I didn’t find out that I had Asperger’s Syndrome until I was an adult, a fairly normal occurrence for a female.
What Causes Asperger’s Syndrome?
Changes in the brain are responsible for many of the symptoms of this disorder. However, doctors have not been able to determine precisely what causes these changes.
Genetic factors and exposure to environmental toxins, such as chemicals or viruses, have been identified as potential contributors to the development of the disorder.
Boys are more likely to develop AS than girls.
We learn to emulate others at a young age. Because we simply do not understand what is expected of us in social situations.
“Females with ASDs often develop ‘coping mechanisms’ that can cover up the intrinsic difficulties they experience. They may mimic their peers, watch from the sidelines, use their intellect to figure out the best ways to remain undetected, and they will study, practice, and learn appropriate approaches to social situations.
“Sounds easy enough, but in fact these strategies take a lot of work and can more often than not lead to exhaustion, withdrawal, anxiety, selective mutism, and depression. – Dr. Shana Nichols”
Me: “Please do not tell me a joke. I wait for a punch line that, for me, never comes.”
If you want to envision a character with Asperger’s, it has been theorized that Spencer Reid, the youngest character on the CBS drama, Criminal Minds, was cast as a character with Asperger’s Syndrome. He is highly intelligent, but his social skills are stunted.
This from Wikipedia about the Spencer Reid character:
As is a characteristic of people with Asperger’s syndrome, Reid is socially awkward. He often fixates on things (prompting Morgan and other team members to have to tell him to be quiet), and misses social cues at times (for example, unknowingly changing the subject of a conversation).
Me: “Just because I lack the ability to hug you does not mean that I don’t care about you.”
Social exchanges for those with Aspergers’ Syndrome are veritable land mines. We never know when we will step on one.
Thus we are tentative about engaging socially with others. And when we do, we are filled with anxiety.
People do not realize how important social “cues” are in communication.
In a school yard. On a college campus. In a job setting.
Me: “Please don’t give up on me because relationships are hard for me.”
When you are a child, it can make you an outcast. You likely will not be picked to be on a school team. You will probably eat lunch alone. And sit reading a book during recess.
But you will glance up from time to time to watch the other children play so freely, and feel envy.
As an adult, it is hard to function in the working world. The inability to be socially adept keeps one from “climbing up the corporate ladder.”
Me: “Please don’t think I’m being rude because I speak so truthfully.”
Dialogue is a give and take endeavor. If you don’t quite understand what someone means when they’re talking to you, and whether or not they are perhaps being sarcastic, then you are swimming upstream with no idea how to respond.
Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurological condition on the autism spectrum characterized by:
1. Impaired communication skills (verbal and non-verbal)
2. Repetitive behaviors
3. Rigidity of interests
4. Coordination deficits
5. Adherence to rules and routines
Me: “Yes, I am awkward and clumsy. I don’t need to be reminded of this fact.”
Many people who are experts note how “Aspies” often have advanced vocabularies, recognize patterns others do not, and pursue ideas despite evidence to the contrary, because they are not easily swayed by other peoples’ opinions.
They often have the ability to focus on details. And their inability to see the big picture means they can come up with solutions to problems that others may overlook.
Me: “Please don’t look horrified or angry when I react to loud sounds or bright lights. Believe me when I say that the last thing I want is to draw attention to myself.“
Aspies are often willing to spend long hours in laboratories and in front of computer screens because they do not mind being alone.
Because of their unusual reactions to stimuli such as light and sound, Aspies see the world differently than most people.
They are able to comprehend multiple levels of meanings of words.
Many experts relate that Aspies can make amazingly loyal friends. They are usually free from sexism or racism. They do not manipulate people, but speak out frankly and honestly.
They are sincere truth-tellers. Which people often consider rudeness. Thus relationships are difficult to maintain. Potential friendships wither on the proverbial vine.
People simply find it easier to walk away. I guess I can’t blame them.
One of the changes in DSM-5 released in May 2013 eliminated Asperger’s syndrome as a separate diagnosis, and included it under the more generalized autism spectrum disorders.
ASD is now rated on a scale ranging from severe, through moderate, to mild, based on clinical presentation.
Do you think you might have Asperger’s Syndrome? There are online tests that are quite similar to the tests I eventually took as a patient when getting my diagnosis.
Below is a link to a test you can take online. Reference: AQ means autism quotient. Reference: My score for the below test was 42.
Aspergers Test Site