Stimming due to mental sensations, not physical ones?

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roseblood
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23 May 2011, 6:24 am

I don't know if it's to do with having bad inattentive AD/HD, or something else, but I don't ever feel overwhelmed by physical sensations like sights or sounds, just impatient with them when they demand attention away from compulsive internal thoughts. Instead, while I've been much better with it since I started doing formal and informal mindfulness practices, I've always had a tendency to not notice or remember much in my external environment at all, unlike most ASDers. My mind has tended to be much 'louder' and 'brighter' and more real to me and I used to consider the real world, especially sensory or factual details irrelevant to getting the gist of something, extremely boring. With mindfulness I get much more satisfaction from noticing the physical world now when it's appropriate to have a quieter mind, but that's completely new, I don't remember it ever coming naturally.

When I stim, I've noticed that it's when I'm trying to focus on something or when too many unrelated or fragmented thoughts are racing in a way that creates confusion or tension. I never stim because I'm overwhelmed by physical sensation, except if you count trying to focus on the external world and trying to control the distracting internal one. But then, it's a failure to adequately engage with physical sensations, not a failure to tune them out. It's still a regulation/processing problem I suppose, but the opposite to most. I'm hypo-sensitive to everything around me, or otherwise it's simply being drowned out by mental noise. One of my favourite stims at the moment is smelling my fingers. It calms down my mind and enables me to choose one item for attention and somewhat successfully stay focused on it without great inner tension. So I do have some 'sensory abnormality' in the form of unusual sensory cravings, just not, thankfully, the hyper-sensitive kind.

Is anyone else like this, and if so what are your diagnoses? I am diagnosed with AD/HD, correctly IMO, but there is certainly more going on than that, including mild ASD I suspect. I know that the proposed DSM-V criteria include sensory stimming in the same category as hyper-sensitivities, and I know I have the sensory stimming urge to a significant and problematic degree, so I'm not asking if my stimming 'counts' as an ASD trait or not because I know it does. I'm just curious to know if it's in any way common to be a sensory stimmer and yet not also have hypersensitivities (or at least not have them always as the cause of the stimming).



Roman
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23 May 2011, 6:46 am

Yeah I am the same way. My Asperger makes me overfocus on various obsessions that go on in my mind; I don't have any problems with sensory stimuli. Just like in your case, I typically tend to be more oblivious to the sensory things than NT-s are, as I tend not to notice them. But I won't say I am "too" undersensitive either. For instance if it is really hot and I am thirsty or if I bumped onto something and it hurts, then I would know, and yes I WILL be focused on that. But unless it is something drastic like that, I tend to ignore outside things.



roseblood
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23 May 2011, 7:34 am

Roman wrote:
Yeah I am the same way. My Asperger makes me overfocus on various obsessions that go on in my mind; I don't have any problems with sensory stimuli. Just like in your case, I typically tend to be more oblivious to the sensory things than NT-s are, as I tend not to notice them. But I won't say I am "too" undersensitive either. For instance if it is really hot and I am thirsty or if I bumped onto something and it hurts, then I would know, and yes I WILL be focused on that. But unless it is something drastic like that, I tend to ignore outside things.

Thanks very much Roman, you'd be surprised (even I'm surprised!) how much of a relief it is to finally see someone else report that, though I'm not sure why I care so much, there's nothing wrong with being unique. Maybe the reason you don't see it much is just that people aren't as often going to make posts or threads about NOT having a particular trait. But in autism materials, I've never seen it acknowledged that anything other than hypersensitivity to something physical will cause someone to stim. And I've never seen an ASDer report being more oblivious to sensory things than the average NT, like me.

I'm not hypo-sensitive to things like thirst either, I didn't mean to suggest that, or that I literally experience the world as 'less bright' than most people do or don't experience sensation as intensely as most people when I do happen to focus on them. I meant that my mind seems to filter out a lot more data altogether than most people's does, and it makes mental phenomena feel more urgent and compelling than physical ones, encouraging me to focus on them instead. Thirst and other discomforts are experienced quickly because they're deemed important I suppose, but most neutral and positive sensations never get through to me consciously, as if my brain is particularly picky about which things out there are worth letting me know about. In fact, certain kinds of pain might be one thing I am somewhat hyper-sensitive to, I'd forgotten that. I very often can't open bottles, for example, or do other things requiring placing a lot of pressure on something, because I can't handle the pain. But I can't tell how much of that is due to physical differences, like being small and having VERY tiny hands and fingers.

If you don't mind sharing, do you have any other diagnoses, or significant AD/HD symptoms? I wonder if it's the combination of ASD and AD/HD that does that. Or maybe it depends on whether your personality leans towards being interested in concrete things or abstract ideas. I don't care about details that aren't obviously relevant to the big picture (possibly also an AD/HD thing) but at the same time I lose sight of the big picture easily when I engage in an activity or conversation, causing me to for example struggle to use the context of a situation to understand exactly what people mean or want. Maybe that's WHY I resist learning details, because I'm used to struggling to keep track of both simultaneously to solve a problem?



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23 May 2011, 10:39 am

Could be a combo of both, or just ADHD. My niece has severe ADHD (inattentive and hyperactive combined), and I suspect that most of her distractions are internal. Mine are external coming from my sensory issues. I am not inattentive, but I do get distracted by those things like noises in the background no one else seems to hear, but they are so loud for me. She thinks it is amusing that I can get distracted by those things, that even she doesn't notices. She loses attention more than anyone I know, but I do think it is because of internal stimulation rather than external (unless it is very obvious external stimuli). I do think that is pretty common with ADHD as well, but I could be wrong.



