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How to Recognize the Characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome

Updated on January 10, 2016

Do you know somebody who has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome? Do you understand what Asperger's Syndrome is? How can you tell if somebody suffers from this autism spectrum disorder, which is often badly misunderstood? How can you understand them? What makes them behave like that?

The Discovery of Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's Syndrome is named after Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician who studied mental disorders in children in the 1940s. During his studies he observed the behavior of four boys whom he found to be lacking in empathy, clumsy, absorbed in obsessions, and unable to form close friendships. Asperger described their condition as "autistic psychopathy" , but his work was largely unrecognized until recently.

Some people with Asperger's Syndrome are very good at puzzles.
Some people with Asperger's Syndrome are very good at puzzles. | Source

Asperger's Syndrome: A Clinical Definition

According to, Asperger's Syndrome is "a pervasive development disorder that is characterized by an inability to understand how to interact socially." Asperger's Syndrome affects different people in various ways, but these symptoms are typical of people with this condition:

  • Inability to comprehend common social cues
  • Physical clumsiness
  • Flapping hands, or other "stimming" behaviors
  • Inappropriate reactions to social behavior around them
  • Problems controlling anger, fear, anxiety, or other strong negative emotions
  • Moderate or high intelligence
  • Inability to understand the point of view of others
  • Rigid thinking
  • Repetitive behavior
  • A strong need for a very consistent routine
  • High stress levels when that routine is disrupted
  • Difficulty understanding idioms and figures of speech.
  • Very literal thinking.
  • Difficulty in engaging in casual conversation
  • An obsessive interest in a particular hobby or activity
  • Oversensitivity to light, sound and other sensory input
  • Poor eye contact

People with Asperger's Syndrome differ from people who have been diagnosed as autistic because they do not have some of the more severe developmental delays. People who have Asperger's Syndrome may be capable of going to school and holding down a job, and some even marry and have children.

Discussion of Aspergers Symptoms by Dr. David Hill of Cape Fear Pediatrics in Wilmington, N.C.

It's Not All Bad - Some Advantages to Having Asperger's Syndrome

Tony Attwood, who is one of the world's top authorities on the subject of Asperger's Syndrome, sees some advantages to having the condition.

  • Absolute loyalty and dependability
  • A tendency to avoid sexist and racist thinking
  • Willingness to speak one's mind, regardless of peer pressure
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • More interest in meaningful discussion than in small talk.
  • A desire for a smaller number of more meaningful friendships
  • Fascination with puns and wordplay
  • A hunger to find the truth
  • An original approach to problem solving
  • Extensive knowledge and expertise in one subject.
  • Ability to sustain intense focus over a long period of time
  • A gift for solving puzzles

Was Einsten's genius partly due to Asperger's Syndrome?
Was Einsten's genius partly due to Asperger's Syndrome? | Source
Some experts believe that shy, reclusive Jefferson had Asperger's Syndrome
Some experts believe that shy, reclusive Jefferson had Asperger's Syndrome | Source

Some Famous People Who are Believed to Have Asperger's Syndrome

In recent years there's been much speculation that mild forms of autism and Asperger's Syndrome can actually spur creativity and genius. There is much speculation that some of the world's most productive people have, or had, Asperger's or high-functioning autism. Most of the people on this list were not officially diagnosed as having an autism spectrum disorder, but historians and psychologist have often found clues to the condition in their habits, challenges and behaviors. From Wikipedia:

  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Bill Gates
  • Albert Einstein
  • Daryl Hannah
  • Marie Curie
  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Michelangelo
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Stanley Kubrick
  • Nicola Tesla

The world's top expert on Asperger's Syndrome, Tony Attwood, has allowed a PDF of one of his most famous books to be available for free online.

Recommended Reading About Asperger's Syndrome


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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 2 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Fascinating article.

      Thanks for writing.


    • profile image

      Single Shot 4 years ago

      Amazing HUB! I give you like.. 100. you see a friend of mine has Asperger's. I never really knew how to deal with it, not that they are bad at all...he's smart, pays high attention to detail..his behavior for public on the other hand is something we've been working on. Thank you so much for writing about this! Now I know so much more about this, that I think I have a few ways to help him out in certain situations!

    • profile image

      SandCastles 5 years ago

      I liked your article.

    • sgiguere profile image

      Stephanie Giguere 5 years ago from Marlborough MA

      Nice Hub :) I recently read an article from the New York Times called "Navigating Love in Autism" which discussed a romantic relationship between two people diagnosed with Aspergers. Check it out if you can!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      So interesting! I really enjoyed reading this and the list of famous people was fascinating. We have a friend with Asperger's and he's a terrific guy, happily married with kids.

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Great hub recappers delight, very interesting with good historic information. Asperger's can be a very difficult condition to deal with and the kids have a difficult time with excessive bullying.

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Great Hub, interesting and informative. Voted up. By the way, did you know that Einstein was also Dyslexic?