Does this sound like Aspergers or not?

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Gizalba
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01 Jan 2014, 2:59 pm

Hello, this is probably a very common topic and I know a forum can't diagnose me or definitely confirm otherwise :P However from what looks to me like very narrow DSM criteria, I am struggling to decide whether my boyfriend's assertion that I should be assessed for Asperger's is something worth looking into or whether it is unlikely to be the case. So I wondered if anyone could have a look at these points and give me an idea of whether I appear autistic-like or not? I know this is rather long so even if anyone reads just a few of the points and can comment on them that would be hugely appreciated.

Note: I have suffered from an eating disorder for the last ten years so I had always put a lot of these traits - perfectionism, obsession, OCD-like tendencies, ritualistic behaviour, down to that. But there are other things that have led me to have to postpone university that I have been told by multiple eating disorder services that they are not trained to treat, so I am still in limbo struggling to get any help.

List of some of the potentially abnormal things:

(I find it very difficult to summarise things so I have written and edited and deleted and analysed and re-written this to death to try to make it brief and more readable! So in the end I have tried to not write in sentences and write in a more bullet-point form.)

1. ‘Meltdowns’? – head banging, face hitting, screaming, crying uncontrollably, triggered by food issues, loud noises, repetitive noises or social conflicts when I can’t communicate what I’m feeling and frustration flies into to panic/fear/rage towards myself.

2. Fixating on things when I’m talking – going on and on and on and getting wound up about this idea the more I talk but not being able to let it go.

3. Something I once randomly described as ‘The everything’ to my boyfriend, so that’s what we call it now - sometimes he can see I’m lost in The everything – my thoughts speeding, dividing seemingly infinitely shooting out in all directions and tangling themselves in knots to the point I get distressed and when I try to get the thoughts out of my head the speech is fragmented because they are moving too fast to catch and turn into language.

4. Obsessions – I obviously obsess over food and my body, having an eating disorder, which takes up a large part of my day – however for around the last 6 years I have also been obsessed with memory – not only am I constantly anxious about all the memories I need to get written down but also thoughts that I need to get down and because obviously there is no way I can ever get everything down, the fact I can feel so much vanishing from my mind before I can record it makes me very on edge. I also have this massive rather irrational fear of losing them and was completely hysterical once when I couldn’t find a particular document covering several months with 70,000 words of my life and identity – I rang my mum to ask her to see if it was on a USB at home as I couldn’t find it on my computer, luckily she found it – my thought books I show no one but I had to make an exception and trust her just to read the first line of it and look at the word count to check it was the right one – because it was that crucial that I HAD to know I hadn’t lost it before I could carry on with my life.

5. These bullet points aren’t going very well and I am sick of editing, I may just write half the points down in raw form and delete the others, and apologies for the lack of punctuation! :/

7. Limited interests abnormal in their intensity? – I feel bad that I struggle to spend time with my boyfriend even though we live together because I get very anxious if I am bored and also struggle to relax at all – I usually find television dull (bar the odd comedy or interesting documentary) and not engaging enough to distract me from my whizzing thoughts to give me a break. I also struggle to deal with hanging out with people for longer than ten minutes if they aren’t talking about something interesting, which they rarely are. I spend most of my ‘leisure’ time collecting quotes from books, typing up to around 3000/4000 words of books to record a summary of the book (need to reduce the summaries!) so that I can collect summaries of books and not have to read them again to remember, which gives me more time to read more books than if I had to re-read books. I know reading a lot isn’t abnormal for introverted people, but I find JUST reading a book rather pointless if I don’t make notes, even with the few fiction books I read every now and again. Most of my books are non-fiction and to do with psychology.

8. The only exception to my aversion to TV is the fact I have to do most of my eating whilst watching coronation street :P , which I am aware is a rather monotonous boring show really, and I can’t watch it if I’m not eating, but somehow the simplicity and familiarity I have with the characters reduces my anxiety of having to eat as I guess it provides the same context every time I eat which I find safe – but if I am interrupted a meltdown can occur. I suspect this could come under ‘ritualistic behaviour’.

9. I have a problem dealing with inexactness, lack of rules and lack of structure: Up until I finished by A-levels at 18, my school work was great – I could look up exactly what the specification of what was required to get the marks and learn it and get full marks or near to (usually in my own time as I couldn’t concentrate on listening in class unless it was Psychology which we happened to have an interesting teacher for, and it’s like my mind goes blank in a social academic situation, so verbally I think I can come across as quite dim and couldn’t answer teacher’s questions in front of people, although I could write it down well in an exam).

