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Checklist of Asperger Traits


• Being "in their own world"
• Can engage in tasks (sometimes mundane ones) for hours and hours
• Can spend hours in the library researching
• Clumsiness
• Collects things
• Difficulty reading body language, facial expression and tone
• Doesn't always recognize faces right away (even close loved ones)
• Early in life they often have a speech impediment
• Eccentric personality
• Excellent rote memory
• Flat, or blank expression much of the time
• Highly gifted in one or more areas (e.g., math, music)
• Idiosyncratic attachment to inanimate objects
• Intense focus on one or two subjects
• Likes and dislikes can be very rigid
• Limited interests
• Loves learning and information
• May frequently repeat what you've just said
• May have difficulty staying in college despite a high level of intelligence
• Non-verbal communication problems
• Preoccupied with their own agenda
• Repetitive routines or rituals
• Sensitivity to the texture of foods
• Single-mindedness
• Speech and language peculiarities / hyperlexia
• Strong sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, sight, and smell (e.g., fabrics, fluorescent lights)
• Uncoordinated motor movements
• Unusual preoccupations
• Word repetition

Social Interactions—

• Can obsess about having friends to prove they’re “normal”
• Desire for friendships and social contact but difficulty acquiring and maintaining them
• Difficulty understanding others’ feelings
• Great difficulty with small-talk and chatter
• Has an urge to inform that can result in being blunt / insulting
• Lack of empathy at times
• Lack of interest in other people
• May avoid social gatherings
• Preoccupied with their own agenda
• Rigid social behavior due to an inability to spontaneously adapt to variations in social situations
• Shuts down in social situations
• Social withdrawal

In Romantic Relationships—

• Attention is narrowly focused on his own interests
• Can be very critical and takes it personally if she won’t wear something he likes, or wears something he dislikes
• Can become quite defensive when she asks for clarification or a little sympathy
• Can often be distant physically and/or emotionally
• Can stop putting any effort into the relationship after a time, and doesn’t understand why she then stops giving too
• Defensiveness can turn into verbal abuse (usually not physical abuse though) as the man attempts to control the communication to suit his view of the world
• Has a hard time saying “I love you”
• Has a hard time showing affection, and as a result, it is difficult to find out if they do love you
• May not call, and you might not see them for days (that doesn't mean they don't care though)
• May often feel “smothered” in the relationship
• Often attracted to another purely because she is attracted to him
• Often feel as if their partner is being ungrateful or “bitchy” when she complains he is uncaring or never listens to her
• Sometimes will make no motions to keep a relationship going (be it friendship or something more)
• Will do what he thinks is best for the both of them, but seldom talks to her about her feelings or opinions

Positive Traits—

1. Attention to detail – sometimes with painstaking perfection.

2. Focus and diligence – the ability to focus on tasks for a long period of time without needing supervision or incentive is legendary with Aspies.

3. Higher fluid intelligence – scientists in Japan have recently discovered that Aspergers children have a higher fluid intelligence than non-autistic children. Fluid intelligence is the ability to find meaning in confusion and solve new problems. It is the ability to draw inferences and understand the relationships of various concepts, independent of acquired knowledge. Experts say that those with Aspergers often have a higher than average general IQ as well.

4. Honesty – the value of being able to say “the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.”

5. Independent, unique thinking – people with Aspergers tend to spend a lot of time alone and will likely have developed their own unique thoughts as opposed to a ‘herd’ mentality.

6. Internal motivation – as opposed to being motivated by praise, money, bills or acceptance. This ensures a job done with conscience, with personal pride.

7. Logic over emotion – although people with Aspergers are very emotional at times, they spend so much time ‘computing’ in our minds that they get quite good at it. They can be very logical in their approach to problem-solving.

8. Visual, three-dimensional thinking – some with Aspergers are very visual in their thought processes, which lends itself to countless useful and creative applications.

NOTE:  No two people with Aspergers are the same -- they all just share some traits.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

Aspergers Children and Sensory Issues

Children with Aspergers (high functioning autism) may have problems processing information from one or more of the following seven sensory systems:

1. auditory (hearing)
2. gustatory (taste)
3. olfactory (smell)
4. proprioception (movement)
5. tactile (touch)
6. vestibular (balance)
7. visual (sight)

These processes take place at an unconscious level, and they work together to help attention and learning. Each system has specific receptors that pick up information that is relayed to the brain. The sensory characteristics of children with Aspergers can be responsible for many of their negative behaviors and unpleasant emotions. Reactions to sensory stimuli for typically developing children often become stress responses for those with Aspergers.