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23 May 2011, 11:10 am

My stimming is mostly due to mental sensations, anyway. I usually stim from contentment, anxiety, or just plain boredom.


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23 May 2011, 9:54 pm

roseblood wrote:
Thanks very much Roman, you'd be surprised (even I'm surprised!) how much of a relief it is to finally see someone else report that, though I'm not sure why I care so much, there's nothing wrong with being unique. Maybe the reason you don't see it much is just that people aren't as often going to make posts or threads about NOT having a particular trait.


Yeah that could be the case. I guess in my case, I simply assumed that perhaps 30% of aspies have sensory issues and the rest don't; so I was thinking "if I am part of 70% who don't have them, what is so amaizing about it?" But just recently when I was reading other people's posts it occured to me that the assumption I made about percentages was completely off. It is quite possible that over 90% have sensory issues; in this case, yes, the fact that I don't would be worth talking about. But I guess whenever I don't have something I just assume it is not common?

By the way this brings up another issue. Back in 1997 I was evaluated by Brina Siegel and she said my Asperger is very mild (I am milder than 99.5% of other aspies). But my everyday experience shows just the opposite. All of my social problems are far more severe than most other aspies. I don't have a single friend, I can't have small talk, I have SERIOUS problems interacting with people in the work place, and so forth. And at the same time, there is A LOT more than just 0.5% of people in this forum who say they are well adjusted socially (such as "yeah I had traits as a kid but I outgrew them" or "yeah I might be a bit awkward in situations I am not familiar with, but I get along with my friends" -- hello, in my case I would be lucky to have any friends to begin with!! !)

I think maybe I just found an answer why I was the mildest 0.5% Perhaps I am "milder" than most other aspies in a sense that I don't have sensory issues? If THAT is the reason, to me it SEEMS quite silly -- I would readilly trade all of my social problems with sensory issues if I had that chance. But who knows, maybe I just under-estimate just how bad it is to have sensory issues since I never had them? Perhaps these aspies who are well adjusted socially but have sensory issues will have the opposite attitude and THEY would be willing to have all of my social problems JUST to "get away" from all that sensory stuff? Maybe THATS why I am mild according to THEM? If so, then perhaps they also view Asperger as a "physical condition" rather than mental?

roseblood wrote:
But in autism materials, I've never seen it acknowledged that anything other than hypersensitivity to something physical will cause someone to stim. And I've never seen an ASDer report being more oblivious to sensory things than the average NT, like me.


Well, when they talk about reasons for stimming they keep talking about sensory issues, yes. But in most cases they don't even mention the reasons. They just plainly say "stimming". And in all these cases I kept "inserting" emotional (non-sensory) explanation. I was always thinking that aspies who stim because of sensory issues are not the "true" aspies, while in "true" situations the reasons are psychological. But again, perhaps I was projecting myself onto a definition of a "true aspie". When reading this thread I found most aspies DO talk about stimming for sensory reasons.

roseblood wrote:
I'm not hypo-sensitive to things like thirst either, I didn't mean to suggest that, or that I literally experience the world as 'less bright' than most people do or don't experience sensation as intensely as most people when I do happen to focus on them. I meant that my mind seems to filter out a lot more data altogether than most people's does, and it makes mental phenomena feel more urgent and compelling than physical ones, encouraging me to focus on them instead.


Yes, the same is true in my case. Perhaps part of it is that "my life" revolves around non-sensory things. I mean I am a physicist. So "how well I am doing" is mostly defined by how well MY WORK went. It is not just "my obsession"; it is reality, I am being evaluated based on "my work". And "my work" is not physical. I don't work in a lab. I work on piece of paper doing calculations.

Then there is another part of my "happiness" which has to do with how much I am accepted socially. Due to Asperger I feel very rejected and it bothers me. Now, there is nothing "physical" that happens to me as a result of rejection. It is not like I am in a desert and I am being told "no you can't have water because you are not social enough". The way rejection affects me is purely EMOTIONAL.

So I guess the combination of my work and rejection and everything in between, it is a reality that I am dealing with emotional stuff rather than sensory. Now, in the rare occasions when my work is just perfect (all of the deeper physics questions get answered) AND I am completely accepted by everyone around me; then yes, all of a sudden I would begin to notice the birds singing and stuff like that. But it is very rare for me to be in such a state of mind. Usually there ARE emotional things i have to deal with.

roseblood wrote:
Thirst and other discomforts are experienced quickly because they're deemed important I suppose, but most neutral and positive sensations never get through to me consciously, as if my brain is particularly picky about which things out there are worth letting me know about.


Yeah that is how I operate. My brain tells me the "important" things that are "worth letting me know" (hunger, thirst, and so forth) and skips the rest.

roseblood wrote:
In fact, certain kinds of pain might be one thing I am somewhat hyper-sensitive to, I'd forgotten that. I very often can't open bottles, for example, or do other things requiring placing a lot of pressure on something, because I can't handle the pain. But I can't tell how much of that is due to physical differences, like being small and having VERY tiny hands and fingers.


