Typical Asperger's Behaviors
There are a number of behaviors that are characteristically seen in those suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. Many of these behaviors stem from anxiety or the inability to understand or interpret situations accurately. Here are descriptions of some typical Asperger’s behaviors.
Behaviors relating to impaired social skills- People with Asperger’s syndrome have difficulty communicating or relating to others. This may appear as lack of eye contact, making tactless or inappropriate remarks, monopolizing conversations and being unaware that others would prefer to change the subject, as well as having trouble taking turns or sharing. An inability to comprehend non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language can further impair normal communication.
Asperger’s sufferers also tend to lack empathy, and are unable to see things from another person’s point of view. This may cause them to appear insensitive to the feelings of others. They exhibit black-and-white thinking and take things literally, which can prevent them from understanding jokes or sarcasm. Their impaired social skills often cause people with asperger’s to avoid group activities or team sports, preferring instead to spend time alone.
Rigidity, inflexibility and insistence on routines- Children with Asperger’s syndrome frequently have trouble with transitions or changes, and prefer to have strict routines that do not vary. Structure and rules give them a sense of control and predictability, and they may become very upset if the rules are violated. Sudden changes may cause them to cry, scream, argue, or have a tantrum or meltdown. Often, these behaviors occur because they are unsure of how things work and don’t know what they are supposed to do in new situations. When they are required to switch activities, they may become upset because they were not finished with what they were doing and want to continue, or because the new activity is undesirable. When they don’t know what is about to happen, they become very anxious.
Repetitive behaviors- Repetitive behaviors, also known as self-stimulatory behaviors or stimming, are common in people with asperger’s. These may include motor movements such as flapping or waving the hands, rocking, pacing, spinning, teeth grinding, or biting nails. Some repetitive behaviors can be injurious, such as head banging, biting or skin picking. Verbal repetitive behaviors, or echolalia, involve repeating a word or phrase over and over. These types of behaviors are thought to soothe and ease anxiety by arousing the nervous system and releasing endorphins, or by giving a sense of control.
Obsession with a particular topic- Those with Asperger’s syndrome often become obsessed with a topic to the point where they think and talk about it incessantly, and constantly read or carry out research to learn more about it. This obsessive interest can interfere with schoolwork and daily life. Topics of obsession may be anything, but often involve technology, science or nature. Vehicles including trains, airplanes, cars or ships are common subjects, as well as math, astronomy, weather, animals and insects. Young children with Asperger’s syndrome may become obsessed with a certain type of toy or game.
The asperger’s behaviors discussed in this article will not necessarily be seen in every individual with Asperger’s syndrome, but they are amongst the most common.