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Common Traits

Social/Communication Traits

  • Despite a desire for friends, difficulty in initiating or maintaining close relationships
  • Problems reading non-verbal or social cues or understanding/using social rules
  • Very socially naïve and as a result are often taken advantage of, rejected, or bullied
  • Social contact may be directed by them (e.g. play is “on their terms” or not at all)
  • Poor (or intense) eye contact, atypical use of gestures and flat or inappropriate facial expressions
  • One-sided conversations, and little ability for “small talk”
  • May appear overly shy or overly extroverted, but inappropriately so
  • Unaware of others’ thoughts, feelings or perceptions resulting in inadvertently appearing rude or inconsiderate
  • Literal interpretation of communication from others
  • Avoidant of social contact or events, and may experience heightened anxiety in social situations
  • Language is learned and used in “chunks” (e.g., phrases, dialogue from TV shows, etc.)
  • Communication is used for delivering information or requesting, not as a way of interacting socially


Behavioural Traits

  • May respond poorly to changes, sensory stimuli, transitions, lack of structure, and restrictions
  • Repetitive movements (e.g., jumping, rocking, pacing) and speech (i.e., talking about favourite topics, interest)
  • Rigid, inflexible and rule-bound behaviour
  • Inappropriate behaviour given the social situation (e.g., speaking too loud in place of worship)
  • Exaggerated emotional response to situations (e.g., tantrums when asked to something that they don’t want to do)
  • Superior ability to focus on favourite activity or area of interest (e.g., spends hours mastering video game to the exclusion of other pastimes)


Cognitive Traits

  • Average to superior intelligence
  • Detail oriented approach to tasks which may result in missing the “bigger picture”
  • May have associated learning disabilities (e.g., non-verbal learning disability)
  • Often have high verbal scores in a cognitive assessment, and low performance scores
  • Difficulty seeing “parts-to-whole” and “whole-to-parts” relationships
  • Prefer technical/factual information over abstract


Associated Challenges

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Attentional difficulties (e.g., shifting attention; attending to unimportant stimuli)
  • Tics or Tourette Syndrome
  • Gross and fine motor deficits
  • Poor organizational skills (e.g., time management and planning, partializing tasks)



DSM-IV-TR Criteria

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