The Warning Signs of Aspergers

Moms and dads should ask their youngster’s doctor for referral to a developmental pediatrician for assessment if there are concerns with any of the following...

Communication Red Flags:
  • Loss of any language or social skills at any age
  • No babbling by 11 months of age
  • No response when name is called, causing concern about hearing
  • No simple gestures by 12 months (e.g., waving bye-bye)
  • No single words by 16 months
  • No two-word phrases by 24 months (noun + verb – e.g., “baby sleeping”)

Behavioral Red Flags:
  • Compulsions or rituals (has to perform activities in a special way or certain sequence; is prone to tantrums if rituals are interrupted)
  • Lacks interest in toys, or plays with them in an unusual way (e.g., lining up, spinning, opening/closing parts rather than using the toy as a whole)
  • Odd or repetitive ways of moving fingers or hand
  • Oversensitive to certain textures, sounds or lights
  • Preoccupations with unusual interests, such as light switches, doors, fans, wheels
  • Unusual fears

Social Red Flags:
  • Avoids or ignores other children when they approach
  • Does not play peek-a-boo
  • Doesn’t make attempts to get parent’s attention; doesn’t follow/look when someone is pointing at something
  • Doesn’t point to show things he/she is interested in
  • Doesn’t respond to parent’s attempts to play, even if relaxed
  • More interested in looking at objects than at people’s faces
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Rarely makes eye contact when interacting with people
  • Rarely smiles socially
  • Seems to be “in his/her own world”

Are you wondering whether or not your pre-school aged youngster has Aspergers (high-functioning autism)? Take this simple little quiz:
  1. Are they attracted to shows like Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy?
  2. Are they fascinated with numbers and letters?
  3. Do they lack the ability to play "with" other children interactively?
  4. Do they like to line objects up in rows?
  5. Do they like to watch the same movie over and over again?
  6. Do they seem unafraid of things that they should be afraid of?
  7. Do they shun away from being touched or arch their back when held?
  8. Do they spin objects around and around?
  9. Do they walk up or down stairs always leading with the same foot?
  10. Is it hard for them to make eye contact or they simply don't?
  11. Is their speech repetitive, like an echo?

If you notice some or multiple signs in your child, write them down. Your concerns and observations are of great value for your pediatrician or professionals who are trying to diagnose your child.

Is it ADHD or Aspergers?

1. Discuss your concerns with your youngster's teacher. Kids who have ADHD and Aspergers often act very differently at school than they do at home due to over stimulation. Your youngster's teacher can offer important information that can lead to a proper diagnosis.

2. Notice if the youngster can stay focused under certain circumstances. Kids with Aspergers can sit still for long periods of time if they are interested in something. For example, they can still to watch a movie they are interested in or stay focused on a computer activity they enjoy. Kids who have ADHD will have trouble focusing on an activity even if they are interested in it.

3. Observe your youngster's behavior. Is your youngster's erratic behavior an everyday thing or is it in response to a traumatic event? All kids are hyper sometimes but a divorce or the death of a family member can cause kids to act out. Generally, if the behavior lasts for more than six months, it may be due to a disorder.

4. See how the youngster responds to medications and other behavior modification treatments. There are a number of medications to treat kids who are hyper active. But generally, you can find a medication to help calm a youngster who has ADHD. Kids who have Aspergers will not be calmed by medications such as Ritalin and Adderall. This is a big red flag since nearly every youngster who is diagnosed with Aspergers is initially diagnosed with ADHD.

5. Understand the differences between ADHD and Aspergers. Kids who have Aspergers typically engage in repetitive behavior, have a hard time dealing with change and are so inner-focused that they may appear to be self absorbed. Kids who have ADHD have a hard time focusing and sitting still but tend to be more aware of their surroundings than kids with Aspergers.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


  1. My step son is 14 years old and lives with his father and I plus two other children in the home. Tonight was the hardest nights of our life and we are at wits end with not knowing what to do with his situation. He has begun Grade nine and has gotten himself in with the wrong crowd at school, has been caught selling drug paraphernalia at school to another student then threatening him for non payment. Kieran is very gifted but as you know doesn't have the peer capabilities. His Vice Principal called to inform us as to what has been happening. He has also been caught smoking lately. He has also been given a blackeye at school for saying inappropriate comments to another student. We tried to prepare him for high school and the changes that would be taking place but a you know this was to no avail. My husband called his sons mother to come into town so we could talk with her regarding this problem. Relationship between mother and father is not very good because of situations with mother. She is presently going back to get full custody of the 14 year old and 2 week visitation with the other two. We have had custody for the past 9 years and it has been very trying battle with the 14 year old all the way through. He was only diagnosed with aspergers the last 4 - 5 years. Not much has been improved. Tonight my husbands admited for the first time that he no longer knows how to help his son. He has always been there for him when the rest of us could no longer mentally keep going. We are ready to handing him over our CHildren's Aid as a ward of the court but we know this will not help him either. We have to start thinking of the safety of our other two children in the house. He has threatened them with knives before and he has also made comments to our 12 year that he could kill him very easily. There are also two younger children in the mothers home and we are concerned with him harming them or sexually touching them.

  2. I am in desperate need of additional answers. My stepson is 13 and was diagnosed with Asperger's. He is on Abilify, lives with his mother and her boyfriend, and is about two hours away from me and his father. For the first time, I am told, he came home with all C's and a D on his report card. Thankfully, and surprisingly, his mom took away his computer. He lives and breathes almost entirely "online" except for when he comes to our house. We have been trying to find ways to do things together as a family that interest and occupy his time without it being on the computer. So far, that has gone pretty good at our house. But now his mom says that he is having tantrums, hitting himself (which escalated into hitting himself in the head with a bat), insinuating suicide, etc... I am deeply concerned. I love him. Both of his mother's parents committed suicide. I truly don't know how to express how scared I am at this point. He is coming up to our house today for the weekend.

    You may not see this email for quite a while, but thank you for the help you are providing all families touched by Autism.