Kinda concerned... Some advice, please

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soler
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28 Nov 2010, 2:22 pm

Hello,
For some unknown reason, I have recently become interested in Asperger's Syndrome, and have been doing a lot of research on the subject. However - the more I read about it, the more it seems to me that I may have it. Though there are a few aspects which do not quite fit, a lot of it does make sense to me, and has got me concerned, in a way. I am therefore posting this rather long and expository "letter", in hope someone can offer some guidance or advice.
The symptoms which I seem to exhibit are the following:
- SOCIAL AWKWARDNESS: have been this way for as long as I can remember, and now - at 30 - I'm still a social pariah and hate being in a group of people larger than four. It results in the most awful claustrophobic feeling; I've also - from a young age - never liked being looked at, and will feel people's eyes on me, when probably they aren't even looking at me. I can also add I haven't the faintest clue about creating friendships, and am even more inept at maintaining them; this is due to a lack of trust and am rather cynical about people who want to be friends. I tend to be the reason for these relationships ending. Though I'm aware of the fact that I seem to create friendships easier with people who are much older than myself; I feel extremely uncomfortable around my peers. There is also no way for me to initiate a conversation; I almost always rely on the other person for that, and it is somewhat difficult to keep the conversation moving as most of the time I'm thinking of things to say. Small talk is almost impossible, as I have no idea what I'm supposed to be saying, and fear that I will say something that will make me seem stupid. Eye contact is not something I'm particularly comfortable with (since a young age), and I often find myself either blinking a lot, or my eyes will dart. Most often I find myself looking at the other person's mouth, or just below the eyes.
- INABILITY TO SHOW EMPATHY / AFFECTION: this is a huge factor. Unless the other person hugs first I will NEVER initiate any physical contact, and then - on my part - it's a stiff, one-armed hug. It just makes me uncomfortable. As for displays of sympathy - they are almost non-existent. I can never hug someone when they are crying, when they are sad, it's just impossible for me - not that I don't want to; on a certain level - I would really want to, but I just *can't*, so I normally end up just watching on as they cry, which makes me feel uncomfortable, and somewhat stupid. Something which just occurred to me recently, is that I know as a child I hated being hugged by my mother, family and used to promptly pull away.
- SENSITIVITY: I have become aware that sometimes my ears will start making a high-pitched humming sound when listening to some things too loudly (though I do on occasion like to listen to loud music) ; I cannot say that it is physically painful, but I know that it's hurting me, if that makes sense? Sometimes even the sound of the silence will cause the same sensation. Around crowds: all the talking becomes too much - all the voices talking and laughing - and it will irritate me to the point of anger, and I'll just have to leave the room to calm down. .. I also cannot tolerate the feel of certain sponges; if I do come in contact I will get it out of my hands as quickly as possible, but the feeling of it will make my jaw clench and throat tighten... it's a feeling I cannot describe properly. I remember once as a child, after a bath, my mother drying me with a towel that just made my skin crawl (it felt slimy) and I ended up crying.
- OBSESSIONS: I honestly can't recall any obsessions when I was younger. Though I did have a strange inclination to collect stones and rocks in primary school, going so far as to ruin my school uniform's pockets. Then there were the "staring episodes": I would get out all these photos of people I admired (and sometimes an object I really liked) and just stare for hours on end, concentrating on nothing else. As embarrassing as this is, I still do this. Recently (about 8-10 years now) I have noticed that I tend to become interested in a subject, then obsessively research my current mania, even going so far as to making cross-referenced notes, and doing weekly "checks" for new developments. I can also obsess about people, who do not exactly have any real impact on my life, but the obsession to know is still there; and this can apply to celebrities, artists, and will have me scouring the internet to find all there is to know. I've also got a habit to read telephone directories - this is also something I've done from a young age.
A somewhat "ritualistic" obsession would be tweezing (please do forgive the absurdity of this, and believe me when I say I feel like a complete idiot in disclosing this); I've always got a tweezer on me, and when the urge arises it's hard for me to stop myself; it's so bad that I've developed scars in some areas. I sometimes catch myself tweezing while in my car. When at times I am unable to tweeze I get anxious to the point of complete restlessness, and my fingers will feel strange.
- RITUALS: this is where I seem to doubt everything else; as I have come to understand that rituals and routine are very important for a person with AS; however, I cannot say that I have any rituals, or much of a routine either. On more of a trivial note, as a child I would have my mother read the same story to me every night - much to her dismay; I would also eat the same foods over and over again (I still do this); and had a particular t-shirt I would wear almost every day - also much to my mother's dismay!
- PHYSICAL AWKWARDNESS / CLUMSINESS: I would not say that I am clumsy, and not too sure if I'm awkward. I can say that sometimes (but not too often) I will sort of lose my balance for no reason whatsoever. It might be worth mentioning that I cannot hit a ball with a bat either, I have no co-ordination where that is concerned.
When it comes to reading 'how' people say things, I can at times have difficulty understanding just what it is they were saying. However, I don't generally take everything literally, and have a grasp of sarcasm. But when it comes to things that are even slightly ambiguous, I find myself in a flat spin, analyzing the phrase over and over, and it still doesn't make sense. So I find myself relaying the conversation to another person, just for them to interpret it for me; they of course cannot understand how I cannot understand. Facial expressions and body language: I don't know what to make of it all, as I am normally just so unsure about everything, I don't really trust what I see anyway.
On the sidelines: I've always been good with words, and am always trying to improve my vocabulary, my two favourite books are the dictionary and theasurus, you could say that they are a pair of obsessions. I also have an inclination to make lists, and re-write lists repeatedly. What I've also noticed is that I can repeatedly write the same word / phrase, to the point where it's been written on sheets and sheets of paper. This can also be applied to thoughts; often I find myself thinking the same thing repeatedly, and have to consciously make myself stop. And then sometimes I cannot formulate a single coherent thought and have difficulty concentrating; sometimes it's very hard for me to verbalise what I want to say. Also when reading, I have to re-read the same sentence over again, as I'll have difficulty concentrating on the words.
I can also "watch" the same movie repeatedly, to the point where it will be in my DVD player for days; this can be applied to songs as well, where I will listen to the same song literally for hours, until I get tired of it.
Finally, please do excuse this ramble, it's just that all of what I've read honestly has me wondering. I thank you for taking the time to read this, and any feedback will be greatly, greatly appreciated.
Sincerely,
Justine



