Worried that your partner, colleague, or loved one might have Asperger’s?
What are the signs of Aspergers in adults to look for?
What is Asperger’s syndrome?
‘Asperger’s disorder’, or ‘Asperger’s syndrome’, is actually no longer an official diagnosis in the UK (or the USA, for that matter). Since 2013 this was dropped in favour of ‘autism spectrum disorder’ (ASD).
But those who had a diagnosis before the change still use the term ‘Asperger’s’, ‘Aspie’ for short, and it’s still a preferred term by many who feel they have symptoms.
Signs of Aspergers in Adults
How can you tell if someone has Asperger’s syndrome?
The main signs of Asperger’s in adults are that he or she will show difficulties with socialising and communicating, have unusual and obsessive interests, and engage in repetitive, even ‘ritualised’ behaviours.
*These different ways of behaving will have been present since childhood. The autism spectrum doesn’t just suddenly develop later in life.
Signs of Asperger’s in adults can look like:
People with Aspergers might seem to speak like a computer who can’t stop spouting facts, not allowing pauses or normal interaction in conversation. And they might even have a unique tone of voice.
2. A lack of nonverbal behaviours.
You’ll notice he or she uses less gestures and facial expressions.
3. Little to no eye contact.
It’s not that someone with Asperger’s is avoiding looking at you, it’s just that their natural way of being does not involve eye contact. If you tell them about it, they might then try extra hard to look you in the eye and then overdo it.
4. Not one for social graces.
It can feel like those with Asperger’s are being rude, when really they just don’t have any intuition for what is and isn’t the right thing to do. They can walk away when you are talking, invite you over for dinner then ignore you, open the door to let you into their house and look at you then walk off….anything that you take for granted as ‘normal manners’ will not be natural for him or her.
5. Obsessive focus on one topic (often an unusual one).
It might be collecting something rare, or an unusual hobby, it might be another person that obsesses them. They might talk incessantly about the subject or other person, unaware they are boring others. The interest can then occasionally change (which can feel hard if you are the obsessive focus of a person with Asperger’s, only for him or her to go very cold).
6. Unable to understand what you are feeling.
Those with Asperger’s can often be judged as ‘cold’, ‘unfeeling’, or ‘lacking empathy’. It’s not that they don’t have empathy or mean to be unkind. People with Asperger’s experience less emotions themselves. So they can struggle to understand why others are so upset or emotional and might need to go away and think about it.
7. Awkward conversational skills.
Again, those with Asperger’s can rant on and on, unable to see that others are either offended or uninterested. But if they don’t like someone, they might suddenly not talk at all, which can be equally as awkward.
8. Not a ‘sharer’.
Wondering why the person you know doesn’t ask about how your day went? Or tell you about their recent successes? Sharing personal experience and emotions is not a given for someone with Asperger’s.
Once a person with Asperger’s comes to a conclusion they can be quite rigid and unable to see the perspective of others.
Last minute change of plans? This can be very upsetting or even overwhelming for someone with Aspergers, who like things to go a certain way all the time. They might also get very upset about something that to others seems tiny or strange, like your decision to use an oven to bake a potato when they feel you should never use an oven for less than exactly five potatoes at at time.
11. A need for routine.
Asperger’s causes a need for routine and and structure. Without it, the person can become very flustered and panicked.
12. Not touchy feely.
Those with Apserger’s can be very sensitive to touch and shy away from it, with the exception of their partner. They might flinch at being tapped on the back or touched on the arm, and refuse to be hugged. They might also have other autistic traits like a sensitivity to noise and colour.
Aspergers vs Autism spectrum disorder
What Aspergers has in common with other parts of the autistic spectrum is that it is a behavioural disorder which shows up in the way someone communicates and acts.
The change in diagnoses from ‘Asperger’s’ to ‘autism spectrum disorder’ has not been welcomed by all. Some sufferers feel they have little in common with those with other types of autism. Asperger’s affects day-to-day functioning less, for starters. And it doesn’t stop someone from being verbal, it just makes their communication different.
Another major problem is that those who might have qualified for a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome find they don’t have the right traits for a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder. This can lead to less access to treatment.
Is the change from Asperger’s to ASD possibly a good thing?
On another note, the German doctor the condition is named after has recently been discovered to be far from the caring practitioner he portrayed himself as. Dr. Asperger worked under the Nazi regime and a recent research study has found he was responsible for the death of up to 800 children, signing them off as ‘unsuitable to live’.
Can Asperger’s syndrome in adults be treated?
There is no medication that specifically treats Asperger’s syndrome.
But working with a counselling psychologist can be very helpful. This is also the case if you don’t qualify as having autistic spectrum disorder but feel you would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
A psychologist can help you learn how to cope under stress, how to communicate more effectively, and how to behave in social situations so that your day-to-day life becomes easier.
Harley therapy connects you to experienced and professional counselling psychologists for adults with autism working from several central London locations.
Still have a question about signs of Asperger’s syndrome in adults? Use the comment box below.