HFA Level 1 Autism


  1. They have passions, certain things that they focus on, but they may have a hard time talking about anything else, which is often annoying to peers.


People with Asperger’s do feel, I’ve read that the feelings can be so intense, it’s kind of sensory overload.

Generally you’d be looking for someone who has rules for things. Likes rules, but may not always follow said rules for themselves. Socially awkward. At 13, probably very immature for his age. My neighbor has a 14 year old Aspie and my parents neighbor has a 13 year old one. Typically very intelligent. History, trains, mechanical stuff is often a special interest. Not being g able to read facial cues from others.

If you suspect sociopath, I would think the first thing to look at is his treatment of animals. Hurting or killing small animals is an early sign.

Symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome Disorder

1. Difficulty with social interactions and communication
2. Repetitive behaviors and restricted interests
3. Sensory sensitivities
4. Difficulty with transitions
5. Poor eye contact
6. Unusual responses to sensory input
7. Difficulty with understanding and using nonverbal communication
8. Difficulty with understanding and using language
9. Difficulty with abstract concepts
10. Unusual play with toys and other objects

How many kids with ADHD also have Asperger’s?
It is difficult to estimate the exact number of children with both ADHD and Asperger’s, as the two conditions can overlap and be difficult to distinguish. However, research suggests that between 10-30% of children with ADHD may also have Asperger’s. Some children with ADHD may also have ASD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one-third of children with ADHD also have ASD.
Interestingly, the converse is different.
While about one-in-three kids with ADHD are also Aspergers,
More than two-of-three kids with Asperger’s are also ADHD. It is estimated that between 50-70% of children with Asperger’s Syndrome also have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Kids with Asperger’s are considerably more likely to ALSO have ADHD.

Aspergers people may hear and learn without needing to really look at somebody. There’s also peripheral vision, which is looking – but from the sides of the eyes. Non-Aspergers individuals believe that if the eye-to-eye contact isn’t full in the face, it’s not eye contact.

My ASD Child Aspergers and Lack of Eye Contact

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.
Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Though they want to be accepted by their friends, Aspergers and HFA children tend to be very hurt and frustrated by their lack of social competency. Their inability to “connect” to others is made worse by the negative feedback that these “special needs” children receive from their painful social interactions (e.g., bullying, teasing, rejection, etc.). The worse they perform socially, the more negative feedback they get from peers, so the worse they feel and perform. Due to this consistent negative social feedback, many children and teens on the autism spectrum feel depressed, anxious and angry, which just compounds their social difficulties by further paralyzing them in social situations.

Social problems typically occurring in ASD children and teens include the following:

  1. These young people take things very literally. This may mean that it becomes difficult for them to follow a lot of what their peers are talking about.
  2. Neurotypical peers may get the Aspergers or HFA child into trouble because, while often bright in some subjects, he is gullible when it comes to social behavior.
  3. Some children and teens with the disorder learn that they have to ask a question to start a conversation, but then, instead of listening to the answer, they ask question after question, in effect drilling their peers and making them feel uncomfortable.
  4. Their difficulties reading social cues cause them to irritate peers. Difficulties in reading social cues range from (a) trouble understanding the zones of personal space, causing them to stand too close to others, to (b) a lack of basic conversation skills.
  5. They have passions, certain things that they focus on, but they may have a hard time talking about anything else, which is often annoying to peers.
  6. They may not understand social banter, and so they become easy targets for bullying and teasing.


Older Teens and Young Adult Children with ASD Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with ASD face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, “There’s so little time, yet so much left to do.”
Kids on the autism spectrum possess a unique set of attitudes and behaviors:
Social Skills— Social conventions are a confusing maze for young people with HFA. They can be disarmingly concise and to the point, and may take jokes and exaggerations literally. Because they struggle to interpret figures of speech and tones of voice that “neurotypicals” (non-autistic children) naturally pick up on, they may have difficulty engaging in a two-way conversation. As a result, they may end up fixating on their own interests and ignoring the interests and opinions of others.
Sensory Difficulties— Children on the autism spectrum can be extremely sensitive to loud noise, strong smells and bright lights. This can be a challenge in relationships as these “special needs” kids may be limited in where they can go, how well they can tolerate the environment, and how receptive they are to instruction from parents and teachers.
Routines and Fixations— These young people rely on routine to provide a sense of control and predictability in their lives. Another characteristic of the disorder is the development of special interests that are unusual in focus or intensity. These children may become so obsessed with their particular areas of interest that they get upset and angry when something or someone interrupts their schedule or activity.
Interpreting and Responding to Emotion— Children and teens on the spectrum often suffer from “mindblindness,” which means they have difficulty understanding the emotions others are trying to convey through facial expressions and body language. The problem isn’t that these kids can’t feel emotion, but that they have trouble expressing their own emotions and understanding the feelings of others. “Mindblindness” often give parents the impression that their child is insensitive, selfish and uncaring.
Awkwardness— Children with HFA tend to be physically and socially awkward, which makes them a frequent target of school bullies. Low self-esteem caused by being rejected and outcast by peers often makes these kids even more susceptible to “acting-out” behaviors at home and school.
School Failures— Many HFA children, with their average to above average IQs, can sail through grammar school, and yet hit academic and social problems in middle and high school. They now have to deal with four to six teachers, instead of just one. The likelihood that at least one teacher will be indifferent or even hostile toward making special accommodations is certain. The adolescent student on the autism spectrum now has to face a series of classroom environments with different classmates, odors, distractions and noise levels, and sets of expectations. HFA teenagers, with their distractibility and difficulty organizing materials, face similar academic problems as students with ADHD. A high school term paper or a science fair project becomes impossible to manage because no one has taught the teenager how to break it up into a series of small steps. Even though the academic stress on a “special needs” teenager can be overwhelming, school administrators may be reluctant to enroll him in special education at this late point in his educational career.
Social Isolation— In the school environment where everyone feels a bit insecure, children and teens that appear different are voted off the island. HFA students often have odd mannerisms. Isolated and alone, many of these “special needs” students are too anxious to initiate social contact. They may be stiff and rule-oriented and act like little adults, which is a deadly trait in any popularity contest. Friendship and all its nuances of reciprocity can be exhausting for the kid on the spectrum, even though he wants it more than anything else.