Sensory System Impact on Children with Aspergers—

1. Auditory System – Hearing: While they have intact hearing abilities, kids with Aspergers may not efficiently or accurately interpret auditory information. They may be hyper- and/or hyposensitive to noise, responding negatively to loud or small noises and failing to respond when their name is called.

2. Gustatory and Olfactory Systems – Taste and Smell: Issues related to the taste system manifest themselves in avoiding certain foods, eating a very circumscribed diet, and/or being very picky about foods. Closely related to the sense of taste, the olfactory system in the nose is most often characterized by a hypersensitivity to many of the smells that others enjoy or fail to notice.

3. Proprioception System – Movement: The proprioceptive system makes carrying multiple objects (e.g., backpack, books, and musical instruments) down a packed hallway possible by providing information about the location and movement of a body part. For some, these movements do not come naturally. Problems in the proprioception system can result in poor posture, a lack of coordination, and chronic fatigue accompanying physical activity. Some children do not receive accurate information from their bodies about how hard or soft they are hitting or pushing something. This can result in their using too little or too much force when tagging a peer or kicking a ball.

4. Tactile System – Touch: The tactile system provides information about objects in the environment. Tactile defensiveness may involve physical discomfort when coming into contact with someone or something that others might not register. Standing in line, taking a bath, unexpected touch, touch that is either too light or too heavy, and using a glue stick present potentially stressful situations for tactilely defensive individuals. In contrast, children who are hyposensitive fail to respond to the touch of others, yet often use touch to explore the environment for the tactile input they crave.

5. Vestibular System – Balance: The vestibular system is stimulated by movement and changes in head position. Children with vestibular hypersensitivity have low tolerance for movement and exhibit difficulties with changing speed and direction. They may experience nausea from spinning and have difficulty sitting still; others may display gravitational insecurity. Some may seek out vestibular input by crashing into things or rocking, might be considered clumsy, or have difficulty “switching gears.”

6. Visual System – Sight: Compared to other sensory areas, the visual system appears to be a relative strength for children with Aspergers. The problems that do arise are often related to hypersensitivities to light, poor hand-eye coordination/depth perception, and hypo-sensitivities that make finding an object “in plain sight” very difficult. Some children may have perfect 20/20 vision yet have difficulties with visual tracking and convergence. These problems can be detected by an exam with a behavioral ophthalmologist or optometrist.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

How To Get Your High-Functioning Autistic Child To Listen To You

You've got something to say to your child, or there is something you want him to do – or stop doing. But, as all children with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's tend to do, he is fixated on a particular object or activity (e.g., television, computer, video game, etc.). But before your message can get through, you have to get his attention.

Capturing your youngster's focus can be easier said than done, especially if it's already aimed at something else. Shouting sometimes seems like the only way to get him to listen, but it can also raise the emotional temperature in the room to the point where he is less able to attend (and if you shout a lot, he has probably learned to tune you out anyway).

Fortunately, there are better ways to get your child’s attention. And you will want to have several strategies at your disposal to keep your approach fresh and “attention-getting.” 

Here are 25 such strategies to add to your parenting toolbox:

1. "Can you focus on the sound of my voice?" I asked my autistic grandson one evening, and sure enough, he did just that. Sometimes, the most direct and obvious method actually works.

2. Ask your youngster to repeat the request back to you. If he can't, it's too long or too complicated.

3. Before giving your youngster directions, squat to his eye level and engage him in eye-to-eye contact to get his attention. Teach him how to focus: "Mark, I need your eyes." ...or "I need your ears." Be sure not to make your eye contact so intense that your youngster perceives it as controlling rather than connecting.

4. Close the discussion. If a matter is really closed to discussion, say so. "I'm not changing my mind about this. Sorry." You'll save wear and tear on both you and your youngster. Reserve your "I mean business" tone of voice for when you do.

5. Doing something silly (e.g., making funny noises, jumping up and down, yodeling, speaking Pig Latin, etc.) will make your youngster take notice, laugh, and focus on your ridiculous self.