This makes sense. Especially when I was younger I was "hypersensitive" to carrying heavy backpack, but that was because I was physically weak.

roseblood wrote:
If you don't mind sharing, do you have any other diagnoses, or significant AD/HD symptoms? I wonder if it's the combination of ASD and AD/HD that does that. Or maybe it depends on whether your personality leans towards being interested in concrete things or abstract ideas. I don't care about details that aren't obviously relevant to the big picture (possibly also an AD/HD thing) but at the same time I lose sight of the big picture easily when I engage in an activity or conversation, causing me to for example struggle to use the context of a situation to understand exactly what people mean or want. Maybe that's WHY I resist learning details, because I'm used to struggling to keep track of both simultaneously to solve a problem?


I do have ADHD traits.I was never diagnosed with ADHD though. My guess is that probably they didn't diagnose me because the criteria for ADHD specifically rules out Asperger. But then again, this is just my guess; we never discussed ADHD diagnosis so the subject simply never came up.

But anyway, I do have a lot of traits. In particular, I make careless mistakes in my physics work -- silly computational mistakes (such as minus times minus is minus, forgetting to copy certain terms of the equations, and so forth), gramatical mistakes, when editting some part of the work out, forgetting erase it completely, and so forth. Also, back when I was in college I had trouble taking multiple choice exams. Even if I know the material very well, I would give a wrong answer simply because one of the choices seems "almost correct" and I wouldn't notice the detail in which it is wrong (and I won't have patience to read all of the answers to stop and notice there is another "correct" one).

Even without multiple choice, I tend to do bad on "easy" exams. This is a combination of two things. FIrst of all, if exam is "easy" I just take it for granted I will get everything right, and instead I focus on how fast I do it so that I finish on time (after all an easy exam would have more problems than hard exam would). Secondly, there is some amount of careless mistakes I would make REGARDLESS If exam is easy or hard. But if the exam is "hard" then I can "make up" for having made careless mistakes by the fact that I knew how to approach the problem (which other students don't know). But if it is "easy" there is no real way of making up for careless mistakes (after all EVERYONE knows how to approach a problem when it comes to easy test) so carelessness is more than enough to give me B instead of an A.

Not paying attention to details carries over to other things too. For example I often lose things. Now, I never lost passport or anything like that, since passport is "important". But I routinely lose pens and pencils, and have to buy new ones. There were few occasions when I lost notebooks or even textbooks. I also broke my laptop because it accidentally fell on the floor few times. My stuff tends to be very disorganized. I tend to carry a lot of papers in my backpack and it is very hard to find a particular paper when I have to look for it. Instead, I keep printing the papers I need over and over, simply because I don't have patience to look for the hard copies I already have lying around somewhere.

I think part of my social problems might be attributed to not paying attention to details. Saying "hi" or smiling are "details" and, therefore, "not important". And if i talk, the tone in which I talk is also a "detail" so it is also "not important". But people tend to judge me for those.



roseblood
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24 May 2011, 4:29 am

Roman wrote:
By the way this brings up another issue. Back in 1997 I was evaluated by Brina Siegel and she said my Asperger is very mild (I am milder than 99.5% of other aspies). But my everyday experience shows just the opposite. All of my social problems are far more severe than most other aspies. I don't have a single friend, I can't have small talk, I have SERIOUS problems interacting with people in the work place, and so forth. And at the same time, there is A LOT more than just 0.5% of people in this forum who say they are well adjusted socially (such as "yeah I had traits as a kid but I outgrew them" or "yeah I might be a bit awkward in situations I am not familiar with, but I get along with my friends" -- hello, in my case I would be lucky to have any friends to begin with!! !)

I think maybe I just found an answer why I was the mildest 0.5% Perhaps I am "milder" than most other aspies in a sense that I don't have sensory issues? If THAT is the reason, to me it SEEMS quite silly -- I would readilly trade all of my social problems with sensory issues if I had that chance. But who knows, maybe I just under-estimate just how bad it is to have sensory issues since I never had them? Perhaps these aspies who are well adjusted socially but have sensory issues will have the opposite attitude and THEY would be willing to have all of my social problems JUST to "get away" from all that sensory stuff? Maybe THATS why I am mild according to THEM? If so, then perhaps they also view Asperger as a "physical condition" rather than mental?

There's a thread a few pages back about how severity should be defined. The conclusion seemed to be that like IQ scores, it's only useful to have more than one scale, for different issues, not one that supposedly sums everything up. Many checklists count the number of symptoms without factoring in how frequently they occur or to what degree, and don't clearly ask about certain symptoms at all. Some checklists measure a certain category of symptoms with one or two questions while another checklist might have a whole section devoted to different manifestations of that category, so if most of someone's problems are in that category their severity will get rated very differently by one than the other.

Measures of overall impairment have their own problems. For example, from what you say, you're a good physicist, and you've clearly got good verbal communication skills as well, and you've a successful career. Most Aspies (or at least, most diagnosed Aspies, whom she'd be comparing you to) have not. In fact most of us are unemployed according to some statistics, although some of that is due to comorbid conditions like ADHD and dyspraxia narrowing your range of doable jobs even further, rather than the ASD itself, as it was in my case when I was unemployed (I'm still under-employed, and still afraid that most jobs would be too hard for me because of the particular combination of difficulties interacting in unfortunate ways, rather than the severity of any one of them alone). Sometimes doctors lump commonly comorbid conditions like these together and consider them part of the autism, and if the impairment from them isn't separated from the ASD impairment (not always easy, I know) the average impairment caused by high functioning ASDs is going to be over-estimated, and consequently the relative severity of the ASD in people with no impairing comorbids under-estimated.