However when I entered university my studying broke down with my obsession with perfection (actually I think perfectionism is a misnomer at least when describing me as it’s not that I want everything perfect – I’d rather get average grades and actually be functioning well in everyday life!) It’s more like a compulsion and not knowing when to stop and overanalysing things driving myself mad to the extent that I could no longer function to write anything, like my mind just burst and said ‘NO MORE!’ I get very upset when people tell me to do an ‘average’ amount and quality of work so that I don’t break down, as to work out what this means infuriates me – I just don’t understand– how do you know when you’ve done an ‘average’ amount of work – when do you know when to stop and when do you know when you’ve not done enough or the quality isn’t up to ‘average’ – I have to ‘try my best’ at everything I do as I don’t know what I’m aiming for otherwise. However ‘my best’ gets confusing too because even within A-levels I was obsessive over the hours I slept and I didn’t want to sleep any minute longer than was optimum to keep my concentration and functioning up because then I had wasted study time and then it wasn’t ‘my best’.

I also had an obsession with getting the right balance between socialising for information and to develop, and not having time I could be studying wasted with meaningless small talk and chatter, although I do see the point of small talk as an initial way in to getting to see if the person is interesting once they stop small talking. But back to the point – unlike school and college, university isn’t very structured or clear cut – which I had thought was going to be a good thing as I’d have a lot more freedom to learn what I want - but actually I think it causes me problems because technically you could write books and books on any given topic at uni and the marking scheme isn’t very direct about to what level of detail to learn, because really deeper learning and understanding is better but not when it causes me to break down under the overwhelming about of research I could study.

10. I do look very young for my age, and I feel younger than my age even though not so much intellectually, but perhaps my feeling younger than other people my age is more to do with me feeling inferior to most people. I think my natural personality with the close people I show it to is eccentric in a child-like kind of way, and the only person I am fully myself with is my boyfriend, as he is very child-like too; when I do come out of my room for a break from reading and quote recording (although he would prefer to spend a bit more time with me luckily he is generally okay with my alone time because he is an avid gamer) we tend to spend all of our time messing around e.g. pretending to be cats and other animals and he makes lots of imaginary characters up to chase me etc and games that make me laugh, which stop the thoughts tangling in my head, and it is a relief to find someone who does not feel any need like other adults tend to, to give up what I missed so much about childhood.

11. Socialising with other people: I think this is the area that leads me to doubt Asperger’s regarding myself. I do struggle with eye contact (this was especially so with my boyfriend originally –on our first date I spent the first hour looking at the ceiling unable to look at him due to the intensity of my feelings for him that scared me and I found looking him in the eye too overwhleming – thankfully he was very patient and persevered until I felt comfortable with him! :P), and people generally bore me so I struggle to know what to say and am very quiet in groups; I also often can’t seem to think fast enough in a group situation to say something even if I think of something.

HOWEVER, despite this, I don’t seem to have a problem making close friends on a one to one basis, and once I know a person well I don’t think I come across as socially ‘awkward’ with them anymore. I also don’t think I have any problems understanding non-verbal language or metaphors and the below required criteria in the DSM I do not think I fit with only a bit of A and none of B, C or D in my opinion:

(I) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
(A) marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
(B) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
(C) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g.. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
(D) lack of social or emotional reciprocity


Also: I am a 23 year old female living in the UK – I have heard that Asperger’s isn’t often recognised in females; does anyone know if this is particularly the case for the uk? (in my research I have only found professionals in America who seem more clued-up on female aspergers).

How confusing!



JSBACHlover
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01 Jan 2014, 3:57 pm

We can't diagnose you, but you have many traits that appear autistic. Call around and try to get a formal evaluation.

In the meantime, chat with us here at WP. We're here to support you, whether you have Asperger's or you are an NT with a few autistic tendencies.

God bless you.



DarkRain
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01 Jan 2014, 4:18 pm

Formal diagnosis. Try to get one if you can.



Mrmisunderstood
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01 Jan 2014, 4:53 pm

Totally just my opinion: if you have a hard time talking to the opposite sex or had a Romantic relationship for the first time at a unusually late ageT his is the way to tell if you have Aspergers or even if you unofficially have Aspergers. I have this problem and everyone on here with Aspergers seem to have this problem.



