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The Blessings of Aspergers: 40 Positive Characteristics of Asperger Syndrome

Also known as “autism lite” or a “shadow syndrome” of autism, Aspergers is an autistic spectrum disorder that affects approximately 1 out of every 200 people.

Those with Aspergers are high functioning in the sense that they are better able to maintain social relationships than those with autism. Unlike those with autism, people with Aspergers often score highly on measures of verbal intelligence.

When contemplating disorders such as Aspergers, there is a tendency to focus on negative aspects. But many of those with Aspergers have positive traits as well, which has led some people to question whether it should be viewed as a difference rather than a disorder.

Here are the positives associated with the Aspergers condition.  People with Aspergers:
  1. are excited about the world around them with a zest and hunger for learning
  2. are fascinated by facts and dates
  3. are frequent victims of social weaknesses of others, while steadfast in the belief of the possibility of genuine friendship
  4. are loyal with impeccable dependability
  5. are often very perceptive
  6. are often original with unique perspective in problem solving
  7. are persistence of thought
  8. are physically beautiful
  9. are seekers of truth, conversation free of hidden meaning or agenda
  10. are sensitive to specific sensory experiences and stimuli, for example: hearing, touch, vision, and/or smell
  11. are the "social unsung hero" with trusting optimism
  12. are truthful to a fault, blurting out the first thing that pops into their mind, speaking things the rest of us think but would be too polite to say – and because of their innocence it's probably going to be accepted better than if it came from another mouth
  13. avoid "ritualistic small talk" or socially trivial statements and superficial conversation
  14. can hear things normal people can't hear
  15. can memorize lines from movies
  16. can spend days in their room reading children's encyclopedias
  17. have a great consideration of details
  18. have a rare freshness and sense of wonderment
  19. have a rote memory and an overall good memory
  20. have a sweet innocence about them
  21. have an encyclopedic or "CD ROM" knowledge of one or more topics
  22. have avid perseverance in gathering and cataloging information on a topic of interest
  23. have clarity of values/decision making unaltered by political or financial factors
  24. have enthusiasm for unique interests and topics
  25. have exceptional memory and recall of details often forgotten or disregarded by others, for example: names, dates, schedules, routines
  26. have knowledge of routines and a focused desire to maintain order and accuracy
  27. have narrow, yet highly focused interests
  28. have outside interests like reading about weather instead of learning what they're learning in school
  29. have strength in individual sports and games, particularly those involving endurance or visual accuracy, including rowing, swimming, bowling, chess
  30. have the ability to pursue personal theory or perspective despite conflicting evidence
  31. have the amazing ability to absorb facts easily in their brains
  32. listen without continual judgment or assumption
  33. live in the present, and don't hold grudges
  34. often have advanced vocabulary and interest in words
  35. often have the ability to regard others at "face value
  36. see things differently than others
  37. seek sincere, positive, genuine friends with an unassuming sense of humor
  38. speak their mind irrespective of social context or adherence to personal beliefs
  39. take everything literal and are usually unprejudiced
  40. they remember lot of things about their life, both past and present
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Mark Hutten,

My 12 yr old son, Jonathan, was just diagnosed with Aspergers. He is currently in the 7th grade and struggling to keep up with his classes re: class work and homework. He is also having difficulty with social situation due to his apparent low maturity level. His Special Education teacher says that he is lazy because his Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) scores are in the low 200's. He believe Jonathan is capable of completing the work and there is no leeway needed. We are having his IEP today and I don't know what to do. He had the same teacher in 5th grade and Joanthan was working at grade level by the end of the year, but this year he seems to feel everything Jonathan says is an excuse. I also believe that sometimes he feels I am also making excuses. I don't want to change Jonathan. I want to learn how to teach him and help him grow into an adult that is capable of being a contributing member of society.

Sincerely,

T.

Anonymous said...

Hi "T".

