Thursday, October 05, 2006
A reply to Fir Tree
So what is Asperger Syndrome?
by Dr Lois Freisleben-Cook
Asperger's Syndrome is a term used when a child or adult has some features of autism but may not have the full blown clinical picture. There is some disagreement about where it fits in the PDD spectrum. A few people with Asperger's syndrome are very successful and until recently were not diagnosed with anything but were seen as brilliant, eccentric, absent minded, socially inept, and a little awkward physically.Although the criteria state no significant delay in the development of language milestones, what you might see is a "different" way of using language. A child may have a wonderful vocabulary and even demonstrate hyperlexia but not truly understand the nuances of language and have difficulty with language pragmatics. Social pragmatics also tend be weak, leading the person to appear to be walking to the beat of a "different drum". Motor dyspraxia can be reflected in a tendency to be clumsy. In social interaction, many people with Asperger's syndrome demonstrate gaze avoidance and may actually turn away at the same moment as greeting another.
That caught my eye, I do that, I'm conscience of it even while trying to avoid the habit. My vocabulary is extremely rich, but I don't have trouble with the nuances, in fact I use them to my advantage.
The children I have known do desire interaction with others but have trouble knowing how to make it work. They are, however, able to learn social skills much like you or I would learn to play the piano. There is a general impression that Asperger's syndrome carries with it superior intelligence and a tendency to become very interested in and preoccupied with a particular subject. Often this preoccupation leads to a specific career at which the adult is very successful.
At younger ages, one might see the child being a bit more rigid and apprehensive about changes or about adhering to routines. This can lead to a consideration of OCD but it is not the same phenomenon. Many of the weaknesses can be remediated with specific types of therapy aimed at teaching social and pragmatic skills. Anxiety leading to significant rigidity can be also treated medically.
Now, I was an exceptionally socially awkward child. I never could seem to grasp the rules of the game, I was in my early twenties when I finally discovered how to interact easily with women. Men, I was in so many fights as a kid, to stiff necked to back down from a scrap. Two retarded brothers, I had to defend them alot. I learned early that I was tough, much tougher than the boys fighting me were, so I developed a warriors sense of right and wrong, a personal code of sorts. Men were opponents, women and friends were more difficult to learn to accept.
Although it is harder, adults with Asperger's can have relationships, families, happy and productive lives.
I have been able to, although it was after the family dependent on me had finally died. Then I was free, free at 37.
characteristics Social desires interaction, but does not understand social rules or nonverbal cues for conversation or playEmotionally
still trips me up sometimes, I miss things that others pick up easily.
Fragile self-critical, easily stressed has difficulty coping with demands of day-to-day lifeSpeech
frequently, though I manage.
formal or expressionless tone of voice rich vocabulary without understanding subtleties of language
yes and no, I do well understand language, if I sometimes miss pop referrences that don't interest me.
Need for Sameness sensitive to changes in daily routine may find comfort in repeating ritualistic behaviors
Limited Range of Interests may be preoccupied with a particular subject continually talking or asking questions about one, sometimes eccentric or inexplicable, idea or thing very good memory for facts on one specific subject
My interests aren't limited to a small number. I am considered,... unigue. If only for singular modes of behavior and attitude. My IQ was tested online at 133, it was noted I had exceptional math skills and was called a "facts curator", for having an abnormal memory of facts.
Motor Coordination may have deficits in fine and gross motor skills difficulty writing or drawing clumsy or awkward playing sports
Clumsy, an inherited trait common among males in my family. But an exception, my legs aren't well coordinated, but my hands.. I can snatch falling objects from the air easily, with freakish speed. My hands are very fast, strong, grip pressure in my right is 125lbs., strong enough to crush many things. Left, not so good from nerve damage. 80lbs. I draw and paint well, so hand eye coordination is higher than average.
so yes and no, I fit many but not all the criteria, and there are variations on some of them.
Birth defects, dense bone structure with a spine turned 180 degrees as it enters my skull. You tell me? A form of autism? Genetic markers of a neanderthal heritage? For the record I have a heavy brow, but not the sloping forehead. Very broad shoulders, deep chest, unusually so. In basic I wore a 44 short dress blouse, hard to find in that size. at the time a 30 inch waist with a 44 inch chest. and I wasn't a body builder, though I did lift weights.
I have heard the theory before of them breeding with erectis to form modern man, but this is new to me. My senses are well within normal, failing vison, hearing all messed up, yet there is no baldness in my line, an abundence of hair. I feel things, sense... my grandmother called it second sight, another way to describe intuition possibly. But it's stronger than that, not a generalized feeling.. it's very sharp when it happens. Perhaps a heightened perception of subliminal cues that otherwise go unnoticed? Kind of like a threat senser, a warning to be ready to fight or flee.
I have always known I was different somehow from everyone around me. I have no idea if this could be why, just that I always wondered how I could be so smart and have so many weaknesses in simple areas. So smart, so strong, tough, and ripping myself apart inside for my flaws and weakness. I never thought of myself as a mutant or any such thing, just,.. well having a sense of being, "different, off, the odd duck" as I have been called. I have searched everywhere for answers. Some said it's just the eccentricities of high intelligence, some that it was just me being special, like grandpa was... some said it was me just being odd for even feeling that way, for feeling outside the group.
I don't know, but I'm sorry it took awhile to find your comment Fir Tree. I don't check often anymore, as I no longer blog for attention or conversation, just as therapy. When I want to get it off my chest.
I am different, and yes, that does bother me even now. Anyway, an interesting excercise, not one I grasp onto though. I'm not that much a hypercondriact, I've enough wrong with me already. Though, yesterday when I went for a follow up at the dentist after having my teeth all extracted.. the nurse asked me if post op was ok, no problems. My answer was hesitant, I told her it was fine, about what I expected, probably easier than most have. That arched her eyebrows, she said, "you didn't... let me check,(as she pulled my chart). She looked back amazed. She said, you didn't call us once?" No... "Honey, everybody calls us after, you didn't have any pain?" yes, but I don't like to whine. "Sweetie, everybody calls back for pain, you didn't even once,.. you're a tough guy." I'm beginning to wonder if I'm not really tough, but a little nuts. Probably by some charts, yes.. but it's frightening being so outside the norm.
A lot of kids dream of being stronger than everyone else, or smarter. It's nice that my wife approves, but I feel like a circus attraction sometimes, humiliated by being put out on display. Oh.... you're the guy that did that,... twice huh, don't it hurt? My wife would say hero, but I fear others say freak.
not your problem however, I hope these answers help you find what you're looking for.
I've been unable to relocate the Major's blog after switching computers, doesn't turn up on a blog search, so a link to her would be appreciated. I have no desire to be a thing of morbid interest, but I'm still full of questions.
It does seem like there may be some connection.
At this point there are more questions than answers for everyone, but to me it seems like the answers are getting a little closer than they were.
A few things to consider are: Aspergers is not yet well understood, there may be many different genes leading to it, and different people may have more or less of these genes. There may even be environmental aspects that are not yet understood. Also, aspergers has become somewhat of a fad diagnosis for some, which clouds the issue even further.
I became interested in it after reading an article about it and thinking, "That's my dad!" And then realizing "That's me, too!"
It explained some of the issues we have. He is a brilliant physicist, and I am certainly not.
Later I read about the possible connection with neanderthals and thought "That's my dad! But not me!"
He has all his dental work done without anesthesia.
Anyway, the whole thing might turn out to be a dead end, but so far it appears this might be the right track.
I suspect that you might find that you are certainly not alone.