Mrmisunderstood
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01 Jan 2014, 5:03 pm

Totally just my opinion: if you have a hard time talking to the opposite sex or had a Romantic relationship for the first time at a unusually late ageT his is the way to tell if you have Aspergers or even if you unofficially have Aspergers. I have this problem and everyone on here with Aspergers seem to have this problem.



lelia
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01 Jan 2014, 8:08 pm

I dunno. I'm not a psych, but I feel pretty sure you're manic and OCD. Oh, and there's a word for people who have to write down their lives, but I cannot think what the term is right now. The only thing that seems specific to Asperger's is the eye contact causing intense anxiety. The reason for that is that in people on the spectrum and maybe some others, eye gaze stimulates the amygdala in the brain rather than the limbic system as eye gaze does for most people. So, plugged in the wrong socket, as it were.
A long assessment is called for here. I admire your courage in opening up so deeply to a bunch of strangers. I hope you find a way to make life more comfortable for yourself.



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01 Jan 2014, 8:18 pm

lelia wrote:
I dunno. I'm not a psych, but I feel pretty sure you're manic and OCD... The only thing that seems specific to Asperger's is the eye contact...


You forgot to mention the OP's meltdowns, which sound totally autistic.

Thing is, you did make an important point-

You're not a shrink, and except for the one or two who post here, none of us are.

I saw enough in the OP's self-description where it hit me as "Yep....MAYBE". This actually means "Get to a professional."

Yep, we can't diagnose here, and the best advice we can give is "find someone who's actually qualified to say if you're on the spectrum or not".


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AQ 31
Your Aspie score: 100 of 200 / Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 101 of 200
You seem to have both Aspie and neurotypical traits

What would these results mean? Been told here I must be a "half pint".


lelia
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01 Jan 2014, 8:52 pm

Sethno, you're right about the meltdowns. I don't know how I skipped over that.



TheWizardofCalculus
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01 Jan 2014, 9:22 pm

Again, it's important to stress this above everything else: We are not professionals. We cannot diagnose you, especially given that we only have an OP to work with and haven't met you. But even if we had those, we're still not really professionals.


I would say (with the minimal information given) it's very plausible that you have either (or maybe both):

1.) OCD with co-mobid sensory problems (This line treads very close to the world of AS/ASD) and a co-morbid eating disorder.

2.) Asperger's syndrome, where the OCD-like tendencies, sensory problems, rigid eating issues are stemming fundamentally from a "mild"/high functioning ASD. Or the eating disorder might still be discrete (unrelated to the AS/ASD).



So let me first say:

A.) Well, talk to psychiatrist either way, if you're not already, for the eating disorder. It's worth discussing if AS or OCD (or a related disorder) is a contributing or root cause of this. The ASD is a plausible explanation, so you should seek a psychiatrist to verify or refute the dx or come up with a new one.

B.) The following questions will be somewhat helpful.

-- You mentioned that you do fine in 1-on-1 conversations, although you mentioned some mild eye-gazing problems. How do you do in large groups? Ignoring even the noise issues, how do you feel about social gathering places, like parties, concerts, large restaurants, et cetera?

-- As a child, did you have problems making friends or understanding the "unwritten rules"/social conventions?

-- Is this exacerbated when there's more people around you or does it not really matter?

-- Do you feel like you have to consciously develop and maintain a sociable appearance? It may have gotten easier to do over time, think back to childhood or adolescence.

-- Do you offend people or annoy people by being too blunt, too "to the point", or too honest?

-- Do you ever zone out, very intensely?

-- Do you find that you regularly engage in repeated motor movements (like pacing, rocking back and forth, rolling back and forth), likely with your hands and could include an object (such as twirling an object, wiggling your fingers, etc), or other sensory input (such as smelling something, touching a blanket, making a repeated or continuous noise), and that these repeated motor movements or sensory inputs help calm you down or make you excited/happy? Alternatively, do they help you zone out very intensely, as if you're going to "your own world"?

-- Do you ever have problems determining what emotion someone is displaying?

-- Do you frequently think "I wish that [the person you're talking to] would start talking about something interesting, like [insert something you find interesting]." while in a conversation with a person?

-- Do you like to systematize things? Does simply ordering things or creating categories for things feel "soothing"?

-- Have people ever told you that you're talking too much about a single subject? Or do you get annoyed when people change the subject and you weren't expecting them to?

-- Do you tend to get annoyed at people when you feel that they aren't being "specific enough"?

-- When your friends come to you with problems, do you often find yourself attentively listening to them to let them vent or do you find that you are more prone to attempting to help "solve" their problems by creating solutions?