6. Don't ask a leading question when a negative answer is not an option. Rather than "Will you please pick up your coat?" Just say, "Pick up your coat, please."

7. Give advance notice. "We are leaving soon. Say bye-bye to the computer.”

8. If your youngster's off on a tangent, try talking about something completely different. If you can get that train of thought to jump tracks, it may slow down enough to let you on.

9. Keep it simple. Use short sentences with one-syllable words. Listen to how children communicate with each other and take note. When your youngster shows that glazed, disinterested look, you are using words that are too big – and you are no longer being understood.

10. Legs first, mouth second. Instead of yelling, "Turn off the computer, it's time for dinner!" walk into the room where your youngster is using the computer, join in with his interests for a few minutes, and then, during a break in the action, have him turn off the computer. Going to your youngster conveys you're serious about your request. Otherwise kids interpret this as a mere preference.

11. Let your youngster complete the thought. Instead of "Don't leave your mess piled up," try: "Max, think of where you want to store your music CDs." Letting the youngster fill in the blanks is more likely to create a lasting lesson.

12. Make a secret signal with your youngster that means "Listen up!" Tap your ear, tap your mouth, or wave frantically. Visuals can be more attention-getting than audios for children on the autism spectrum.

13. Make physical contact when you want your youngster to pay attention (e.g., a hand on the shoulder, a pat on the back, a quick hug, etc.). That makes it clear (better than words from afar) that you need to connect.

14. Offer your youngster a reward if he hears you out (not something expensive). Children will often work for something unbelievably tiny. You could tell your youngster a secret after he's listened to your message, then just whisper "I love you!" in his ear. 

15. Reinforce the desired behaviors positively and give consequences to those who choose not to listen. Be consistent with how you give consequences and always give only one warning. Over time children begin to see this as routine and will predict the outcome of their choices.

16. Settle the listener. Before giving your directive, restore emotional equilibrium, otherwise you are wasting your time. Nothing sinks in when a youngster is an emotional wreck.

17. Shouting is emotionally overwhelming, but raising your voice doesn't have to be. Try addressing your “attention-wandering” son or daughter like you would your “attention-wandering” puppy dog – with a sharp, but friendly, tone.

18. Something that makes your youngster jump (e.g., a clap of the hands, a flicker of lights) can break attention from one thing and focus it on you. You can take it from there.

19. Stay brief by using the “one-sentence rule.” Put the main directive in the opening sentence. The longer you ramble, the more likely your youngster is to become “parent-deaf.” Too much talking is a very common mistake when dialoging about an issue. It gives the youngster the feeling that you're not quite sure what it is you want to say. If he can keep you talking, he can get you sidetracked. 

20. Talk the youngster down. The louder your youngster yells, the softer you respond. Let your youngster ventilate while you interject timely comments: "I understand" or "Can I help?" Sometimes just having a caring listener available will wind down the tantrum. If you come in at his level, you have two tantrums to deal with. Be the adult for him.

21. Threats and judgmental openers are likely to put the youngster on the defensive. "You" messages make a youngster clam up. "I" messages are non-accusing. Instead of "You'd better do this..." or "You must...," try "I would like...." or "I am so pleased when you..." Instead of "You need to clear the table," say "I need you to clear the table."

22. Try whispering. Your youngster may be intrigued enough by this hard-to-hear approach that he'll turn his attention to it. Saves your voice, too.

23. Use rhyme rules. "If you hit, you must sit." Get your youngster to repeat them.

24. When your youngster's fixated on something (television, computer, video game), step right in front of that object of affection and insert yourself into the line of vision.

25. Write it. Reminders can evolve into nagging so easily, especially for kids and teens who feel being told things puts them in the slave category. Without saying a word, you can communicate anything you need said. Talk with a pad and pencil. Leave humorous notes for your youngster. Then sit back and watch it happen.

More resources for parents of children and teens on the autism spectrum:

Best Comment:

Hey Mark, Our son was just diagnosed with Aspy in his 27th year of life! All the years of wondering WHAT was causing him to act like he did...differant from the other kids, yet as bright as a star! He also has 99% ADHD!!! So, it has been extremely difficult until the Aspy dx. Now I realize WHY he acts like he does and I can now respond accordingly...with love, compassion and patience! From a rebellious life on the streets in his younger years, he dropped out of school in 9th grade! And is now in his 2nd year of tech college, on the Dean's list and excelling in Electronics! we are pleased to see your links on here! What a relief to know that we, as parents, are not alone! Robin 

Building High Self-Esteem in Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Healthy self-esteem is a youngster's armor against the challenges of the world. Children who feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life. These children are realistic and generally optimistic.

