From what I've been told, some of the main features of Aspergers are:
- difficulty picking up on social things such as facial expressions and idiomatic phrases
My Dad struggles with recognising whether someone is interested in his conversation, and starting/finishing conversations can be difficult. He's not as proactive as my Mum with including himself in our lives or keeping touch, and a typical phone conversation may be along the lines of:
"So what've you been up to lately?"
"Just sitting in my chair, really".
...which doesn't really get things started. What I've found helps it to find ANYTHING I've been doing which is part of his 'interest' list, and start discussing it. He's well travelled, and interested in languages, books, religion... all things which really interest me, and I learn a lot when we get going on a good talk, but the onus falls on me to get it started, and it's up to me to keep in touch and include him with what's going on in my life. It's also a mission to get conversations finished - he won't pick up on my "I'm bored as I've heard this extended monologue pretending to be a conversation in its entirety on a previous occasion" body language, if he's even got his eyes open, and somehow entirely disregards any words I do manage to get in saying things to that effect. In fact there has been more than one occasion where I have given up and simply left the room to go to the loo or get some items etc. and come back in 2-5 mins later to find him still talking, having not noticed I'd left. I've not yet found a solution to this one, other than prying out bits of things he says that are tangential to the main monologue, and using them to steer things in a direction which interests me and I haven't heard before. Or just leaving the room, if I'm meant to be somewhere, as rude and cruel as it feels. His spiels are incredibly interesting the first time, but not so much the 3rd or 4th.
My brother will struggle with phrases like "pull your socks up" the first time he hears them. He'll either interpret it literally and get confused, or (now he's an adult) ask what we mean. He also nods more slowly and holds himself and his expressions differently to others, which sometimes leads them to think he's more severely intellectually disabled than he is: e.g. while we were having an afternoon tea at Mum's friend's house her husband offered to take my brother for a tractor ride - he was 25. My brother was all good with going on a tractor ride and didn't pick up on the fact that the husband thought he was intellectually handicapped though, due to his difficulty with social interactions/implications. I mean heck, I would've preferred a tractor ride to sitting about making polite conversation too!
- having particular interests: e.g. being very into trains or something
I haven't seen this so much in my family, not to the extent that it is played on when people with Aspergers are portrayed in films and on television and the like. My father IS an incredibly intelligent man, and he has have few real-life friends and doesn't go out often at all, but he doesn't have one particular obsession, just several strong interests: collecting incunabula (books from the earliest days of printing), Shakespeare authorship, religion/spirituality, and languages. My brother's main interest has been in computers and programming, but not to a super-genius obsessive level, and he's also had other interests such as dogs and carnivorous plants. And a bit of a thing for balloons. It makes it more difficult when their set of interests barely overlaps with your own (as has been the case in the past with my brother), and we have to work a bit harder for the common-ground to have good conversations and stay close.
- a dislike of change, enjoying routines
My father lived at home with his parents until the age of 40, although to be fair he had spent some time in the army at a younger age before moving back in. My brother (now 28) still lives at home with our parents. Dad rarely travels, and has only been to see me in my university city once in 6 1/2 years - for my graduation. He doesn't like anyone moving his books and papers and things, although he's more than happy for me to look at 400 yr old books if he gets them out for me and I've got clean hands. My brother will take the dog for a walk through exactly the same route in the park every single day, and dislikes this changing although he'll try to be accommodating of me wanting a bit of change if I'm home and go with them. He likes to notice the changes that occur through time on that same route rather than take a different path.
In addition, my brother has always had difficulty wih his hand-writing, which still looks quite child-like. He needed extra help with English and Math throughout school.
He is also very visual and has a thing about germs: he pictures a big gooey brain in his head whenever he hears the word brain, which grosses him out, and made things difficult when my main field of study was biology and I'd come home from university used to being able to say words like brain and heart whenever I wanted. Every time I go home I sneeze like crazy due to the accumulated dust around Dad's piles of books, and my brother screams at me cause he has issues with germs (& thus sneezing), and I scream back at everyone cause the sneezing is making me feel like shit, and then Mum gets all upset because her family is falling into pieces. Yay for Christmas. One year Dad threatened to call the police on me because I was insisting on vacuuming the house (including behind his precious boxes), and tried to recycle an 'important' piece of paper of his. It was a piece of paper with the time for a dentist's appointment 6 months previous. My brother tries very hard not to scream when I sneeze these days (he shuts himself in his room instead) and I try to dose up on antihistamines and get out of the house as much as possible - there's no changing Dad, he's pretty set in his ways.
Both my father and brother struggle to make 'real-life' (non-internet) friendships, and struggle with depression from time to time. Although this may be separate depression-genetics, my sis and I have had issues with it too. I think not 'fitting in' does have an effect on my brother, but at the same time he doesn't want to fit in - he'll wear trackpants that don't look like they should ever leave the house and dry his hands on this T-shirt after washing them, no matter how much we suggest otherwise. I think drying his hands may be partly a germs thing - he knows where his T-shirt's been, and knows he's washed his own hands thoroughly.
I don't know if any of this has been helpful Wednesday, or whether it's at all similar to your experience? If you tell me some of your specific difficulties, then I might be better able to explain how I've dealt with any that I'm familiar with.
I worry about my brother quite a bit, in terms of his depression, whether or not he'll feed himself healthily and how well he'll cope once our parents pass away, and just how sweet-natured he is. A drunk man in a park at night offered him a hand-job, and rather than being disturbed by this he just said 'no thanks' and then had a long chat with the guy. I think it's great to be like that, but he IS considering travelling overseas now, despite having done barely any travel ever before. I'm worried about him being too trusting with people who'll try to steal his luggage/money, and about customs officials suspecting him of being on drugs or the like just because of his odd mannerisms. He's also had shit luck with his 3 closest childhood friendships, and doesn't put himself in many situations where he might make more friends. If anyone has any advice on ways I could help him, that would be much appreciated.