As the years go by, are you seeing your child rapidly becoming reduced to a person who is surviving on:

  • anger
  • being a mistake
  • depression
  • hate
  • isolation
  • low self-esteem
  • resentment
  • sadness
  • …and self-hate?

Have you heard your child say things like:

  • I’m a mistake.
  • I’m dumb.
  • I’m useless.
  • I hate myself.
  • I wish I was dead.
  • What is wrong with me?
  • Why was I born?
If so, then alarm bells should be going off. You know changes need to happen! Low self-esteem and behavioral problems go hand-in-hand!!!

The Telltale Signs of ASD Level 1 [High-Functioning Autism]: A Comprehensive Checklist

Below you will find the majority of symptoms associated with High-Functioning Autism (HFA), also referred to as Asperger’s. The HFA child will not usually have all of these traits.
We will look at the following categories: sensory sensitivities, cognitive issues, motor clumsiness, narrow range of interests, insistence on set routines, impairments in language, and difficulty with reciprocal social interactions.
Sensory Sensitivity Checklist—
1. Difficulty in visual areas:
  • Avoids eye contact
  • Displays discomfort/anxiety when looking at certain pictures (e.g., the child feels as if the visual experience is closing in on him)
  • Engages in intense staring
  • Stands too close to objects or people
2. Difficulty in auditory areas:
  • Covers ears when certain sounds are made
  • Displays an inability to focus when surrounded by multiple sounds (e.g., shopping mall, airport, party)
  • Displays extreme fear when unexpected noises occur
  • Fearful of the sounds particular objects make (e.g., vacuum, blender)
  • Purposely withdraws to avoid noises
3. Difficulty in olfactory areas:
  • Can recognize smells before others
  • Displays a strong olfactory memory
  • Finds some smells so overpowering or unpleasant that he becomes nauseated
  • Needs to smell foods before eating them
  • Needs to smell materials before using them
4. Difficulty in tactile areas:
  • Complains of a small amount of wetness (e.g., from the water fountain, a small spill)
  • Complains of clothing feeling like sandpaper
  • Displays anxiety when touched unexpectedly
  • Does not respond to temperature appropriately
  • Difficulty accepting new clothing (including for change of seasons)
  • Difficulty using particular materials (e.g., glue, paint, clay)
  • Difficulty when touched by others, even lightly (especially shoulders and head)
  • Difficulty with clothing seams or tags
  • Overreacts to pain
  • Under-reacts to pain
5. Difficulty in gustatory areas:
  • Can’t allow foods to touch each other on the plate
  • Displays unusual chewing and swallowing behaviors
  • Easily activated gag/vomit reflex
  • Rigidity issues tied in with limited food preferences (e.g., this is the food he always has, it is always this brand, and it is always prepared and presented in this way)
  • Makes limited food choices
  • Must eat each individual food in its entirety before the next
  • Needs to touch foods before eating them
  • Will only tolerate foods of a particular texture or color
6. Engages in self-stimulatory behaviors (e.g., rocking, hand movements, facial grimaces)
7. Is oversensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects)
8. Is under-sensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects)
Cognitive Issues Checklist—
1. Mind-blindness:
  • Displays a lack of empathy for others and their emotions (e.g., takes another person’s belongings)
  • Displays difficulty with inferential thinking and problem solving (e.g., completing a multi-step task that is novel)
  • Impaired reading comprehension; word recognition is more advanced (e.g., difficulty understanding characters in stories, why they do or do not do something)
  • Is unaware he can say something that will hurt someone’s feelings or that an apology would make the person “feel better” (e.g., tells another person their story is boring)
  • Is unaware that others have intentions or viewpoints different from his own; when engaging in off-topic conversation, does not realize the listener is having great difficulty following the conversation
  • Is unaware that others have thoughts, beliefs, and desires that influence their behavior
  • Prefers factual reading materials rather than fiction
  • Views the world in black and white (e.g., admits to breaking a rule even when there is no chance of getting caught)
2. Lack of cognitive flexibility
A. Distractable and has difficulty sustaining attention:
  • Engages in competing behaviors (e.g., vocalizations, noises, plays with an object, sits incorrectly, looks in wrong direction)
  • Difficulty when novel material is presented without visual support
  • Difficulty with direction following
  • Difficulty with organizational skills (e.g., What do I need to do, and how do I go about implementing it?)
  • Difficulty with sequencing (e.g., What is the order used to complete a particular task?)
  • Difficulty with task completion
  • Difficulty with task initiation
B. Poor impulse control, displays difficulty monitoring own behavior, and is not aware of the consequences of his behavior:
  • Displays a strong need for perfection, wants to complete activities/assignments perfectly (e.g., his standards are very high and noncompliance may stem from avoidance of a task he feels he can’t complete perfectly)
  • Displays rigidity in thoughts and actions
  • Engages in repetitive/stereotypical behaviors
  • Difficulty incorporating new information with previously acquired information (i.e., information processing, concept formation, analyzing/ synthesizing information), is unable to generalize learning from one situation to another, may behave quite differently in different settings and with different individuals
  • Difficulty with transitions
  • Shows a strong desire to control the environment
C. Inflexible thinking, not learning from past mistakes (note: this is why consequences often appear ineffective)
D. Can only focus on one way to solve a problem, though this solution may be ineffective:
  • Continues to engage in an ineffective behavior rather than thinking of alternatives
  • Does not ask a peer or adult for needed materials
  • Does not ask for help with a problem
  • Is able to name all the presidents, but not sure what a president does
  • Is unable to focus on group goals when he is a member of the group
3. Impaired imaginative play:
  • Attempts to control all aspects of the play activity; any attempts by others to vary the play are met with firm resistance
  • Engages in play that, although it may seem imaginary in nature, is often a retelling of a favorite movie/TV show/book (note: this maintains rigidity in thoughts, language, and actions)
  • Focuses on special interests such that he dominates play and activity choices
  • Follows a predetermined script in play
  • Uses limited play themes and/or toys
  • Uses toys in an unusual manner
4. Visual learning strength
A. Benefits from schedules, signs, cue cards:
  • Uses visual information as a “backup” (e.g., I have something to look at when I forget), especially when new information is presented
  • Uses visual information as a prompt
  • Uses visual information to help focus attention (e.g., I know what to look at)
  • Uses visual information to make concepts more concrete
  • Uses visual information to provide external organization and structure, replacing the child’s lack of internal structure (e.g., I know how it is done, I know the sequence)
B. Has specific strengths in cognitive areas:
  • Displays average or above average intellectual ability
  • Displays average or above average receptive and expressive language skills
  • Displays high moral standard (e.g., does not know how to lie)
