Aspergers Checklist: Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines

Below is a great checklist that was taken from MyAspergersChild.com website. It is a good reference but every child and adult is different. If you think your child may have Aspergers… don’t be afraid to get him evaluated. Early diagnosis is key and makes a world of difference!

Narrow Range of Interests and Insistence on Set Routines:
This refers to the child’s rigidity, obsessions  and need for structure/routine/order.

A. Rules are very important as the world is seen as black or white.

1. Takes perfectionism to an extreme — one wrong answer is not tolerable and the individual must do things perfectly

2. Has difficulty with any changes in the established routine

3. Has a set routine for how activities are to be done

4. Has rules for most activities, which must be followed (this can be extended to all involved)

B. The individual has few interests, but those present are unusual and treated as obsessions.

1. Patterns, routines, and rituals are evident and interfere with daily functioning (this is driven by the individual’s anxiety; the world is confusing for her; she is unsure what to do and how to do it; if she can impose structure, she begins to have a feeling of control)

2. Has developed narrow and specific interests; the interests tend to be atypical (this gives a feeling of competence and order; involvement with the area of special interest becomes all-consuming)

3. Displays rigid behavior:

  • Has unusual fears
  • Has narrow food preferences
  • Carries a specific object
  • Plays games or completes activities in a repetitive manner or makes own rules for them
  • Insists on driving a specific route
  • Arranges toys/objects/furniture in a specific way
  • Is unable to accept environmental changes (must always go to the same restaurant, same vacation spot)
  • Is unable to change the way she has been taught to complete a task
  • Needs to be first in line, first selected, etc.
  • Erases over and over to make the letters just right
  • Colors with so much pressure the crayons break (in order to cover all the white)
  • Only sits in one specific chair or one specific location
  • Cannot extend the allotted time for an activity; activities must start and end at the times specified
  • Selects play choices/interests not commonly shared by others (electricity, weather, advanced computer skills, scores of various sporting events) but not interested in the actual play (this could also be true for music, movies, and books)
  • Has narrow clothing preferences
  • Feels need to complete projects in one sitting, has difficulty with projects completed over time

C. Failure to follow rules and routines results in behavioral difficulties. These can include:

1. Anxiety

2. Tantrums/meltdowns (crying, aggression, property destruction, screaming)

3. Non-compliant behaviors

4. Increase in perseverative/obsessive/rigid/ritualistic behaviors or preoccupation with area of special interest, engaging in nonsense talk

5. Inability to prevent or lessen extreme behavioral reactions, inability to use coping or calming techniques

6. Emotional responses out of proportion to the situation, emotional responses that are more intense and tend to be negative (glass half-empty)

Aspergers children have very few things that really interest them, but those interests are very important and may help them alleviate anxiety. They also cope better when there are set routines in their lives. Because change causes anxiety, Aspergers children will want to live by rigid rules that they construct for themselves. They want their own rules so that they can be the “king” or “ruler” and have a difficult time understanding why society has a different set of rules.

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