Part 8 – My Venture Into Asperger’s – Myths..

Neuro Banner  This is Part 8 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s.  This post is primarily about myths that have grown up around Asperger’s and Autism in general. Since the source is rather long I have edited it somewhat and  will for the most part let it stand by itself..

 2016-10-09_10-38-37.pngMyth:Asperger’s Syndrome only affects children: Therefore adults can and should grow out of it with time.Many people have a tendency to think that Asperger’s Syndrome only affects children and that adults can and should be capable of growing out of it.

Such thinking has evolved in parallel with the idea that all children with ADHD can be medicated and will  eventually grow out of the condition.Similarly, people also presume that adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, should somehow have been cured of it via early intervention therapies and other treatments by the time they reach adulthood.

Such ideas are both erroneous and extremely harmful to adults with Asperger’s Syndrome who struggle daily to attain some small degree of acceptance and understanding for their symptoms.

As it stands, there is no cure for Asperger’s Syndrome because it is neither a disease nor a disorder that people can turn on or off at will or that can be treated and made disappear by the use of medication.

Myth:Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome are attention seeking, cold, aloof, loners, who don’t care about the needs of others.

This is perhaps the most harmful myth of all. It has been said (and sometimes by fairly prominent people within the media) that Asperger’s Syndrome is just an excuse for some people to behave like sociopathic jerks.

This is not true. As with the formerly more well-known form of classic Autism, those with Asperger’s Syndrome do not choose to have this challenging condition.

They are not trying to be deliberately rude by avoiding eye contact, social interactions or loud, unfamiliar environments such as parties or large family gatherings simply as a way of gaining attention.

Part of the problem for those with Asperger syndrome is that personal relationships, including familial relationships, often require them to try and take part in hyper social activities that contain all of the many unwritten rules and social cues, those with Asperger’s Syndrome find so confusing.As a result they will often avoid taking part in such activities.

Yet get a person with Asperger’s Syndrome in a one on one situation, without all of the distractions of a loud or unfamiliar environment, and you will often find that they are very warm, witty and generally caring people. It really is as simple as that….

Another very simple truth is that the vast majority of those with Asperger’s Syndrome desperately want to be liked and accepted by others. They just don’t know how to achieve this because unlike neruo-typicals, those with Asperger’s Syndrome were not born with the same intrinsic toolbox of social understandings and awareness’, that those born without Asperger’s Syndrome take for granted.

Myth: Asperger’s is a dangerous mental illness that makes People more prone to Violence

Asperger’s syndrome is not a mental illness. It is a neurological/developmental disorder.  Unlike classic or severe Autism, those with Asperger’s syndrome are often not diagnosed until school age when they’re lack of interaction with peers and the inability to automatically understand social cues begins to mark them out as being in some way different from their peers….

Those with Asperger’s Syndrome are no more prone to violence than the general population.  The only crime it appears those diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome are guilty of is that of being somewhat eccentric by exhibiting behaviours that do not fall within the realms of what society considers ‘normal’. Once again these are issues of socialization, not violence.

In conclusion, Asperger’s Syndrome, is considered a “developmental disorder” that a person is born with. 

While no one knows exactly what causes Asperger’s Syndrome, what is becoming clear is the fact that the levels of misconception and suspicion that often surrounds adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, make it a tough and lonely disorder to live and deal with on a daily basis for many. 

One key way in which we can begin to redress many of the myths and misconceptions that surround the experiences of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome would be to encourage those with the condition to discuss their struggles openly and honestly without all of the leering suspicions that have become so much a part of their daily lives.

Source: Myths, Lies and Suspicious Minds – Debunking the popular misconceptions that surround the lives of adults with Asperger’s Syndrome | Seventh Voice

For whatever reason I tend to wash my dirty laundry in public here at RJsCorner. That is certainly what I am doing here. But one reason I am doing this is to try to personally understand and get you to understand this condition.  I will likely continue to do that even after the 10 posts I have originally dedicated to this topic.

Part 7 – My Venture Into Aspergers – The Aspie Quiz

Neuro Banner  This is Part 7 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s.  This post is primarily about the Aspie Quiz.

After studying this condition for a good while I took the Aspie Quiz. The Quiz is a pre-diognostic tool to help determine if you might be autistic.  The quiz is a group of 50 questions that are rated on a scale of 1 to 6. The answers to the questions are grouped in various categories including: Talent, Perceptions, Communications, Relationships, and Social skills.

