What Are The Symptoms Of Mild Asperger's In Adults?
By Mason Komay
Updated December 02, 2019
Reviewer Tanya Harell
With every day that passes, we're learning more about autism and high functioning Autism, also known as Asperger's Syndrome. If it seems like so many more people are being diagnosed today, it's because they really are. But it's not because autism is spreading like some disastrous wildfire. It's because we have improved our metrics to the point where we are better able to detect when people are on the spectrum than we have been in the past.
As a result, many adults have read the improved list of symptoms online and think that maybe spectrum placement can be the explanation of why they've always felt "off" in some way. Perhaps, this whole time, what they've been experiencing are signs of mild Asperger's.
What Is Mild Asperger's Syndrome?
It can often be challenging to diagnose mild Asperger's syndrome, which is why many people are not diagnosed until they reach adolescence or even adulthood. Often, those who are on the autistic spectrum are dismissed as being nothing more than socially awkward when, in actuality, they are struggling to cope with a developmental disorder. When someone has Asperger's, even a mild case of it, this means that they experience difficulty in social skills and communication. They also experience difficulty processing sights, tastes, and sounds.
More severe cases of autism are typically diagnosed in children ages 3 and younger. Children who have Asperger's, however, especially a mild case of it, are not usually diagnosed until later on in life because they typically meet most, if not all, of their developmental milestones. A child with mild Asperger's may not be diagnosed until they start school and find it challenging to communicate with their teacher and peers. They may have trouble functioning in the social situations that accompany most school-related activities and they may find it difficult to understand instructions that are communicated to them verbally.
Mild Asperger's Symptoms In Adults
Interestingly, what used to be deemed "mild Asperger's symptoms" are no longer diagnosed as "Asperger's," but instead as high-functioning autism. Be that as it may, if you recognize any of the below as things you have experienced, then you may have been experiencing mild symptoms of high-functioning autism:
- A debilitating level of difficulty communicating in social situations. You may talk a blue streak about what interests you, not realizing that no one is interested in your chosen topic of conversation.
- An inability to create meaningful relationships. You may have trouble making and keeping friends and co-workers.
- A need for repetition and order. If something interrupts your daily routine, you become very frustrated.
- A passion for a particular topic, and difficulty in communicating with others on any topics aside from that one. You can talk for hours about the history of the Pontiac without noticing how much time has passed or how things in your environment have changed while you were speaking.
- Sensitivity to sensory input, like loud noises or the taste of a particular food. A loud car horn can terrify you.
Of course, these symptoms are not limited to adults. Children who are diagnosed as high-functioning can display the same symptoms.
It is also important to remember that Asperger's is very individualized, meaning that not everyone will experience the same symptoms. One person may have no problem with his routine getting interrupted, while another simply won't be able to function if something in his routine is disrupted. One person may have had issues with their fine motor skills that caused a delay in when they learned to ride a bike, while another may have no interest in learning about activities or subjects other than those they already know and loves.
Treatment For Mild Asperger's In Adults
There is no treatment for autism because autism is not a disease. Many who have learned to cope with the difficulties they have experienced with their condition have decided not to seek an official diagnosis, which is fine. Others have explored the diagnosis and then did nothing once they knew for sure that they were, in fact, on the spectrum. That's fine, but it's highly recommended to at least be as educated on the subject as possible to avoid any misunderstanding about oneself.
The only time you need to do anything for an autism diagnosis is when it interferes with your ability to live your life. If you find it difficult to make a serious connection with someone, hold down a job, or maintain a proper living space, then it may be necessary for you to seek professional help to learn how to manage your condition better.
Dating Someone With Mild Asperger's
When dating someone with mild Asperger's (high-functioning autism), it is vital that you know as much as you can about the condition to reduce the number of situations that could result in a fight over a miscommunication. Here are some things to know to help get you started.
- "Aspies" May Have Difficulty Expressing Their Feelings
If your partner doesn't often tell you how cute you look, or how much they love you, it can be difficult not to take offense. Let them know how you're feeling and explain to them why it's important to you that they learn how they can make you feel more special. You don't want to feel insecure all the time, and you don't have to if you can help them work on their communication.
Create a "safe space" where they feel comfortable discussing these things with you. It can also help to take breaks from the conversation, so neither of you feels overwhelmed, especially if you need to keep explaining yourself to make things more transparent for them.
- Aspies May Have Trouble Understanding Physical Affection
It may seem strange to you that your partner does not understand why you're kissing them on the cheek or holding their hand, but this is because they do not understand that this is a physical display of your love for them. Explain to your partner that you are holding their hand and kissing them because you love them and want to show it.
If you just go in for a hug, you may cause your partner to lash out at you, with them thinking that you are trying to invade their personal space. This is especially true if you've never kissed, hugged, or held hands before. Instead, give your partner a heads-up that you want to hug them because you're feeling close to them right now and ask if it's okay to do that at that moment. This will go over much better than if you just go for it without explanation.
- Aspies May Have Difficulty Reading Certain Social Situations
Aspies have difficulty with large gatherings, so if you're thinking of taking them to your family reunion in the summer, and they back out, don't take it personally. There are so many different, individual social situations to read at a party or gathering that it can be overwhelming.
However, if they do decide to go with you, one way you can make the situation go more smoothly for them is to make all of their introductions for them. This will take some of the pressure off of them to understand how each person is trying to interact with them and what they expect in return.
It may help to let everyone know in advance that your partner is on the spectrum, though this could make things worse if they all treat them with kid gloves. Instead, it may be easier to explain to your partner the things that people may want to do with them (shake their hand, hug them) and why they want to do these things (to say hi, to express their happiness upon meeting them, etc.). You can also explain discreetly to your partner what is going on as it happens.
- Aspies May Tell You The Same Story Over And Over Again And Forget They Ever Told You
If they're telling you for what seems like the fiftieth time that athletic story from their high school years, you can ease them off of the topic by gently changing the subject to a topic that interests you. If they go back to the same topic again or continues talking when you're trying to change the subject, gently explain that you are finding it difficult to be interested in this topic and that you'd like to discuss something else.
Do you believe you may have high-functioning autism? Have you been diagnosed as being on the spectrum, and you're not sure how to cope? Our counselors at BetterHelp can give you more information and connect you to a licensed professional who will assist you in understanding and managing your condition. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Susan helped me in a variety of situations and helped me reach several personal goals in the process. I can't say enough how appreciative I am to her and better help for getting me through some life-changing challenges, as well as putting me on a better path."
"I love working with Rhonda! Her honest and unbiased input has been helping to guide me through a very difficult life changing situation with my autistic step child. Rhonda is very caring, and I feel incredibly comfortable sharing things with her. Highly recommend!"
Mild Asperger's can be challenging to cope with, but your life doesn't need to be hindered in any because of it. The more that you educate yourself on the subject, the easier you'll be able to conquer it and live a healthier, more fulfilling life. Take the first step today.