I have an 8 year-old Asperger's Boy and was reading your comment. It sounds to me like you're not getting a very good assessment from his "special ed educator". My son is extremely intelligent too but has the most dramatic ways of trying to get out of doing homework! I always tell him that in the time he takes coming up with crazy stories or trying to delay homework, he could already have it done. His teacher and Child Study team recognize he is one of those kids that when he shuts down, really shuts down and it's hard to get any work out of him. To me, it sounds like your son's teacher is using the wrong words to describe what is going on. Your son is probably just not interested in what is being taught and needs to be engaged somehow. Also, I'm lucky in that the school my son is in has Social Skills as an actual subject for Aspergers students. You can request these accommodations for your son. I live in NJ, so I don't know the laws in MO, but we are given a Parental Rights handbook each year, and it states that it is the school's responsibility to make accommodations for Special Ed students. If the school cannot accommodate your son, they need to find a school that can or make recommendations to assist you. There may be some Home Programs offered through the school or your County's Special Services organizations too. Again, I was lucky that my school set me up with a Home Component Worker from Mercer County Special Services to make 8 visits to my home and work on areas my son was struggling with in the comfort of home where he feels safe. You may have to push for these services and ask a lot of questions. Praise you son as much as possible regarding how intelligent he is, and try to help him find his niche! That's always a good way to make friends too! Good Luck and Stay Strong! You are your child's No. 1 advocate!

eric said...

I hope your IEP meeting sheds some light on what services the school may be required to provide for you and your son. As the other poster commented, you are your son's number 1 advocate, though, so don't count on the school for anything. In fact, it has been our experience that even with a good school district that seems to put a lot of resources into autism and special ed in general, we have to push them. The IEP was confusing, especially as it comes right on the heels of getting a diagnosis, so ask a lot of questions, and make sure you get answers. You have to get pretty pushy sometimes. As far as maturity goes, now that you have a medical dignosis, can you get ST or OT through your medical insurance plan for your boy? Sometimes what seems like immaturity is also neurological sensory overload stuff, and occupational therapy can be a HUGE help with that. And finally, check around your town or county for any social skills groups that teach small groups of kids on the spectrum how to interact with other people. I guess what I'm getting at is that if your kid is an aspie, then he's probably pretty bright. Therefore if he's not performing at school, the issue isn't his intellectual capacity, nor is he "lazy". He's probably having trouble accessing and using his brain and, he may not know how to socialize very well. Good News: he can learn all those things. But you can't count on the school, because they will tend to see everything frm the prism of standardized testing and book learning.
Good luck, start thinking outside the box, and DON'T FREAK OUT. It gets a lot better over time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mark,

It is very encouraging. I know Asperger can be a gift, an talent, but it is also a punishment to him and to his parent.

I know my 14yrs old Asperger son is very intelligence. He is so eager in knowledge, and he has been digging in so deep in his assignment. But I think the problems are:

1. He is going into a wrong direction.

He is schooling in the no. 1 private school in Brisbane. The subjects he likes, he digs into too deep. The subjects he does not like, he does not care. He does not care about mark. He even does not want to know about mark. This few months, it is even worse. He thinks the subjects are rubbish. The school is rubbish and so are the teachers and the students. He does not want to go to school to waste his time. He thinks he can learn through his own research, mainly by the internet. He is threatening us not to go to school or doing stupid things, so he can get to expel.

We as a parent tell him he has to work in the education system. He always said "not necessary". We always reply "we care about you, and we do not want you to take the chance." We told him that if he wants more, he can do a double degree or more study in university. He does not aim to score any good mark or get any solarship although he is very capable of do so. I am concerned that he ends up dropping off school. He may be a very knowlegable person but without qualification.

2. He has so many behavior problems.

For example, he never drinks soft drink and he does not allow us to do so. If we drink with our meal, he will walk away and not eat. Last week in the food court, I walked to the table with a bottle of coke. He stormed away as soon as he saw me 10m from the table. Besides i felt so bad, i wonder how he can have friend and fit in a so city? Of course, he does not have any friend.