After completing the quiz I was given the results as shown below. It took some time to really determine what this graph says but I have come to the conclusion that I am significantly skewed toward the Neuordiverse/Aspergers side of the spectrum. Particularly in the talent area and to a lesser degree to the other categories.   As I was looking over the results it struck me that I have never thought to group these situations together but when I do that trends definitely appear.

HC Tqg219

The basic results of the quiz are that I have both neurodiverse and neurotypical traits. That is, like my deafness, I am in between two worlds.  I am probably described at a highly functioning Aspie.  That is, the neurodiverse side of me has not greatly impeded my ability to function in the neurotypical world.

My strongest Aspie category is in the Talent area. Part of those characteristics are:

  • I get extremely focused on special interests almost to the exclusion of everything else. When I get involved in some things the world completely disappears. My total focus is on the topic at hand. That proved to be somewhat beneficial in my last career stage in the business world. I was a software tools developer and was able to create apps that would normally have taken 2 to 3 people to accomplish.
  • I have an extreme need to catalog information. During my thirty year career I religiously kept a weekly index card of all the things I did. This card stack grew to over 6 inches high before it was moved to a computer when PCs were available.

Perceptions is my second highest neurodiverse category:

  • It upset me greatly when someone says they will be there at a particular time and then don’t show up or are even late.
  • I dislike it when people walk behind me but I literally hate it when people are tailgating me.
  • My eyes have always been sensitive to glare and I am hypersensitive to many smells, particularly  the smell of mint; it overwhelms me. My brain doesn’t see anything but the smell.
  • I can’t seem to do anything unless I have it down in list form and thoroughly follow it.
  • During conversations I guess I often miss when it is my turn to talk. There just doesn’t seem to be any pattern to it. If I don’t barge in when I want, I have to wait until there is a very noticeable pause to know it is my turn. I often just barge in.

There are numerous other areas in day-to-day traits that I don’t seem typical but I will leave those things to another post. Stated simply I often have always had trouble getting my feelings across and communicating with others.

So here I am between two worlds.  That seems to be where I have been my entire life. That is not necessarily a bad thing but it has presented many challenges in my life. Much more on these sort of things in future posts….

Part 6 – My Venture Into Asperger’s – Body Language

Neuro Banner  This is Part 6 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 Asperger’s. This post is primarily about my body language.

I have never thought too much about body language. I know I am told that it is a very significant part of communications but I just don’t see how that is? Since I am now deaf and the auditory world no longer exists I no longer can read the tone of a conversation and I know that is a problem. It is like many conversation here in the comments section of RJsCorner; things are misunderstood because of the lack of the non-verbal clues.  Since I have been deaf for about 30 years now I do seem to be getting better at reading body language but still struggle with it on a daily basis.

Now on to how this relates to autism and particularly Asperger’s:

Understanding nonverbal communication, which includes body language, facial expressions and tone of voice, is essential for navigating social interactions successfully. So much of what is communicated, especially the emotional content, is conveyed through our bodies and voices, rather than the spoken word. While most of us receive no instruction on how to read nonverbal clues, we recognize the clues that tell us the true meaning of what is being communicated.

However, individuals on the Autism Spectrum may struggle to understand this mysterious language, which leaves them misinterpreting what is actually being communicated. It’s the nonverbal clues that allow a listener to judge whether the speaker is being sincere, is joking or being sarcastic. Without recognizing the true message, the response is often inappropriate.The ability to understand nonverbal communication can be improved through instruction, though when you try to break down what you need to teach, the complexity of the task becomes apparent.

Source: Ready Body Language – Autism Asperger’s Digest Autism Asperger’s Digest

 

People who have autism spectrum disorders have difficulty with reading even the most overt social cues in context. They have extraordinary difficulty with reading more subtle body language, including messages often conveyed via the eyes. In addition to difficulties with attending to and interpreting information that is embedded in social context, some have great difficulty with attending to and coordinating two sources of sensory input at once. ….

Source: Should We Insist on Eye Contact with People who have Autism Spectrum Disorders

 

Part 5 – My Venture Into Asperger’s – Eye Contact

Neuro BannerThis is Part 5 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s and it is a biggie for me. As usual I will start out with a personal story and then show how that links into Asperger’s. This post is primarily about my struggles with eye contact.

