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List of Possible Characteristics of a Person with Asperger's Syndrome (AS), High
Functioning Autism (HFA) or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
characteristics! Some of the characteristics may also be seen in conjunction with other
diagnoses such as Noonan Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, OCD, etc.

Cognitive Learning

  • Excellent rote memory in certain areas

  • Unregulated fears; difficulty judging situations that create fear  

  • May be overly fearful in safe situations, yet fearless in dangerous situations

  • Very detail-oriented

    • Difficulty seeing overall picture or situation​

    • Applies same level of detail to every situation whether appropriate or not

  • May have exceptionally high skills in some areas, but very low skills in others, i.e., splinter skills, savant skills, or special talents

  • Prefers concrete, rather than abstract, concepts


  • Pronoun reversal

  • Excellent vocabulary; may sound like “The Little Professor”

  • Conversational language may appear stilted

  • Speaks with stock phrases or phrases borrowed from other situations or people

  • Makes honest, but often inappropriate observations

  • Has difficulties adjusting volume and speed in speech

  • Problems with prosody; irregular accenting and inflection used in conversation

  • Literal language: difficulty understanding figures of speech, similes, parodies, allegories, etc.

  • Speech may have started very early in development or may have started then stopped for a period of time

  • Repeats last word or phrases several times (echolalia)

  • Difficulty understanding some language, i.e., directional terms easily confused


  • Rage/anger/hurt may all be expressed in unexpected ways

  • Perfectionism

  • Easily overstimulated by sound, crowds, lights, smells

  • Inside feeling not matching outside behavior

Motor Skills

  • Difficulty with some skills requiring motor skill development

    • ​Gross motor skills - riding bike, swimming, crawling​

    • Fine motor skills - handwriting, tying shoes

  • May have some advanced, age-appropriate skills while other age-appropriate skills are delayed, i.e., tying shoes before climbing stairs

  • Unusual walking gait or clumsiness

  • Difficulty with motor skills that require visual perception accuracy, i.e.,
    walking through a parking lot, revolving door or turnstiles, participating in
    sports, guiding a shopping cart


The uncontrollable repetition of a word, phrase, or gesture.

The spontaneous recurrence of a thought, image, phrase, or tune in the mind

  • Obsession - the fact or state of being obsessed with an idea, desire, emotion, etc.

  • Compulsions - an irresistible, repeated, irrational impulse to perform some act

  • Fascination with rotation

  • Many and varied collections

  • Redirection very difficult (changing focus or thinking from one activity or idea to another)

  • One emotional incident can determine the mood for the rest of the day; can’t let emotions pass quickly

Social Cues

  • Difficulty reading facial expression and emotion in another person

  • Difficulty understanding body language

  • Difficulty understanding the rules of conversation

  • Difficulty understanding group interactions

  • Too much or too little eye contact

  • Difficulty understanding others’ humor

  • Problems recognizing faces out of the usual setting or known context (face-blindness or prosopagnosia)

  • Stand-offish or overly friendly

  • May adopt others’ behaviors, speech or dress habits to aid in more fluid communication and social adaptation


  • Very sensitive or under-sensitive to light, pain, taste, touch, sound, smell

    • May have injuries of which they are not aware

    • ​May experience physical pain from oversensitivity to light, sound, touch

    • Very picky eater, both in selections of foods and in the way they are presented on the plate

  • May crave specific touch, taste, smell, sight, sound, lights​

  • Over-sensitive to change in surroundings, people, places

  • Over stimulation may result from too many verbal directions or instructions

Comfort Skills

  • Desires comfort items to produce calming effect - blankets, stuffed animals

  • May need external (outside) stimulation for calming - brushing, soothing
    sound, rotating object.

  • Comforted by minor motor stimulations - rocking, humming, tapping fingers,
    toes, sucking, rubbing fingertips in circles or on seams of clothing.

  • May need separate space or area to decompress

  • Unusual attachment to object.

  • Self-stimulation i.e., rocking, tapping, humming, etc., to increase
    concentration and attention or to calm down and relax

New Situations, Patterns, People

  • Rule-oriented

  • Prefers known patterns with little unexpected surprises

  • Prefers familiar places, clothing, people

  • Difficulty with transitions when changing activities

  • Difficulty making and maintaining friendships (especially peer friendships); more successful with adults than other children or young people

Neurological Function

  • Erratic neurological function

    • Attention difficulties

    •  Irregular sleep patterns

  • Understanding and working with time concepts 

  • Sensory processing disorders (how the brain processes information it receives from the sensory organs)

    • Visual processing disorders

    • Auditory processing disorders

    • Sensory integration disorders

NO ONE WILL HAVE ALL THESE CHARACTERISTICS! These are POSSIBLE characteristics! It is suggested that this document be used as a check list to mark the past and present characteristics. Used with permission from

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