May 8, 2013

Asperger's rant, again.

Is this going to become a "Thing"?

I'm not sure what possessed me to post that last post instead of just archiving it somewhere. I may decide to revert it to a draft in any case.

A friend of mine pointed out to me that PDD-NOS/Aspergers/Autism is a spectrum, and that it would be prudent for me to ignore the pressure around me to figure out for once and forever what label applies to me.

I understand that. I really do. And while I won't deny that I am bothered by whether I'm really "aspie" enough to be an aspie, that's not my primary concern. At the end of the day, a label really won't change much. I'll still be me. I'll still do mostly the same things, though perhaps with better reassurance that they'll work out. Whatever my level, it's clear I have at least superficial similarities.  I show too many objective signs to claim I have NOTHING to do with it.

But it's *because* the spectrum is so varied that I have to keep poking and prodding. It's not enough to say, "Oh, I'm somewhere on the autism spectrum". It's too encompassing a term to convey useful information, I have to explain as a separate packet of information which traits of it I have and to what extent. And at this point, I still don't grok what I do and don't have.

There can be a disparity between actual and apparent ability to act "neurotypically" due to learned coping skills, and I've been glued to psych and sociology books for too long to comprehend what socializing would be like without that theoretical knowledge simmering in the back of my head. It's apparent that I don't know how to tell what is and isn't normal, because I'd always assumed *MY* experience was typical excepting a touch of extra smarts and absentmindedness. Being told "Oh yeah, you're totally a mild aspie" by at least three people with significant knowledge in the field calls this assumption into question.

A stupid question that keeps flitting through my head is "Is this an example of lacking empathy and theory of mind, or had I just not learned that rule yet?" Stupid, self-demonstrating question because apparently no one is supposed to have to tell me the rules. That's something that bugged me about my Mom and step-dad's house, that the rules were basically "Don't answer the door and don't burn the house down" and they expected me to fill in the blanks for everything else. There was no positive suggestion about what I should do, except an occasional chore or "homework", no exact curfew or procedure for leaving the house. I never felt like I had the right to touch things in the fridge because the rules were confusing in that area, so I mostly just ate what they gave me or picked up obviously individual kid snacks like pudding and juiceboxes. I was terrified of filling in the blanks wrong, but I think I did okay.

I don't have serious impairments, I think. I'm still not convinced I'm not just a neurotypical nerd. There are at least superficial similarities, though, and I want to determine the dimensions of those individual traits. Not so I can definitively adopt or refute the label, but because I HAVE to know. The very idea of Aspergers suggests I might have deficits I'm barely aware of the extent of simply because so few bother to tell me whether I'm doing it right or wrong. This uncertainty AGGRAVATES me.


  1. 1. Your anger ("AGGRAVATES") is peculiar here. Misplaced or disproportionate anger is part of Asperger's.

    2. If you want to know which Aspie symptoms you have, and don't have, just do an inventory. Compile a list of potential symptoms, and then investigate whether you have each one (with or without the help of friends/family/therapist). That's what I did.

    3. I think you have at least:

    food peculiarities,

    low body weight,

    social impairment,

    difficulty with (or disinterest in) intimate relationships,

    lack of social reciprocity,

    diminished interest in social engagement,

    heightened engagement with your computer,

    marked introversion and disinterest in new experiences (i.e. prefers to read in a bedroom over a part on a sunny day),

    peculiar speech, facial expressions, and eye contact (just feels odd to talk to you),

    selective mutism,

    school avoidance,

    restricted and repetitive interest in fan fiction,

    extreme allegiance to truth and rationality over emotions,

    hyper-literal or hyper-critical conversation that focuses on misstatements of fact and errors of logic (without the apparent ability or desire to resist pointing out flaws, or even awareness of the potential social cost of constantly doing so)

    emotional disregulation,

    extremely high levels of alexithymia, which is difficulty in identifying and describing one's emotions

    difficulty maintaining social boundaries,

    potential victimization, exploitation, and/or bullying (in part due to poor social boundaries)

    seems apparently happy and content (while secretly feeling exploited) followed by emotional outbursts and meltdowns,

    complete lack of eye contact and reciprocity during conversation (and potential repetitive motor movement) by taking out a notebook during conversation and doodling or take notes without indicating any further interest in listening much less engaging conversation,

    relatively high interest in science and non-fiction, and interest in fiction with a scientific or educational bent (HPATMOR, Dr. Who)

    enthusiasm for puns,

    enthusiasm for science and technology, especially high or future technology

    audio sensitivity (i.e. the bathroom fan)

    potential motor clumsiness and lack of athleticism or physical grace

    1. +1 Reinforcing your post.

      I think... I don't think the problem has much to do with objecting to my characterization as aspie at all. I object to the idea that other people *aren't* aspie on some level, deep down inside. Focused on different kinds of smarts, better practiced at chit chat and team sports or something. I've gone and committed the mind generalization fallacy somehow, and I've no clue yet how deep the transgression. I should probably quit theorizing off of no evidence and go watch the lives of boring normal people for a few hours.

  2. I am somewhat probably more like neurotypical "nerd" than like an "aspie". I do not have necessity of the sameness, I think that I am quite good in social understanding. But I have Asperger's diagnosis. My nonverbal communication is rather severely impaired (very poor eye contact, "strange" gze, mimics), somewhat limited, idiosyncratic interests (also in social area). I may be a "hybrid" of NVLD, giftedness and autisticity, not "pure-blood" aspie. Pure NVLD is probably rare (or maybe even unpresent?) and it is visual-spatial(-motor) impairment without social, emotional, behavioral, sensory anomalies. Pure giftedness does not make you a "weirdo" or "oddbird", it is homogenous development (without dyssemia or problems with shoelaces). Pure autisticity makes you disabled, you have severe deficits in theory of mind, very rigid brain and marked sensory dysfunction then.


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