Repetitive behaviors, a need for routine, and difficulty understanding emotional cues are signs of Asperger’s syndrome.
Asperger’s syndrome is an outdated diagnosis. Symptoms of Asperger’s are now categorized autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
But even though Asperger’s syndrome is no longer a formal diagnosis, some people still identify with the diagnosis as well as with Asperger’s symptoms.
However, if you’re wondering, “Do I have Asperger’s?” you may still want to read more about autism spectrum disorder in general.
The condition is called “spectrum” because symptoms of autism fall on a spectrum. The ends of this spectrum are low and high functionality. Based on how much support you may need to go about your life, you’d be considered more or less functional.
In other words, some autistic people don’t need a lot of support on a daily basis, while others need more.
People who were diagnosed with Asperger’s symptoms tend to fall into the category of needing less support. This is why some people talk about mild Asperger’s symptoms. But this isn’t always the case.
Some research explains that Asperger’s is often defined as “high functioning” autism, but the person might still need support in certain areas.
Many people still use the term “high functioning” to describe some autistic people, but it’s not really accurate. It’s also controversial among members of the autistic community, and many consider the language to be ableist.
A more accurate way to say “high functioning” would be to say that the autistic person may have fewer support needs than another autistic person.
It’s generally more accurate to talk about Asperger’s symptoms as patterns that involve challenges in communication and behavior.
An autistic person who identifies as an Aspie (person with Asperger’s) may still show many of the patterns that an autistic person does.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists guidelines that help clinicians identify Asperger’s symptoms and diagnose autism spectrum disorder in general.
According to these guidelines, an autistic person will:
- show differences in their communication and social interaction abilities
- show two to four types of repetitive or restricted behaviors
In cases where these patterns make it much harder to adapt to neurotypical (nonautistic) situations, an autistic person might need higher levels of support.
Even if now part of the autism spectrum, this is what has been traditionally considered the main list of symptoms and signs of Asperger’s syndrome:
Differences when it comes to social give-and-take
An autistic person may find it harder to take part in social settings, which can involve a lot of back and forth conversation. If you feel you experience Asperger’s symptoms, you may be less likely to start conversations or pick up on the tone of the conversation.
Differences in nonverbal communication
An autistic person may not make as much eye contact in a social interaction.
If you have Asperger’s, you might not be able to easily read facial expressions or body language the way nonautistic people do.
Differences in their approach to relationships
In some cases, autistic people find it harder to connect with others. This can make it seem like they’re not interested in forming friendships with others, even when the opposite is true.
Autistic people may also find it takes more energy to decode what communication is appropriate for different situations or relationships, and to act in that way.
This doesn’t mean you can’t establish successful relationships. In fact, even though dating someone with Asperger’s may come with specific challenges, long lasting bonds are possible and common.
Certain behavioral patterns are also a key aspect of identifying signs of Asperger’s and autism, like:
Repetitive movements or speech
An autistic person may repeat certain behaviors like tapping fingers or blinking their eyes. These repetitive behaviors are often called stimming.
They may also repeat the same sounds or phrases, a behavior called “echolalia.”
Need for routine
One of the autism and Asperger’s symptoms you may have heard about is the preference for keeping certain routines or rituals. For example, you might have a certain way of grocery shopping or particular items you buy each time.
Because these routines can lend stability to an autistic person’s life, a change to the routine might feel jarring or unsettling.
Autistic people may focus intently on certain interests and feel very attached to these. This focused interest can extend to objects, too.
Different reactions to sensations
If you’re autistic, you might also have different reactions to your surroundings.
For example, some autistic people may have a high tolerance to pain or not notice changes in temperature. Others may feel overwhelmed by changes in light or sound.
Asperger’s syndrome hasn’t been associated with delays in language and communication. Meanwhile, autism spectrum disorder is
In children, Asperger’s (or more accurately, ASD) could look like:
- having few friends at school
- having anxiety about going to school
- a lack of imaginary play
- less interest in sports or activities that involve coordination
- having specific interests like music, space, trains, and more
- sensitivity to noise, textures, and certain environments
A child with Asperger’s syndrome may have below-average executive functioning (mental adaptability), but above-average problem-solving skills.
It’s a common misconception that all kids with Asperger’s or autism are geniuses or highly intelligent. In reality, many autistic people also have intelligence that falls in the average range.
At school, autistic children may have a hard time connecting with others and experience social isolation. In fact, over
Adults with Asperger’s will likely show many of the same signs as someone with an ASD diagnosis.
Not everyone with Asperger’s or an ASD diagnosis will have the exact same communication and behavior patterns. But in adults, Asperger’s may look like:
- having relationship ideas that clash with neurotypical expectations
- experiencing social difficulties in nonautistic settings
- having trouble adjusting language to different situations
- feeling anxiety when a routine is interrupted
- focusing on the self and personal interests in conversation
- repetitive behaviors
- having trouble decoding emotions or feelings in others
Sometimes the way autism presents itself can cause challenges at work or in a relationship.
In workplace environments with a lot of change or demand for flexibility, an autistic person may end up feeling derailed or overwhelmed. Still, other traits — like creativity, logical reasoning, and others — can make autistic people a great fit for workplaces that value these qualities.
And in relationships, autistic people may notice emotional gaps between themselves and nonautistic people. This can make some relationships more difficult.
The only way to really know if you have Asperger’s or autism is to seek the help of a health professional. Only a trained specialist can provide you with an accurate diagnosis.
Even though autism is usually diagnosed during childhood, adults can also receive the diagnosis. However, to reach the decision, the health professional will want to explore how many autism or Asperger’s symptoms you experienced in your younger years.
Because it’s no longer a formal diagnosis, clinicians don’t generally diagnose Asperger’s syndrome anymore. People who met previous criteria for Asperger’s may instead get a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
Symptoms and signs of Asperger’s include differences in behavior, perception, and communication.
Asperger’s syndrome is no longer an official diagnosis. It’s been replaced by autism spectrum disorder in the DSM-5, but some autistic people still identify as having Asperger’s syndrome.
While autism and Asperger’s syndrome share most of the same features, people with Asperger’s tend to be seen as having fewer support needs than other autistic people.
Every autistic person is different though, and autism will present differently from person to person.