In contrast, children with low self-esteem can find challenges to be sources of major anxiety and frustration. Those who think poorly of themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. If given to self-critical thoughts such as "I'm no good" or "I can't do anything right," they may become passive, withdrawn, or depressed. Faced with a new challenge, their immediate response is "I can't."

Kids with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) have a much harder time with their self-esteem. Here are just a few reasons why:
  1. Expressive and comprehensive communication has a direct impact on a youngster's self-esteem. These are areas that do not come easily to kids or grow-ups with the disorder.
  2. The expectations of siblings and the all-too-frequent bullying interactions from many peers can leave a child on the autism spectrum feeling devastated.
  3. The visits to doctors, or speech therapists, or OTs, the testing, and the stream of interventions that we try with them can easily leave them feeling like they're under the microscope, a specimen that warrants investigation, a person who needs fixing.
  4. They often perceive the constant correction of their behaviors and their social interactions as criticism
  5. Understanding subtle jokes and participating in human interplay, actions natural to their neuro-typical peers, further increase their feelings of 'not fitting in' and erode their self-esteem.

Self-esteem is the collection of beliefs or feelings we have about ourselves, our "self-perceptions." How we define ourselves influences our motivations, attitudes, and behaviors and affects our emotional adjustment. Self-esteem development starts very early. For example, a young child who reaches a milestone experiences a sense of accomplishment that bolsters self-esteem. Learning to roll over after dozens of unsuccessful attempts teaches a baby a "can-do" attitude.

The concept of success following persistence starts early. As children try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. At the same time, they're creating a self-concept based on interactions with other people. This is why parental involvement is tantamount to helping children form accurate, healthy self-perceptions.

Self-esteem also can be defined as feelings of capability combined with feelings of being loved. A youngster who is happy with an achievement, but does not feel loved, may eventually experience low self-esteem. Likewise, a youngster who feels loved, but is hesitant about his or her own abilities, can also end up with low self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes when the right balance is reached.

Self-esteem fluctuates as children grow. It's frequently changed and fine-tuned, because it is affected by a youngster's experiences and new perceptions. So it helps to be aware of the signs of both healthy and unhealthy self-esteem.

Signs of Low Self-Esteem—

Children with low self-esteem may not want to try new things, and may frequently speak negatively about themselves: "I'm stupid," "I'll never learn how to do this," or "What's the point? Nobody cares about me anyway." They may exhibit a low tolerance for frustration, giving up easily or waiting for somebody else to take over. They tend to be overly critical of and easily disappointed in themselves. Children with low self-esteem see temporary setbacks as permanent, intolerable conditions, and a sense of pessimism predominates.

Signs of Healthy Self-Esteem—

Children with healthy self-esteem tend to enjoy interacting with others. They're comfortable in social settings and enjoy group activities as well as independent pursuits. When challenges arise, they can work toward finding solutions and voice discontent without belittling themselves or others. For example, rather than saying, "I'm an idiot," a youngster with healthy self-esteem says, "I don't understand this." They know their strengths and weaknesses, and accept them. A sense of optimism prevails.

How Moms and Dads Can Help—

Here's how you can play an important role in promoting healthy self-esteem in your Asperger's or HFA youngster:

1. As parents, we must believe in our children’s value ourselves before we can ever change their minds. These children know when we're faking our compliments or arbitrarily handing out encouragement because the therapy book says we should give 5 positive comments to each correction.

2. Be a positive role model. If you're excessively harsh on yourself, pessimistic, or unrealistic about your abilities and limitations, your youngster may eventually mirror you. Nurture your own self-esteem, and your youngster will have a great role model.

3. Be spontaneous and affectionate. Your love will go a long way to boost your youngster's self-esteem. Give hugs and tell children you're proud of them. Pop a note in your youngster's lunchbox that reads, "I think you're terrific!" Give praise frequently and honestly, without overdoing it. Children can tell whether something comes from the heart.

4. Believing in your youngster involves empathy, walking in their shoes, rather than sympathy; no one wants to be felt sorry for. Each youngster is a gift, with his or her own special qualities. We just need to look for these special gifts, tune into the youngster with our hearts, and bring their essence out.

