"Is there a list of symptoms or traits associated with high functioning autism in children? We currently have suspicions that our 6 y.o. son may be on the autism spectrum and are wondering if we should take the next step and have him assessed."
Below is a list of common traits among children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's. However, no child will exhibit all of these traits. Also, the degree (i.e., mild to severe) to which any particular trait is experienced will vary from child to child.
Emotions and Sensitivities:
- An emotional incident can determine the mood for the day.
- Becomes overwhelmed with too much verbal direction.
- Calmed by external stimulation (e.g., soothing sound, brushing, rotating object, constant pressure).
- Desires comfort items (e.g., blankets, teddy, rock, string).
- Difficulty with loud or sudden sounds.
- Emotions can pass very suddenly or are drawn out for a long period of time.
- Inappropriate touching of self in public situations.
- Intolerance to certain food textures, colors or the way they are presented on the plate (e.g., one food can’t touch another).
- Laughs, cries or throws a tantrum for no apparent reason.
- May need to be left alone to release tension and frustration.
- Resists change in the environment (e.g., people, places, objects).
- Sensitivity or lack of sensitivity to sounds, textures, tastes, smells or light.
- Tends to either tune out or break down when being reprimanded.
- Unusually high or low pain tolerance.
- Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another in school.
- Difficulty with fine motor activities (e.g., coloring, printing, using scissors, gluing).
- Difficulty with reading comprehension (e.g., can quote an answer, but unable to predict, summarize or find symbolism).
- Excellent rote memory in some areas.
- Exceptionally high skills in some areas and very low in others.
- Resistance or inability to follow directions.
- Short attention span for most lessons.
Health and Movement:
- Allergies and food sensitivities.
- Apparent lack of concern for personal hygiene (e.g., hair, teeth, body odor).
- Appearance of hearing problems, but hearing has been checked and is fine.
- Difficulty changing from one floor surface to another (e.g., carpet to wood, sidewalk to grass).
- Difficulty moving through a space (e.g., bumps into objects or people).
- Frequent gas, burping or throwing up.
- Incontinence of bowel and/or bladder.
- Irregular sleep patterns.
- Odd or unnatural posture (e.g., rigid or floppy).
- Seizure activity.
- Unusual gait.
- Walks on toes.
- Walks without swinging arms freely.
- Aversion to answering questions about themselves.
- Difficulty maintaining friendships.
- Difficulty reading facial expressions and body language.
- Difficulty understanding group interactions.
- Difficulty understanding jokes, figures of speech or sarcasm.
- Difficulty understanding the rules of conversation.
- Does not generally share observations or experiences with others.
- Finds it easier to socialize with people that are older or younger, rather than peers of their own age.
- Gives spontaneous comments which seem to have no connection to the current conversation.
- Makes honest, but inappropriate observations.
- Minimal acknowledgement of others.
- Overly trusting or unable to read the motives behinds peoples’ actions.
- Prefers to be alone, aloft or overly-friendly.
- Resistance to being held or touched.
- Responds to social interactions, but does not initiate them.
- Seems unable to understand another’s feelings.
- Talks excessively about one or two topics (e.g., dinosaurs, movies, etc.).
- Tends to get too close when speaking to someone (i.e., lack of personal space).
- Unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them.
- Very little or no eye contact.
- Causes injury to self (e.g., biting, banging head).
- Difficulty attending to some tasks.
- Difficulty sensing time (e.g., knowing how long 5 minutes is or 3 days or a month).
- Difficulty transferring skills from one area to another.
- Difficulty waiting for their turn (e.g., standing in line).
- Extreme fear for no apparent reason.
- Fascination with rotation.
- Feels the need to fix or rearrange things.
- Fine motor skills are developmentally behind peers (e.g., hand writing, tying shoes, using scissors, etc.).
- Frustration is expressed in unusual ways.
- Gross motor skills are developmentally behind peers (e.g., riding a bike, skating, running).
- Inability to perceive potentially dangerous situations.
- Many and varied collections.
- Obsessions with objects, ideas or desires.
- Perfectionism in certain areas.
- Play is often repetitive.
- Quotes movies or video games.
- Ritualistic or compulsive behavior patterns (e.g., sniffing, licking, watching objects fall, flapping arms, spinning, rocking, humming, tapping, sucking, rubbing clothes).
- Transitioning from one activity to another is difficult.
- Unexpected movements (e.g., running out into the street).
- Unusual attachment to objects.
- Verbal outbursts.
Linguistic and Language Development:
- Abnormal use of pitch, intonation, rhythm or stress while speaking
- Difficulty understanding directional terms (e.g., front, back, before, after).
- Difficulty whispering.
- Makes verbal sounds while listening (i.e., echolalia).
- May have a very high vocabulary.
- Often uses short, incomplete sentences.
- Pronouns are often inappropriately used.
- Repeats last words or phrases several times.
- Speech is abnormally loud or quiet.
- Speech started very early and then stopped for a period of time.
- Uses a person’s name excessively when speaking to them.
More resources for parents of children and teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism:
==> Preventing Meltdowns and Tantrums in Asperger's Children
==> Discipline for Defiant Asperger's Teens
==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management
==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's: How to Promote Self-Reliance
==> Everything You'll Ever Need to Know About Parenting Asperger's Children
==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism
==> AudioBook: Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism