20 Facts about Asperger's Syndrome in Children

Understanding the Signs that Accompany Asperger's Syndrome

Children with Asperger's Syndrome often struggle to fit in at school and other social settings. While there is no cure for their condition, they can be trained to cope.

Understanding the implication of Asperger’s Syndrome can bring a greater level of tolerance and acceptance for those with the condition. Here are some traits and behavior patterns commonly seen in the syndrome.

  • Most people with Asperger’s Syndrome are of average or above average intelligence.
  • They have excellent thinking skills where things are concerned but are extremely poor at interpreting human relationships.
  • Intense preoccupations often centre on certain toys or areas of interest. Common obsessions are dinosaurs and forms of transport and how they work.
  • They will often seek out other people to talk to about their interests. The conversation is usually one-sided – more like a lecture where they talk about their knowledge and aren't interested in feedback.
  • Older children may enjoy a club that is focused on their interest – for example, coin or stamp collecting.
  • Eye contact is not understood or made use of.
  • The child may appear cold and uncaring but it is not deliberate. He does not think about others and cannot understand the social graces that keep society functioning.
  • It is possible to teach social skills but it is a long slow process and often requires parental intervention to repair social damage when they act inappropriately.
  • Short stories can be useful in teaching social skills. Use one page visual aids that teach about listening to others and keeping quiet and still while they talk.
  • Children with Asperger’s Syndrome prefer routine and structure and can become irritable and distressed if the unexpected happens.
  • Gross and fine motor skills are often underdeveloped, causing problems in sports and balance.
  • Asperger’s Syndrome is often detected when a child starts preschool. He will generally interact better with his teacher than his peers and may display silly, loud, aggressive or socially withdrawn behaviour.
  • Things are interpreted very literally, meaning that sarcasm, playful teasing and figures of speech are not understood.
  • Rules are very important and a child may become angry if a game is not played fairly or his peers break school rules.
  • On a positive note, this aversion to rule-breaking means the Asperger’s Syndrome child is less likely to experiment with smoking, drinking, drugs, and sex as he matures.
  • Many children are perfectionists and struggle if they fail to produce perfect schoolwork. Encourage them to move on, and create distractions if necessary to get them to continue working.
  • They find it hard to generalize. If taught that they shouldn’t hit a child at school, they do not automatically make the connection that they shouldn’t hit a child in the mall.
  • Children with Asperger’s Syndrome express their feelings in unpredictable ways. Sometimes they may seem emotionless and other times they may display extreme emotion that is not appropriate to the situation.
  • Interrupting conversations is a common problem as the child does not understand the social signals that allow conversation to move from one to another.
  • A child can be helped if parents consistently work with him and highlight his strengths and work consistently on his weaknesses

There is hope for children who have Asperger’s Syndrome and with training and support from their family and health professionals, they can live meaningful, productive lives.