  • Displays strong letter recognition skills
  • Displays strong number recognition skills
  • Displays strong oral reading skills, though expression and comprehension are limited
  • Displays strong spelling skills
  • Displays strong word recognition skills
  • Excellent rote memory
  • Has an extensive fund of factual information
Motor Clumsiness Checklist—
A. Difficulties with gross motor skills
  1. An awkward gait when walking or running
  2. Difficulty coordinating different extremities, motor planning (shoe tying, bike riding)
  3. Difficulty when throwing or catching a ball (appears afraid of the ball)
  4. Difficulty with motor imitation skills
  5. Difficulty with rhythm copying
  6. Difficulty with skipping
  7. Poor balance
B. Difficulties with fine motor skills
  1. Has an unusual pencil/pen grasp
  2. Difficulty applying sufficient pressure when writing, drawing, or coloring
  3. Difficulty with handwriting/cutting/coloring skills
  4. Difficulty with independently seeing sequential steps to complete finished product
  5. Frustration if writing samples are not perfectly identical to the presented model
  6. Rushes through fine motor tasks
Narrow Range of Interests/Insistence on Set Routines Checklist—
A. Rules are very important as the world is seen as black or white
  1. Has a set routine for how activities are to be done
  2. Difficulty with any changes in the established routine
  3. Has rules for most activities, which must be followed (this can be extended to all involved)
  4. Takes perfectionism to an extreme — one wrong answer is not tolerable, and the child must do things perfectly
B. Few interests, but those present are unusual and treated as obsessions
  1. Has developed narrow and specific interests; the interests tend to be atypical (note: this gives a feeling of competence and order; involvement with the area of special interest becomes all-consuming)
  2. Patterns, routines, and rituals are evident and interfere with daily functioning (note: this is driven by the child’s anxiety; the world is confusing for her; she is unsure what to do and how to do it; if she can impose structure, she begins to have a feeling of control)
  3. Displays rigid behavior:
  • Arranges toys/objects/furniture in a specific way
  • Can’t extend the allotted time for an activity; activities must start and end at the times specified
  • Carries a specific object
  • Colors with so much pressure the crayons break (e.g., in order to cover all the white)
  • Erases over and over to make the letters just right
  • Feels need to complete projects in one sitting, has difficulty with projects completed over time
  • Narrow clothing preferences
  • Narrow food preferences
  • Has unusual fears
  • Insists on the parent driving a specific route
  • Is unable to accept environmental changes (e.g., must always go to the same restaurant, same vacation spot)
  • Is unable to change the way she has been taught to complete a task
  • Needs to be first in line, first selected, etc.
  • Only sits in one specific chair or one specific location
  • Plays games or completes activities in a repetitive manner or makes own rules for them
  • Selects play choices/interests not commonly shared by others (e.g., electricity, weather, advanced computer skills, scores of various sporting events) but not interested in the actual play (note: this could also be true for music, movies, and books)
C. Failure to follow rules and routines results in behavioral difficulties, which can include:
  1. Anxiety
  2. Emotional responses out of proportion to the situation, emotional responses that are more intense and tend to be negative (e.g., glass half-empty)
  3. Inability to prevent or lessen extreme behavioral reactions, inability to use coping or calming techniques
  4. Increase in perseverative/obsessive/rigid/ritualistic behaviors or preoccupation with area of special interest, engaging in nonsense talk
  5. Non-compliant behaviors
  6. Tantrums/meltdowns (e.g., crying, aggression, property destruction, screaming)
Impairments in Language Checklist—
A. Impairment in the pragmatic use of language
  1. Uses conversation to convey facts and information about special interests, rather than to convey thoughts, emotions, or feelings
  2. Uses language scripts or verbal rituals in conversation, often described as “nonsense talk” by others (scripts may be made up or taken from movies/books/TV). At times, the scripts are subtle and may be difficult to detect
  3. Difficulty initiating, maintaining, and ending conversations with others:
  • Does not inquire about others when conversing
  • Does not make conversations reciprocal (i.e., has great difficulty with the back-and-forth aspect), attempts to control the language exchange, may leave a conversation before it is concluded
  • Focuses conversations on one narrow topic, with too many details given, or moves from one seemingly unrelated topic to the next
  • Knows how to make a greeting, but has no idea how to continue the conversation; the next comment may be one that is totally irrelevant
  • Once a discussion begins, it is as if there is no “stop” button; must complete a predetermined dialogue
4. Unsure how to ask for help, make requests, or make comments:
  • Engages in obsessive questioning or talking in one area, lacks interest in the topics of others
  • Fails to inquire regarding others
  • Difficulty maintaining the conversation topic
  • Interrupts others
  • Makes comments that may embarrass others
B. Impairment in the semantic use of language
  1. Displays difficulty understanding not only individual words, but conversations
  2. Displays difficulty with problem solving
  3. Displays difficulty analyzing and synthesizing information presented:
  • Creates jokes that make no sense
  • Creates own words, using them with great pleasure in social situations
  • Does not ask for the meaning of an unknown word
  • Has a large vocabulary consisting mainly of nouns and verbs
  • Difficulty discriminating between fact and fantasy
  • Interprets known words on a literal level (i.e., concrete thinking)
  • Is unable to make or understand jokes/teasing
  • Uses words in a peculiar manner
C. Impairment in prosody
  1. Rarely varies the pitch, stress, rhythm, or melody of his speech. Does not realize this can convey meaning
  2. Has a voice pattern that is often described as robotic or as the “little professor”; in children, the rhythm of speech is more adult-like than child-like
  3. Displays difficulty with volume control (i.e., too loud or too soft)
  4. Uses the voice of a movie or cartoon character conversationally and is unaware that this is inappropriate
  5. Difficulty understanding the meaning conveyed by others when they vary their pitch, rhythm, or tone
D. Impairment in the processing of language
  1. When processing language (which requires multiple channels working together), has difficulty regulating just one channel, difficulty discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information
  2. Has difficulty shifting from one channel to another; processing is slow and easily interrupted by any environmental stimulation (i.e., seen as difficulty with topic maintenance). This will appear as distractibility or inattentiveness. (Note: When looking at focusing issues, it is very difficult to determine the motivator. It could be attributed to one or a few of the following reasons: lack of interest, fantasy involvement, anxiety, or processing difficulty.)
  3. Displays a delay when answering questions
  4. Displays difficulty sustaining attention and is easily distracted (e.g., one might be discussing plants and the HFA child will ask a question about another country; something said may have triggered this connection or the individual may still be in an earlier conversation)
