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Showing posts from 2007

Re-doing the Aspie Quiz

I decided to redo the Aspie Quiz because I wanted to get a copy of the nice diagram that goes with it. My results were as follows;

Your Aspie score: 168 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 33 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie

A tiny bit higher than last time (161), probably changes depending on mood.

Anyway, this is the picture I was after.

Aspies and Pain Tolerance

Much has been said about aspies & feelings and aspies being able to tolerate higher amounts of pain. I don't think I've gone into either topic in any real depth yet.

In short, Aspies aren't supermen and superwomen... They can be hurt and often are in pain, whether it shows on their faces or not. They just complain about it less than some people I guess.

Emotional Pain
While it's true that sometimes an aspie will lack empathy and won't feel anything for a given situation. I'll discuss that in a later post (sorry). It isn't true to say that the feelings of aspies can't be hurt. They can. Sometimes the aspie will show a reaction to their hurt feelings and sometimes they'll lash out. More often though, aspies will simply remain silent and impassive despite internal turmoil.

Physical Pain
Wouldn't it be wonderful to be in a world without physical pain? Everyone feels pain to some degree - including aspies. It doesn't have to be a huge pai…

Why is Aspergers associated with Autism?

I was always going to do this post but until two days ago when my youngest son was diagnosed with high functioning autism, the words were going to be different and this was going to be a rant.

Since then, I've spent a while trying to figure out his condition. Now I can see the link.

The Usual Reaction
I've always considered Aspergers to be quite different from Autism - I was certainly different to most of the autistic people I'd met, many of whom couldn't function in society because of the nature of their condition.

I think that my reaction is pretty much the same as most of the population. Like other "popular" conditions, such as schizophrenia, autism has been spoilt by a mis-representation in the movies. Movies only show the very worst and most sensational cases and even then, they make a lot up.

Sure, I knew that at least some forms autism actually resulted in "smarter" people who had no social skills. That happened in Mercury Rising with Bruce W…

How the whole Asperger's thing can be Detrimental to your Health

There are a few things about the Asperger's condition which can seriously affect the health of the individuals concerned.

This obviously won't be an exhaustive list, but it's a few things to consider.

Undereating in Children
While it is true to say that no child has ever starved itself willingly with food in easy reach, it is probably also true to say that no Aspie child has eaten healthy food when there are unhealthy alternatives available.

Aspies have a lot of problems with the texture of food as well as the taste. For some reason, the junk food manufacturers seem to have figured out a way of giving their foods fairly good textures since junk foods, such as lollies and ice cream rarely pose a problem to the aspie.

Aspie adults can take responsibility for their own healthy eating habits however aspie children need to be carefully monitored.

The other eating problem that aspie children have is that they seem to be much slower at eating than other children. This is probably a…

Asperger's and Ritalin

This post is bound to be a little controversial - sorry.

Technically, there is no medication that helps aspergers in general however Ritalin can relieve some of the symptoms. In this post, I'll attempt to explain what Ritalin does, which symptoms it addresses and how it affects youinger children.

Our experience
We have a seven-year-old son on Ritalin. Sometimes, we forget to give it to him. When this happens, we almost always get a phone call or a note from the school asking if we have forgotten to give him the medication. I think they have only ever asked once when we have actually given him the medication. It is therefore obvious that Ritalin provides a positive benefit in his behaviour and ability to work in class.

Interestingly enough, these comments come from teachers who were initially very resistant to the introduction of Ritalin. Such a turnaround implies obvious benefit.

The Ritalin does not suppress all of the aspie traits but instead allows him to think before acting. …

Life Repeats Itself

We are currently on holiday in a resort with a pool and we had an incident today which would have confounded me as a kid and still does from an adult point of view.

I'm not certain how much easier this situation might be for an NT but for an aspie, it was very challenging.

The Scenario
We bought my two children a swimming tyre each and they went down to the pool without their floaties. Fully reliant on the tyre for floatation should they drift into a deeper part of the pool.

My younger son (4) was ok but my older son (7) was hounded by two other kids for his tube. Their parents were nearby and watching but did nothing to stop the hounding.

Reluctant to berate someone elses child, I was unable to assist.

The Child's. Perspective
Watching the scenario play out, I was reminded of countless similar situations in my childhood. In my opinion, the other kids and their parents were at fault but the situation was unwinnable.

I'd either do one of two things;

1. Give the toy over.
I often si…

Aspies and Perfection

Aspies are often their own worst enemies in the area of self worth. They often set themselves unattainable or inappropriate levels of perfection.

It is not uncommon for an aspie to consider a B- mark, or anything below it to be a failure. They will often berate themselves severely after such a "failure", usually calling themselves failures etc, and sometimes resorting to self-harm.

