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TheNightOwl
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29 Apr 2012, 5:56 pm

I am a 27 year old female doctoral student and I suspect that I have been flying under the radar with high functioning Asperger's, and am wondering if getting diagnosed would be of any practical benefit to me.

This all came about because a classmate needed Aspie types for a study. Turns out I was the highest scorer in our class on the AQ with a 28, and my brain activity seems to indicate greater reactivity to objects than people. After looking into it more it seemed that if I had Asperger's it would conveniently explain my generalized and social anxiety (and the fact that I am most easily triggered by sensory overstimulation and crowds), my general social difficulties originating from my emotional disconnect from others and stereotypically male ways of thinking, my fidgety habits that I find soothing which are apparently called "stimming," my rigid adherence to habits which fluctuates with stress, my highly literal and linear way of thinking - and the list goes on.

I have taken a few self assessments and I am apparently scoring in the Asperger's range on the Empathy Quotient measure, both versions of the Systemizing Quotient measure, and in between the norms for Asperger's and normal/Male on the Friendship and Relationship Quotient measure.

As for why I went undiagnosed, despite seeing a good half dozen psychologists and psychiatrists over the years - I think being highly verbal and female pretty much explains it. I am also extremely high (99th percentile) in visuospatial ability (basically being able to visually scan really really fast) and that generalizes to skills like reading very fast, but also inferring emotions from people's eyes, which is usually a deficit in autism as you probably know. I also view social interactions as a complex system, comparable to multivariate statistics or computational models, that can be learned and broken down into components, and have gotten pretty good at understanding human behavior through study. I have essentially assembled elaborate compensatory mechanisms that allow me to function like a normal person most of the time.

Of course, I am a bit conflicted about whether I even have Asperger's or not as I'm not a fan of playing Dr. Internet and if I do, whether that is a good bad or neutral thing, and whether getting diagnosed when I am beyond the point of intervention is of any practical use. I have a few romantic notions of becoming an advocate for neurodiversity research or serving on grant panels or something, but then I think of the other side of the coin of being very public about what some people perceive as a disability and I'm not sure how I feel about that. But I'm probably getting way ahead of myself.

This is complicated by the fact that the very lab I am in has done Autism research in the past, and my current research project has some relevance to Autistic populations, so I am encountering the research literature on Autism/Asperger's on a regular basis and it's a little disconcerting to see so much of myself in it and not know how or whether to acknowledge that.

They say that "you teach what you need to learn" and it would be quite poetic if my graduate studies were what forced me to finally stumble upon a diagnosis after all these years.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.



redrobin62
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29 Apr 2012, 6:29 pm

For me it's peace of mind.



MotherKnowsBest
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30 Apr 2012, 1:45 am

For me it unlocked support. I had struggled along, barely keeping it all together for nearly 40 years. Time for a bit of relief.



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02 May 2012, 10:43 am

I was diagnosed a few months ago, at 44.
My diagnosis was a two part one. PDD-NOS, and ADD.
If you don't know what pddnos is, it doesn't really matter, I guess, since it is on its way out together with Asperger's. I've chosen to interpret it as a "best fit" for me, after a long long assessment. I already knew I wasn't a good fit for AS.

Anyway, right now I am struggling with it all.
The assessment process was tough. You dig through a lot of old stuff, far from all pleasant.
At this point I feel that there is no benefit at all.
I am either right where I was 18 months ago or worse off.
I keep hearing that I am the same person, that the diagnosis isn't who I am, that I should find the positive angles and use this new information to help deal with things. I agree with this, of course. In principle.

The thing is, the diagnosis is like something I cannot un-see. The P in PDD stands for Pervasive, and in that context of course it means that my problems are thought to have been, and continue to be, all-pervasive. Now the knowledge of this pervades everything. I can't unthink it. I look at everything with the diagnosis as a lens. My memories are reinterpreted. Many memories are more understandable, make more sense. Many become painful, harder to deal with. Most disabling is that I no longer trust my own judgement. It is almost like I am gaslighting myself. Every thought, everything I am about to say, passes through an extra filter where I ask myself if I might have misunderstood or at least there is a moment of hesitation before I commit to trusting myself.
I expect this to be a phase, but right now I am questioning the benefits of knowing. I am more unhappy and more useless.



NicoleG
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04 May 2012, 10:19 pm

TheNightOwl wrote:
I have a few romantic notions of becoming an advocate for neurodiversity research or serving on grant panels or something, but then I think of the other side of the coin of being very public about what some people perceive as a disability and I'm not sure how I feel about that. But I'm probably getting way ahead of myself.


I kind of look at myself as a missing link. I'm too autistic to be NT and too NT to be autistic. I can actually tell when I'm closing off the rest of the world in my mind and when I'm participating in it just like an NT. I say that when I'm acting NT that's a mask, because it's when I'm pushing my own limits and acting according to how others expect me to act. If someone expects their child to not run through the house, and the child obeys, are they no longer being themselves, but instead acting according to a mask to please those around them?

To show that autism is a difference and not just a disorder, missing links that close the gap between NT and ASD have to be found in order to show that it is a continuum, and not something that is clearly delineated. I just really wish someone had some sort of MRI test they could run on someone like me. I will not consider seeking a diagnosis, because I know I am not impaired, and taking up the time of a psychologist to test me takes away time from that psychologist working with someone else who might really need the assistance. However, I'll be the first in line if someone wants to run me through an MRI to compare my brain between NT and ASD. I almost wish I were still working in the cognitive research lab so that I could design my own test and run myself through the machine just to see.



tobl
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05 May 2012, 2:03 pm

I could have written most of that post.



peterd
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07 May 2012, 7:29 am

I'd been self diagnosed, and fairly happy about it, for a few years when I discovered that my experience, in this town, couldn't be of use to a researcher because I didn't have an official diagnosis. Now I'm officially diagnosed, no happier, but a little better in tune with this neurotypical world we're condemned to get along with.

DSM-V - well, I'm not sure what that does to me. From a quick read of the criteria it's not much different except that the diagnosis comes out as autistic rather than aspergers but I'm already used to that. In a couple of weeks I'll check what my shrink thinks about that. It'd be grim, suffering five decades with unsuspected whatever, only to be told a few years later that I was normal again.



NicoleG
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07 May 2012, 8:38 am

peterd wrote:
It'd be grim, suffering five decades with unsuspected whatever, only to be told a few years later that I was normal again.


You would still be autistic, just possibly not "clinically impaired" depending on if you will still qualify under the new criteria.