-- Are you irritated by small talk or other forms talking that don't strictly relate to relaying information?

-- That one might be harder to answer, so I'll also ask the following: does socialization seem to cause you to lose a lot of energy, even more so than any fellow introvert friends?

-- Do you have dark rings around your eyes, independent of how much sleep that you have?

-- A "yes" or "no" will be sufficient for each of the following: Have you ever been diagnosed with any ADHD/ADHD-PI/ADD? Have you ever been diagnosed with any GI tract problem (e.g. GERD, IBS, Krohn's disease, Celiac's disease) or have any re-occurring GI tract problems that sometimes require medication (e.g. constipation)? I understand that this is a personal question, but, again, just a "yes" or "no" will suffice.



C.) Take the "Aspie Quiz", the AQ quiz, and/or the EQ quiz. The EQ, I would say, is the least important, but it can be diagnostically important.



Last edited by TheWizardofCalculus on 01 Jan 2014, 9:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Niall
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01 Jan 2014, 9:31 pm

As others have said, the best any of us can give is a qualified "maybe". I would also say "maybe".

Your systematic approach to the question is an indicator for me that I would add to those that others have mentioned (please take this as an observation or a compliment: I do the same).

I concur also with the advice to discuss the question with a qualified expert. There are things you describe that do not sound like AS, so if it is AS my educated guess is that there is something else also going on as well as AS (I concur with suspicions of OCD, which is commonly found among Aspies).

That said, AS often expresses differently among females. It's also more rarely identified among females but, when it is identified, it often causes more problems than it does among males. This is, to me, a huge red flag for either overdiagnosis of males (an ongoing discussion in the Aspie community, which I don't want to get into) or for underdiagnosis among females. You might find this useful: http://autismwomensnetwork.org/article/ ... -and-girls
This covers much of the same ground, and some other material:
http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/a ... ctrum.aspx
This is a working document for a profile of Aspie women.
http://taniaannmarshall.wordpress.com/2 ... -syndrome/

I also live in the UK, and the process you will have to go through probably starts with your GP. I wrote an account of mine which you may find useful. http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt154420.html

Most mainstream shrinks are not trained to diagnose forms of autism. Most of it is done through the National Autistic Society, but most teams only accept referrals through a GP, or even indirectly through secondary contact with mental health services. This may also be useful.
http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/a ... nosis.aspx I have no idea how clued up diagnosticians are on the subject of Aspie women in the UK, but the job is usually done by an expert, not a GP or a shrink, as happens elsewhere.

Good luck, and please keep us posted.



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01 Jan 2014, 9:44 pm

We don't know.

Only appropriately-trained, experienced and licensed mental-health professionals can make a valid diagnosis of AS or an ASD.* As far as I know, there is no such person on WrongPlanet. Such a person would have to perform a series of in-depth, face-to-face interviews before even a tentative diagnosis could be given. Online tests can not provide an objective AS/ASD diagnosis, either.

In my opinion, you would do well to seek professional counseling.

*... and it is gratifying to see so many people who believe the same way!



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01 Jan 2014, 10:21 pm

Hi Gizalba, Welcome to Wrong Planet! :jester: And you're welcome whether you're Aspie or just Aspie-friendly as it were.

Do you have sensory issues?

Maybe sound issues where the buzz of a malfunctioning fluorescent light seems to bother you more than most people? Or maybe the chemical smell of cleaners.

Do you stim?

Now, quote-unquote 'normal' people will fiddle with a pen while talking on the phone. This is actually stimming behavior. (and no such thing as 'normal' anyway and how boring a place the world would be if there were!)

Well, somehow the way we on the Spectrum stim is considered bad. When it's just different or somewhat unusual. For example, I like to squeeze or twist cloth, in private, and fir years I didn't think much about this or considered it just one of those things.

======

Now, DSM-4 does not put much emphasis on either sensory issues or stimming. At one point referring to sensory issues as 'odd' reactions or something like that.

I think this is to the discredit of DSM-4. It's like it's the first pass of the work of a committee, seemingly etched in concrete, and that might be exactly what it is. It's also very much looking at the Asperger's-Autism Spectrum from the outside, not people describing their experiences from the inside.



Gizalba
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02 Jan 2014, 8:43 pm

Thankyou all so much for taking the time to read this and for all the opinions/useful information/links - I shall reply properly when my concentration is better and shall book a Drs appointment to ask if it can be investigated by a specialist, be it looking into autism, OCD or otherwise.