You also have only minor problems with examinations, without needing a room to yourself in order to finish etc. as far as I can tell. If her severity scale was designed to measure how well you've done academically or how well you support yourself financially without needing accommodations, it's probably accurate. However as you suggest, that's not all that matters. Other Aspies and Auties of equal intelligence might have picked up more social skills than you have and have better social and family relationships, but struggle much more to find a job that they can do well without suffering dangerous levels of stress, due to their need for strict routines and predictability or sensory issues or tendency to lose control of emotions. Others have friends but have a disastrous history of traumatic romantic relationships and child rearing. Others do rather well at all these things, but the stress involved in suppressing autistic behaviours and having to think about so many things in social situations makes them unhappy and leads to mental illness and/or self-destructive behaviour, affecting their quality of life much more than in someone who can't perform or mimic the same skills but doesn't have to stress themselves out trying too hard because it's not necessary in their circumstances or because more reasonable expectations are placed on them by themselves or others.

Quote:
Then there is another part of my "happiness" which has to do with how much I am accepted socially. Due to Asperger I feel very rejected and it bothers me. Now, there is nothing "physical" that happens to me as a result of rejection. It is not like I am in a desert and I am being told "no you can't have water because you are not social enough". The way rejection affects me is purely EMOTIONAL.

So I guess the combination of my work and rejection and everything in between, it is a reality that I am dealing with emotional stuff rather than sensory. Now, in the rare occasions when my work is just perfect (all of the deeper physics questions get answered) AND I am completely accepted by everyone around me; then yes, all of a sudden I would begin to notice the birds singing and stuff like that. But it is very rare for me to be in such a state of mind. Usually there ARE emotional things i have to deal with.

I can't recommend mindfulness practice highly enough for emotional problems and for becoming able to notice, pay attention to and appreciate different kinds of things than your habits dictate. It might even help you socially, insofar as I can pay attention to people now, and notice and remember things about them, and I'm better at seeing things from others' point of view intuitively when I'm applying mindfulness and equanimity, maybe because my mind isn't as busy and racing with its own reactions to reactions to reactions. Somehow, mindfulness practice has been shown to increase the density of a part of the brain associated with empathy, though how it has anything to do with that part of the brain is not at all apparent.

Quote:
I do have ADHD traits.I was never diagnosed with ADHD though. My guess is that probably they didn't diagnose me because the criteria for ADHD specifically rules out Asperger. But then again, this is just my guess; we never discussed ADHD diagnosis so the subject simply never came up.

But anyway, I do have a lot of traits. In particular, I make careless mistakes in my physics work -- silly computational mistakes (such as minus times minus is minus, forgetting to copy certain terms of the equations, and so forth), gramatical mistakes, when editting some part of the work out, forgetting erase it completely, and so forth. Also, back when I was in college I had trouble taking multiple choice exams. Even if I know the material very well, I would give a wrong answer simply because one of the choices seems "almost correct" and I wouldn't notice the detail in which it is wrong (and I won't have patience to read all of the answers to stop and notice there is another "correct" one).

Even without multiple choice, I tend to do bad on "easy" exams. This is a combination of two things. FIrst of all, if exam is "easy" I just take it for granted I will get everything right, and instead I focus on how fast I do it so that I finish on time (after all an easy exam would have more problems than hard exam would). Secondly, there is some amount of careless mistakes I would make REGARDLESS If exam is easy or hard. But if the exam is "hard" then I can "make up" for having made careless mistakes by the fact that I knew how to approach the problem (which other students don't know). But if it is "easy" there is no real way of making up for careless mistakes (after all EVERYONE knows how to approach a problem when it comes to easy test) so carelessness is more than enough to give me B instead of an A.

Not paying attention to details carries over to other things too. For example I often lose things. Now, I never lost passport or anything like that, since passport is "important". But I routinely lose pens and pencils, and have to buy new ones. There were few occasions when I lost notebooks or even textbooks. I also broke my laptop because it accidentally fell on the floor few times. My stuff tends to be very disorganized. I tend to carry a lot of papers in my backpack and it is very hard to find a particular paper when I have to look for it. Instead, I keep printing the papers I need over and over, simply because I don't have patience to look for the hard copies I already have lying around somewhere.

I think part of my social problems might be attributed to not paying attention to details. Saying "hi" or smiling are "details" and, therefore, "not important". And if i talk, the tone in which I talk is also a "detail" so it is also "not important". But people tend to judge me for those.

I realised after asking you that if you pay very little attention to your environment or details, it would be impossible NOT to have some symptoms of ADHD. There are other cognitive traits associated with ADHD, like low working memory capacity, slow processing speed and difficulty deliberately shifting attention smoothly and efficiently, and most people with ADHD don't have all them, suggesting that there isn't just one underlying cognitive cause for the symptoms or disorder. Your brain isn't prioritising items for your attention very well, if you do care about being organised and keeping things safe but can't because your brain isn't presenting you with the right data at the right time. ADHD is about poor regulation of attention, which can be caused by several different more specific deficits, and you do sound like you have problems with attention regulation, whether problematic enough to meet the definition of a 'disorder' I wouldn't know. Most people, I've learned, automatically and unconsciously keep checking whether they are still working towards the goal they started off with, how quickly they're making progress etc., hence, they return from distractions more quickly and don't have to consciously remind themselves what they're supposed to be doing every few seconds. It's all automatic and relatively effortless, so only when very bored or fatigued does an NT actually have to try to concentrate. ADHDers don't have to be very bored to struggle, merely to have other things that would be even slightly more stimulating to an underactive brain region in that moment, because there's little unconscious checking for being on-task, just unconscious checking for maximum stimulation. I find typing here stimulating, but if at any moment it stops being stimulating enough, my brain automatically presents me with something else whether welcome or not. It does the searching unconsciously.



