Asperger/Autism Spectrum Fact Sheet

by AANE Staff

About Asperger/Autism Spectrum:

  • It is neurological and affects the way information is processed in the brain.
  • It is often an invisible difference. Many people appear very competent, but have difficulties in areas of communication and social interaction.
  • It has a genetic and hereditary component and may have additional interactive environmental causes, as yet unknown.
  • It is a developmental difference. All individuals have social/emotional delays, but continued growth seems to be life-long.
  • The prevalence of autism is 1 in 59 (CDC, 2018).
  • Girls and women are under-diagnosed. There are currently four males diagnosed for every one female, but the true ratio may be as high as one female for every two males.

Common Strengths:

  • Average to high intelligence
  • Unique sense of humor
  • Honest
  • Strong sense of fairness and justice
  • Specialized interests
  • Feel things deeply
  • Detail oriented
  • Good memory, especially for facts in their area of interest
  • Build friendships through shared interests

Common Challenges:

  • Sensory sensitivities (hypo or hyper) to light, noise, smell, touch, movement, or taste.
  • Fight or flight emotional responses that seem extreme for the situation-but are often due to underdeveloped coping skills and an unpredictable or overwhelming environment.
  • Social anxiety or anxiety in general.
  • Perseveration, perfectionism, or asking for help.
  • Stamina for persisting through boring or challenging tasks.
  • Flexible thinking and problem solving–seeing the world in black and white.
  • Organizing, planning, prioritizing, initiating, persisting (executive function skills).
  • Understanding verbal and non-verbal language in social contexts.
  • Understanding what others are thinking and feeling (e.g. Theory of Mind or Perspective Taking).
  • Missing unwritten rules that aren’t taught explicitly, but others pick up more intuitively.

Additional traits some individuals may have:

  • Low muscle tone and difficulty with fine motor skills; although some excel in individual sports or are tremendous artists.
  • Co-occurring mental health diagnoses like depression or anxiety. ADD is very common.
  • Superior skill in a particular areas such as painting, writing, math, music, history, electronics, or composing.
  • Difficulties working in groups.
  • Low self-esteem can be an issue for individuals, especially when they don’t see that others around them are experiencing the same challenges that they are.

Asperger/Autism Spectrum Tips:

  • Learn about the diagnosis and how it affects you.
  • Learn how and when to talk about it to others (disclosure).
  • Make time to explore your interests and use your skills–don’t only focus on your challenges.
  • Find a supportive community where you can be yourself (like AANE!).
  • Work with a coach or therapist to help you identify and plan how to reach your goals.
  • Analyze how environment, sensory needs, and social demands impact your energy so that you know which activities and people help you relax and which raise your anxiety or stress.
  • Get help with social and communication skills so you will feel less anxious interacting with others.
  • Consider medications, with the guidance of a professional.
  • Set up routines and prepare for transitions.
  • Do not force eye contact–as many people experience it as painful.
  • Provide organizational supports (visual supports may be better for some people).

Want to learn more? AANE is here for you