Why are people with Asperger's Syndrome so clumsy

Asperger syndrome

Asperger's Syndrome: Brief Overview

  • Symptoms: first signs from around the age of 3, often delayed motor development, clumsiness, stereotypical behavior, poor ability to interact, few facial expressions, often self-talk. Often conspicuous "special interests".
  • Causes, risk factors: presumably, among other things, genetic, often older age of the parents. Infections and diseases as well as medication in pregnancy, premature birth.
  • Diagnosis: Detailed anamnesis (collection of previous and family history), external observations, psychiatric and neurological examinations
  • Autism Tests: Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome (ASAS), Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) and Empathy Quotient (EQ)
  • Danger: The tests only allow a rough assessment. Diagnosis difficult, especially in adults.
  • Treatment: incurable, but suffering and social interaction can be positively influenced. V. a. Behavioral therapy, communication training, supportive occupational therapy, physiotherapy

Asperger's Syndrome: Symptoms

Asperger syndrome-Symptoms usually only become noticeable after the age of three. Before that, the children show no abnormalities in terms of their communication and language skills. They also take the first steps towards independence and are curious about their surroundings - just like children without Asperger's syndrome. Only the motor development is partially delayed, but not always.

As a result, Asperger's syndrome is often only discovered in children at preschool or school age. Those affected have Problems with social interactionswhich can be seen, for example, when playing with people of the same age. For example, they have poor empathy for the thoughts and feelings of others and they have great difficulty adjusting to other people and social situations. They find it difficult to correctly interpret the facial expressions, gestures and tones of others. They often hardly show any facial expressions themselves.

Often times, children with Asperger's Syndrome can too no two-way conversation to lead. They talk when they want and about topics that interest them, without adapting to the audience. They do not understand subtle signals from the other person, for example to change the subject or to end the conversation. Asperger's autistic people often talk to themselves.

In addition, children with Asperger's Syndrome often don't know how to build friendships. However, some have no interest in social contacts and friendships at all.

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Other Asperger Syndrome symptoms include unusual keen interests and knowledge, often in a narrowly defined and sometimes not very practice-relevant area (island talents). This highly specific interest can be, for example, the melting point of metals, batteries or church towers. Those affected can be so fixated on an area of ​​interest that they (for example at school) have little curiosity and attention for other things. Based on these Attention disorder Asperger's syndrome children are often poor students despite their good intelligence.

Also, they sometimes show up in Asperger's autism Disorders of the sensory perception. Some of those affected are very sensitive to certain smells, noises, surfaces or touch stimuli. In everyday situations, this can become a veritable overstimulation for those affected.

When it comes to walking and motor coordination, Asperger's autistic people are often right clumsy. Also stereotypical behaviors occur.

Despite all the difficulties, people with Asperger's Syndrome often try not to attract attention and to compensate for their social skills problems. In the long run, this can be very strenuous and overwhelming and lead to Asperger's autism from others withdraw.

Strengths in Asperger's Syndrome

People with Asperger's Syndrome also have many strengths. So with them the Language development mostly early a: The affected children can often speak before they go free. Over time, they develop a very sophisticated, versatile language with a large vocabulary.

Also, people with Asperger's Syndrome usually have one good to above average intelligence. The above-mentioned special interests and island talents can be put to good use by some in their professional lives.

In addition, Asperger's Syndrome is the Thinking skills are often impressive. Original ideas and good logical and abstract thinking skills are not uncommon.

Sincerity, loyalty, reliability and a keen sense of justice are often mentioned as other strengths in Asperger's syndrome. Children with Asperger's Syndrome often respond motivated and grateful to praise and recognition.

By the way: The fact that language development and intelligence are usually normal in Asperger's Syndrome is an important difference from early childhood autism. This is another form of autistic disorder.

  • Asperger syndrome

    Three questions to

    Dr. med Susanne Reicherzer,
  • Why is diagnosis so difficult in adults?

    Dr. Susanne Reicherzer, MD

    Asperger's Syndrome is a subtype of autism. “Autism” is more of a behavioral variant and less of a disease. In order to assess and assess a person's behavior, lifelong diagnostic support is actually necessary. The child's development can therefore only be examined retrospectively in the context of a diagnosis in adulthood.

  • Do people with Asperger's also have advantages?

    Dr. Susanne Reicherzer, MD

    Many behavioral characteristics specific to this group of patients can also offer advantages: For example, people who are affected by Asperger's Syndrome often have special interests that particularly qualify them in certain specialist areas. Autistic people are often very conscientious and responsible.

  • How do I best deal with Asperger's patients?

    Dr. Susanne Reicherzer, MD

    It is best to give these people the space to use their specific skills in a socially appropriate manner. This requires, on the one hand, opportunities to rest and retreat, but also social integration that is specifically tailored to them.

  • Dr. med Susanne Reicherzer,

    The doctor runs her specialist practice for neurology, psychiatry and psychotherapy in Munich.