5. Bridge the interactions between peers and the youngster with Asperger's or HFA. Visually and verbally interpret what you think they both are thinking and/or feeling based on your own experiences when you were their age, and your understanding of autism spectrum disorders.

6. Children on the autism spectrum are masters at copying what others say, so make sure they're hearing things that are good for them to copy!

7. Consider that kids on the spectrum are wonderful beings here to teach us empathy, compassion, understanding and most importantly, how to love.

8. Create a safe, loving home environment. Children who don't feel safe or are abused at home will suffer immensely from low self-esteem. A youngster who is exposed to moms and dads who fight and argue repeatedly may become depressed and withdrawn.

9. Do whatever it takes to include them in life rather than merely integrate their presence.

10. Empower them to be themselves, perfectly okay with who and how they are. Do this by loving them for who they are now, today, not who you think they should become, after ABA, or speech therapy or learning 'appropriate' social skills.

11. Encourage kids to share their thoughts and feelings; this is so important and often sheds new light on existing situations.

12. Explain autism to the youngster when he is able to understand his condition. Who are we really kidding, other than ourselves, when we pretend a youngster does not have the "autism" label, or we try to camouflage it? Who are we hurting? It's the youngster on the spectrum who is hurt in the long run.

13. Give positive, accurate feedback. Statements like, "You were really mad at your brother. But I appreciate that you didn't yell at him or hit him" acknowledges a youngster's feelings, rewards the choice made, and encourages the youngster to make the right choice again next time.

14. Go to conferences, read books, research and share information that takes into consideration the many sensory, social, behavioral and communication challenges faced by the youngster at his/her functioning level. Armed with this understanding of how the disability affects the youngster, you and others can better find ways to help her fit in.

15. Having a positive mental attitude, especially when advocating, helps others want to cooperate with us. After all, who wants to deal with anyone who is bitchy?

16. Help children become involved in constructive experiences. Activities that encourage cooperation rather than competition are especially helpful in fostering self-esteem. For example, mentoring programs in which an older youngster helps a younger one learn to read can do wonders for both children.

17. Identify and redirect your youngster's inaccurate beliefs. It's important for moms and dads to identify children' irrational beliefs about themselves, whether they're about perfection, attractiveness, ability, or anything else. Helping children set more accurate standards and be more realistic in evaluating themselves will help them have a healthy self-concept. Inaccurate perceptions of self can take root and become reality to children.

18. Keep their life manageable, refraining from overwhelming them with so many activities that they become too challenged physically and mentally to succeed at anything.

19. Like most people, children with Asperger's or HFA feel better about themselves when they're balanced physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

20. Model a mental attitude of "things are great". Express yourself in the positive, rather than the negative.

21. Provide choices to them frequently so they understand they have a say in their own lives and even let them be in charge sometimes.

22. Remember to teach extended family, educators, other parents and professionals all you can to help integration and provide a deeper understanding when trying to teach particular skills.

23. Set the stage for success by acknowledging their achievements - however small - and reminding them of their past accomplishments.

24. Show your confidence in his abilities by telling him that you believe he can succeed.

25. Since they are often very picky eaters and gravitate towards junk food, it's important to try supplementing their diet. Also, provide regular physical activity, when possible, to relieve stress and clear their mind.

26. Stress the good effort your youngster is making, if he hasn't yet achieved a goal.

27. Stress the positives! Look for the good in every youngster, even if you don't see it at first. Pretending to be Pollyanna can only help, but make sure you're genuine in what you say.

28. Watch for signs of abuse by others, problems in school, trouble with peers, and other factors that may affect children' self-esteem. Deal with these issues sensitively but swiftly.

29. Watch what you say. Children are very sensitive to their moms and dads' words. Remember to praise your youngster not only for a job well done, but also for effort. But be truthful. For example, if your youngster doesn't make the soccer team, avoid saying something like, "Well, next time you'll work harder and make it." Instead, try "Well, you didn't make the team, but I'm really proud of the effort you put into it." Reward effort and completion instead of outcome.

30. When we say, "You are great!" to a youngster often enough, he, too, will believe it and feel valued for who he truly is.

More resources for parents:

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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 Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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 Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD 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 ASD 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…

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...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...