The symptoms of Asperger's syndrome include a combination of strengths and challenges. Individuals with Asperger's syndrome often possess an average to above-average IQ, with good vocabulary and grammatical skills, and an ability to memorize facts. The challenging signs of Asperger's syndrome include a narrow field of interest in life, excessive engagement in repetitive tasks and an inability to read social cues and to empathize with others.
Classified as part of the autism spectrum of disorders, an individual with Asperger's syndrome has a difficult time communicating and socializing with others. An adult with Asperger's, for example, may dominate a group conversation, giving a speech in a monotone voice rather than conversing. He is unable to recognize that others want to speak or that they may not be interested in the topic. In general, the symptoms of Asperger's syndrome include an inability to understand social cues and non-verbal communication.
People with Asperger's syndrome are prone to carrying out rituals and routines that fall into a narrow scope of activities and interests. A young girl with Asperger's with an interest in mathematics, for example, might spend endless hours reviewing multiplication tables without probing other areas of mathematics. A young boy with an interest in surfing might spend eight hours a day surfing to the exclusion of all other activities. Oftentimes, the narrow field of interest leaves little room for learning problem-solving skills and interacting with other aspects of life.
The symptoms of Asperger's syndrome are similar to autism in some respects and different in other ways. The similarities are in the inability to socially relate to others, a narrow focus in activities, difficulty understanding idioms and pragmatic language, engaging in repetitive tasks and difficulty in problem solving. In contrast to autism, individuals with Asperger's syndrome socially engage more with others, generally do not experience cognitive development delays and demonstrate greater language proficiency.
The strengths observed in people with this disorder, in some cases, lead to outstanding achievements. The ability to memorize and absorb facts can help the individual become the best in his field. The natural tendency to engage in repetitive tasks can help the person excel in work or sports in which repeated practice leads to skill mastery. Some individuals with Asperger's syndrome excel in fields wherein social or communication skills are not crucial to achievement.
The symptoms of Asperger's syndrome present themselves differently depending on the age of the person, his developmental stage and the extent of social support systems in place. Males are more likely to be diagnosed with this disorder than females. Some individuals with the condition can improve social skills through treatments that focus on curbing repetitive habits and improving communication skills.