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Asperger's syndrome is a type of developmental disorder that usually impairs a person's ability to communicate well with others. Although symptoms are sometimes caught in the childhood years, diagnosing Asperger's in adolescents or teens happens more often. Symptoms of Asperger's in teenagers often include difficulty communicating, poor social skills, and intense interest in certain subjects or hobbies. In some cases, the condition can lead to a number of social, academic, and anxiety disorders.
One of the main characteristics of Asperger's syndrome is the inability to communicate with others effectively. These communication delays can lead to social isolation, especially in the teenage years, when socialization is a very important aspect in life. Teenagers with Asperger's syndrome may try to have conversations with their peers, but many times, they find it difficult to empathize with others. For example, a teen may not be able to sense when others are having a bad day and just want to be left alone. In this case, the individual may try to carry on a conversation with someone anyway, resulting in the person getting angry or upset.
A teenager with Asperger's syndrome may be seen as annoying or weird by his peers. In many cases, the individual is not usually interested in the newest fads and fashions. He will typically wear old, ratty clothes to school. This is not necessarily because he has no interest in fitting in, though; he simply finds old clothes comfortable and familiar. Blatant disregard for fashion trends, especially in the teenage years, can often lead to others seeing an individual as different or odd.
Teenagers with Asperger's also have a tendency to ramble on about certain interests of theirs, with complete disregard as to whether the other party in the conversation is interested. Intense interest in one hobby is another common sign of Asperger's in teenagers. Many times, this interest will be something that is considered to be a bit childish in comparison with the interests of their peers.
Generally, the teen will excel in some subjects but struggle with others. Subjects like math and programming seem to be the easiest, since the concepts are more structured and follow certain rules. When dealing with Asperger's, it is not uncommon to find that many teens follow most rules strictly and literally. This is also a contributing factor to social isolation, since the teenage years are typically when children will start to break rules and push limits.
A combination of all of these signs of Asperger's can eventually cause the teen to be a social outcast. He may be labeled as a nerd, geek, or weirdo, and he may be targeted by bullies. Depression and anxiety are not uncommon in teenagers with Asperger's syndrome. Some teens are also more aggressive with others because they feel like they are different or outcasts, and they are also at a higher risk for suicide.