Is it AS or just lack of socialization?

Page 1 of 1 [ 11 posts ] 

asperience
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 9 Nov 2006
Age: 50
Gender: Male
Posts: 48
Location: San Francisco Bay Area.

04 Aug 2008, 11:14 am

Many of the ASD symptoms can be caused simply by lack of socialization. As an extreme example, I would assume that the kids who grew up locked up in closets would end up being pretty autistic, whether they were wired that way starting out or not.

I'm a stutterer, and because of that, I've not had as much social contact as other people, and the stutter often nonverbally turns people off in a way that makes me feel like I'm not doing a good job of communicating nonverbally. I'm trying to figure out if my milder AS symptoms are simply a result of the lack of socialization from being a stutterer, or whether I was born with the AS wiring.

So I wanted to put this question out to the group: How would one go about telling whether someone's ASlike symptoms are hardwired versus learned? Certainly there are lots of people who are rejected by society for a variety of unspoken reasons, and they don't have as many opportunities to socialize as a result. Here's how this could result in the AS symptoms:

- Obsessiveness could develop simply because there are less people bringing the person out of their narrow interests. Socialization is by nature responding to unpredictable people, so it makes sense that socializing helps people learn to cope with the unpredictable and tends to widen people because they need to be able to communicate about what others are interested in, not just what they are interested in.

- Sensitivity to sensory stimulus could develop because people who isolate can control their environment more, so don't have to tolerate as much random outside stimuli, so they aren't used to it.

- Depression and anxiety can result from missing out on what others are getting from socialization.

- Not being able to read nonverbal cues and facial features would be simply from not doing it as much as others.

- Getting tired out in social situations rather than energized by them could be because it is simply unfamiliar.

- A tendency to take things literally would make sense if one learned more academically from books than from social interaction with other people.

I want to be clear that by this post I'm not intending to deny in any way that ASDs are real and hardwired. I went to the Michael Savage protest precisely because his comments were so wrong.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who was struggled with these kinds of questions... many people with ASDs also have other unspoken handicaps that may interfere with socialization, so deciding whether it's ASD or lack of socialization applies to many.

Another related issue is that people who lack experience with socialization (like myself) would tend to not know as much that others struggle with the same issues. Of course everyone misreads social cues and feels like they don't fit in sometimes, but they hide it so you don't really know how much others struggle with those issues until you get to know them well, and if you don't get to know people well then you might feel more different even though you're going through the same things.



MysteryFan3
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 8 Jun 2007
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,156
Location: Indiana

04 Aug 2008, 11:55 am

Good points. Most or all have been made before, but they're still good points. That's why it takes a licensed clinical psychologist with training specific to autism to determine whether someone fits the symptoms. A lot of people have had problems related to being examined by psychologists without the autism training or being examined by graduate students in psychology who use the DSM-IV-TR as a checklist.

The ones who know what they're doing ask about family history and look at childhood events along with current traits. That's how my sessions worked.


_________________
To eliminate poverty, you have to eliminate at least three things: time, the bell curve and the Pauli Exclusion Principle. Have fun.


deadeyexx
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 10 Sep 2007
Age: 39
Gender: Male
Posts: 758

04 Aug 2008, 11:57 am

Good questions.

Certianly lack of socialization brings about many aspie traits and both situations would look identical to the outside observer. However, you gotta ask yourself what made you detatch from people in the first place. Was it because they rejected you because of stuttering, or might you have preferred doing solitary & logical activities opposed to social ones all along? Everyone gets picked on at some point as a kid, but NTs would be more likely to tolerate it & pick on someone else in turn to be normal, while someone with AS would simply retreat back to where they feel safe.



Callista
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 3 Feb 2006
Age: 38
Gender: Female
Posts: 10,775
Location: Ohio, USA

04 Aug 2008, 12:02 pm

I guess the solution would be to try to learn and see if it came more naturally to you than to other Aspies.

