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The Traits of High-Functioning Autism: Fact Sheet

A child with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger's often has many of the following traits:
  1. Has a different form of introspection and self-consciousness
  2. Has a fascination with a topic that is unusual in intensity or focus
  3. Takes longer to process social information due to using intelligence rather than intuition
  4. Needs assistance with some self-help and organizational skills
  5. Enjoys a very brief and low intensity expression of affection, and becomes confused or overwhelmed when greater levels of expression are experienced or expected
  6. Collects facts and figures about a specific topic
  7. Has a tendency to be considered disrespectful and rude by others
  8. Has a tendency to make a literal interpretation of what someone says
  9. Has an unusual profile of learning abilities
  10. Teachers often identify problems with organizational abilities, especially with homework assignments and essays
  11. Teachers soon recognize that the child has a distinctive learning style, being talented in understanding the logical and physical world, noticing details, and remembering and arranging facts in a systematic fashion
  12. Often has levels of anxiety, depression or anger that indicate a secondary mood disorder
  13. Can be easily distracted, especially in the classroom
  14. When problem solving, the child appears to have a one-track mind and a fear of failure
  15. Has a different, but not defective, way of thinking
  16. Is clumsy in terms of gait and coordination
  17. Has a delay in the development of the art of persuasion, compromise and conflict resolution
  18. Has delayed social maturity and social reasoning
  19. Has difficulty reading the messages in someone’s eyes
  20. Has difficulty making friends
  21. Is often teased by peers due to his/her “odd” mannerisms
  22. Has difficulty with the communication and control of emotions
  23. If the child with HFA is not successful socially at school, then academic success becomes more important as the primary motivation to attend school and for the development of self-esteem
  24. In adolescence, the interests can evolve to include electronics and computers, fantasy literature, science fiction, and a fascination with a particular person
  25. Much of the knowledge associated with the child's special interest is self-directed and self-taught
  26. Is vulnerable to feeling depressed, with about 1 in 3 HFA children having clinical depression
  27. Experiences physical and emotional exhaustion from socializing
  28. Has problems knowing when something may cause embarrassment to others
  29. Is remarkable honesty
  30. Has sensitivities to specific sounds, aromas, sights, tastes and touch 
  31. Can be immature in the development of the ability to catch, throw or kick a ball
  32. HFA girls often develop a special interest in fiction rather than facts 
  33. Often has academic abilities above his/her grade level
  34. Sometimes the special interest is a particular animal, and can be so intense that the child acts like the animal
  35. Has difficulties with handwriting
  36. Becomes hypervigilant, tense and distractible in sensory stimulating environments (e.g., in the classroom), unsure when the next painful sensory experience will occur
  37. The emotion management can be conceptualized as a problem with "energy management," specifically an excessive amount of emotional energy, and difficulty controlling and releasing the energy constructively
  38. Emotional maturity is usually at least three years behind that of his/her peers
  39. The special interest can be a source of enjoyment, knowledge, self-identity and self-esteem that can be constructively used by parents, teachers and therapists
  40. The most common sensory sensitivity is to very specific sounds
  41. There can be an under- or over- reaction to the experience of pain and discomfort
  42. The sense of balance, movement perception, and body orientation can be unusual
  43. May have a fixation on something neither human nor toy, or a fascination with a specific category of objects and the acquisition of as many examples as possible
  44. The child’s overriding priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others
  45. The child is usually renowned for being direct, speaking his/her mind and being determined and having a strong sense of social justice
  46. The child may actively seek and enjoy solitude, be a loyal friend, and have a distinct sense of humor
  47. The child usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection with a different set of priorities than would be expected with "typical" children 
  48. The child values being creative rather than co-operative
  49. Can have difficulty with the management and expression of emotions
  50. May perceive errors that are not apparent to others, giving considerable attention to detail rather than noticing the “big picture”
  51. The child's special interest has several functions: to (a) create a sense of identity, (b) create an alternative world, (c) ensure greater predictability and certainty in life, (d) facilitate conversation and indicate intellectual ability, (e) help understand the physical world, (f) overcome anxiety, (g) provide pleasure, and (h) provide relaxation
  52. There seems to be two main categories of special interest: collections, and the acquisition of knowledge on a specific topic or concept
  53. Has a limited vocabulary to describe emotions, and a lack of subtlety and variety in emotional expression
  54. Tends to have a different perception of situations and sensory experiences
  55. May have problems expressing the degree of love and affection expected by others
  56. Unusual language abilities that include advanced vocabulary and syntax, but delayed conversation skills, unusual prosody, and a tendency to be pedantic
  57. Unusual or special interests can develop as early as age 2 to 3 years and may commence with a preoccupation with parts of objects (e.g., spinning the wheels of toy cars) or manipulating electrical switches
  58. HFA traits are more conspicuous in early childhood and gradually diminish during adolescence, but some traits remain throughout adulthood
  59. When one considers the attributes associated with the special interests, it is important to consider not only the benefits to the HFA child, but also the benefits to society
  60. The child’s coordination can be immature. and he/she may have a strange, sometimes idiosyncratic gait that lacks fluency and efficiency
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