When Asperger’s syndrome is described, it is often about children. This is about adults: Asperger characteristics in adulthood.
People with Asperger’s syndrome often have difficulty understanding other people’s feelings. Subtle messages that are communicated through facial expressions, eye contact and body language often go unnoticed.
They often find it difficult to make friends and have difficulty understanding unwritten social rules and body language. Often their language skills are very good, but they have specific problems with the social aspects of language: they tend to take things literally and not understand allusions and implied meanings.
Asperger’s syndrome is part of the autism spectrum.
If you are wondering if you have Asperger’s syndrome, our Asperger test can give you an initial assessment.
Facts about Asperger Syndrome
Asperger’s syndrome is considered a “mild” form of autism.
However, “mild” does not mean that people with Asperger‘s syndrome have no difficulties in everyday life – they do. Their difficulties are often only not immediately apparent from the outside.
It is neurologically caused – the brain of a person with Asperger’s syndrome processes information differently. Asperger’s syndrome exists from birth – it has no psychological cause.
Asperger’s syndrome probably has a genetic cause – but it is not a single gene that causes Asperger’s syndrome, but probably combinations of “normal” genes, of which all people carry part.
Other unknown factors may also play a role.
Asperger’s syndrome is not a disease, only a different distribution of strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it cannot be “cured”.
Asperger’s syndrome is invisible. You can’t tell whether a person has Asperger’s syndrome or not.
Asperger’s syndrome is congenital. However, it is only recognizable when the social requirements exceed the abilities. A diagnosis can usually be made after two years; however, many people with Asperger’s syndrome are not diagnosed into adulthood because Asperger’s syndrome was largely unknown until a few years ago.
Frequency: Approximately 1-2% of people are in the autism spectrum, many of them in the range of the spectrum called Asperger’s syndrome.
Gender ratio: Asperger’s syndrome appears to be more common in boys and men than in girls and women. However, researchers and organisations are now asking whether this is at least partly due to the fact that Asperger’s syndrome is less frequently detected in girls and women. Girls and women with Asperger’s syndrome are often less conspicuous, but have no less difficulties.
Characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome
Every person with Asperger’s syndrome is different, but there are characteristic features that all people with Asperger’s syndrome have to some extent:
They are intelligent and have good language skills.
They have difficulty using and understanding language in social contexts.
Social rules that others intuitively understand need to be learned.
They have difficulty understanding non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, gestures or tone of voice. They may recognise very obvious facial expressions, but not subtle ones.
They find it difficult to put themselves in the shoes of others, to recognize their feelings and to understand their perspective. This sometimes makes them appear selfish or arrogant – an unfair assessment, because people with Asperger’s syndrome are often unable to see how other people are doing. They are usually surprised to be told that their behaviour was hurtful or inappropriate.
They have difficulty with small talk and similar social demands.
They focus on details rather than the overall picture.
They often have intense interests (“special interests”). The areas of interest can be very different (e.g. computers, cats, the French Revolution, cars, light switches). They can change from time to time.
They often prefer certain routines and procedures and get into stress when they are interrupted.
Most people with Asperger’s syndrome have hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to light, sound, touch, taste or smell. In an environment with many stimuli (e.g. school, supermarket) they can quickly feel overloaded. See also Autism and Perception.
Other characteristics and traits that many people with Asperger’s syndrome have:
Eye contact can be difficult (but not necessary), sometimes unpleasant, often distracting. In general, people with Asperger’s syndrome have difficulty using eye contact for social communication: They often do not recognise the information given to them by the person they are talking to, and usually have difficulty giving such signals themselves.
Some people with Asperger’s syndrome are unguided, for example have a bad handwriting or a strange attitude. However, this does not have to affect individual sports.
Some people with Asperger’s syndrome have other diagnoses such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression or social anxiety.
Some people with Asperger’s syndrome have special skills or knowledge in a particular area, such as drawing, writing, math, music, history or computers. Many are good at remembering facts and data.
People with Asperger’s syndrome often have difficulty working in groups. But that also depends very much on the group.