Question about Asperger's and genetics

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markaudette
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19 Oct 2006, 11:33 pm

I had always known there was something wrong within me. It took 34 years but I think I have found the answer in Asperger's. However, when I found that Asperger's matched many of my symptoms, I also started thinking about my Father.

My Dad has always been a very, very peculiar man. A lone, solitary man set about in a routine and a pattern of living you could set your watch to. All of my life I knew that there was something not quite right about him. But I've also known there was something not quite right about myself. I knew that I didn't function like anyone else. And I knew that he and I share a lot traits. I have been diagnosed with OCD and AADD. But Dad hasn't ever been diagnosed because he has a phobia of doctors. And I have the same phobia but I deal with it better than he has.

So I found that we both share a great many tendancies that can fall into the category of Asperger's. I came across Asperger's because I found it matched a lot of my symptoms. But now that I compare the symptoms of Asperger's against my Dad's symptoms, I came to the quick realization that he displays far more prominent traits of an Aspie than I do. Here is a quick list of his traits:

1. He shows very evident OCD tendencies like checking to see if he locked a door 12 times in a row. Checks his mail box 3 or 4 times in a row, every time. Triple checks stove eyes.

2. Follows the same routine every day. It is impossible to get him to deviate from his routine. When you can occasionally get him to deviate from his routine, he acts lost and out of sorts.

3. Aside from his unshakable routine of going to a senior citizen's center on pre-prescribed days, he stays alone and doesn't interact with people.

3. He does not visit people. And I do not either.

4. If you're in a conversation with him, He constantly intterupts you interject his own thoughts. He won't wait for the appropriate "It's your turn to talk now" break.

5. Like me, he is passionate about the things that interest him. But his interests always eventually rotate to something else. He sometimes remarks that he laughs a little bit abouty some of the things he used to be obsessed over. He is crazy about about Baseball right now and he has NEVER liked Baseball. But right now he loves it. And that will change most definitely.

6. He has always shown a predisposition of being good with numbers and book keeping. As well and being well versed, intelligent and well written.

7. He has always had these quirky physical ticks. He twitches by bobbing his head gently or his hand will rock or he will rock himself altogether. He's elderly but does not suffer from shaking that many elderly have. The ticks and wobbling he does, he has ALWAYS done. And I do them too.

8. He cannot drive. Period. It is impossible for him. Matter of fact, one time my mom was teaching him how to drive and he backed into the ONLY pole in a large field of nothing! LOL Driving is an impossibly hard task for him. Me, I can and do drive regularly. But it's not fun OR easy. I just HAVE to.

9. He has terrifically poor manual dexterity. He is clumsy and has a lot of trouble trying to figure things out. He just can't put things together. The greatest example of this is a story my mom told me about dad trying to open a pack of bologna with a can opener. True story. I actually suffer from this ailment as well. But not as bad as he suffers from it. A can opener...

10. He is a quiet man. Unless you get him on a topic he's passionate about. Then you almsot can't get him to stop talking! I am the same in this aspect.

11. He won't make eye contact unless he's talking about something he's passionate about. Then he won't take his eyes of you. Me, I won't make eye contact for ANY reason.



So I share a lot of characteristics with my dad but overall, my smptoms are not as worse as his are.

So my question to you is this: Can a child AND his/her father or mother both suffer from Asperger's?

Could you have several people in the same family suffrer from Asperger's?


.



BazzaMcKenzie
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19 Oct 2006, 11:41 pm

Yes.

There are already a couple of topics about this. Have a look through some old posts.


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CanyonWind
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19 Oct 2006, 11:46 pm

From what I know about it, It's more the rule than the exception for multiple family members to have asperger's. I would say yes, definitely, and I'm sure nobody here would find it at all surprising. Your dad definitely sounds aspie to me.


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markaudette
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19 Oct 2006, 11:46 pm

My bad.

But thanks.

I'm still trying to soak in a lot of info about Asperger's.



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20 Oct 2006, 1:01 am

You absolutely can have more than one family member on the spectrum. I come from a family of ten, and only now can I understand alot of things about them that I didn't understand then. My younger sister was definitely autistic, my younger brother was, as well. Those remaining were on various places on the spectrum, including both of my parents! My dad taught at an Engineering school, and was brilliant with numbers. But he hated socializing, and had few friends. I suffer from dyscalcula, which affects my ability to read maps, and work with numbers. There's lots more, but I don't wish to bore you. :D


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20 Oct 2006, 2:26 am

I've not been formally diagnosed, but my two kids have both been diagnosed with PDD and I am sure I am on the autistic spectrum, somewhere. I also believe my mother and her father were. They used to say that my grandfather was wound as tight as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but I also remember his little routines as being concrete ... beware trying to alter his groove.


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markaudette
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20 Oct 2006, 9:02 am

Sometimes I get so damn mad at the fact I was never diagnosed with anything. Despite going to therapists when I was a kid. And I wish Dad had been diagnosed with Asperger's (which I think he falls into the category of). He would have had an esier time of things and I would have too. I would have done SO much better in school if I were allowed to go at my own speed on some subjects.