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24 May 2011, 6:41 am

roseblood wrote:
Measures of overall impairment have their own problems. For example, from what you say, you're a good physicist, and you've clearly got good verbal communication skills as well, and you've a successful career. Most Aspies (or at least, most diagnosed Aspies, whom she'd be comparing you to) have not. In fact most of us are unemployed according to some statistics, although some of that is due to comorbid conditions like ADHD and dyspraxia narrowing your range of doable jobs even further, rather than the ASD itself, as it was in my case when I was unemployed (I'm still under-employed, and still afraid that most jobs would be too hard for me because of the particular combination of difficulties interacting in unfortunate ways, rather than the severity of any one of them alone). Sometimes doctors lump commonly comorbid conditions like these together and consider them part of the autism, and if the impairment from them isn't separated from the ASD impairment (not always easy, I know) the average impairment caused by high functioning ASDs is going to be over-estimated, and consequently the relative severity of the ASD in people with no impairing comorbids under-estimated.


I guess few things need to be clarified regarding my situation. First of all, the evaluation by Brina Siegel was back in 1997. Back then I was still in high school (I was 17). So the issues you are describing were still in the future.

Now, regarding my present situation, it is not so bright. I guess I am unique in a sense that I am sheltered by my mom, who is basically wiling to pay my way to do physics. So, because of this, I was never seeking any employment outside physics, since this would have taken my time away from my career.

This being said, back in graduate school there was a "job" that all graduate students are offered, which is basically being "teaching assistant". I "lost" that job when there were too many complaints regarding the way I interacted with students. Basically, whenever I was explaining to them things that I found "easy" I kept raising my voice without noticing it; also there were complaints that I wasn't paying enought attention to the students.

After I lost my teaching assistantship I was getting money for grading papers, which didn't require interaction with students. Now when people grade they typically record it on spreadshit. But I was always too lazy to learn things about computers, including spreadshit (I also dont' know how to do other simple things, like scan pictures for example). Usually professors were understanding when I was recording the grades on piece of paper by hand. But then few years down the road I ran on a professor who got angry that I didn't use spreadshit despite having been repeatedly told so. And from that point on I lost my grading position.

So basically I started graduate school in 2001. I was only "teaching" for one semester, Fall 2001, and then I "lost" the position. Then I was "grading" between Spring 2002 and Spring 2006. Then in Spring 2006 I lost grading position as well. And then my mom PAYED all of my expenses starting from Fall 2006 till Spring 2009 when I finally graduated. Yes I lived far away from home (my mom was in California and I was in Michigan). But my mom was paying my monthly rent ($450 per month) and was also sending me additional $500 so that I can get myself food every month.

Apart from having lost the financial support, I also put myself in a situation hwere they were trying to expell me from graduate school in Spring 2006. Basically when I was in graduate school I didn't nkow the "rules of the game". I assumed that it was about "courses" while research was secondary (after all the only information that goes on my transcript are the courses that I took and the grades). So I was taking lots of courses, was getting good grades, but at the same time neglecting research. This ruined my reputation and eventually they decided to kick me out. And I was like "how can they be allowed to make such decisions based on reputation which is not even part of the transcript"

Well technically they didn't "kick me out" but they said "get yourself a thesis advisor within set period of time, and if you fail to do so we will kick you out". But here is a catch: no one wanted to be my advisor because of my bad reputation. Eventually I found a retired professor who agreed to be my advisor, hence I stayed in school. But that professor was not even in my field -- he works on car safety while I want to do quantum gravity! So basically he took me just to "rescue me". Eventually I found co-advisor from another school that is in quantum gravity. It is allowed to get an advisor from another school as long as he is one of the TWO advisors and the other advisor is from my own school.

But the "other school" I got co-advisor from (University of Mississippi) ranks a lot lower than my original school (Michgan). And, besides, this left me without financial support: the guy from Michigan couldn't support me because he is a retired professor while the guy from Mississippi couldn't support me because I am not a student in his school. What this meant is that, as I said, my mom had to keep sending me money.

It should also be noticed that the retired professor from Michigan has spoken with my mom during noe of her numerous visits when she was trying to "save" me from being expelled. So who knows, if my mom wasn't there, perhaps he wouldn't have taken me on. Now, as for Mississippi advisor, yes, I found him on my own. But like I said, it wouldn't have helped me to stay in school if I haven't found a prof at MY place and THAT is the part which I probalby wouldn't have done without my mom's help.

Now, partly because of the quality of my advisor, and partly because of lack of publications (the fact that publications are important is another "rule of the game" that I "didn't know") I was not very competitive candidate when it comes to getting postdoc position (the temporary job people have AFTER receiving ph.d.). Thats why the only place I COULD get my postdoc was in India which is why I am there despite my having done all of the college and grad school in USA.

