John Elder Robison (author of "Look me in the Eye") has posted part one of a story about a female with aspergers on his blog. I was quite interested to read it because the female aspie is something of a mystery. Under-diagnosed and under documented, there are undoubtedly fewer female aspies than males. I'm still not convinced that they're as rare as they seem though.
Anyway, I'd encourage you to read and respond to his article;
Life as an Aspergian female - a story I had to share
Personally, I felt somewhat miffed by the article. It's probably my OCD/Pedantism rebelling against the generalisations in it but I'll try to outline my reasons in more detail;
It would take several blog posts to even begin to break the surface on the whole empathy thing. I have big problems with the whole definition of empathy and still haven't quite found a single definition which suits me. Empathy means different things to different people and I don't understand how someone could be empathetic to starving people but not to obsese people. Sympathy isn't the same as empathy.
The first line of this paragraph is a contradiction. In itself, the statement that "Aspies are incapable of telling lies" is a lie. Aspies are certainly very capable of lying. Social lies, such as insincere compliments, don't come naturally to us, but they do happen. Aspies can be trained to do it. Aspies are great actors. We act normal all our lives. This in itself is a form of lying and it follows that when we are required to lie in this manner, we can do so very well.
Lying without cause doesn't come naturally to us but there are some aspies out there who are habitual liars.
This section miffed me considerably because I'm constantly in contact with parents who expect their children to become "little professors" and have issues when these qualities fail to materialise. Aspies have normal IQs. Sometimes they're high, sometimes they're low and most of the time they're in between. The only thing that aspies don't have is very low IQs.
I don't think that IQ scores matter much with aspergers. I did an IQ test ages ago, when I was distracted at work. I didn't do wonderfully because I had other tasks to perform at the same time (so I guess it wasn't a terribly fair test). I did get a slightly above average score. Recently, I decided that enough time had passed for me to do another IQ test. This time I got in the genius range.
Does that mean I'm a genius? Sadly, no. I think that it just means that I'd gotten used to the way those tests work. Memory is a problem for me. Short term memory is abysmal but my long term memory is good. Very good. Even though there had been a period of three years between the tests, my memory started to kick in halfway through and I started to remember how I'd worked out the answers to the questions previously.
It wasn't even the same test but the questions were similar. I think that my memory allowed me to unintentionally cheat.
I've always said that it's a combination of focus, memory and special interest that makes us seem like little professors. I stand by that. We all look like geniuses when it comes to our special interest - but true genius doesn't have much to do with it.
Parents of aspies need to curb their expectations. Your children don't need to be geniuses.
The article isn't all bad though, the paragraph on speaking style is brilliant and I love the phrase "Aspergians tend to download data onto you rather than have a 2 way conversation". In my experience, it captures an important aspect of aspie behaviour perfectly.
The idea that aspies aren't age-appropriate is right. Sometimes we're childlike and sometimes we're adult. Most of the time, we seem to be a mix of both. This seriously confuses people around us. I don't really believe that people around you treat you like dirt but then again, that could be my own naievity.
I don't usually bother fighting the image that people have of me. They can think what they like. It doesn't change me. I generally find that people fall into two categories; Those that treat you in a similar manner to the way that you treat them and those who won't change their views. Being super-nice to people will bring a great response from the former and there's no sense in being upset about the latter. Some people just don't make good friends.
I can relate to this and yes, I constantly bump into things. It's not just low muscle tone (hypotonia) issues. I seem to have very little spacial awareness.
- Eye Contact
I can also relate to the eye contact issues, I think what has been said there is pretty close to the way I feel except that I don't like other people starring into my eyes either. It feels like my soul is being drained.
This is a weird one for me. I don't have major light sensitivities (except that I can't read books outside). I've never worn sunglasses, though my current pair of glasses automatically dim (and it's wonderful). Being deaf, I don't have any issues with sound though vibrations can irritate my sense of touch. I have issues with clothing too, particularly flannelette, but most of the time I can live with them.
Smell... That one, I probably need to do an entire post about. Some smells (Vanilla) drive me wild, while others, particularly chilli breath and beer breath make me very ill - or, strangely enough... angry.
The comments on insomnia are interesting too. My children cured mine. These days I'm really tired all the time and while my brain still doesn't ever shut off, my body closes down and I can sleep through anything.
It's quite an interesting article though the author is obviously a vegan who has issues with fat people. Funnily enough, I'm not fat, (ok... perhaps I'm getting a little porky in my old age) but I've always had issues with vegans and super-thin waif-people. Of course, I never let issues like that get in the way of friendships.
I'm looking forward to part two.