The trouble, though, is that after a long time of social isolation, it WOULD be hardwired--whether or not it was to begin with! People who are right on the diagnostic threshold like that can be affected by environment enough to actually determine whether they are "NT with autistic traits" or "mild Asperger's". Autism isn't 100% determined by genetics; 5% of the average case can be attributed to environment (the other 95% is genetic). And though 5% isn't a lot, it can make the difference in a borderline case like yours.

In any event, the border I'm talking about is pretty arbitrary, and generally determined by whether or not you fit enough criteria on the Asperger's checklist. The cool thing is that whether you fall on the Aspie side of the line or not, you can still use the same things that help officially-diagnosed Aspies because you face many of the same challenges. I've seen "NT with Aspie traits" type people hanging around with Aspies all the time--many "geeky engineer" types, drama/art majors, sci-fi and science buffs fit that category. The autism spectrum extends into the neurotypical quite a long way.


_________________
Reports from a Resident Alien:
http://chaoticidealism.livejournal.com

Autism Memorial:
http://autism-memorial.livejournal.com


asperience
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 9 Nov 2006
Age: 50
Gender: Male
Posts: 48
Location: San Francisco Bay Area.

13 Aug 2008, 10:13 am

Callista wrote:
I guess the solution would be to try to learn and see if it came more naturally to you than to other Aspies.

The trouble, though, is that after a long time of social isolation, it WOULD be hardwired--whether or not it was to begin with! People who are right on the diagnostic threshold like that can be affected by environment enough to actually determine whether they are "NT with autistic traits" or "mild Asperger's". Autism isn't 100% determined by genetics; 5% of the average case can be attributed to environment (the other 95% is genetic). And though 5% isn't a lot, it can make the difference in a borderline case like yours.

In any event, the border I'm talking about is pretty arbitrary, and generally determined by whether or not you fit enough criteria on the Asperger's checklist. The cool thing is that whether you fall on the Aspie side of the line or not, you can still use the same things that help officially-diagnosed Aspies because you face many of the same challenges. I've seen "NT with Aspie traits" type people hanging around with Aspies all the time--many "geeky engineer" types, drama/art majors, sci-fi and science buffs fit that category. The autism spectrum extends into the neurotypical quite a long way.


Calista, many thanks for that comment. "After a long time of social isolation it WOULD be hardwired" is an insight that I hadn't really had until you brought it up, and it really helps me to understand and accept myself. It simultaneously explains why AS characteristics seem so persistent and hard for me to change now that I'm nearing 40 years old, and it also allows room for hope that over a long period of time and effort I can change those characteristics.

I've recently spent lots of time with Aspies on all parts of the spectrum, and I think I am one of those 5% where my level of AS wiring at birth probably wouldn't have made me stand out too much if I developed otherwise normally. But because of my stutter and the lack of socialization due to that, I didn't learn as many compensating strategies and social skills as normally socialized people would have learned. So after living life this way I am for most purposes a genuine mild Aspie, but with the happy bonus that my troublesome AS characteristics may be a bit easier to make progress on than for other Aspies near me on the spectrum.

And as you mention, most of the strategies that apply to completely hardwired Aspies are also useful to me, so I have something of a roadmap for making progress.



Timpani
Hummingbird
Hummingbird

User avatar

Joined: 19 May 2008
Age: 61
Gender: Male
Posts: 19
Location: Berkshire, UK

13 Aug 2008, 3:14 pm

These are sensible questions, and I suspect the only good answers are to be found in research that is still to be done.

You are quite right that learning and "hard-wiring" are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

As far as I know, research shows that infants only a few days old are usually interested in human faces, so some social behaviour could be said to be "hard wired". I don't know if research has addressed how much variability there is in this behaviour, or if some children who show less interest in faces later show AS traits, though.

Personally, I've usually interpreted my issues in the past to learning (e.g. I didn't have contact with many other children until school age, so it's not surprising I had some difficulties working out what they were up to).

In any case, making things better for everyone seems often to be about learning behaviours we didn't have before. (My impression is that the contribution of drugs is to help learning to take place by reducing anxiety etc., rather than by "rewiring" directly.)