Now in India things weren't that smooth eitehr. I have allienated my professor during the first few days I got there. And, as a result, I spent my two years there in isolation. I was the only postdoc there whose original two-year-appointment wasn't extended to the third year. Also, I could not get any postdoc position anywhere else no matter how many places I applied to. I finally got myself a Visitting postiion at a new place, also in India. But that was basically done because one of the profs from the old place decided to make a phone call to one of his friends in a new place who is, apparently, quite influencial. Now, I am sure that the reason the person in the old place wanted to help me is because my mom made a good impression on him during her visit (even though she only made ONE visit -- she coudln't afford visitting more). After all, BEFORE my mom's visit he was refusing to help me.

Finally another issue I got in India is that I got scammed really badly. I lost $8000 to the scammer. But my Indian salary is only around $300 per month. So I got a huge credit card loan and my mom payed it all off.

So basically as you see, my mom pretty much payed my way through things. When I read what other aspies are saying, they don't have this kind of benefit; on the contrary I usually read complaints that their family is not supportive enough. That is also what makes me think my Asperger is more severe: how come my Asperger is obvious to my mom (enough so that she is willing to shelter me) while otehr people's Asperger is not obvious to their parents? And how come other people with Asperger are able to do SOMETHING with their life DESPITE not having their parents support?

But then again, perhaps the reason I am "more severe" is BECAUSE I was sheltered. Then one can make an argument that if I was in the same situation as other aspies I would have been able to "pick up" the stuff they did through trial and error but my mom's sheltering held me back?

roseblood wrote:
You also have only minor problems with examinations, without needing a room to yourself in order to finish etc. as far as I can tell. If her severity scale was designed to measure how well you've done academically or how well you support yourself financially without needing accommodations, it's probably accurate.


Like I said, there are three things to take into account:

1) Back at the time she gave me an examination I was only 17, so supporting myself financially was not in the picture

2) As you can see from what I described happening later on (I am 31 right now) oftentimes my mom was paying my way; so technically I "supported myself financially" between ages 21 and 26 through grading position. Then at 26 I lost that position and my mom payed my way between 26 and 29. Then I again got payed job at 29 which I still have now (I am 31). But at the same time I got scammed so my Indian salary I was getting was ten times smaller than the credit card loan I got due to scam and my mom had to pay that.

3) Back at 17 when I was tested I WAS in fact doing very well academically. Back then I was taking college math and college physics, while I was still in high school. And yes, the test thing is quite minor. But this all changed at 21, when I started graduate school. From that point on, the coruses/grades were no longer important and research was important instead. But, because research is not on a transcript, I continued to assume it is about courses/grades, hence I started to screw up because I was playing by the "wrong rules". As a result, it took me 8 years to finish graduate school (I got Ph.D. at 29) which is MORE than a typical time of 5-6 years people take. This shculd be contrasted with how I USED to be ahead (I took only 3 years in high school and managed to do lots of college math and physics during these three years, and then i spent again only 3 in college and did 8 graduate courses during these 3 years).

roseblood wrote:
However as you suggest, that's not all that matters. Other Aspies and Auties of equal intelligence might have picked up more social skills than you have and have better social and family relationships, but struggle much more to find a job that they can do well without suffering dangerous levels of stress, due to their need for strict routines and predictability or sensory issues or tendency to lose control of emotions.


I don't have issues that you just listed. Consequently, I would gladly TAKE a job if it is offered to me. But the problem is that it is very hard to get an offer, probably because I make bad impressions socially.

roseblood wrote:
Others have friends but have a disastrous history of traumatic romantic relationships and child rearing.


In my case it didn't even get to a point of "child rearing". I spent A LOT of time trying to "manufactuere a girlfriend" by visitting dating sites. As I now see, it takes approximately a yaer to successfully get a girlfriend, which is considerably longer time than it would take for most people. I had only two long term girlfriends: Sarah (I started at 23 and ended at 24) and Jennifer (I started at 27 and ended at 29). In neither case it got far enough to the point of marriage or child rearing.

roseblood wrote:
Others do rather well at all these things, but the stress involved in suppressing autistic behaviours and having to think about so many things in social situations makes them unhappy and leads to mental illness and/or self-destructive behaviour, affecting their quality of life much more than in someone who can't perform or mimic the same skills but doesn't have to stress themselves out trying too hard because it's not necessary in their circumstances or because more reasonable expectations are placed on them by themselves or others.


I guess I am different from them in a sense that I never actually "tried" to fit in socially. But at the same time I DO spend a lot of mental energy obsessing abuot my social failings. So basically I am doing whatever I am NATURALLY doing, but then whenever I mess up I would obsess about that mess up for a very long time.

I guess I am a lot more obsessive than practical. Another such example is that, back at the time I was using dating sites, I was obsessed how it is "unfair" that people judge me for not having pic in my profile all because I "dont know how to use the scanner". I was too lazy to actually learn how to use the scanner (I didn't know what the first step was); but at the same time I was more than willing to spend long amounts of time on dating site. Logically, this time could have been SAVED if I were to learn to use scanner. But at the same time I cuoldn't learn it because I didn't want to "take time".