The interesting thing is that one my brother's son is starting to display some symptoms of Asperger's as well. He has always acted like he had just a slight tinge of autism. He's an intelligent kid. Obsesses over what he wants to obsess over! I talked to my brother about fearing our Dad having Asperger's and I told him to keep an eye on his son to see if he started showing signs as well. And my brother is a teacher so he's already had a million symposiums and discussions and coferences about children with diabilities. And he's well versed on Asperger's too. He admitted that he noticed his son has shown the signs of slight autism. The assuring thing about my borother's son is that he will grow up to be good in something. We don't know what it is yet. But he's an intelligent fella who is an extremely determined kid.

As for my brother, I know that he only suffers from is AADD. He was in advanced classes. Can do math better than myself. Has a little trouble spelling. But aside from having a terrible attention span, he's more functional than myself.

So there's my Dad, me, my brother and his son seemingly showing signs of Asperger's and AADD.

I know I'll never have any children. But it also makes me not want to have a child. Because I know that kid will probably grow up to suffer from some of the symptoms my Dad, me and my brother share. I don't want to curse a child's life like that.

By the way, I was reading up on Dyscalculia and jeez Louise! does that desribe my math talents!! ! I am astronomically BAD in math. Bad! Bad. Bad! Math class exausted me far more than P.E. classes did!



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20 Oct 2006, 9:15 am

Dear markaudette,

Your list of behaviors comes straight from the literature on Asperger’s. If you had set out to write a behavioral definition, you couldn’t have done much better.

HOWEVER, I would caution you not to be too quick to conclude that either you or your father has the syndrome without first at least considering an alternative view, and that is that both of you are entirely normal but different. Let me say it another way. It is possible to behave in the ways you’ve enumerated and be considered a well-developed, normally functioning human being.

The problem is in the definition of the word "normal." For most people, "different" equals "defect" equals "pathology." That is, if you're different from ME, then there must be something wrong with YOU. Contemporary psychology reinforces that view by defining normality on the bell-shaped curve. Only a small area near the peak of the curve is totally "normal." Everybody else is to some extent "abnormal." If you're really different from the mainstream, which you and your father seem to be, then by definition you're certifiable.

"In 1920 [Carl] Jung disagreed. He said that people are different in fundamental ways even though they all have the same multitude of instincts to drive them from within... Thus Jung invented the 'function types' or 'psychological types.'" (Quotation is from Keirsey, D. W., & Bates, M. (1978/1984). Please Understand Me. Del Mar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, p. 3.)

Jung distinguished eight psychological types. In the 1940s and 50s the mother-daughter team of Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers expanded that to sixteen, forming the basis for what are today known as the Myers-Briggs types. The point is that there are basic differences between the types, and yet all types are considered good, valid, normal. Let's take some examples.

Most people are familiar with the terms "extrovert" and "introvert," so we'll start there. (By the way, Jung spelled "extrovert" with an "o" so most Jungians today continue to use that spelling.) You say that your father "stays alone and doesn't interact with people" and you don't either. This is typical introverted behavior. Introverts are comfortable with themselves. They enjoy solitude, or the company of a select few. They are seen as private people who keep to themselves. The phrase "still waters run deep" is often applied to introverts.

So what's wrong with that? Well, if you listen to Jung, nothing. Introversion is as valid an orientation as extroversion. On the other hand, if you listen to contemporary psychology, including Hans Asperger, everything. There is a bias in our culture toward extroversion and against introversion. The outgoing, blabby, social gadfly is seen as desirable, while the quiet, self-sufficient, introvert who sees much but says little, is seen as undesirable.

Asperger was especially down on introverts. He wrote, "Introversion, if it is a restriction of the self and a narrowing of the relations to the environment, may well be autism in essence." (Hans Asperger, 1944/1991, p. 90). Jungians have a more balanced view. Jungian therapist Naomi Quenk wrote, "I believe that there are more than enough genuine pathologies around requiring our attention. Introversion is not one of them." (Naomi Quenk, 1996, p. 41)

For a second example, let's look at clumsiness. Clumsiness, which refers to a lack of skill or agility in negotiating the physical environment, does not appear in the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s Disorder. Still, it is often used as an informal diagnostic trait, and it shows up unofficially in much of the literature. The opposite of clumsiness is skill, dexterity, adroitness or proficiency in the physical world.

Here again there is a social bias, adopted and reinforced by contemporary psychology. Have you ever considered that although you and your father may be somewhat inept in the outer world, in the inner world of ideas and concepts you're very likely as talented and agile as they come? The extroverts of the world don't see it, and so they attribute disability, when there is actually a lot of (inner) ability.

One more, and then I'll quit. You write that your father's "...interests always eventually rotate to something else." For most people (do you hear a theme here?) closure is a good thing. You're supposed to be "steady." You're supposed to be goal-oriented. You're supposed to "stay the course." People who change their minds, or whose interests go from one thing to another are (do you know what's coming?) defective.

