Do I have Aspergers, or simply poor social skills? LONG

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Rocket123
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22 Dec 2012, 11:36 pm

Hello there. This is my first post to this forum. I am 49 years old and (believe it or not) just recently learned about Aspergers.

Similar to many of the new posters here, some of the traits seem intriguing. More so, they SEEM to explain many of the difficulties I had growing up and some of my odd idiosyncrasies as an adult.

So, I have NEVER been formally diagnosed. With that being said, I got a 37 on the AQ Test. My wife took the same test on my behalf (i.e. answering how she thinks I should answer). She scored me as a 36.

Other interesting "facts" about me:
1. My MBTI is INTJ. I was first introduced to MBTI in 1990 (at the age of 27), when I took the test for the first time. My type was INTJ (I=17; N=13; T=57; J=17).

2. I recently took the Global5/SLOAN test and received a type of: RCOEI

Extroversion |||| 12%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||| 54%
Accommodation |||| 20%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||||||||| 74%

3. I had an IQ test when I was young (either 1st or 2nd grade) and scored 129.

So my question is this. One web site indicated that a main symptom is "severe and sustained impairment in social interaction". And, I wanted to explore exactly what this means (and whether my social skills are "severely impaired" or just "simply poor").

BEFORE I learned about Aspergers, I had always assumed that I never developed proper social skills because I preferred to be a loner. I HAD THOUGHT that I was a loner because of two factors.

First, I did not have a lot of activities that I enjoyed "doing" with other people. Second, I am not a good conversationalist.

Note (1): Interestingly, I ONLY feel lonely when I am in a social situation and am feeling awkward (because I don't know how to converse with others).

Note (2): Interestingly, when I was younger, I sought to have more friends. I was quite sad being a loner. I was genuinely bothered that, at the time of my death, the only people to attend my funeral would be my family. Nowadays, that doesn't bother me anymore (as I accept who I am).

So, regarding my activities...

As I indicated, most of the activities that I enjoy are solitary in nature. I like to read (most recently, I am reading biographies of Presidents and other luminaries including Albert Einstein). I love to research and learn new things via the Internet. This includes learning more about Asperbergers, studying MBTI, taking online courses (currently taking an Intro to Psychology course from Yale) and gaining expertise in Agile software development.

Other than reading and researching, my favorite activities include: taking long walks with my dog, playing spider solitaire, watching my kids play soccer, working out (riding an exercise bicycle) and following my local sports teams (mostly, I enjoy reading about them in the newspaper).

When I was young, I was obsessed with studying Baseball statistics (i.e. box scores). I was obsessed with Star Trek (watching the TV series, reading books and attending conventions). I also loved learning about Astronomy (studying planets, stars, constellations). I even built a 5' reflector telescope (with an 8" mirror) when I was 13. I also used to play solitaire (with cards, of course). And, interestingly, played backgammon by myself.

Obviously, these activities are NOT ones you "do" with others.

So, regarding my conversational skills...

As I indicated above, I feel I have poor social skills.

In Social situations, I usually wait for someone to approach me (rather than approaching them).

Pretty much because I don't know what to say. I am not very good with either starting conversations or continuing conversations.

When I first speak to others, I try to look them in the eye - to establish initial contact. I believe I do this because I was told that this was polite. However, after that moment, I have a very difficult time maintaining eye contact particularly whenever a) I am speaking or b) I am thinking. I find looking people in the eye to be very distracting (making thinking and speaking difficult).

I am very willing to talk about my latest interests (if asked). And could speak about them for a long time. But most people don't find these topics very interesting. Likewise, I have nothing to say, once the topic has been discussed to its fullest extent.

Regarding body language, I am not certain if I understand it. It's not something I look at or try to interpret. Instead, I rely on carefully listening to people (the words they say) to understand what they really mean. I have no desire to "guess" what people are thinking, by trying to read their "body language".

Furthermore, I often have a hard time determining whether someone is serious or not (when, say, making a sarcastic comment).

So, back to my original question..

How do I discern if my social skills are "severely impaired" or just "simply poor"? Essentially, I am trying to confirm (to myself) if I do have some form of Aspergers (which, if I do, is most likely mild).

Thanks for your input.



League_Girl
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23 Dec 2012, 12:16 am

Asperger's is more than just poor social skills. Do you have any routines or rituals? How are you with change? Do you have any sensory issues or any problems with coordination and balance? Any repetitive behaviors? Do your obsessions cause you any impairments?