Asperger's Syndrome: Symptoms in Adults

The problematic behaviors in Asperger's autism are often no longer as noticeable in adult patients as they were in childhood. However, even adults usually have a grammatically correct, polished style of speech and a detailed narrative style that hardly distinguishes between what is important and what is unimportant. As in children, Asperger's Syndrome in adults can lead to frozen facial expressions and the avoidance of eye contact. Many affected people hardly or not at all react to a smile or a humorous remark.

The lack of empathy in Asperger's syndrome also influences the topic partnership. Those affected often appear cool and selfish. Many find it difficult to make contact with potential partners. If a relationship works out, many find it difficult to meet the partner's requirements for intense communication and empathy.

Also on that Sex life Asperger's Syndrome can have an impact: Some people affected only have a slight need for physical closeness or even an aversion to it. Others definitely have a desire to have sex, but are very insecure in specific situations because sexual intimacy results from an intense mutual empathy. Nevertheless, Asperger's Syndrome in adults does not mean that a stable partnership and starting a family are not possible.

For the Working life Asperger's Syndrome can have two different consequences: Some patients are quickly overwhelmed when dealing with colleagues or customers, are easily offended by their very direct, impolite manner and can hardly adapt flexibly to different requirements.

In other cases, however, Asperger's Syndrome in adults has a beneficial effect on professional development. Namely, if those affected can use their special interests associated with the disorder (for example in the IT area) in their work to good effect. In addition, thanks to their often high cognitive abilities, many Asperger's autistic people are able to achieve professional and private goals.

Concomitant diseases (comorbidities)

People with Asperger's Syndrome can also develop other diseases or disorders, especially in times of crisis such as moving, retraining, puberty, birth or death in the family. The most common are ADHD, motor disorders, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, mood disorders (such as depression, anxiety), personality disorders, aggressive behavior, and sleep disorders. Tics / Tourett's syndrome, eating disorders, dumbness (mutism), self-harming behavior and schizophrenia can also accompany Asperger's autism.

Asperger's Syndrome: Causes and Risk Factors

There are several forms of the pervasive developmental disorder autism - Asperger's Syndrome (Asperger's Autism) is one of them. What causes it is not yet known. Experts suggest that a combination of factors can be responsible for developing Asperger's Syndrome.

So it is assumed that in the development of Asperger's Syndrome genetic factors play along. Many people affected have close relatives with Asperger's autism or similar behaviors. Several genetic changes are now known that increase the risk of developing an autistic disorder such as Asperger's syndrome.

Research suggests that one too older age of father or mother increases the likelihood of Asperger's autism and other autism spectrum disorders.

Proven risk factors are maternal Infections during pregnancy (like rubella). Maybe increase too (strong) prematurity, maternal diabetes as Hypoglycemia and lung function problems in newborns the risk of autistic disorders like Asperger's Syndrome.

The ingestion of certain drugs is also discussed as a risk factor Medication during pregnancy. For example, drugs against epilepsy (anti-epileptic drugs, especially valproate) are suspected.

They also seem too neurological and biochemical abnormalities to play a role. These include, for example, irregularities in electrical brain waves, deviations in the structure of different brain regions and a changed proportion of the composition of the neurotransmitters.

Parents and vaccines are not to blame

The old hypothesis that autistic disorders like Asperger's Syndrome are due to a lack of love between parents is wrong. The type of upbringing and the attachment to the parents do not increase the risk of autism either. The same applies to alcohol consumption and a high level of psychosocial stress on the mother during pregnancy.

There was also no evidence to support the thesis that autism is caused by vaccines or their preservatives.

Asperger's Syndrome: Investigations and Diagnosis

Asperger's syndrome is often difficult to differentiate from other abnormalities, such as profound developmental disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorders, schizotypic or schizophrenic disorders. A detailed medical examination is therefore necessary for the diagnosis. A doctor specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry is responsible for Asperger's syndrome in children. The expert on Asperger's Syndrome in adults is a specialist in psychiatry or psychotherapy.

A detailed examination for suspected Asperger's syndrome includes:

  • Conversation with the patient and relatives
  • Information about previous or current illnesses
  • Reports and findings from other doctors
  • Information from other people who know the patient (teachers, friends, educators, therapists, etc.)
  • thorough physical, psychiatric, neurological and laboratory medical examinations

During the conversation and during the examinations, the doctor pays attention to typical signs of Asperger's autism in the patient. Children with Asperger's Syndrome, for example, often play less imaginatively than their peers. Facial expressions and speech melody are monotonous, the style of speech polished and polished. The children can tell of experiences in great detail, but do not separate the important from the unimportant. Children with Asperger's autism are less likely to respond to a smile or emotional remarks. They often avoid direct eye contact and body contact.