He has eating disorder. He do want to eat. He was very thin and no muscle. We force him to see dietrian.

He has sleeping disorder. He doesn't want to wake up for school. He doesn't want to sleep.

He does not do sport.

He does not want to go to public space because of noise, smoke, may be softdrink.. etc and he think it is wasting his time.

3. He does not respect us.

Not at all. My wife and grand parents have been giving in too much. He treats us like so badly. He has been reading too many mind reading and psychology books and he used that on us in a bad way.

More I care, more I get hurt.

4. He does not want to be part of our family.

He said so and he did so. I am only his life support. Giving him what he wants.

I felt that we had lost the battle big time. He is the king. It is such a pain to love someone who does not love you. I do not think he will change. He is hurting us so much. He is going into a wrong direction. I wonder how his life will be. Even he is so intelligence. He has no humanity. He still ends up with no value in the society.

Doctor, can you tell me:

Should I let go of him? Let him lock inside his room. Let him do whatever he want. Let him not go to school.

Shoudl I Let him enbrasse me in public. Let him continue not to respect me.

Should I stop caring him?

Should I pull off the life support? Get him to do some part-time job? Get him to see the real world? Allow other to bully him? Let him learn that he need to concern others?

How to gain back my respect?

How to get him to listen?

How to get him to follow reasonable instructions and discipline?

How to get him back to the right direction?

How to stop the pain?

He only has 2 more years to University and 4 more years to 18. I encourage myself to bear it and not to walk away from my lovely wife. She is suffereing a lot too. However, my pressures of business,and finance and this matterl are so big and I am melting downing


Heartbreaking dad.

Anonymous said...

HI Mark,

I just want to tell you i really appreciate your insight , advice and articles into Aspergers.

Has helped alot of people understand the disorder alot better.

I love reading your emails and newsletters.


Erica

Anonymous said...

I have a nephew that has aspergers syndrome. He is 9 and remembers everything. We enjoy what a little genius he is. In 1st grade the teacher asked the students to stand up and tell something special about themselves. When his turn came he stood and said "I'm always right". We laughed...its true! He remembers statistics and just has an amazing mind and a great personality. I really can't see anything wrong. I see genius.

Anonymous said...

This response is specially for the heartbreaking dad.

I want to tell you I completely understand how you feel.

I've been through many of the feelings you describe.

I could´nt stop thinking about your pain. I've also felt all this as a punishment. They say we should see the good side of it, but for us, because we are so tired its difficult.

I would like your email if possible. I have a 19 yrs. old aspie son.

I think we can help each other because we can have so many this in common.

A big hug.

paraitadong said...

Dear Mark Hutten,

Thank you very very much for your hard work. I love to read your news letter. It makes me feel better and I'm beginning to understand my daughter. And in response to heartbreaking dad and a big hug, we are in the same boat! My 16 years old daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's two months ago. The worse thing is my daughter has completely stopped speaking to us for 4 years now. I would like to hear from both of you. How is this possible? All this while denial, denial, denial are the only excellent pain killer that my husband and I have ever had!
Heartbroken parent

MKPrincess007 said...

Wow, these comments are really hitting home. I have struggled to feel that I could impact all of this, but now I am not so sure. My son has begun to be really challenged with going to school, and I am terrified. I don't want him to shut down and be a total recluse. This scares me more than anything. I would love to correspond with some of you here, because it sounds like you really are living my life.
If anyone wants to correspond, please let me know.

Anonymous said...

@Heartbreaking dad:

Don't ever stop caring or "pull off the life support". It doesn't work. If you try the 'sink or swim' method,the result will probably be "sink".

Sounds like you are doing the right things now. Yes it's hard. Yes it's not easy to see results. But this isn't a sprint - it's an ultra-marathon. The end of the race is a long way off. Just keep going one step at a time. Just stay on the course and get into a rhythm you can sustain.