ChrisVulcan
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28 Nov 2010, 2:30 pm

What the heck? That' almost exactly how I began considering a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Autistic behaviors as I heard them described didn't make any sense to me, so I did loads of research to try and make sense of it. I learned about Asperger's syndrome and realized that I related to a lot of the symptoms.


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28 Nov 2010, 2:38 pm

It definetly sounds like it. I wouldn't say clumsiness is a huge part of the diagnosis. Especially if you're no longer a kid, because a lot of people can fix that on there own by the time they get older. Hey, congrats, you're in good company with people like Einstein, Jefferson, Bill Gates, Spieldburg, and Issac Newton. And now you know that social skill problems aren't you're fault, and there are things you can do to work on them.



soler
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28 Nov 2010, 3:39 pm

Thank you thank you for your replies.
So then it would be something that I should investigate further? Because maybe sorta kinda in some probability I've got Asperger's? Is it something that one doctor / therapist can diagnose, or is it a "team effort" kind of thing?
Again - many thanks



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28 Nov 2010, 3:47 pm

soler wrote:
Thank you thank you for your replies.
So then it would be something that I should investigate further? Because maybe sorta kinda in some probability I've got Asperger's? Is it something that one doctor / therapist can diagnose, or is it a "team effort" kind of thing?
Again - many thanks

I'd look up online for a specialist. If there too expensive or they don't live nearby you, look at psychologist nearby who you think might be able to diagnose it. If you're not sure, call them and ask them how much experience they have with it.



soler
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28 Nov 2010, 3:51 pm

thanks, Yanks; I will do so :)



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28 Nov 2010, 3:56 pm

soler wrote:
thanks, Yanks; I will do so :)

Hey no problem, glad I can help :wink: . Good luck



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28 Nov 2010, 5:04 pm

soler wrote:
Though there are a few aspects which do not quite fit

All told, you're not missing very many.

soler wrote:
and any feedback will be greatly, greatly appreciated.

See a specialist -- and make sure it's a specialist.

You can also take two (very legitimate) on-line screening tests. These are quite likely to be the first things you would do with a specialist.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html

http://glennrowe.net/BaronCohen/Empathy ... tient.aspx

Good luck!


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28 Nov 2010, 5:05 pm

soler wrote:
- SOCIAL AWKWARDNESS: have been this way for as long as I can remember, and now - at 30 - I'm still a social pariah and hate being in a group of people larger than four. It results in the most awful claustrophobic feeling;


Social awkwardness in itself is not specific to AS. Neither is anxiety in large crowds. In fact a person could have AS and have no anxiety in large crowds.

soler wrote:
I've also - from a young age - never liked being looked at, and will feel people's eyes on me, when probably they aren't even looking at me. I can also add I haven't the faintest clue about creating friendships, and am even more inept at maintaining them; this is due to a lack of trust and am rather cynical about people who want to be friends.


Paranoia, suspicion, and cynicism as it relates to relationships with others, are not traits of AS. However they are traits of schizotypal personality disorder, which has some traits in common with AS.

soler wrote:
- INABILITY TO SHOW EMPATHY / AFFECTION: this is a huge factor. Unless the other person hugs first I will NEVER initiate any physical contact, and then - on my part - it's a stiff, one-armed hug. It just makes me uncomfortable. As for displays of sympathy - they are almost non-existent. I can never hug someone when they are crying, when they are sad, it's just impossible for me - not that I don't want to; on a certain level - I would really want to, but I just *can't*, so I normally end up just watching on as they cry, which makes me feel uncomfortable, and somewhat stupid. Something which just occurred to me recently, is that I know as a child I hated being hugged by my mother, family and used to promptly pull away.