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Asperger Syndrome Test

Various screening questionnaires and rating scales support the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. For children there are, for example, the "Australian Scale for Asperger's Syndrome" (ASAS) and the "Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule" (ADOS). The ASAS is a questionnaire that is intended for children of primary school age. It is used to record behavior and skills that are typical for Asperger's Syndrome at this age. With ADOS, on the other hand, different situations are created for the child that encourage social interaction. The assessor assesses the extent to which the child complies with this request.

In adults, for example, the "Autism Spectrum Quotient" (AQ) and the "Empathy Quotient" (EQ) are used to support the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. These are self-assessment instruments - the person concerned fills out the questionnaires himself. But there are also external assessment instruments such as the "Marburg assessment scale for Asperger's Syndrome" (MBAS).

Important: Each Asperger Syndrome test is only a rough estimate. No diagnosis can be made based on the test result alone.

Asperger's syndrome: difficult to diagnose in adults

Diagnosing Asperger's Syndrome in adults is much more difficult than it is in children. The problematic behaviors are usually more pronounced in childhood and often change as they grow up. In addition, many of those affected can no longer remember the difficulties encountered in childhood.

In addition, many adults with Asperger's Syndrome develop coping skills in order to appear as "normal" as possible. As a result, they can often lead an inconspicuous life, have a job, and have a partner and children. Most of the time, they only go to the doctor for secondary illnesses, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or eating disorders. With a good knowledge of the symptoms, the doctor can diagnose Asperger's syndrome in adults as the underlying causal disease.

Read more about the examinations

Find out here which examinations can be useful for this disease:

Asperger's Syndrome: Treatment

Asperger's syndrome cannot yet be cured. One can only try to support those affected in their everyday life with the right support and, for example, to help them improve their social skills. However, not every Asperger's syndrome has "disease value" and needs to be treated. Decisive for this are the extent of the symptoms and the level of suffering of the person affected.

Asperger's Syndrome Therapy is made up of various components. It is adapted to the individual needs of the patient. The age of the person affected, the severity of Asperger's autism with the individual symptoms and any accompanying illnesses or disorders play a role here.

Are generally recognized behavior therapy procedures in Asperger's Syndrome. These were developed especially for children. Early intervention, i.e. individually adapted behavioral therapy from a young age, is ideal.

Other therapeutic measures can also be helpful, for example this Training of social and communication skills in a group. Those affected can practice social rules, practice conversational skills and have general social experiences.

Occasionally, procedures such as Occupational therapy and physical therapy be useful. Some parents also report that their Asperger's Syndrome child benefits from riding therapy or active (possibly supported) leisure activities. The latter can be, for example, membership in a chess club, sports training, making music or dancing.

A psychotherapy can help with accompanying illnesses or disorders, such as anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. In the case of such comorbidities, the administration of Medication be displayed.These can be, for example, antidepressant agents, agents against hyperactivity or against compulsive acts. However, the medication must always be part of a comprehensive therapy concept.

Asperger's Syndrome: Other Measures

The following applies to Asperger's Syndrome and all other autistic disorders: those affected need a manageable, predictable environmentto feel safe. Clear and permanent structures and routines in everyday life are therefore important.

The older a child with Asperger's syndrome is, the more important it is to understand their own weaknesses and problems: The child should be informed about their autistic disorder by the treating doctor or therapist (Psychoeducation).

In adolescents and adults with Asperger's Syndrome it is also the Finding a career or adapting to a career important for the success of the therapy and the quality of life. Professions with intensive social contact are usually not advisable. Adapted to the individual possibilities, however, suitable professions can be found or one's own special skills can be used in a targeted manner in a profession.

Read more about the therapies

Read more about therapies that can help here:

Asperger's syndrome: disease course and prognosis

It is difficult to predict how Asperger's Syndrome will develop individually. Existing studies suggest that the disease is stable. For most of those affected, the contact and social behavior show a slight improvement over time. The basic disturbances remain, however. Some Asperger's autistic people cannot lead an independent life. Others, on the other hand, have a stable partnership and a job where they may even be able to bring their special interests to good use. However, contact with colleagues sometimes remains difficult.

A big influence on the prognosis when Asperger syndrome have any comorbidities or disorders. They can significantly affect the further course and development opportunities of the person concerned. Therefore, they should be treated appropriately at an early stage.

Additional information

Book recommendations:

  • A life with Asperger's Syndrome: From childhood to adulthood - everything that helps (Tony Attwood, 2012, TRIAS)
  • Asperger's Syndrome: The Successful Practical Guide for Parents and Therapists (Tony Attwood, 2016, TRIAS)
  • Hedgehog Children - Understanding Children and Adolescents with Asperger's Syndrome (Reiner Bahr, 2013, Patmos Verlag)
  • Asperger: Living in two worlds: Those affected report: That helps me in my job, partnership and everyday life (Christine Preißmann, 2013, TRIAS)


  • S3 guideline "Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children, Adolescents and Adults" of the Working Group of the Scientific Medical Societies in Germany (as of 2016)

Support group:

Autism Germany e.V. - Federal Association for the Promotion of People with Autism

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