  5. Displays difficulty as language moves from a literal to a more abstract level (generalization difficulties found in the HFA population are, in part, due to these processing difficulties)
Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions Checklist—
A. Inability and/or a lack of desire to interact with peers
  1. Displays an inability to interact because she does not know how to interact. She wants to interact with others, but does not know what to do:
  • Compromises interactions by rigidity, inability to shift attention or “go with the flow,” being rule bound, needs to control the play/activity (play may “look” imaginative but is most likely repetitive — e.g., action figures are always used in the same way, songs are played in the same order, Lego pieces are always put together in the same way)
  • Displays a limited awareness of current fashion, slang, topics, activities, and accessories (does not seem interested in what peers view as popular or the most current craze, unless it happens to match a special interest)
  • Displays a limited awareness of the emotions of others and/or how to respond to them (does not ask for help from others, does not know how to respond when help is given, does not know how to respond to compliments, does not realize the importance of apologizing, does not realize something she says or does can hurt the feelings of another, does not differentiate internal thoughts from external thoughts, does not respond to the emotions another is displaying)
  • Displays narrow play and activity choices (best observed during unstructured play/leisure activities: look for rigidity/patterns/repetitive choices, inability to accept novelty)
  • Engages in unusual behaviors or activities (selects play or activity choices of a younger child, seems unaware of the unwritten social rules among peers, acts like an imaginary character, uses an unusual voice — any behaviors that call attention to the child or are viewed as unusual by peers)
  • Initiates play interaction by taking a toy or starting to engage in an ongoing activity without gaining verbal agreement from the other players, will ignore a negative response from others when asking to join in, will abruptly leave a play interaction
  • Is unable to select activities that are of interest to others (unaware or unconcerned that others do not share the same interest or level of interest, unable to compromise)
  • Lacks an understanding of game playing — unable to share, unable to follow the rules of turn taking, unable to follow game-playing rules (even those that may appear quite obvious), is rigid in game playing (may want to control the game or those playing and/or create her own set of rules), always needs to be first, unable to make appropriate comments while playing, and has difficulty with winning/losing
  • Lacks conversational language for a social purpose, does not know what to say — this could be no conversation, monopolizing the conversation, lack of ability to initiate conversation, obsessive conversation in one area, conversation not on topic or conversation that is not of interest to others
  • Lacks the ability to understand, attend to, maintain, or repair a conversational flow or exchange — this causes miscommunication and inappropriate responses (unable to use the back-and-forth aspect of communication)
  • Observes or stays on the periphery of a group rather than joining in
2. Prefers structured over non-structured activities
3. Displays a lack of desire to interact:
  • Does not care about her inability to interact with others because she has no interest in doing so. She prefers solitary activities and does not have the need to interact with others, or she is socially indifferent and can take it or leave it with regard to interacting with others
  • Is rule bound/rigid and spends all free time completely consumed by areas of special interest. Her activities are so rule bound, it would be almost impossible for a peer to join in correctly. When asked about preferred friends, the child is unable to name any or names those who are really not friends (family members, teachers)
  • Sits apart from others, avoids situations where involvement with others is expected (playgrounds, birthday parties, being outside in general), and selects activities that are best completed alone (e.g., computer games, Game Boy, books, viewing TV/videos, collecting, keeping lists)
B. Lack of appreciation of social cues
  1. Lacks awareness if someone appears bored, upset, angry, scared, and so forth. Therefore, she does not comment in a socially appropriate manner or respond by modifying the interaction
  2. Lacks awareness of the facial expressions and body language of others, so these conversational cues are missed. He is also unable to use gestures or facial expressions to convey meaning when conversing. You will see fleeting, averted, or a lack of eye contact. He will fail to gain another person’s attention before conversing with her. He may stand too far away from or too close to the person he is conversing with. His body posture may appear unusual
  3. When questioned regarding what could be learned from another person’s facial expression, says, “Nothing.” Faces do not provide him with information. Unable to read these “messages,” he is unable to respond to them
  4. Has difficulty with feelings of empathy for others. Interactions with others remain on one level, with one message:
  • Fails to assist someone with an obvious need for help (not holding a door for someone carrying many items or assisting someone who falls or drops their belongings)
  • Ignores an individual’s appearance of sadness, anger, boredom, etc.
  • Talks on and on about a special interest while unaware that the other person is no longer paying attention, talks to someone who is obviously engaged in another activity, talks to someone who isn’t even there
C. Socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviors
  1. Laughs at something that is sad, asks questions that are too personal
  2. Makes rude comments (tells someone they are fat, bald, old, have yellow teeth)
  3. Engages in self-stimulatory or odd behaviors (rocking, tics, finger posturing, eye blinking, noises — humming/clicking/talking to self)
  4. Is unaware of unspoken or “hidden” rules — may “tell” on peers, breaking the “code of silence” that exists. He will then be unaware why others are angry with him
  5. Responds with anger when he feels others are not following the rules, will discipline others or reprimand them for their actions (acts like the teacher or parent with peers)
  6. Touches, hugs, or kisses others without realizing that it is inappropriate
D. Limited or abnormal use of nonverbal communication
  1. Averts eye contact, or keeps it fleeting or limited
  2. Stares intensely at people or objects
  3. Does not observe personal space (is too close or too far)
  4. Does not use gestures/body language when communicating
  5. Uses gestures/body language, but in an unusual manner
  6. Does not appear to comprehend the gestures/body language of others
  7. Uses facial expressions that do not match the emotion being expressed
  8. Lacks facial expressions when communicating
  9. Does not appear to comprehend the facial expressions of others
  10. Displays abnormal gestures/facial expressions/body posture when communicating:
  • Confronts another person without changing her face or voice
  • Does not turn to face the person she is talking to
  • Has tics or facial grimaces
  • Looks to the left or right of the person she is talking to
  • Smiles when someone shares sad news
  • Stands too close or too far away from another person