Here's what the Jungians have to say about that. "In the Perceiving attitude, a person is attuned to incoming information. Their aim is to receive information as long as possible in an effort to miss nothing that might be important. Persons who characteristically live in the Perceiving attitude seem in their outer behavior to be spontaneous, curious, adaptable, and open to what is new and changeable." (Myers, et al., 1998, p. 27) Are you and your father curious and adaptable? Do you spontaneously seek to keep your options open until enough information has been gathered for you to take the next step? Does that usually take longer than those around you think is humanly possible? Congratulations, you're probably a Perceiver.

I don't want to leave the impression that ALL traits of Asperger's Syndrome can be explained away by psychological type. There are some very definite behaviors that are linked to poor type development. The good news is that once you learn about type, and especially when you learn about your type -- who you actually are, as opposed to who you've been told you should be -- most of the difficulties melt away.

If you want an interesting experience, go to a conventional psychologist and get a diagnosis. It will likely be Asperger's, high-functioning autism, or an "autism spectrum disorder." If they really can't make up their mind, they may just paste "Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)" on your forehead. Then go to a Jungian therapist and ask the same questions. I'm betting the Jungian will give you a lot more positive readout than the conventional person.

Jungian therapists are a little hard to find these days because Jung has fallen out of favor with the mainstream. One place you can look is the Association for Psychological Type <http://www.aptinternational.org/>. Another is the Center for Applications of Psychological Type (CAPT) <http://www.capt.org/>. You might also want to check out <http://keirsey.com/>.

And finally, a parting shot. Beware of self-diagnosis. It's OK to list characteristics, behaviors and traits, but the final diagnosis, particularly when you're dealing with something as slippery as Asperger's Syndrome, is up to a professional. Remember, "The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient."

geezer

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Done that (too many times)



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20 Oct 2006, 2:28 pm

I'm not sure about my family, as the only common diagnosis in a few relatives I know of is bipolar disorder and depression. My youngest cousin was born 3 months premature, and has had delays in his development, but nothing related to the autism specturm. My dad does check the locks several times before going to bed, and also checks to see if the stove is off, which is a little OCD. I've inherited the door checking compulsion, but that's it. My grandma is OCD when it comes to cleaning her house, she fully washes the dishes in the sink before putting them in the dishwasher, and if given a chance, she scrubs paper plates clean before thowing them away.


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21 Oct 2006, 10:49 am

markaudette wrote:
...
I know I'll never have any children. But it also makes me not want to have a child. Because I know that kid will probably grow up to suffer from some of the symptoms my Dad, me and my brother share. I don't want to curse a child's life like that.


I was 47 when I began to realize that most of my difficulties in life had a relatively simple explanation. I had already struggled to develop my own 'work-arounds' for a slew of sensory issues, passed off obsessive behaviors as just part of my process, learned how to emulate other's accepted behaviors and how to recognize the proper times to use which actions, given up on having someone else's idea of a "full" social life, and accepted my situation as NORMAL for me.

As my son (who was already reading quite well at three, but had no clue where to find clean socks) began to show difficulties in pre-school getting along and playing with other kids, correcting his teacher's reading and inflection skills, we had a psychologist interview us (at the insistence of my wife, a respectable NT). That is when I started learning about autism and how there are varying degrees of common symptoms which are more significant to some people and other symptoms are not as severe. Of course we had heard of 'Rainman' and we thought that was autism. There's so much more to learn!

I found the knowlege as a kind of relief to a large degree. "Cool! I'm not just crazy, I have a definable anomalie in my perceptions ... a fraggin' syndrome, so to speak ..." It all makes perfect sense, now. I CAN tell you that I had a rough time with the discovery at first, as you will see many older people have. I went through a period of denial, followed a period of acceptance, a time of resolve with the present circumstances, ending with a complete re-assessment of every significant event in my life ... Just like a birth or death, there's no time to be mad, glad, sad, or bad. It's been four years for me, now and I have become quite comfortable with myself, once again, but with a greatly enhanced ability to continue through it all.

I'd like to take issue with your statement concerning how much suffering your kids might be subjected to. Life is worth living, even if you think you have not flourished, somehow. With your knowlege, your future kids will have a better chance than you ever had. Even your dad can find some peace, if he learns a little.


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21 Oct 2006, 11:19 am

I've been reading quite a bit of jung, I really do love his style and theories, though most of it had a "damn I already agreed with that" effect.

I still need the professional diagnosis for others understanding, the jungian exploration is for me..


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21 Oct 2006, 12:45 pm

Yes, Aspies and the Broader Autistic Phenotype are littered through both sides of my family. My dad was a definite Aspie, so am I, my mother's a bit eccentric and has a low sensory tolerance but she was always more social (she's a BAP), her mother (BAP), her father a potential Aspie, her grandfather a potential Aspie, and my father's half-brother (Aspieish, BAP).

From what I've noticed from hearsay on these forums, Aspieness/HFA are very heritable.


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21 Oct 2006, 1:17 pm

I hope my experience is entirely irrelevant to everyone else in the world, but I would not recommend attempting parenthood to any male in the western portion of the northern hemisphere or any culture derived therefrom.

At least for another century or so.


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They murdered boys in Mississippi. They shot Medgar in the back.
Did you say that wasn't proper? Did you march out on the track?
You were quiet, just like mice. And now you say that we're not nice.
Well thank you buddy for your advice...
-Malvina