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Showing posts from October, 2007

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…

Aspergers and Eye Contact

There's a lot in the literature about gaze-avoidance or lack of eye contact in Asperger's kids (and adults) but not really a lot from an Asperger's point of view.

What Practitioners and Parents Think
Frequently, it's left up to the reader's imagination to think of reasons - perhaps the child has just not learned that making eye contact is an essential part of spoken communication? Of course, this theory assumes that the condition is eventually treatable by training. It's consistent with the notion that eye contact does improve as the subject gets older but it's from a medical or educational point of view instead of coming from an Aspie.

[btw: apologies for my use of the term aspie - I'll use it through this blog in a familiar sense because it's difficult to keep writing Asperger's Syndrome. It is not intended to be derogatory in any way.]

An Aspie Point of View
Eye contact hurts.. no, not in the painful sense but it's quite uncomfortable. I…

Taking things Literally

The literature often talks about Aspergers people taking things literally.

The most common example of this being a child who is told to "pull their socks up" actually bending down to do so.

Now, before I go into the whys and wherefores, I'd just like to ask my "normal readers" to stop and think about this line for a minute. What exactly is it telling you to do? What would someone with less familiarity with the English language think?

I'm forever explaining things to my kids as "the English language is really quite silly" and "they shouldn't really do things like this but..." because a lot of the problems stem from the language itself. I'm not sure why normal people pick these things up faster than Aspergers people but I think it's to do with usage. Asperger's kids often have at least one asperger parent and while they've long since learned what these words mean, they don't use them in everyday speech, hence the…

So what is this Asperger's thing anyway?

This is a "cheat post" cobbled together from a post on my family blog. I'll try not to cheat like this too much, but in this case, the post is quite relevant.

Two years ago, my son, Kaelan was diagnosed with ADD and with Asperger's Syndrome. At that time although I had my head well and truly around the attention deficit disorder I really couldn't work out the Asperger's side of things. For a start, I couldn't see many of the specified behaviors in Kaelan and I couldn't understand why most of these behaviors were considered to be bad anyway. Now, several books and a lot of thinking later, I have come to the realization that not only does Kaelan have Asperger's, but that he inherited it from me.

Reading the articles on Asperger's, I can't help but think that it sounds like a really good syndrome to have. Sure, there are one or two little drawbacks but on the whole, there seems to be much more good than bad traits associated with it.

Of course,…

The Plan for this Blog

I guess the main plan for this blog is to clear up a lot of the confusion around Asperger's Syndrome by relating it back to real life. I'm a happy, well established person with a family and I don't let the condition get the better of me. I don't let the condition rule me but believe in rolling with it... taking the advantages it brings without getting too caught up in any disadvantages.

If you're a parent with a newly diagnosed child, then you're probably full of worry. Don't be. The ride may not be entirely smooth but it has a fantastic view.

I'm not sure how often I'll be updating this blog as I have two others to worry about, plus several hundred emails and RSS feed entries to read per day. I've also got work to do and a family to support. That said, I'll try to be fairly regular in my posts.

The Usual Disclaimers

I'm not a "legal" person, and I know that most people don't bother reading legal things, so I'm writing this in plain English. Ideally that shouldn't affect the legal potency of this work...

Ownership of Material
Technically I am the owner of all material posted on this blog, however I grant everyone the right to use it in any way they want to (except to bring legal action, abuse or other horrible stuff down onto me). It would be nice if you were to acknowledge the source, but I know that in the connected world, this isn't always possible, so I won't hold you to it.

You can copy it, send it around, change words (on your copy, not on mine) etc...

Insulting Statements etc.
I will be trying hard not to insult people or companies or make libelous statements, but sometimes you do these things without thinking. If I offend anyone, please let me know (there should be some sort of email link on this blog somewhere), and I will remove the offending entry post-haste…