On the positive side, this means that aspies are very hard workers who strive not only to do impossible amouints of work but also to do it perfecly.

The downsides of employing an aspie are that;

Sometimes they introduce so many steps into a process (striving for perfection), that the process ends up being overly long and complicated.

They will work themselves into the ground. Personally, I tend to clock 9 to 10 hours per day and have tripped off overuse injuries on more than one occasion.

They find it impossibly hard to delegate work because although they generally don't apply the same perfectionis…

Do Aspies Make Good Liars?

Don't ask me where I get these topics from (sigh). They usually come up because I read someone's comments about something in a forum and start applying them to myself to see if they fit.

The answer is;

Amongst People who don't know them very well - NO
Amongst Friends - YES.

Why is this?
There are a lot of social cues that people use to determine whether or not someone is lying. These include;
Eye Contact (which aspies have trouble doing)Certain "nervous" body gestures like clasping hands (which aspies do naturally)Differences in vocal tone (which aspies don't vary as much)Facial Tics or twitches (which aspies often have naturally)
This means that when someone who doesn't know the aspie well is talking to them, they often interpret the aspie as lying even when they're telling the truth.

Conversely, when someone who knows the aspie and their behavior very well is talking to them, they won't be able to use these things as clues. They know that their frie…

Asperger's and Depression - Part 4

Please note: This post has some deeper adult concepts in it and may be unsuitable for children.

Continuing the discussion on depression (how depressing)...

Difficulty reading other people's body language expressions and tone
I think that I have already covered this one in other posts but I'll just go over a few important points to be sure.

Conversation is a lot more than words. It includes hand gestures, body movements and facial expressions. It includes a variety of different vocal tones and it includes a lot of metaphors, colloquialisms, polite rephrasing and nonsense words and phrases. To interpret the full meaning of somebody's conversation you need to be able to read and process all of these cues at the same time. You also need to be able to understand how these cues inter-relate with each other.

Aspies are well known for being very "single process" orientated in conversation. It seems that although we do take everything in, we are unable to process it all s…

Asperger's and Depression - Part 3

Continuing the discussion about how Asperger's traits can directly cause depression, I'll be working through the list from the end of my last post.

Very good long Term Memory
How can a having a good long-term memory be responsible for depression?

The key to understanding this is to approach it from the point of view of an NT. Most of the time, it seems to me that detailed memories just aren't available for NTs without external assistance. By external assistance, I mean the use of video cameras or photo albums.

In the movie One Hour Photo, Robin William's character says, while looking at birthday snaps, "Nobody takes a picture of something they want to forget". I think that this is particularly relevant to the issue because it means that NT's tend only to remember the good things in any detail.

The Aspie however, with their long term memory often has perfect recall of past events and conversations. They will spend hours analyzing a conversation that occurr…

Asperger's and Depression - Part 2

In my last post, I introduced the idea of depression in Asperger's, made a few lists and cited a little bit of research. My apologies if I became a bit clinical. To the people who have told me to keep this blog personal rather then following established research, I am listening.

In this post, I will be explaining some of the entries in the lists of the previous post.

Social Troubles related to fitting in.
This should be fairly self explanatory. Despite the appearance of being loners, Aspies often suffer from loneliness. Their poor conversational skills often make it more difficult for them to make and keep friends and to have a social life in general. This leads to loneliness and loneliness leads to depression.

Guilt or Regret over Past Actions
There is some truth to the phrase "this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you". When an Aspie is stirred to the point of outburst and/or meltdown, they can temporarily lose control. When this happens, invariably something…

Aspergers and Depression

Like all mental conditions which cause people to behave differently from the norm, Aspergers is associated with depression. Depression can be caused by a number of things including;
Social troubles because you do not seem to fit in
Guilt or regret over past actions/outburst/meltdowns
Overwhelming feelings and thoughts
Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Miscommunications / Misunderstandings
Fatigue or Tiredness due either to the condition that all to the treatment of the condition (eg: Ritalin)

There is a lot of research into the depression and ADHD or ADD (a common condition which exists alongside Aspergers)
About.Com
Additude Mag
Help for ADD

There's not nearly as much information on depression from an Aspergers only standpoint.

Recent research...

(Tantam, D. (2000). Psychological disorder in adolescents and adults with Asperger syndrome. Autism)

...suggests that depression is common in individuals with Asperger syndrome with about 1 in 15 people with Asperger syndrome experiencing such symptoms. Per…

Towards Success in Tertiary Study with Asperger's Syndrome

Accidentally found this while doing a search;

The University of Melbourne and the Australian Catholic University have produced a very useful e-booklet called "Towards Success In Tertiary Study with Asperger's syndrome and other autistic spectrum disorders", which can be downloaded for free from http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/edp/policy/publications.html.

