Adolescents dealing with Asperger Syndrome were among the 10th through 12th grade students in Lynn Pritchett’s last few years as a public school educator in Tucson, Arizona. Lynn assisted them in learning to adapt their talents and challenges toward gainful employment opportunities and educational goals beyond high school.
Employment and education beyond high school is a distinction for Asperger Syndrome adolescents because of their advanced vocabulary and grammatical skills. However, Asperger symptoms can complicate employment, educational, and social opportunity:
Verbal Communication & Social Issues: Symptom 1
Asperger Syndrome adolescents are extremely literal and rigid in the meaning of words, phrases, and images. Jokes are usually lost on them, because jokes often make fun of a word and use it in a totally different way.
This issue combines and blends with general communication problems. Understandably, when a person takes every word quite literally, conversations can and often become difficult and misinterpreted. Asperger Syndrome adolescents are often social outcasts, and appear to others as moody. Their feelings are easily hurt and they are often disappointed and frustrated and have a hard time relating to their peers.
Non-Verbal Communication: Symptom 2
Body language is not understood. What is taken for granted as friendly gestures by many people, like a wave, a smile, or a handshake, is simply a very uncomfortable moment for an adolescent with Asperger Syndrome.
When preparing for job interviews, repeated practice of such commonalities as handshakes and looking the interviewer in the eye are most important with an adolescent having Asperger Syndrome.
Obsessive, Repetitive Routines and Rituals: Symptom 3
Adolescents in general can have restrictive and obsessive routines and rituals, but Asperger Syndrome adolescents’ obsessions are much more so than other teens. Even though there may be absolute proof that there are no such jobs available in dolphin training in Tucson, Arizona, an Asperger Syndrome adolescent will continue to be certain that there is one waiting for them at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and they just haven’t asked enough times yet.
Motor Skill Problems: Symptom 4
Lots of adolescents are uncoordinated, but again the Asperger Syndrome teen is that and then some. Physical education is a challenge one might obsessively try to avoid if there is a way. However, the Asperger adolescent is often extremely honest too, so don’t expect him or her to fake sick to get out of things. He or she will show their anxiety physically in the ticks and tremors or pacing back and forth done, when feeling terribly uncomfortable or cornered into doing a task that is unpleasant.
Fine motor skills like cutting with scissors are not usually an Asperger adolescent’s forte, especially the boys’. Patience seems to be a big factor in the motor skill area for both Asperger young men and women.
Sensory Sensitivity: Symptom 5
Asperger Syndrome adolescents often are very sensitive to sounds. This can be a big issue on the school bus or in the classroom, where the mixture of conversations and other background noises can become overwhelming. Other sensory sensitivities that can cause irritation and behavior outbursts include: light, tastes, and textures.
Asperger Syndrome: More Information
Asperger Syndrome is considered a mild disorder in the Autism Spectrum. More boys than girls are affected by the disorders of the Autism Spectrum.
There is no cure. However, vocational training and social skills can be developed throughout childhood and lifetime, because Asperger Syndrome patients usually have normal intelligence and verbal skills. Asperger adolescents can expect to grow to live happy, productive adult lives, with support and encouragement from vocational rehabilitative services, school opportunities, counseling, and understanding family and friends.
More information on Asperger Syndrome and Autism Spectrum disorders at:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health
National Institute of Mental Health