Aspergers Symptoms in Older Children—
Kids with Aspergers have deficits in three areas: communication, physical coordination and development of a range of interests. Aspergers is an autism spectrum disorder, meaning that it is on a continuum of development disorders that includes classic autism. Most kids with Aspergers are able to function with less difficulty than those with classic autism. A set of classic symptoms define Aspergers. A youngster with Aspergers may or may not display all of the symptoms listed below.
• Clumsiness— A youngster with Aspergers may seem clumsy and drop things. He may fall easily and try to avoid physical games that his peers are playing. He may have odd, repetitious movements or walk stiffly, as though he is in pain.
• Inadequate Math Skills— The youngster with Aspergers may have inadequate math skills, but will do well in vocabulary. He may have noted deficits in his ability to learn some subjects, but will speak like an expert about another. Learning abilities may vary greatly from child to child.
• Lack of Empathy— Although a youngster with Aspergers is not mean, he may seem to be oblivious to the feelings of others. If someone’s pet dies, he may not show sympathy as other kids might. He may seem to be interested in himself only, but does not purposefully do cruel things. H may seem emotionally immature for his age.
• Limited Non-Verbal Communication— A lack of eye contact when communicating is a sign of Aspergers. The youngster may have few facial expressions, and he may stare into space while speaking. He may make few gestures while speaking and adopt an odd body posture. He may not watch the facial expressions or body posture of the person who is speaking with him. The youngster with Aspergers may not seem to pick up on humor or any speech that is not direct, such as sarcasm or the use of figures of speech.
• Obsessive Interests— Another sign of Aspergers is obsessive interests. The Aspergers child may hone in on one or two topics and devote an extraordinary amount of time to studying them, looking at them or talking about them. This topic may vary, with some examples including an object, a musical score, an animal, the weather, sports history or visual patterns. He may seem uninterested in any other subjects, and most of the conversations he begins may be about his topic of interest.
• Unusual Speech— A youngster with Aspergers may have an unusual speech pattern, as though he is reading what he is saying. His voice may remind you of a robot, or he may have a monotone, as if he is depressed. His speech may seem overly formal or well thought out, instead of spontaneous. Alternatively, he may speak rapidly, without noticing that others speak more slowly.