While people with AS are often accused of lacking empathy, actually lacking empathy is not part of the AS diagnostic criteria, and unlikely to be a trait of AS. More often than not, when such an accusation is made, the person with AS just misinterpreted the situation. People with AS may have difficulty expressing they feel empathetic, however this is also not part of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV. Other disorder such as schizoid personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, schizoaffective personality disorder, and so on, may present with certain empathy expression/impairment traits.

soler wrote:
- SENSITIVITY: I have become aware that sometimes my ears will start making a high-pitched humming sound when listening to some things too loudly (though I do on occasion like to listen to loud music) ; I cannot say that it is physically painful, but I know that it's hurting me, if that makes sense? Sometimes even the sound of the silence will cause the same sensation.

This may be tinnitis. It can be caused by various things.


soler wrote:
- OBSESSIONS: I honestly can't recall any obsessions when I was younger. Though I did have a strange inclination to collect stones and rocks in primary school, going so far as to ruin my school uniform's pockets.


Why would anyone not collect them?

soler wrote:
- PHYSICAL AWKWARDNESS / CLUMSINESS: I would not say that I am clumsy, and not too sure if I'm awkward. I can say that sometimes (but not too often) I will sort of lose my balance for no reason whatsoever. It might be worth mentioning that I cannot hit a ball with a bat either, I have no co-ordination where that is concerned.


If you having ringing in the ears and tend to lose your balance for no reason, on occasion, you may have an inner ear problem. You should see an ENT specialist. It has been disputed whether clumsyness is actually a trait of AS. There is a thread about this somewhere on here. Hans Asperger observed that the children of which AS is based on, were physically clumsy. However that was not incorporated into the DSM-IV diagnostic critera (perhaps the other diagnostic scheme though) and so many who are not clumsy have been diagnosed with AS. I postulated that Hans Asperger was indeed observing a trait associated with a neurological disorder, and such individuals will be found as a subgroup amongst those with AS. I myself have this clumsyness, so to speak. I can hit a ball with a bat, however certain aspects of my motor coordination are impaired...for example I cannot put my own hair in a bun, I can't dance, and so on. I am not, however, tripping over me feet all of the time.

soler wrote:
When it comes to reading 'how' people say things, I can at times have difficulty understanding just what it is they were saying. However, I don't generally take everything literally, and have a grasp of sarcasm. But when it comes to things that are even slightly ambiguous, I find myself in a flat spin, analyzing the phrase over and over, and it still doesn't make sense. So I find myself relaying the conversation to another person, just for them to interpret it for me; they of course cannot understand how I cannot understand. Facial expressions and body language: I don't know what to make of it all, as I am normally just so unsure about everything


I think the "mind blind" thing is over rated. Few people with AS actually have true prosopagnosia and most of us, as adults anyway, know not everything is meant to be taken literally. Sometimes people are just a little too ambiguous or for one reason or other we miss something...

soler wrote:
I don't really trust what I see anyway.


Again, consider some type of schiz- personality disorder.

soler wrote:
On the sidelines: I've always been good with words, and am always trying to improve my vocabulary, my two favourite books are the dictionary and theasurus, you could say that they are a pair of obsessions.


While Hans Asperger observed those with AS to have high word fluency, and many studies have suggested that those with AS have high verbal IQ's, it is not part of the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV. It is quite an interesting feature in light of the tendencies to associate AS as being similar to HFA and the low verbal IQ and language delays among those with HFA.

soler wrote:
I also have an inclination to make lists, and re-write lists repeatedly. What I've also noticed is that I can repeatedly write the same word / phrase, to the point where it's been written on sheets and sheets of paper. This can also be applied to thoughts; often I find myself thinking the same thing repeatedly, and have to consciously make myself stop. And then sometimes I cannot formulate a single coherent thought and have difficulty concentrating; sometimes it's very hard for me to verbalise what I want to say. Also when reading, I have to re-read the same sentence over again, as I'll have difficulty concentrating on the words.


This is generally not a trait of AS, however may indicate something similar to OCD or ADD, or maybe you are just reading something boring.

I strongly suggest you read up on the schizotypal personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, and schizoaffective disorder.



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28 Nov 2010, 5:11 pm

To OP.

get a professional diagnosis. this beats having a possible hypochondria fit.

ruveyhn



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28 Nov 2010, 10:46 pm

soler wrote:
- INABILITY TO SHOW EMPATHY / AFFECTION: this is a huge factor. Unless the other person hugs first I will NEVER initiate any physical contact, and then - on my part - it's a stiff, one-armed hug. It just makes me uncomfortable. As for displays of sympathy - they are almost non-existent. I can never hug someone when they are crying, when they are sad, it's just impossible for me - not that I don't want to; on a certain level - I would really want to, but I just *can't*, so I normally end up just watching on as they cry, which makes me feel uncomfortable, and somewhat stupid.


I am not as uncomfortable with hugs as you are but I very rarely initiate physical contact, I also didn't know (and still don't really know) what to do when someone cries, but what I've been doing, which is between a hug and not touching at all, is pat (lightly) the person on the back or arm, and even then I am not sure what I should do exactly, I usually feel I can't do anything about whatever they are crying for/about, and for a hug the person would have to come to me and initiate it, then I can give them a hug.


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