I guess maybe with social skills it is the same thing? I am willing to obsess about why certain social behaviors are wrong and why people judge me for certain things; but I never get around to actually paying attention to these details when I am in the process of interacting or pushing myself to improve? But at the same time all the time I spend obsessing about my social failings DOES mess me up quite a bit.Part of a reason why I screwed up in school to the ponit of nearly being expelled is because of all the time I spent on dating sites. Why did I do it? Well because I felt "inferior" due to my aspieness and I wanted to improve my self esteem by finding a girlfriend. Now I see it was a big mistake.

roseblood wrote:

I can't recommend mindfulness practice highly enough for emotional problems and for becoming able to notice, pay attention to and appreciate different kinds of things than your habits dictate. It might even help you socially, insofar as I can pay attention to people now, and notice and remember things about them, and I'm better at seeing things from others' point of view intuitively when I'm applying mindfulness and equanimity, maybe because my mind isn't as busy and racing with its own reactions to reactions to reactions. Somehow, mindfulness practice has been shown to increase the density of a part of the brain associated with empathy, though how it has anything to do with that part of the brain is not at all apparent.


Yeah it makes sense. I mean the way I mess up socially is precisely because one of the "details" I am doing seems to put people off. So if I were tp pay attention to details as much as they do, I would have been on the same page, and then I wont do things that put them off.

I guess one thing I don't get about others is why do they ruin my LIFE over my doing one of the DETAILS wrong? Like for example, back at the expulsion time, a lot of professors refused to work with me because, as soon as I were to go onto a long monologue about the kind of physics *I* am interested in, they would read me as saying I am not interested in their work. From my point of view "yes I am interested; just because your interests dont EXACTLY match mine doesn't mean anything; besides, even in HYPOTHETICAL situation if I was disinterested, isn't it still worth it to try to do it anyway, since it would keep me in school?"

But I guess for whatever reason I don't understand, the proefssors wouldn't agree with me here. Perhaps TO THEM what is important is "atmosphere". So they would expect me, out of social politeness, to "come across" interested, to make them "feel good". Since I didn't make them "feel good" that was more important to them than the fact that I was about to be EXPELLED. I guess the bigger picture is that for me it is important to go from A to B. I don't want to be expelled, so I will do whatever I am told to do. But for NT-s they don't just care about going from A to B. They want all these nice little thinsg that make them feel appreciated. So maybe if I practice "mindfulness" I will do these little things and this will make NT-s more wiling in helping me to go from A to B.

roseblood wrote:

I realised after asking you that if you pay very little attention to your environment or details, it would be impossible NOT to have some symptoms of ADHD. There are other cognitive traits associated with ADHD, like low working memory capacity, slow processing speed and difficulty deliberately shifting attention smoothly and efficiently, and most people with ADHD don't have all them, suggesting that there isn't just one underlying cognitive cause for the symptoms or disorder.


As far as memory goes, my memory is quite good, since I usually remember A LOT of things pertaingin to my obsessions. I am not a savant so there is nothing amaising, but iti s good. At the same time, however, my memory might be very bad when it comes to other things. For instance I don't remember people's names (like right now at a new school I came to, I only remember the names of two professors who invited me here, and thats it), I don't remember peoples birthdays or anything like that. So I guess it has more to do with my not paying attention to things I don't consider important rather than memory capacity.

As far as my processing speed, I would say that my mind works fast when I am dealing with information I already have (such as solving a very difficult physics problem which does not require my "looking up" more information); but at the same time I might be slow processing information comming from outside -- I get lost very easilly while watching a movie, and also I read very slowly (but slow reading might be attributed to lack of practice).

As far as problem shifting attention yes that is very much true about me. But that might be more about "overfocussing" than "lack of attention"; in other words, more aspie than ADHD.

roseblood wrote:
Your brain isn't prioritising items for your attention very well, if you do care about being organised and keeping things safe but can't


Well in my case I am simply "not caring" about being organized UNTIL I have to find something and can't. Like when I finish working with something I just put it at a random place. Usually that is fine, because I am used to picking things up at whatever random place I put them. But sometimes I end up not finding it and in these situations, of course, I WISH I was more organized.

roseblood wrote:
Most people, I've learned, automatically and unconsciously keep checking whether they are still working towards the goal they started off with, how quickly they're making progress etc., hence, they return from distractions more quickly and don't have to consciously remind themselves what they're supposed to be doing every few seconds. It's all automatic and relatively effortless, so only when very bored or fatigued does an NT actually have to try to concentrate. ADHDers don't have to be very bored to struggle, merely to have other things that would be even slightly more stimulating to an underactive brain region in that moment, because there's little unconscious checking for being on-task, just unconscious checking for maximum stimulation. I find typing here stimulating, but if at any moment it stops being stimulating enough, my brain automatically presents me with something else whether welcome or not. It does the searching unconsciously.


I usually remember what I was supposed to be doing. But sometimes I have other things that are "more stimulating". And then I keep feeling bad about the amount of time they take and at the same time keep doing them. Like when I have more than one physics project. I know I am supposed to finish project A, but I can't help the fact that my brain thinks about project B. And, of course, internet is even better example. When I am typing a response, I am usually long winded so it takes a lot of time. I am aware of the amount of time it takes and yet can't help the compulsion to keep typing.