The Aspie Meltdown - An Insiders Point of View - Part 2

Following directly on from part one, this entry will try to look at meltdowns in adults.

How long do meltdowns usually last?
Most meltdowns in children last between five and 15 minutes though I have heard of some lasting 45. The lower end of this range is probably due to the amount of energy that an Aspie expends on the meltdown itself. Older and stronger children would obviously be able to continue their meltdown behavior for a longer period than younger ones.

How then, do meltdowns manifest themselves in adults who obviously are much stronger than children.

This one is quite difficult for me to answer because any sense of time disappears during a meltdown. I believe however that I have not gone over the 45 minute mark. I am not sure whether meltdowns are sustainable over a longer period.

The violent adult meltdown
Although there is some suggestion that the violent adult meltdown could lead to mass murderous tendencies (Port Arthur Massacre - Australia 1996), there is much to suggest…

The Aspie Meltdown - An Insiders Point of View - Part 1

What is a Meltdown?
A meltdown is a condition where the Aspie temporarily loses control due to emotional responses to environmental factors.

It generally appears that the aspie has lost control over a single and specific issue however this is very rarely the case. Usually, the problem is the cumulation of a number of irritations which could span a fairly long period of time, particularly given the strong long-term memory facilities of the aspie.

Why the Problems Seem Hidden
Aspies don't tend to give a lot of clues that they are very irritated;
their facial expressions very often will not convey the irritation
their vocal tones will often remain flat even when they are fairly annoyed.
Some things which annoy aspies would not be considered annoying to neurotypicals. This makes NT's less likely to pick up on a potential problem.
Often Aspie grievances are aired as part of their normal conversation and may even be interpreted by NTs as part of their standard whinge.

What happens during…

Aspie Barriers to Social Interaction

Social interaction is very difficult for people with aspergers for a number of reasons including;

Difficulty Achieving and Maintaining Eye Contact
Difficulty reading body-language and tone
Problems using non-verbal gestures and tone
Intrusions from the Special Interest (Disinterest in other topics)
Difficulty keeping away from Detail
Short Term Memory Issues
Language Issues

I've already covered eye contact in earlier posts, so I won't cover it again here.

Body Language and Tone
I don't think that the aspie has any trouble determining when someone is annoyed. That sort of body language and tone is usually strong enough. Most of the time, the problematic body language seems to come from humor or generalizations.

For example; I have terrible problems when someone insults me with a smile on their face. I'm never sure if it's a genuine insult or "just mucking around". If I assume it's a genuine insult and retaliate, I could start a fight. If I assume that it'…

Aspergers and Rules

Much has been made in the literature about the rigidity of the Aspie. A good example of this is their "resistance to change". Often the observed behavior isn't a resistance to change, but a binding to a particular rule or rule set.

The aspie is, to a certain extent, controlled by rules. The impact of these invisible rules on their behavior should not be underestimated. It is often a source of conflict and can also be the source of aspie depression.

Where do these Rules come from?
The majority of the aspie's rules come from their own environment. They can be communicated directly or implied. In some cases, the aspie will completely misunderstand directions and create an internal rule that isn't necessarily in their best interests. Changing these rules is difficult, especially when they've been in force for an extended period.

An example
When I was quite young, a grandparent saw a boy give me a "suck" on his chupa-chop (a lolly on a stick). Obvious…

What is Stimming and what does it feel like?

According to wikipedia, stimming is;

"a jargon term for a particular form of stereotypy, a repetitive body movement (often done unconsciously) that self-stimulates one or more senses in a regulated manner. It is shorthand for self-stimulation, and a stereotypy is referred to as stimming under the hypothesis that it has a function related to sensory input."

The wikipedia article then goes on to propose some theories about the function of stimming and how it is designed to provide nervous system arousal. The theory being that it helps autistic people "normalize".

I'm not sure how much I believe that theory - I helps us relax and it feels good... but normalize?? Not sure.

The most commonly cited form of stimming is body rocking. Such is the prevalence of this form of stimming in Hollywood films concerning autism that you could be forgiven for thinking that autistic people stim by rocking most of the time.

How far does stimming go?
Stimming is much more than just rock…

Aspies and their friends

There is a phrase which I have heard practitioners use to describe ADHD and which I believe they would probably use to describe Asperger's too;

"known by all but liked by none"

Although I know a number of people with Asperger's who feel this applies to them, I am are not convinced that a blanket definition such as this is appropriate for the condition.

It is true that the Asperger's child has a great deal more difficulty making and keeping friends than neurotypical children but I don't think it is true to suggest that they end up with no friends. If anything, the aspie is more likely to end up with a very small band of very close and very dedicated friends.