Also, AFAIK, ABA interventions with children with "classic" autism seem to be quite helpful in about half of all cases. So perhaps these are the half in which the problems are mainly due to lack of opportunities to learn useful social behaviours? I'm just hypothesising here, someone here will probably be more up on this;

regards,

T



ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 18 Jun 2008
Gender: Female
Posts: 12,265

13 Aug 2008, 3:32 pm

It might be a combination of both, nature and nuture, much like other disorders. It might be a cycle. You are born with something that makes you different, maybe only a little different...and yet it gets blown out of porportion unless some kind of intervention happens.

Like, for instance, other children might need to be reminded that a child with Asperger's Syndrome has certain needs, much like a diabetic child, or a child with a physical disorder. If other children are taught how to react to a child with Asperger's Syndrome, they can help offset some of the secondary conditions, like lack of social skills, that can accompany disorders.



Last edited by ooOoOoOAnaOoOoOoo on 13 Aug 2008, 3:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Kaleido
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 18 Feb 2007
Age: 62
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,615

13 Aug 2008, 3:33 pm

I was completely convinced before my diagnosis that my aspieness was down to lack of socialization. However, when I that I had stood watching other children in the playground over every morning break, lunch break and afternoon playtimes for all of my infant and junior school years and still didn't understand what they were doing and why, then that is not a lack of the opportunity of being social but definitely a sign of something not connecting in the brain.

Even when I had all of my cousins inviting me to join in their games, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do.



ALADDIN_1978
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Posts: 127

13 Aug 2008, 4:23 pm

I was told I have very mild asperger syndrome. Someone said I have aspergers traits. I know I have asperger syndrome on communication as an adult but as a child I never had the opportunities to make friends but as an adult I have improved socially.

I was always lonely, isolated, with few people around me, my parents rarely had friends round, could my AS be due to the environment? Someone with a lot of experience of working wit

asperience wrote:
Callista wrote:
I guess the solution would be to try to learn and see if it came more naturally to you than to other Aspies.

The trouble, though, is that after a long time of social isolation, it WOULD be hardwired--whether or not it was to begin with! People who are right on the diagnostic threshold like that can be affected by environment enough to actually determine whether they are "NT with autistic traits" or "mild Asperger's". Autism isn't 100% determined by genetics; 5% of the average case can be attributed to environment (the other 95% is genetic). And though 5% isn't a lot, it can make the difference in a borderline case like yours.

In any event, the border I'm talking about is pretty arbitrary, and generally determined by whether or not you fit enough criteria on the Asperger's checklist. The cool thing is that whether you fall on the Aspie side of the line or not, you can still use the same things that help officially-diagnosed Aspies because you face many of the same challenges. I've seen "NT with Aspie traits" type people hanging around with Aspies all the time--many "geeky engineer" types, drama/art majors, sci-fi and science buffs fit that category. The autism spectrum extends into the neurotypical quite a long way.


Calista, many thanks for that comment. "After a long time of social isolation it WOULD be hardwired" is an insight that I hadn't really had until you brought it up, and it really helps me to understand and accept myself. It simultaneously explains why AS characteristics seem so persistent and hard for me to change now that I'm nearing 40 years old, and it also allows room for hope that over a long period of time and effort I can change those characteristics.

I've recently spent lots of time with Aspies on all parts of the spectrum, and I think I am one of those 5% where my level of AS wiring at birth probably wouldn't have made me stand out too much if I developed otherwise normally. But because of my stutter and the lack of socialization due to that, I didn't learn as many compensating strategies and social skills as normally socialized people would have learned. So after living life this way I am for most purposes a genuine mild Aspie, but with the happy bonus that my troublesome AS characteristics may be a bit easier to make progress on than for other Aspies near me on the spectrum.

And as you mention, most of the strategies that apply to completely hardwired Aspies are also useful to me, so I have something of a roadmap for making progress.



ALADDIN_1978
Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

User avatar

Joined: 28 Dec 2007
Age: 42
Gender: Male
Posts: 127

13 Aug 2008, 4:25 pm

I was told I have very mild asperger syndrome. Someone said I have aspergers traits. I know I have asperger syndrome on communication as an adult but as a child I never had the opportunities to make friends but as an adult I have improved socially.