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02 Jan 2014, 11:44 pm

Niall wrote:
This is a working document for a profile of Aspie women.
http://taniaannmarshall.wordpress.com/2 ... -syndrome/



Thank you for all the links, especially this one, this describes me so well it is kind of spooky 8O



Niall
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03 Jan 2014, 6:58 am

dianthus wrote:
Niall wrote:
This is a working document for a profile of Aspie women.
http://taniaannmarshall.wordpress.com/2 ... -syndrome/



Thank you for all the links, especially this one, this describes me so well it is kind of spooky 8O


You're welcome. A female friend is also likely on the spectrum, and we have been discussing this. She doesn't meet all the criteria, but some of it fits very well.



Gizalba
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04 Jan 2014, 12:55 pm

Mrmisunderstood – I wouldn’t say I have a particularly hard time talking to the opposite sex unless I find them sexually attractive which is rare to be honest, however the few guys I have liked romantically, I have got intensely obsessed with them and worry about being too forward so then I seem to overcompensate and end up appearing aloof and uninterested.

Lelia – When you say ‘manic’, I wondered what you are referring to; do you perhaps mean the speeding thoughts, intense emotions, or something else? I thought surely there must be a term for writing down my life obsessively, but google doesn’t seem to want to tell me ;) Interesting to know there is actually a term for it out there somewhere though! I did find it rather embarrassing after I’d posted, to have blurted out to a forum of strangers stuff I usually keep very private, but I think the anonymity helps.

TheWizardofCalculus – Thankyou for your detailed reply and further questions to consider. My history with mental health services and psychiatrists has been a very long story, ending up basically hitting a brick wall as I don’t seem to fit anywhere, or at least not anywhere any psychiatrist has been willing to look into properly, and they don’t tend to take too kindly to suggestions of things to look into. However if I can get enough information or reasoning to make a case to demand they look into Aspergers or OCD or both, then I think I will go back with my boyfriend this time and also give them something in writing to look at. (I will post answers to your questions shortly.)

Naill – As dianthus said, thanks for the informative links! :) – I have bought a book about Aspergers in females (Aspergirls) which I could highly relate to, but I wanted to find more information on females from different sources for a more balanced and detailed view rather than from just the one person’s perspective I have read. Your ‘route to diagnosis’ topic in the UK was also really helpful; I guess it is actually reassuring (at least once you have persuaded them to refer you) if unlike for other things the process and testing is more thorough and is done by an expert in the field. I feel too many diagnoses are given based on an hour with a general psychiatrist and very little information, meaning no wonder there are so many problems with mistaking one disorder’s symptoms for another and erroneous diagnosis, if they aren’t looked into things in depth.

AardvarkGoodSwimmer – I am glad I am welcome even if I am just aspie-friendly :D I would say that I do have sensory issues, quite strongly so when it comes to sound, a long list but the most problematic thing is sleeping when I live with others as I can’t sleep with the slightest of sounds, that other people don’t seem to be bothered by. And if anyone moves in the room while I’m asleep I wake up then get distressed as then it’s a struggle for me to get back to sleep again and lack of sleep is a major trigger for 'meltdowns'. So I have my own room and bed separate to my boyfriend and although I would like to be able sleep next to him, I don’t understand how people are usually fine with that set-up.

Touch is also a problem with the whole shared bed thing as although I like being intimate with my boyfriend, I don’t like touch when it is not a time when I am okay with being intimate, if that makes sense; touch while in bed trying to sleep is not the time for touching in my view :P Or if I am in what feels like a particularly hypersensitive mood, him touching me randomly can set me off into panic, as though my brain hasn’t quite calculated what the touch is before it sends a startle reaction. I try to keep my calm as much as I can and we have a joke based on a song where one of the lyrics is ‘Don’t touch me!’; So I say that in a playful way in the tone of the song to get the message of 'I am not in the mood to be touched' across to him without sounding mean/rejecting.

However I have had no problems I’ve noticed with smell or sight, other than the smell of food distressing me but that I am pretty sure is down to the eating disorder as non-food smells don’t bother me abnormally so.

I don’t ‘think’ I stim really, but like you said unless it is classic autistic-like stimming or several/many different stims it seems hard to tell where it crosses from normal to autism-induced. I do pace when anxious, which I suspect many normal people do when anxious, I may just do it more than normal as I am usually anxious! The only other thing I can think of is I tend to absent mindedly shred things I am holding when talking about something difficult, say a tissue or cardboard packaging I have picked up without noticing until I see all the shred ;) But again I don’t know if that comes under stimming.