List of Symptoms for High-Functioning Autism

“Is there a list of symptoms or traits associated with high functioning autism in children? We currently have suspicions that our 6 y.o. son may be on the autism spectrum and are wondering if we should take the next step and have him assessed.”   
Below is a list of common traits among children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s. However, no child will exhibit all of these traits. Also, the degree (i.e., mild to severe) to which any particular trait is experienced will vary from child to child.

Emotions and Sensitivities:   

  1. An emotional incident can determine the mood for the day.
  2. Becomes overwhelmed with too much verbal direction.
  3. Calmed by external stimulation (e.g., soothing sound, brushing, rotating object, constant pressure).
  4. Desires comfort items (e.g., blankets, teddy, rock, string).
  5. Difficulty with loud or sudden sounds.
  6. Emotions can pass very suddenly or are drawn out for a long period of time.
  7. Inappropriate touching of self in public situations.
  8. Intolerance to certain food textures, colors or the way they are presented on the plate (e.g., one food can’t touch another).
  9. Laughs, cries or throws a tantrum for no apparent reason.
  10. May need to be left alone to release tension and frustration.
  11. Resists change in the environment (e.g., people, places, objects).
  12. Sensitivity or lack of sensitivity to sounds, textures, tastes, smells or light.
  13. Tends to either tune out or break down when being reprimanded.
  14. Unusually high or low pain tolerance.

School-Related Skills:   

  1. Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another in school.
  2. Difficulty with fine motor activities (e.g., coloring, printing, using scissors, gluing).
  3. Difficulty with reading comprehension (e.g., can quote an answer, but unable to predict, summarize or find symbolism).
  4. Excellent rote memory in some areas.
  5. Exceptionally high skills in some areas and very low in others.
  6. Resistance or inability to follow directions.
  7. Short attention span for most lessons.

