Diagnostic Criteria for Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome
Adults are assessed using the same diagnostic criteria as children but some additional factors are considered as well. Here are some signs that may point to a diagnosis of Asperger’s in an adult:
- Asperger’s adults may consider political and moral issues to be either right or wrong. They seem to find it difficult to consider other perspectives.
- Little time is allowed for small talk and social graces as the adult does not see the need for these.
- Too much detail is given during a conversation.
- Asperger’s adults struggle to read social cues and signs that a person is bored or needs to move onto another activity.
- Body language is stilted or strange and eye contact is avoided.
- Lack of interest in fiction books or movies. Factual content is preferred, especially if it is related to a special interest.
- Many Asperger’s adults have a special interest that may border on obsessional. They amass an incredible knowledge on the subject and may end up working in a related field. Typical interests include electronics and computers and mechanical objects such as trains, aircraft, lawnmowers, and roller coasters.
- The adult may say unkind or inappropriate things without understanding the emotional impact on the listener.
Practical Problems in Asperger’s Adults
Many adults with Asperger’s syndrome have grown up without the benefit of a diagnosis and the accompanying therapies. While they may have married and held down a job for years, the following problems are commonly experienced:
- Dating and marriages may be strained as Asperger’s adults are not good at expressing love and affection.
- There may be a marked lack of interest in sex after children are born.
- Depression is a fairly common problem, especially if the adult is experiencing rejection at work and in the social arena.
- Family members are often held back from social activities and events as Asperger’s adults prefer the quietness of home and safety of routines.
- Excessive amounts of time and money may be spent pursuing a special interest or hobby.
- Asperger’s adults generally work best on their own. An open office environment will be overwhelming and distracting for them.
- Bullying is a problem, even amongst adults. People with Asperger’s often appear different and may be classed as nerds or geeks. Colleagues or acquaintances may think that picking on them and making fun of them is harmless but it can be very damaging to their self esteem.
Asperger’s adults can enjoy life and find great meaning in it. The support of family, friends and work colleagues can go a long way to helping them achieve this. Seeking a diagnosis and understanding the facts about Asperger’s is part of the process, as is helping Asperger’s adults find a comfortable niche in life.
The complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, Tony Attwood, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2007