I was always lonely, isolated, with few people around me, my parents rarely had friends round, could my AS be due to the environment? Someone with a lot of experience of working with people with AS says she knows people like me.

Could my poor social skills be down to the environment?

asperience wrote:
Callista wrote:
I guess the solution would be to try to learn and see if it came more naturally to you than to other Aspies.

The trouble, though, is that after a long time of social isolation, it WOULD be hardwired--whether or not it was to begin with! People who are right on the diagnostic threshold like that can be affected by environment enough to actually determine whether they are "NT with autistic traits" or "mild Asperger's". Autism isn't 100% determined by genetics; 5% of the average case can be attributed to environment (the other 95% is genetic). And though 5% isn't a lot, it can make the difference in a borderline case like yours.

In any event, the border I'm talking about is pretty arbitrary, and generally determined by whether or not you fit enough criteria on the Asperger's checklist. The cool thing is that whether you fall on the Aspie side of the line or not, you can still use the same things that help officially-diagnosed Aspies because you face many of the same challenges. I've seen "NT with Aspie traits" type people hanging around with Aspies all the time--many "geeky engineer" types, drama/art majors, sci-fi and science buffs fit that category. The autism spectrum extends into the neurotypical quite a long way.


Calista, many thanks for that comment. "After a long time of social isolation it WOULD be hardwired" is an insight that I hadn't really had until you brought it up, and it really helps me to understand and accept myself. It simultaneously explains why AS characteristics seem so persistent and hard for me to change now that I'm nearing 40 years old, and it also allows room for hope that over a long period of time and effort I can change those characteristics.

I've recently spent lots of time with Aspies on all parts of the spectrum, and I think I am one of those 5% where my level of AS wiring at birth probably wouldn't have made me stand out too much if I developed otherwise normally. But because of my stutter and the lack of socialization due to that, I didn't learn as many compensating strategies and social skills as normally socialized people would have learned. So after living life this way I am for most purposes a genuine mild Aspie, but with the happy bonus that my troublesome AS characteristics may be a bit easier to make progress on than for other Aspies near me on the spectrum.

And as you mention, most of the strategies that apply to completely hardwired Aspies are also useful to me, so I have something of a roadmap for making progress.



Magicfly
Toucan
Toucan

User avatar

Joined: 16 Mar 2008
Age: 43
Gender: Female
Posts: 262
Location: Scotland

13 Aug 2008, 4:50 pm

This is a very interesting topic, especially as in my case, there is a very thin line in my diagnosis of what is, and what isn't, Aspergers/Social problems, and I think my psychologist wants to get to the bottom of it.

I didn't have a 'normal' upbringing, for some reason my family were obsessed with moving house, over and over, at an average of once a year every year, because of this, I started school a year later than peers of my age. My parents had no friends, and only 'socialised' by going to the pub together for a few hours. I was emotionally neglected by my mother.

Many years later I've come to understand that my father is undoubtedly aspie, and my mother exhibits all the signs of Dyspraxia, so I could never have had the 'normal' upbringing anyway.

My psych thinks my lack of desire to mix with people comes from this background, and not from Aspergers as she felt I communicate very well and seemed to be able to understand her (just because humans are born unable to intuitively play an instrument doesn't mean you cannot become skilled at playing one) I can work out most of the non-verbal cues, such as raised eyebrows, wide eyes, smiles and hand gestures in conversation, but I have a LOT of trouble with more neutral expressions, and as for long pauses, they completely loose me I never know what I'm meant to do.

I do not disagree with her assessment, ultimately it puts into perspective many of the difficulties I faced in the past. It's not easy to fit in at the best of times, then add in Apergers, and add in constant house moves, going to new countries, always a new life-routine, and suddenly it makes sense.....

I am aware my Aspergers is thankfully mild, and most of my issues are sensory. I think that's also what has given me a copious memory, and ability to draw, and play music. Until I got the diagnosis I never knew why I was so intellectually above-average, and yet so socially inept.