Primary School
The literature suggests that Aspie boys tend to prefer playing with the girls in their primary years. I would agree with this. As a child, I found that I was unsuited to sports, always the last to be picked and never at all interested in the sport itself. For the most part, girls were less …

The Aspie Memory

One of the defining traits of aspergers syndrome is the "photographic-memory" whereby aspies can recall with precision events and conversations that are years old and forgotten by the other participants. As with all aspie traits, they differ from one person to another. Indeed some aspies claim to not have this memory - this could be true or it could be the result of misleading information in the Asperger's books which don't really describe the condition well.

The Filmographic, not Photographic Memory
First of all, I want to redefine the terminology. It is more correct to say that the aspie has a filmographic rather than photographic memory. This means that the memory is more like watching a film than recounting items in a picture.

I'm not convinced that an aspie would do especially well in those psychological tests where they remove objects behind a screen. In fact, because we're talking about short term memory there, I think an aspie would do considerabl…

Organisation and the Aspie

The words that really drive my wife up the wall are;

What are we doing today?
What are we doing now/next?
What's on the Agenda?
What's the Plan?

They're obviously annoying to Neurotypicals, but they're part of a well developed aspie defence mechanism for change control.

I'll be talking more about change and resistance to change in Aspergers in another post. Right now, I want to focus on what daily planning organisation means to Aspies.


What is Change Resistance?
Aspies are quite resistant to change.

It's funny, because when I first read that, I thought... "no I'm not, I'm always one of the first people to upgrade to new software etc...".

That's not what the line means.

It means that aspies resist changes in their lifestyles and daily routines.

In my software example; sure, I'll upgrade my software but I'll still use it to do the same things, and do things mostly the same way and in the same order.

Aspies are more likely to resist changes …

The Aspie and Empathy

A little while ago, when I was being particularly difficult, my wife said to me "that's right, you're an aspie, so you can't empathize". In fact, nothing could be further from the truth - so Empathy is the focus of this post.

It's a well documented fact that women are empathic creatures while men are problem-solvers. You can read all about this in "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" by John Gray. This isn't an aspie book but it is good reading for aspies because it contains a lot of useful information about how and why people react the way they do. It's also a good book for anyone in a long-term relationship because you fall into traps and stereotypes after a few years.

Now... back to the point.

When I was a kid, I couldn't really empathize well. Without realizing it, I would say things that hurt people's feelings (I still do). The aspie doesn't really "think on the fly" during conversations. There's a del…

Patterns and Lining things up in Aspergers

Patterns are the Asperger's child's dream come true. We see patterns everywhere, even when others don't notice them. Aspie behaviour is, to some extent, governed by patterns.

Parents of aspies often think that their children don't show Asperger's tendencies towards patterns. Sometimes, you just need to know where to look...

Example 1. My 7 year-old son seems to wander all over the place when we're walking in the shops. My non-aspie (NT) wife just thought he was mucking around but when I went with him, I immediately became aware that he was walking in patterns on the tiles. Since the coloured pattern zig-zagged across the shopping center and he was following it, he seemed to be all over the place.

It should be noted that this is very similar to the notion that Asperger's children cannot "step on a crack". Of course, that reasoning is quite flawed and asperger's people can quite comfortably step on cracks depending upon the pattern that they…

The Dreaded Special Interest

One of the defining criteria for Asperger's is the presence of the special interest.

I'm going to write this post like a question and answer page to help me stay on topic. Once again, remember that generalizations are based on my experience and may differ from one aspie to the next.


Is it Forever?
Usually no, but it seems to be the case that some special interests will last a lifetime (or in my case, at least 35 years - the length of time (so far) of my "love affair" with Dr Who). Lifelong special interests will ebb and flow depending upon other factors, such as availability of new material and other concurrent interests. Sometimes they're quite subdued but they're always there.


Is it only one?
No - There are definitely multiple special interests running throughout an apsie's life, but they usually concentrate on one or two at a time. Eventually life-long interests fade to the background to such an extent that the aspie will be able to pick up another spe…

Taking things Literally - Part 2 An Adult Perspective

In my last post on taking things literally, I covered things that were mainly from a child's perspective but this time I want to cover a more adult view.

Wordplay and Jokes
There seems to be a widespread belief amongst doctors and related practitioners that asperger's people don't get jokes, don't understand metaphors, and don't read body-language. This is wrong, very wrong.

From what I can gather, based on my own experiences and on reading posts from a lot of other aspies, wordplay is fun and we definitely understand it. Also surprisingly, aspie children understand it too. My earlier post with my son talking about becoming a joey illustrates that.

I'm inclined to say that not only do aspies understand wordplay but that they may often be better at it than non-aspies. Due, at least in part, to their need/ability to consider multiple-meanings for phrases. I touched on this in my earlier post.

So, where's the problem then?

It seems that the problem is based…