Aspies do change - but very slowly. Think about what sort of relationship you want to have with your son 10 or 20 years from now. He will be a very different person then. Will he appreciate your efforts or hate you for what you put him through?

Don't let him lock himself in his room. In fact, do the opposite as much as possible - (but don't push if he really doesn't want to do something). There was some research recently that indicated that "novel" experiences stimulate the brain in a really helpful way. (Yes, swimming with dolphins may actually be useful afterall :-) ). Do as many different things as possible - camping / horse riding / surfing lessons - anything different or exciting.

Don't get stressed. If he doesn't go to university straight after school, he can go in a couple of years time - or later. Not a big deal in the big scheme of things.
You can always take the road less traveled.

There's a lot of things you can't change (right now) and neither can your son (right now) so don't give yourself or him too hard a time over it. You will regret it later.
Remember, your son may the one that chooses your retirement home ;-)

Oh yeah: I was an aspie that failed school and didn't go to uni. I'm now head of a successful software development company and married with two boys - have a big house with a pool etc. So stop worrying.

Emirii said...

My 13 y/o daughter was just diagnosed with aspergers last August. She was bullied terribly at school, couldn't focus on schoolwork and had severe anxiety. Her daddy had passed away 2 years ago and she has had more severe problems after that. I want everyone to be aware there is an online school that is interactive and also provides special education services. Go to www.k12.com You can find a school for your child as there are both public and private schools. my daughter attends public school which is the same school system she came out of but she has the relaxed atmosphere of home without all the distractions and emotional trauma. there are monthly outings to socialize with other students. and being public school, it doesn't cost us anything! I love it.

Abbey said...

I'm seventeen years old, and I have been diagnosed with asperges. I haven't told my parents because I know they will be dissapointed, and I just overall feel ashamed and confused.

Heather said...

To Abbey

I felt the same way when my dad first told me I may have Aspergers; this was because I didn't understand that there are different levels of it. I have not been formally diagnosed - that should be coming up in July, everything going well - but I'm pretty sure I'm on the low end of the scale. I don't exhibit some of the traits, such as a strong preference for non-fiction (I'm exactly the opposite!), but I have problems in social situations.

Why should your parents be disappointed? Aspergers, I think, has a lot of benefits (focused, organised, good memory, systematic) that unfortunately come along with a lot of complications (social stuff is difficult). It's like being brilliant at chess and hopeless at table tennis. You're YOU, not just a diagnosis...

Anyway. That was my attempt to be reassuring...

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have a wonderful 22 year old son who is a senior at Michigan State. He is well respected among his peers and very, very happy. My big advice is to see the diagnosis as a positive. I remember that I was expected to mourn, but all I felt was relief. There was a reason Cameron did the things he did. Once we began educating ourselves we were able to start problem-solving and helping Cameron to become who he is today. Besides that, I have tons of other advice, but every child with Asperger's Syndrome is different and you have plenty of people on this site who can help with advice on your individual issues. Just remember that your child's brain does not work the same way as yours. Don't ascribe your motives to his actions. Don't assume he is lying--his perceptions can be VERY different from others'.
Best of luck--some of our greatest people in history are suspected of having Asperger's Syndrome. It can be a gift.
Lisa (mom of Cameron--22)

j jones said...

Since I've been diagnosed with Asperger's it's quite depressing as all the web sites go on about the problems, but none of the good points which have helped society. They say it's autism, the same as low functioning autistics. I wonder if Einstein or Bill gates would have achieved what they did if they were told that they have a disorder?
Most people don't tell me I'm odd like the websites say. Most men I've interacted with tell me they think I'm lovely, to the extent I find it strange and don't know what they're talking about.

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.

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.

Click here for the full article...

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."

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article…

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.

Click here to read the full article...

Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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to read the full article...

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