Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Asperger's Syndrome

First, what is Asperger's Syndrome?  Click and read here. :-) 

I started to look into Asperger’s Syndrome about a month ago (June 14) when I took a series of online tests that were linked in a New York Times article discussing empathy

I scored toward the extreme end of the spectrum on each of the tests.  In every case I was in the “most persons with Asperger’s score X” area, and that not even near the boundary but way into the Asperger’s zone and even beyond in a couple of them.  As a control I had Lora take the tests as well.  She tested astoundingly “normal” on them all. 

I stated on Facebook about the NYT article at the time “Great story! I especially enjoyed the tests from the online links​n/EmpathyQuotient/EmpathyQuoti​ent.aspx about empathy that ended up labeling me as "high functioning autistic" or Aspergers Syndrome. Which is not a surprise actually and is probably accurate if you read up on the symptoms of such things. :-) Empathy I really do most severely lack.”

Since then I have been, somewhat obsessively, researching the idea of Asperger’s Syndrom and autism in general.  I’ve read several books on the subject this month:

3.  The Way I See It by Temple Grandin - who is a person with Asperger's Syndrome
4.   Pretending to be Normal by Liane Holliday Willey - another Asperger's person

I also have joined the OASIS forums where there is discussion of the issues associated with living with Asperger's and an e-mail Yahoo group called Adult Asperger that does the same thing.

I considered going to a therapist locally here in Livermore to get an "official" diagnosis but cost prevented me from doing that.  However I am fairly certain (~99%?) that this would be the diagnosis I would receive if I went that way.  I have seen probably a dozen psychologists, MSW's and psychiatrists starting in Junior High School and continuing off and on over the decades since then.  None of them gave me this particular diagnosis, but then this did not get into the DSM IV until the 1990's which was when I last went to a shrink, so who knows :-)  

After reading over the stuff below, you people who know me can comment and let me know if you think I'm right or just plain nuts like you always thought I was :-)

For your enjoyment, pondering and/or dispute I offer the following List of Asperger Traits taken from Help 4 Aspergers web site.  As they point out "It is very important to remember: No two people with Aspergers are the same—they all just share some traits."
NOTE: My comments are in italics.

Personal / Physical

  • Repetitive routines or rituals – example: my morning routine is very rigid, any deviation from it upsets me a great deal and makes me angry if caused by someone else interfering with me before I’m done.   
  • Can engage in tasks (sometimes mudane ones) for hours and hours - yes
  • Flat, or blank expression much of the time – I’ve been told this numerous times, also, some people have misinterpreted my basic expression as me not being happy or even being angry when I was not angry nor unhappy.  I often try consciously to be more expressive, though with limited success.
  • Doesn't always recognize faces right away (even close loved ones) – I have a very hard time with faces, even of family.  My cues for identifying someone include such things as body shape and size, how they move, sound of voice and even the sound of their steps, sometimes it’s also clothing, which is a notoriously unreliable clue. 
  • Strong sensitivity to sound especially echoing rooms or rooms with more than two people talking, touch - unexpected touching of me by others makes me angry instantly as does people too close to me without invitation, though this touch is probably the idea of me touching things, I do get rather fascinated by textures ;-), taste, sight - bright light bothers me a lot, especially at night, and smell - many perfumes and scented products make me nauseous and angry almost instantly
  • Sensitivity to the texture of foods – not so much, except slimy stuff like egg plant
  • Eccentric personality – I guess so
  • Idiosyncratic attachment to inanimate objects – not so much
  • Being "in their own world" / Preoccupied with their own agenda – certainly true
  • Highly gifted in one or more areas, e.g. math, music, etc – sadly this seems not to be the case
  • Single-mindedness – very much the case
  • Likes and dislikes can be very rigid – yes
  • Can spend hours in the library researching, loves learning and information – or on the web researching my latest interest
  • May have difficulty staying in college despite a high level of intelligence – yes, 4.0 student on the Dean’s List, offered a posting to West Point when I was 17 and never managed even an AA
  • Limited interests / Intense focus on one or two subjects – one or two at a time you mean? 
  • Unusual preoccupations – they don’t seem unusual to me
  • Collects things – I used to collect maps obsessively but lately I’ve been minimizing instead
  • Early in life they often have a speech impediment – not that I’m aware of
  • Clumsiness / Uncoordinated motor movements – trips over his own shadow you mean?  Yeah, that’s me, tripping and dropping things and knocking them over all the time, can’t throw or catch either
  • Speech and language peculiarities / hyperlexia – I was at college reading level in the 7th grade according to tests my school shrink told me about ;-)
  • Non-verbal communication problems: difficulty reading body language, facial expression and tone – I totally miss this stuff and it gets me in trouble a lot
  • Word repetition (they may frequently repeat what you've just said) – I don’t know about that one
  • Excellent rote memory – I recall Dad marveling at my retelling in detail of stories I had read when I was a kid
Social Interactions

  • Desire for friendships and social contact but difficulty acquiring and maintaining them – friends?  Few and very far between
  • Shuts down in social situations -  I’m good for ten minutes or so
  • Social withdrawal / may avoid social gatherings – I hide, run away or make up excuses to skip any gathering of more than three or four people
  • Lack of interest in other people – I’m with Sarte on this one “Hell is other people”
  • Lack of empathy at times – yeah, but who cares?   Just kidding, I care about people but have very hard time with putting myself in their shoes
  • Difficulty understanding others’ feelings – if they would just think like me it’d be easier
  • Can obsess about having friends to prove they’re “normal” – gave up on normal a long time ago
  • Rigid social behavior due to an inability to spontaneously adapt to variations in social situations – not sure what this even means
  • Has an urge to inform that can result in being blunt / insulting – yes, in the extreme and even when I’m trying not to be rude or insulting it ends up that way anyway.
  • Preoccupied with their own agenda – of course, what other agenda is there?
  • Great difficulty with small-talk and chatter – I hate small talk, it sounds as meaningless as the hooting of chimps as they groom each other, speech is for communication and this stuff communicates nothing to me, although I am aware it communicates to other people something about group membership and stuff like that, it doesn’t to me.
 So, what do you think?


  1. You're in pretty much the same situation as I was late last year, I self diagnosed after following the same sort of online test (google aspie quiz) and recognising so much of myself in the symptoms. It was an epiphany, my life made sense for once. I'm now officially diagnosed and I've been lucky in that there's a local group, that's been a great help in recognising my strengths and weaknesses. And we do have strengths :)

  2. Thanks "onemaninaboat" I needed that. Love your art on your blog! I do hope I can find some folks around here to meet up with but just finding people on line has been a bit of help already.