Introduction to Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

Autism is described as occurring on a spectrum because the symptoms can vary from a complete lack of communication with others to difficulty understanding others’ feelings. This range of symptoms is why the  diagnostic term is referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Spectrum, Autism, Aspergers

Aspergers Syndrome, sometimes also called High-Functioning Autism, falls under the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder. (And yes, this remains the case, no matter what you may have heard about the newly-published DSM-V. But, the DSM-V is the subject of another blog). Aspergers Syndrome is viewed as being on the “mild” end of the spectrum because its symptoms differ in degree and severity from other forms of autism.

These following characteristics are typical of individuals with AS/HFA:

  • Average or above-average intelligence
  • Average or above-average verbal communication skills
  • Speech marked by a lack of rhythm, an odd inflection, or a monotone pitch
  • Average or below-average nonverbal communication skills
  • Difficulty in social interactions, including the ability to engage in back and forth conversations
  • Difficulty with understanding the actions, words, or behaviors of others, including the ability to see things from another’s perspective
  • A preoccupation with or a narrow interest in a specific unique topic
  • Awkward movements and/or mannerisms
  • Delay in motor skills
  • Strong reactions to textures, smells, sights, sounds, or other sensory stimuli that are not noticed by others

In his book, Asperger’s and Self-Esteem: Insight and Hope through Famous Role Models, Norm Ledgin advises us to move beyond describing Aspergers Syndrome in terms of its deficits. Instead, we should target the “Asperger’s traits that make us happy”.

Specifically, Norm Ledgin states that a person with Aspergers Syndrome is likely to:

  • Display a dependable commitment to honesty and truth
  • Offer to be helpful and accommodating
  • Be a reliable keeper of promises
  • Show strong ties to home and family
  • Obey rules and persons in positions of authority
  • Be creative in several interest areas
  • Exhibit a natural sense of fairness and justice
  • Resist compromising his or her principles
  • Have an appealingly droll sense of humor
  • Set high standards for his or her own work
  • Be organized and get things done
  • Inspire confidence by virtue of intelligence and reserve

However, individuals with Aspergers Syndrome are more than the sum of the characteristics presented above. As is true of all human beings, they have a mix of unique characteristics that can work together to overcome challenges to enable them to live productive and fulfilling lives.

Do you see any of these characteristics in your child? What strengths or weaknesses do you see in them?

Autism Community Network (ACN) is honored to be included among the bloggers on the Aspergers101 website as the  health-related expert on Aspergers Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism (AS/HFA). Our team consists of a medical  doctor, clinical psychologist, applied behavior analysts, occupational therapists, and speech and language pathologists.  

Visit the ACN website here.

By Dr. Loree Primeau, Executive Director, Autism Community Network

Sources: Autism Speaks; WebMD; National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Asperger’s and Self-Esteem: Insight and Hope through Famous Role Models by Norm Ledgin.

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Jennifer Allen

After an extensive career broadcast marketing, Jennifer and her husband searched for answers when their oldest son hit the kinder years with great difficultly. After finally learning that their oldest son had Aspergers Syndrome, she left her career in television and became a full time mother to both of her sons. Jennifer elicited the participation of her sons and together they produced several independent programs including a children’s animated series titled Ameriquest Kids (now distributed by Landmark Media) as well as her documentary and book titled, Coping to Excelling: Solutions for school-age children diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism or Aspergers Syndrome. The need for more information encouraged Jennifer to elicit a team of autism experts to provide weekly, original content to a website free to anyone seeking to live their best under the diagnosis of High-Functioning Autism/Aspergers Syndrome… appropriately titled: Aspergers101.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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5 thoughts on “Introduction to Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

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  2. I want to thank you so much for posting this article. The positive aspects of a person with Aspbergers are so often overlooked. My daughter is 16 and she struggles in every aspect of her life (school, church, etc.) because of her social dysfunction. She is often excluded from activities or ignored all together because of people’s perception of her. I often wish that people would take the time to get to know her, so they could see that there is a really great person, inside of all the awkwardness.

    • Thank you for your comment Rebecca! My son is now 22 and he too faced the same isolation and it can be painful to them…and often even more so for the parent. Know as she gets older it seems to get easier on her as society seems to ‘move on’ from the hatred of Middle and High School years. As long as she gets immersed into her special interests, hopefully that interest will lead her to a career and she will enjoy working around people of like mind/interests. Good luck and thank you for reading!~