2016-09-24_13-59-05To most people eye contact, that is looking into the eyes of the person you are talking to, is a normal process. To me it is quite painful and it always has been.  It is as though I am looking into that person’s soul and that is just someplace I don’t want to go. Whenever I do it it is almost as if I freeze up and stop thinking.  I have never understood why I feel this way when so many others don’t.

Even in my early childhood I imagined that something was seriously wrong with me.  Why was eye contact so painful?  As I got older I managed to have “roving eye contact”. That is I would occasionally glance into someone’s eyes while mostly looking elsewhere . That worked pretty well for many but then there were those who almost glared at me when I did that. 

As I was graduating college and ready for the job interviews I knew I had to do something as people would find out I was defective during an interview if I didn’t look them in the eye. Fortunately it didn’t take too many interviews before I landed a job. I almost took the first offer officially given in order to not have to do anymore interviews.  Looking back I think the lack of eye contact was also probably one of the reasons I had few second dates.

When I became deaf at the age of forty  in some ways it was almost a God’s send. I could now just watch a persons lips and therefore didn’t have to look into their eyes.  People would understand that was what I had to do and therefore not expect eye contact. It actually made my life a little easier, at least in that issue…

Now lets see how this relates to Asperger’s:

An Aspie Point of View — Eye contact hurts.. no, not in the painful sense but it’s quite uncomfortable. I always feel that I’m revealing more than I want to with eye contact and that I’m receiving more information than I want to know.

Source: Life with Aspergers: Aspergers and Eye Contact

This was my primary “aha” moment in my discovery of Asperger’s. I found out that my pain in making eye contact was not just me but others felt it too.  It was soothing in a way to understand it might be a neurological problem shared by others.  I wasn’t totally weird after all. This revelation started my  journey where I discovered many other personal aspie characteristics.

I like being a unique person and in a way Aspergers helps me be just that. Wouldn’t it be boring if all of us were the same? I am now half way through this planned ten part journey into Aspergers but maybe it will go beyond that point and into a regular weekly post. It is that important to me and I hope you will get some additional insight into this syndrome.

My Venture Into Asperger’s – Arrogance and Criticism..

Neuro Banner   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.

2016-09-19_10-03-17One 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.

Feminine vs Macho…

Neuro Banner   This is Part 2 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s.  In my previous post I reported how I was a late-bloomer in the relationship field. This time I want to talk about feminine and ‘macho’ things.

2016-09-07_07-01-07Even as a young child macho was a very negative trait to me.  Simply speaking I hated it.  I’m sure the word macho means different things to different people so to the right is the definition that I use. IN my mind macho is almost synonymous with being a bully. There is nothing manly about it. I knew being a boy I was supposed to be macho but the idea of aggressively dominating others with a self-conscious attitude was just not possible for me.  It was against every fiber of my being.

Instead I mostly often worried about others and their places in life.  Because of the machoism and the fact that I was a frail child,  most sports were something I avoided and still avoid seventy years later. Even watching it has not been on my agenda for a very long time.  

In fact because of the damage sports does to many I think it has an overall negative effect in this world. I have jokingly come to the belief that no one over the age of 15 should be allowed to play sports. There are far too many kids who spend all their energies trying to become the next Micheal Jorden when in reality doing that often means a wasted life because of the fact that they do it to the exclusion of everything else including academics. 

Thinking about others instead of thumping my chest and strutting around feeling superior was what I was.  I knew that was considered feminine and that probably alienated me from some  possible friends but I just didn’t care.  I was not a macho guy and I never would be.

Changing subjects to another area, I was almost forty years old before I married and the courtship was as fast as the marriage was late. Our first date was in December and we were married in April. My wife of thirty years said  to a friend after our first date” this is the guy I am going to marry” and indeed she did. 

2016-09-07_15-03-04A man with Asperger’s syndrome appears to have a ‘feminine’, rather than ‘macho’ quality – the ideal partner for the modern woman. The man with Asperger’s syndrome is usually a late developer in terms of emotional and relationship maturity, and this could be his first serious relationship, while his same-age peers have had several long-term relationships already….

Attwood, Tony (2006-09-28). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Being anti-macho and having feminine characteristics was a strong part of my early life and remains so today. I am proud of that fact. But now I also recognize that it may be part of the Asperger’s Syndrome…

Part 1 – My Venture Into Asperger’s

Neuro Banner

Postscript: If you are interested in this ten part series click here.