Health and Movement:     

  1. Allergies and food sensitivities.
  2. Apparent lack of concern for personal hygiene (e.g., hair, teeth, body odor).
  3. Appearance of hearing problems, but hearing has been checked and is fine.
  4. Constipation.
  5. Difficulty changing from one floor surface to another (e.g., carpet to wood, sidewalk to grass).
  6. Difficulty moving through a space (e.g., bumps into objects or people).
  7. Frequent gas, burping or throwing up.
  8. Incontinence of bowel and/or bladder.
  9. Irregular sleep patterns.
  10. Odd or unnatural posture (e.g., rigid or floppy).
  11. Seizure activity.
  12. Unusual gait.
  13. Walks on toes.
  14. Walks without swinging arms freely.

Social Skills:    

  1. Aversion to answering questions about themselves.
  2. Difficulty maintaining friendships.
  3. Difficulty reading facial expressions and body language.
  4. Difficulty understanding group interactions.
  5. Difficulty understanding jokes, figures of speech or sarcasm.
  6. Difficulty understanding the rules of conversation.
  7. Does not generally share observations or experiences with others.
  8. Finds it easier to socialize with people that are older or younger, rather than peers of their own age.
  9. Gives spontaneous comments which seem to have no connection to the current conversation.
  10. Makes honest, but inappropriate observations.
  11. Minimal acknowledgement of others.
  12. Overly trusting or unable to read the motives behinds peoples’ actions.
  13. Prefers to be alone, aloft or overly-friendly.
  14. Resistance to being held or touched.
  15. Responds to social interactions, but does not initiate them.
  16. Seems unable to understand another’s feelings.
  17. Talks excessively about one or two topics (e.g., dinosaurs, movies, etc.).
  18. Tends to get too close when speaking to someone (i.e., lack of personal space).
  19. Unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them.
  20. Very little or no eye contact.


  1. Causes injury to self (e.g., biting, banging head).
  2. Difficulty attending to some tasks.
  3. Difficulty sensing time (e.g., knowing how long 5 minutes is or 3 days or a month).
  4. Difficulty transferring skills from one area to another.
  5. Difficulty waiting for their turn (e.g., standing in line).
  6. Extreme fear for no apparent reason.
  7. Fascination with rotation.
  8. Feels the need to fix or rearrange things.
  9. Fine motor skills are developmentally behind peers (e.g., hand writing, tying shoes, using scissors, etc.).
  10. Frustration is expressed in unusual ways.
  11. Gross motor skills are developmentally behind peers (e.g., riding a bike, skating, running).
  12. Inability to perceive potentially dangerous situations.
  13. Many and varied collections.
  14. Obsessions with objects, ideas or desires.
  15. Perfectionism in certain areas.
  16. Play is often repetitive.
  17. Quotes movies or video games.
  18. Ritualistic or compulsive behavior patterns (e.g., sniffing, licking, watching objects fall, flapping arms, spinning, rocking, humming, tapping, sucking, rubbing clothes).
  19. Transitioning from one activity to another is difficult.
  20. Unexpected movements (e.g., running out into the street).
  21. Unusual attachment to objects.
  22. Verbal outbursts.

Linguistic and Language Development:     

  1. Abnormal use of pitch, intonation, rhythm or stress while speaking
  2. Difficulty understanding directional terms (e.g., front, back, before, after).
  3. Difficulty whispering.
  4. Makes verbal sounds while listening (i.e., echolalia).
  5. May have a very high vocabulary.
  6. Often uses short, incomplete sentences.
  7. Pronouns are often inappropriately used.
  8. Repeats last words or phrases several times.
  9. Speech is abnormally loud or quiet.
  10. Speech started very early and then stopped for a period of time.
  11. Uses a person’s name excessively when speaking to them.

The relationship between ADHD and ASD is complex. While the two disorders are distinct, they may share some common features. For example, people with both ADHD and ASD may have difficulty with social interaction, communication, and behavior. They may also have difficulty with sensory processing and may be overly sensitive to certain stimuli.

In addition, research suggests that people with both ADHD and ASD may have difficulty with executive functioning. Executive functioning is the ability to plan, organize, and manage tasks. People with both ADHD and ASD may have difficulty with planning, organization, and task management.

Finally, research suggests that people with both ADHD and ASD may have difficulty with self-regulation. Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s emotions and behavior. People with both ADHD and ASD may have difficulty controlling their emotions and behavior.