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24 May 2011, 8:12 am

I get a lot of support and patience from my mum as well, and it raises those questions for me too. How capable am I, actually, of independence, I don't really know because I've not had to fend for myself much. Was she always so much slower to loosen control over me than my sister because of her own reasons and circumstances when I was growing up, or because of how I seemed? At the moment, some people seem to notice that I'm different more quickly than others. Some have said I seem like I must be mild or that they wouldn't have known, including my best friend, but it depends on the context in which they know me and on how familiar they are with high functioning ASDs, and whether they're interested in any of my current or past interests and how happy they happen to be to let me talk about them and take conversations into the territory I'm comfortable with. Some ASD females in particular are better at eventually learning the rules than most, and being genuinely interested in the rules too, and better at social mimicry, and those have been big advantages. I really thought and read about human interaction and psychology a lot as a teenager, it became an obsession. I can even usually pass for confident and normal now over the phone where I work in a call centre (cold calling of all things), but it took a LOT of listening to colleagues and practice to get it right. Now I've got the hang of it I cringe about how bad I was when I started, but I didn't realise just how stilted and awkward and un-call-centre-like I sounded at the time, even though I obviously had heard people in similar positions on the phone many times, or that everyone new to the job wouldn't have the same level of problem at first (I've since observed that they don't).

Roman wrote:

I guess one thing I don't get about others is why do they ruin my LIFE over my doing one of the DETAILS wrong? Like for example, back at the expulsion time, a lot of professors refused to work with me because, as soon as I were to go onto a long monologue about the kind of physics *I* am interested in, they would read me as saying I am not interested in their work. From my point of view "yes I am interested; just because your interests dont EXACTLY match mine doesn't mean anything; besides, even in HYPOTHETICAL situation if I was disinterested, isn't it still worth it to try to do it anyway, since it would keep me in school?"

Rejection, as you've said, can be painful. It could be that they had their own psychological issues and over-reacted as a result, and/or rather than wanting to punish you, they just thought working with you would be too stressful. If someone makes you angry or uncomfortable it can be difficult to concentrate on working with them and not letting your irritation show or getting into confrontations that can cause the working relationship to fall apart. I have also heard that Physics graduates seem to have worse social skills on average than most people (some have even said The Big Bang Theory isn't actually exaggerating what they're often like), and probably a higher rate of ASDs, and maybe you clashed with them for that reason: professors with better social skills and empathy of their own might have seen that you didn't have bad intentions and have worked out how best to work and communicate with you. By the way, I'm trying to make you feel better by helping you work out what happened, not trying to "side with" them. :)

Quote:
As far as memory goes, my memory is quite good, since I usually remember A LOT of things pertaingin to my obsessions. I am not a savant so there is nothing amaising, but iti s good. At the same time, however, my memory might be very bad when it comes to other things. For instance I don't remember people's names (like right now at a new school I came to, I only remember the names of two professors who invited me here, and thats it), I don't remember peoples birthdays or anything like that. So I guess it has more to do with my not paying attention to things I don't consider important rather than memory capacity.

Working memory is different, it's about the number of chunks of information you can keep stored in the background of your mind at once and for how many seconds, readily accessible for use in problem solving. It's usually tested by seeing how many digits or letters a person can remember in order immediately after hearing them. Very poor working memory leads to difficulty in things including planning, understanding lengthy instructions or detailed explanations, and mental arithmetic. However some people have poor visual working memory but good auditory working memory or vice versa, and some people do differently in formal tests of working memory than they do in the real world with its different contexts and different kinds of data to be held in mind, and more complicated processing required than simply storing and repeating in order.

Quote:
As far as problem shifting attention yes that is very much true about me. But that might be more about "overfocussing" than "lack of attention"; in other words, more aspie than ADHD.

It's an ADHD thing as well. Attention can't be sustained OR shifted at will very easily. It jumps about seeking stimulation, gets stuck when it finds it, and jumps again when it loses it. Some people would prefer it to be called Attention Regulation Disorder instead for this reason. Being interrupted without being given a few seconds to adjust before having to process something new (e.g. when someone tells you something important without checking that you've had a chance to completely refocus on them yet) when highly focused on something can cause an irritated outburst in an ADHDer because it causes inner chaos while the brain starts to change direction/shift gears but has to fight against the momentum that's built up.

Quote:
I usually remember what I was supposed to be doing. But sometimes I have other things that are "more stimulating". And then I keep feeling bad about the amount of time they take and at the same time keep doing them. Like when I have more than one physics project. I know I am supposed to finish project A, but I can't help the fact that my brain thinks about project B. And, of course, internet is even better example. When I am typing a response, I am usually long winded so it takes a lot of time. I am aware of the amount of time it takes and yet can't help the compulsion to keep typing.

Excessive procrastination is one of the DSM-IV criteria for ADHD. It's the most troubling problem for many adults.



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24 May 2011, 3:52 pm

I don't know for sure what all makes me stim. I don't do it quite as much as I used to as a child, and so I've lost track of what causes it. Incidentally within the past few days I've been doing it very frequently, and I don't always know what started me doing it and as a result I don't always see it coming. I do it when I'm excited, I know that for sure. It can be good excitement, or bad excitement, like how you feel before you have to do something you don't want to do, or when there's some overbearing sensory stuff going on. Other times, I just do it compulsively because I like the way it feels. I'm an aspie, btw.



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24 May 2011, 9:01 pm

I have an ADHD type of stim. I'm not sure if it is closer to fidgeting because it is a full hand flap but I do it when I can't focus and feel restless when I try to settle down at night and watch TV.
Actually it happens a lot when I feel hyperactive and when I do any movement if I am hyperactive. I move my legs a lot too.

I'm not sure what I do when I have many thoughts. I'm usually lying down or doing some chore. I'll have to see what happens when the medication wears off. I didn't even have thoughts like that this morning before taking my meds.

I 'stim' constantly when impatient too. I suppose I do it to calm myself down.


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