This is Part 4 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s. As usual I will start out with a personal story and then show how that links into my study of this syndrome. This post will among other things be about my struggles with criticism.
As a young boy I had troubles fitting in to the group mode. I always felt like I just didn’t belong. Because I had a low self-esteem in those years I compensated by just being by myself most of the time. I couldn’t understand the behaviors of my peers so I withdrew from them. As I grew older the “I am an Island” mode became a central part of my life. I was that kid who was off in the corner reading books and dreaming about the future instead of playing sports and such. While I didn’t voice my feeling often I sometimes thought critically of others.
One of the major things that has challenged me throughout my life is that I just don’t take criticism well! To avoid it I often studied things so that I was the semi-expert who spoke with knowledge that couldn’t be questioned. I now look back on my life and see where my sensitivity to criticism caused difficulties with interaction with others. As an example, I was pretty much on my own for the first forty years of my life so I was just not used to being criticized. That is until I got married and then I was exposed to criticism in spades. My wife, like many others as I understand, was determined to fix me and I just didn’t think I needed fixing. Her attempts, which I most often take as criticism has been the central kernel of conflict in your marriage. I often have the feeling that “my wife doesn’t think I can even flush a toilet without screwing it up!” Since recognizing my sensitivity to criticism I have worked hard to handle it but with not much actual success.
When I found that my IQ was 134 it didn’t mean anything to me but looking back I guess it caused me to appear arrogant in some of my actions and words. I just thought things through more deeply than others and when I voiced my opinions they evidently came across as I didn’t intend them.
How does this story relate to Asperger’s?
We know that the child with Asperger’s syndrome has difficulty with social integration with his or her peers. If that child also has superior intellectual ability, difficulties in social integration may be compounded. Those children who have exceptionally high IQs may compensate by becoming arrogant and egocentric, and have considerable difficulty acknowledging that they have made a mistake. Such children can be hypersensitive to any suggestion of criticism, yet overly critical of others, including teachers, parents or authority figures. The school or parents may turn to professional help with regard to the attitude and conduct of such children, leading to a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. Referral to a behaviour management specialist may be the starting point of the pathway to a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome.
Attwood, Tony (2006-09-28). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome (pp. 20-21). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Recognizing my Asperger’s traits is helping me to understand how I may unintentionally hurt others with my words.