What Are The Symptoms Of Mild Asperger's In Adults?
Updated December 11, 2018
Reviewer Tanya Harell
With every day that passes, we're learning more about autism and high functioning Autism, also known as Asperger's Syndrome. That's why it seems like so many more people are being diagnosed today - they are! But it's not because autism is spreading like some sinister 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 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 is sometimes tough to diagnose mild Asperger's syndrome, which is why many people are not diagnosed until they are older children or even adults. 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 (sensory processing).
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 he starts school and finds it difficult to communicate with his teacher and peers. He may have trouble functioning in the social situations that accompany most school-related activities, and he may find it difficult to understand instructions that are communicated to him 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 blow a gasket.
- 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.
- A 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 his fine motor skills that caused a delay in when he learned to ride a bike, while another may have no interest in learning about activities or subjects other than those he already knows and loves.
Treatment For Mild Asperger's In Adults
There is no treatment for any 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 sought the diagnosis and then did nothing once they knew for sure that they were, in fact, on the spectrum. That's fine, too.
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 important 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 get you started.
- "Aspies" Have Difficulty Expressing Their Feelings
If your partner doesn't often tell you how pretty you look, or how much he loves you, it can be difficult not to take offense. Let him know how you're feeling and explain to him why it's important to you that he learns how he 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 him work on his communication.
Create a "safe space" where he feels 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 clearer for him.
- Aspies Have Trouble Understanding Physical Affection
It may seem strange to you that your partner does not understand why you're kissing him on the cheek or holding his hand, but this is because he does not understand that this is a physical display of your love for him. Explain to him that you are holding his hand and kissing him because you love him and want to show him this.
If you just go in for a hug, you may cause your partner to lash out at you, with him thinking that you are trying to invade his 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 him because you're feeling close to him 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 him to your family reunion in the summer, and he backs 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 even if you aren't on the spectrum.
If he does decide to go with you, however, one way you can make the situation go more smoothly for him is to make all of his introductions for him. This will take some of the pressure off of him to understand how each person is trying to interact with him and what they expect of him 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 him with kid gloves. Instead, it may be easier to explain to your partner the things that people may want to do with him (shake his hand, hug him) and why they want to do these things (to say hi, to express their happiness at meeting him, 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 he's telling you for what seems like the fiftieth time that football story from his high school years, you can ease him off of the topic by gently changing the subject to a topic that interests you. If he goes 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 assist you in understanding and managing your condition.