This is the first of a ten part series about Asperger’s Syndrome. Autism is something that I have never studied or understood to any degree. I have always wondered why I never even heard of it until the last few decades. Did it just pop up or was it just known as something else? This post will start a study into the Asperger’s Syndrome which is officially part of the Autism spectrum. I was recently shocked to learn, at least from a layman’s standpoint, that I have several characteristics that are common to Asperger’s Syndrome.

For this study series I have decided on using a consistent format for my venture into Autism.  I will be giving you a personal story about my life and then will relate it to characteristics of Asperger’s. So, here goes…

I was called a “shy” kid as I didn’t relate very well to other kids or even many adults. I seemed to be the most comfortable in a world of my own.  Even now, some of my most pleasant memories are of sitting alone on a starry night looking at the sky and dreaming what my life would be like in the future. I was a late bloomer to the teenage years and never really had an official date until my senior prom. Even in college I was just not be comfortable around  the opposite sex.  I just couldn’t figure out what women were about or what they wanted. I dated some  in those years but for the most part lived in my own inner world.

I never understood why I was just not able to form any significant level of friendship even with other guys. Something just didn’t click for me.  I was just missing the necessary connections.   I always blamed that on not having much parental guidance growing up.  My mother left dad, my brother and me, for greener pastures when I was about ten years old. Like most kids of divorce I blamed myself for that happening. My dad was just not much of a communicator.

As I have aged, particularly in the last couple of decades, I now tend to speak my mind on many issues especially those having to due with social justice.  I have called myself an empath but just can’t seem to move that to a personal level to any degree.

Then came my first glances at Asperger’s:

Men with Asperger’s syndrome can also be admired for speaking their mind, having a sense of social justice and strong moral convictions. They are often 2016-07-18_17-22-29.pngdescribed as having ‘old-world’ values, and being less motivated than other men for physically intimate activities, or for spending time with male friends.

Attwood, Tony (2006-09-28). The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The words above are just a small part of my awakening. The striking similarities between these words and my personal life hit me like a two by four so to speak. I definitely had an “aha” moment that maybe there is a physiological reason I behave how I do? Maybe I am not just totally weird after all.

Much more on that in future posts in this topic.

Caught Between Two Worlds….

Neuro Banner.png

This post is part of my continuing study of the Autism spectrum and particularly Asperger’s Syndrome.

I am stuck between two worlds in my life.  I am a deaf man who lives almost exclusively 2016-08-10_07-19-19in the hearing world but neither the hearing world or the deaf world considers me a homeboy.  I am seldom around other deaf people so I can’t speak for them but since almost 80% of us deafies are like me in that they went deaf later in life ways maybe I do.  One of my goals via this blog and a few other forums, is to help the hearing world understand that most of us who are deaf are really not much different from them.

In regards to Aspergers I am via this post going to give you a glimpse of the last chapter into my study .  I have taken a couple of standard tests and discovered that I am about equally spread between the Neurotypical world and the Neurodiverse world.   Those two words were new to me so I assume they are to you.  Simply put I have rather strong Aspergers’ characterisitcs in some areas but not others.  I will be going into that in somewhat detail in future posts.

Its hard being stuck between two worlds but I am used to it. My living with Asperger’s traits didn’t change just because it now has a name.   As with my deafness, I have lived with it most of my life.   But in some ways just having a name makes the struggle a little easier as I now know I am not alone.  At the same time I don’t want that to reduce my feeling of personal responsibility of trying harder to be aware when I hurt people’s feelings or give them a view of me that I don’t have of myself or any of a number of other social behaviors.   I need to do better more than ever now that I know I have a problem…. much more on that later.

Before I close out this post I want to make it clear that while I say I have identified personal characteristics that relate to Aspergers I am likely  not  typical of this overall group. I fully understand that there are many who struggle much more than I do.  In my limited studies I have not been able to find how spread out of severity levels are in the Aspergers population.  I don’t pretend to know what others with extreme conditions go through in their daily lives.  All I can do for this series of posts is to give you my story and hope it relates to others with Aspergers at some level.

Next time I will start giving you some of my real life examples of Aspergers traits. I hope they help you but just as importantly I hope they help me too….