Aspergers without outward social awkwardness?

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Zachwashere
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18 Apr 2018, 6:06 pm

Hello to all! This is my first post, therefore I apologize if this is not the appropriate thread for this subject.

I was wondering if it is at all possible for someone with Aspergers to show no outward signs of social awkwardness? I know this must sound like a silly question to some, but I am VERY new to the idea that I am autistic, and from what I've managed to gather from my own research it seems that being noticeably social inept is one of the hallmarks of any autism spectrum disorder.

I can't really remember my mother or other family members mentioning me having problems with social interactions as a kid, but virtually everything else I read on the subject of AS "ticks the box," for me: trouble with making and maintaining eye contact/stimming/need for routine/OCD/special inerest(s)/need for organization... Just not being noticeably awkward in social situations. Of course, that isn't to say that I don't feel awkward when interacting with others, especially when having to be around and hold a conversation with someone I don't know well, or don't know at all.

When in scenarios such as thoughs, I tend to get nervous and and can even loose my train of thought, and unless I'm talking to someone I know extremely well and am very comfortable with, I always feel awkward. Yet to my knowledge no one thinks I have any social issues.

I suppose what I am really trying to ask is: am I alone in that aspect, or are some of you the same way? And, if I am alone in that I don't present any outward signs of social inaccuity, could I just be misinterpreting AS for shyness?


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sunshinescj
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18 Apr 2018, 7:05 pm

You don't have to seem outwardly socially awkward to have Aspergers. If socializing is difficult/tiring for you, you could still have a deficit in social communication. Considering all the other symptoms seem to fit it's something to look into. If you only have sensory issues and OCD type symptoms, there is such a thing as sensory processing disorder which can be a standalone thing or occur with Aspergers/ASD. So you could have that and OCD. Have you taken the Aspie Quiz or RAADS-R online? Those might help you get a better idea if the diagnosis fits.



SplendidSnail
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18 Apr 2018, 7:18 pm

The diagnostic criteria of ASD states that symptoms "...may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life"

Based on this, I'd say it's entirely possible that, in your current day to day life, you might not visibly be presenting social awkwardness, but likely, if met with the right circumstances, you would.


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Zachwashere
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18 Apr 2018, 7:49 pm

The aspie test was actually what made me want to learn more about AS. My mother some how pulled it up on her phone while she was trying to look up a phone number before handing it to me so that I could find the number for her. I saw the test, and decided to take, if for nothing else than to pass time.

The instructions said a score of 32 or higher indicated a likelihood of Aspergers. I ended up scoring a 40. I got my mother, my cousin and her husband to take it and they all scored under 30.

The OCD aspect is obvious though. Nearly everyone who knows me well has mentioned to me that they think I have it. It's less of a compulsion to do certain repetitive actions because i feel like the earth is going to explode if I don't or something to that effect as it is a way for me to self soothe. Plus the more out of order things are the more overwhelmed I feel.


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18 Apr 2018, 7:53 pm

It's possible that if you are surrounded by really understanding people, you won't have social issues. Social issues come from the frustration of processing issues and trying to fit in with others who don't get how you think, or being so overwhelmed by sensory or emotion that you don't think to follow social expectations. I have some communities of people that I am extremely aware of having social deficits, and I have other communities that I totally forget I'm different than anyone else.



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18 Apr 2018, 7:59 pm

Also, this is a good example of the blurred nature of the definitions of labels. The difference between ASD, ADHD, OCD, NVLD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, and many more is very minimal if you look at them as outcomes of brain function as opposed to trying to classify symptoms.



SplendidSnail
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18 Apr 2018, 8:18 pm

Zachwashere wrote:
The aspie test...The instructions said a score of 32 or higher indicated a likelihood of Aspergers. I ended up scoring a 40. I got my mother, my cousin and her husband to take it and they all scored under 30.

Actually, the test you're referring to is the AQ (Autism Quotient) test. The Aspie Test is a different test, but has a similar purpose.

In case you're wondering, on the AQ test:
0-11 low result – indicating no tendency at all towards autistic traits.
11-21 is the average result that people get (many women average around 15 and men around 17)
22-25 shows autistic tendencies slightly above the population average
26-31 gives a borderline indication of an autism spectrum disorder. It is also possible to have aspergers or mild autism within this range.
32-50 indicates a strong likelihood of Asperger syndrome or autism.


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18 Apr 2018, 8:36 pm

Hello! Welcome to Wrongplanet! :D

Technically, "social awkwardness" has no clinical definition and is not pathological. However, due to issues with social reciprocity and nonverbal/verbal communication, it can often seem as though autistic people appear "socially awkward." I think SplendidSnail gave an excellent explanation of why you could still be autistic and not appear awkward in all social situations; that is, if we were to see you in the right situation, you would likely present with visible social deficits. Believe me, I have always thought that I perform fairly well socially, or that others were the odd ones, but it is only until recently that I have really begun to notice the discrepancy between how I interact socially compared to others. I still like to think I am not too bad though, just so I don't feel so isolated! So the fact that you aren't "socially awkward" really doesn't mean much at all.

I think it would be a great idea to conduct some more research on AS or take the RAADS-R or Aspie Quiz if you are unsure or want to learn more. Of course, nobody can diagnose you over the Internet, but these tests can give you a pretty decent idea as to whether or not you have ASD. If you haven't already, I also would recommend checking out the DSM-5 or ICD-10 criteria for Asperger's.

As for other conditions or possibilities such as shyness, I can tell you that shyness would most likely not cause the repetitive behaviors you describe. As for NVLD and sensory processing disorder- those technically do not exist, at least under the DSM-5. That isn't to say they are not real conditions and people don't have them; it just means that if you seek out a diagnosis, you most likely won't be diagnosed with either of those. As for OCD, it mainly all comes down to one question: Do the repetitive thoughts and behaviors cause extreme distress to the point where they interfere with your daily activities? That is, are the repetitive behaviors you exhibit a way to self-soothe, or are they merely a last resort to relieve extreme distress from the obsession/obsessive thinking? Oftentimes, autistic people can seem like they have OCD when the repetitive behaviors are really just part of the AS. Then again, OCD is often comorbid (occurs along with) AS, so it can be hard to draw the line between the two. In my case, repetitive behavior related to AS is much, much different from repetitive behavior related to my OCD.

Based on the symptoms which you described and your AQ test score, it is possible that you could have AS without the "social awkwardness" stereotype that people often think of when they hear Asperger's. I hope you can figure things out, and AS or not, you are always welcome here! :D


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SabbraCadabra
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18 Apr 2018, 8:57 pm

Zachwashere wrote:
When in scenarios such as thoughs, I tend to get nervous and and can even loose my train of thought, and unless I'm talking to someone I know extremely well and am very comfortable with, I always feel awkward. Yet to my knowledge no one thinks I have any social issues.

That sounds pretty socially awkward to me.

Other people probably just don't point it out to you, because they're trying to be polite.


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