The summer of 2017 Aspergers101 hosted a free informational series on Aspergers at the San Antonio Public Library. We have recorded each of these valuable sessions in video and powerpoint format so that you can have access to them at any time. Below, watch the first workshop from our Informational Summer Series on Aspergers focusing on diagnosis in childhood. First, Jennifer and Sam Allen discuss the initial steps of recognizing signs of Autism in a child and seeking a diagnosis. Next, Berenice de la Cruz, Ph.D., BCBA-D and COO of Autism Community Network, gives details on the diagnosis process and the medical terminology behind Autism and Aspergers.

The following checklist for Autism and Asperger behavioral signs comes from Jennifer and Sam’s powerpoint. This checklist is not meant to be used as a professional or standalone diagnosis, but rather as a helpful guide that can support you in your journey of diagnosis for your child.

Informal Childhood Developmental Checklist

Social Interactions

 The child prefers to play alone

 The child is rarely invited by others to play in the neighborhood or to participate in activities outside of school

 The child’s social interactions and responses are immature, not keeping with his/her age or his/her cognitive abilities in other areas

 The child has difficulty interacting in group settings

 The child does not play with other children as expected: he/she may not appear interested in their games, or may not know how to join in

 The child appears to be vulnerable to teasing, bullying and being taken advantage of by others

Behavioral Observations

 The child has difficulty understanding the effect his/her behavior has on others

 The child has a significant amount of difficulty taking the perspective of another person, even when it is explained to them

 The student has overwhelmingly limited interests in things such as video games, superheroes, cartoon characters

 The child’s choices of toys or activities are limited to a select few, without being open to trying new things

 The child’s play appears to be scripted or like a reenactment (such as repetitively recreating movies or favorite stores with word and action)

 The child displays limited understanding of, or involvement in, role-play and spontaneous make-believe play

 The student’s play is marked by imitation rather than cooperative interaction, for example parallel play

 The child has great difficulty with unexpected changes, even when prepared for the change ahead of time


 The child demonstrates severe delays in communication skills or is nonverbal

 The child lacks natural turn-taking skills when conversing with peers

 The child has difficulty following change of topics of conversation in response to the lead of a conversational partner

 The child has difficulty maintaining conversations with others, when the topic is something other than that of their interest

 The child has difficulty using and/or understanding non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions, body language or gestures

 The child tends to interact with adults rather than peers

 The child tends to make the same social mistakes repeatedly, although their skills improve in other developmental areas

Sensory and Motor Issues

 The child has fine motor difficulties

 The child has gross motor difficulties

 The child exhibits over sensitivity to environmental stimuli, such as sound, temperature, pain, reflection or textures

 The child exhibits “under-sensitivity” to environmental stimuli such as sound, temperature or pain

 The child appears awkward and uncoordinated in a way different from same-age peers

 The child displays excessively repetitive bodily movements such as rocking, flapping, spinning or self-aggression

You can watch all of the recordings from the Aspergers Summer Series here.

You can also download a copy of the powerpoint used in this workshop here.

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  1. Can you explain the term ‘high functioning’ please?

    1. Author

      Autism is a very broad spectrum. At one end you have the non-verbal and rocking person and the other end you have types like Tesla who invented the powerplant. Critics argue labeling “low” or “high” however until the DSM better defines the spectrum, these terms are all we have. High-functioning autism is characterized by features very similar to those of Asperger syndrome. The defining characteristic most widely recognized by psychologists is a significant delay in the development of early speech and language skills, before the age of three years. High-functioning autism (HFA) is a term applied to people with autism who are deemed to be cognitively “higher functioning” (with an IQ of 70 or greater) than other people with autism. Individuals with HFA or Asperger syndrome may exhibit deficits in areas of communication, emotion recognition and expression, and social interaction. HFA is not a recognized diagnosis in the DSM-5 or the ICD-10.

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