gestures: He might make unusual or inappropriate gestures during conversation.
Language Skill Challenges—
A child with Asperger’s Syndrome generally has a large vocabulary but experiences problems with language processing. Language skills challenges may include:
• Difficulty processing language: She does not always understand the verbal speech of others or misunderstands the meaning of a conversation. She may have trouble making a decision or answering a question.
• Language rituals: She might have certain word scripts that she repeats ritualistically in conversation with others.
• Literal interpretation of words: She interprets most language on a literal level and misses abstract meanings.
• Trouble with language use: She has trouble using language appropriately in social situations. She may also misunderstand common word meanings.
• Unusual use of words: She may use words in an unusual way or create her own words.
Cognitive and Motor Skill Impairments—
Cognitive and motor skill problems are also common in children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Typical cognitive and motor skill issues include:
• Difficulty with imaginative play: He does not engage in imaginative play as a youngster.
• Learns best visually: He has trouble learning without visual aids.
• Mindblindness: He has mindblindness, meaning he cannot determine what others are thinking and feeling in social situations or in relationships.
• Organizational skills difficulties: He experiences difficulty with planning, implementing and completing tasks.
• Problems with coordination: He may have problems with both fine and gross motor skills. Common examples of motor skill difficulty include bike riding, handwriting and playing ball games.
• Problem-solving issues: He has trouble figuring out how to solve problems outside of his routine.
Limited Interests and Unusual Behavior—
An affected child often has a limited range of interest and may exhibit bizarre behavior. Interests and behavior may include:
• Narrow range of interests and obsessions: She is intensely interested in a small number of activities and subjects and refuses to engage in other activities.
• Self-stimulatory behavior: She may engage in stimming behavior such as hand flapping, rocking back and forth or twirling.
• Strict schedule: She prefers a rigid schedule and experiences anxiety when the schedule is interrupted.
Sensory Input Issues—
Many children with Asperger’s Syndrome have sensory difficulties and may have unusual reactions to certain sights, smells, sounds or tastes. Sensory problems include:
• Limited food choices: He may choose and reject foods based upon smell or texture.
• Odors: He may react strongly to certain smells.
• Sounds: He might be hypersensitive to different sounds.
• Touch: He may not want to be touched.