Children on the Autism Spectrum and Video Game Addiction

My ASD Child Children on the Autism Spectrum and Video Game Addiction

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Bolton, video game addicts show the same personality traits as kids who are suffering from Aspergers (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA). These young people find social situations stressful. The study has fueled concerns that video gaming may lead to a rise in mental health problems like depression.
During the study, researchers examined nearly 400 gamers (most of whom were male). The subjects were questioned about how much they played video games (researchers did not specifically test participants with AS or HFA during the study). The research revealed that the higher the time the participants spent playing video games, the more likely they were to show 3 specific traits usually associated with an autism spectrum disorder: (1) neuroticism, (2) lack of extraversion, and (3) lack of agreeableness.
This outcome suggests that children on the autism spectrum may have a higher likelihood of becoming video game addicts, because it allows them to escape into a world where they can avoid face-to-face interactions. In addition, these kids may be prone to addiction to MMORPGs (massive multi-player online role playing games).
Children and teens on the autism spectrum often can’t make eye contact and fail to pick up social cues (e.g., boredom in others). The researchers say that tends to isolate them and can trigger depression, which video games may encourage.
Treatment for AS and HFA usually consists of improving social skills and breaking repetitive behavior, the very things video games discourage. Video games don’t prepare these young people for interacting with real people. Also, as an older teen or young adult, video game addiction is known to cause problems with motivation, going to college, and finding employment (you can’t walk into a college or job interview and say that you are really good at playing Xbox).
While most people associate addiction with substances (e.g., drugs or alcohol) therapists recognize addictive behaviors as well:
  1. If the person does not get more of the substance or behavior, he becomes irritable and miserable.
  2. The person needs more and more of a substance or behavior to keep him going.
Compulsive gaming meets these criteria, and many therapists have reported seeing severe withdrawal symptoms in game addicts. They become angry, violent, or depressed. If moms and dads take away the computer, their “special needs” youngster may sit in the corner and pout, refuse to eat, sleep, or do anything else.
Unlike substance abuse, the biological aspect of video game addiction is uncertain. Research suggests gambling elevates dopamine, and gaming is in the same category. But there’s more to addiction than brain chemistry. Even with alcohol, it’s not just physical. There’s a psychological component to the addiction (e.g., knowing you can escape or feel good about your life). The addict is trying to change the way he feels by taking something outside of himself. The cocaine addict, for example, learns, I don’t like the way I feel, I take a line of cocaine. For gamers, it’s the fantasy world that makes them feel better.
The lure of a fantasy world is especially pertinent to online role-playing games. These are games in which a player assumes the role of a fictional character and interacts with other players in a virtual world. An intelligent youngster who is unpopular at school can become dominant in the game. The virtual life becomes more appealing than real life.
Too much gaming may seem relatively harmless compared with the dangers of a drug overdose, but video game addiction can ruin lives. Kids who play 4 – 5 hours per day have no time for socializing, doing homework, or playing sports. That takes away from normal social development (e.g., you can have a 20-year-old adult child still living at home with the emotional intelligence of a 12-year-old … he’s never learned to talk to girls …never learned to play a sport …never learned to hold down a job).
Spending a lot of time gaming doesn’t necessarily qualify as an addiction. Most people play games safely. The question is: Can you always control your gaming activity? According to the Center for On-Line Addiction, warning signs for video game addiction include:
  • Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming
  • Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
  • Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming
  • Playing for increasing amounts of time
  • Thinking about gaming during other activities
In addition, video game addicts tend to become isolated, dropping out of their social networks and giving up other hobbies. It’s about somebody who has completely withdrawn from other activities.
The overwhelming majority of video game addicts are males under 30. It’s usually kids with poor self-esteem and social problems. They’re intelligent and imaginative, but don’t have many friends at school. A family history of addiction may also be a factor.
Unfortunately, many – if not most – parents of kids on the spectrum view their child’s constant game playing as self-soothing behavior with few – if any – negative consequences (e.g., “he’s entertaining himself …he’s not hurting or bothering anyone …he’s happy”). But what parents fail to realize is that, as the clock tics and the years pass, their child is losing opportunity after opportunity to develop emotional muscles (a big problem with the disorder anyway – but exacerbated by years of gaming).
If you’re concerned your youngster may be addicted to video games, don’t dismiss it as a phase. Keep good documents of the youngster’s gaming behavior, including:
  • How the youngster reacts to time limits
  • Logs of when the youngster plays and for how long
  • Problems resulting from gaming
You need to document the severity of the problem. Don’t delay seeking professional help. If there is a problem, it will only get worse. Treatment for video game addiction is similar to detox for other addictions, with one important difference. Computers have become an important part of everyday life, as well as many jobs, so compulsive gamers can’t just look the other way when they see a PC. It’s like a food addiction. You have to learn to live with food. Because video game addicts can’t avoid computers, they have to learn to use them responsibly. That means no gaming. As for limiting game time to an hour a day, I compare that to an alcoholic saying he’s only going to drink beer.
The toughest part of treating video game addicts is that it’s a little bit more difficult to show somebody they’re in trouble. Nobody’s ever been put in jail for being under the influence of a game. The key is to show gamers they are powerless over their addiction, and then teach them real-life excitement as opposed to online excitement.
(It should be noted that we are only recommending “abstinence” for the child who is truly an “addict” — and it will be up to parents to make that determination.)
Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.