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windtreeman
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23 Dec 2012, 12:43 am

I feel like I'm beating a dead horse for replying to most of these topics in the exact same manner but basically, take a look at the old DSM IV diagnosis criteria for Asperger's and, with as much objectivity as you can muster, evaluate whether you suspect a specialist would diagnose you: http://www.autreat.com/dsm4-aspergers.html

I can't attest to whether your social impairment qualifies as clinically significant but mine did and I can tell you that I do occasionally have some success in social environments and even have a small group of friends that I regularly see in town. That said, I socialize perhaps, once every few months, ha. Now based on what you said, it sounds like your social issues fit Part I of the criteria but I'm uncertain as far as Part II is concerned. I mean, for me, sensory issues are the most difficult side-effect of Asperger's and it's not even mentioned in the criteria. Anyway, can you can seek a professional diagnosis? Mine was completed n two one hour appointments and one six hour appointment so certainly not obscenely time consuming.


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Rocket123
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23 Dec 2012, 1:41 am

League_Girl wrote:
Asperger's is more than just poor social skills. Do you have any routines or rituals? How are you with change? Do you have any sensory issues or any problems with coordination and balance? Any repetitive behaviors? Do your obsessions cause you any impairments?


Regarding Routines and Rituals

1. It is not uncommon for me to eat the same thing for lunch, for many days in a row (sometimes weeks or even months). I have been eating the same sandwich for lunch for the past 2 months. At some point, I will change. Though, I will then eat that new item for many months in a row. I also did this when I was young.
Note: My wife requires variety. She ensures that the family has variety with dinner. If it was up to me, I would eat the same thing at every meal, every day.

2. I have worn the same type of jeans, same style of shirt and same brand of shoes for the last 30 years.
Note: I am quite sensitive to clothes and shoes. When I was young, it was difficult to find clothes and shoes that "felt right" (such that the tags did not bother me, the material did not bother me, the shoe didn't "feel" funny). Because of this, once I find something that works, I just stay with it.

3. I have a fairly standard morning routine (wake up, go to bathroom, clean breakfast dishes, get newspaper, make toast, check email, do stretches) that I have been doing for many years.

4. I have a weekend routine (including shopping, yard work) that I follow each week.

5. I exercise every day. I almost never miss a day (unless I am sick). I have been doing this for > 30 years. I feel great anxiety if I miss a day.
Note: I am very anal about exercise and weight. I was quite heavy when I was young and teased terribly. I weigh myself each day. I get anxious if I am above my target weight. Likewise, I get anxious if I am unable to exercise.

6. I don't like my routines interrupted. When my routines are interrupted (e.g. vacations or visitors), I need to convince myself that it's OK.

Regarding Change

1. I don't like change, unless I can prepare for it and control it.

Regarding sensory issues or any problems with coordination and balance

1. I don't like loud noises. I used to be really bothered by lawn mowers, leaf blowers, ambulances, vacuum cleaners, etc.
Note: This was a bigger problem when I was a child. The loud noises do not bother me as much, anymore.

2. I have trouble having discussions with people, in loud rooms (I get distracted by the various conversations and find it hard to pick out the voice of the person next).

3. I dislike eating foods with certain textures (makes me want to gag).

4. I dislike being touched by others (other than my wife/kids)

5. I was terrible at: Ice skating, Roller Skating, Skiing, Gymnastics (i.e. tumbling)
Note: I am able to ride a bicycle. But, I learned how to ride ~ 1 year after all my friends learned to ride.

6. I was not very good in ball games (football, basketball, baseball, soccer) - particularly with judging trajectory of ball. I was never able to properly hit a golf ball (despite many lessons). I was awful at bowling.

7. Interestingly, I have pretty good hand eye coordination. When I was young, I was able to catch a stack of 40 pennies from my elbow.

Note: I could probably come up with more stuff, if I thought about it long enough

Regarding Repetitive Behaviors

Below are some odd things I do (maybe you could call them "repetitive behaviors")...

1. After initially locking a door or gate, I re-check the lock multiple times (sometimes, up to 20 times)

2. After closing the garage door, I re-check that the door is closed multiple times (by checking multiple times)

3. After setting the alarm clock, I get up multiple times to confirm that the alarm is properly set
Note: I used to do this. Now my wife sets the alarm :)

4. When walking, I have a habit of checking behind me (to ensure that I didn't drop anything)
Note: When I was young (~12-17), I used to check behind me every 10-15 steps. I now check more infrequently.

Below are some of my odd/nervous "habits"

1. At movies and restaurants (and sometimes when riding in the car) I may take a napkin (or a tissue or a straw wrapper) and tear into pieces. I then roll those pieces into balls. And then rub the balls between my thumb and finger. I do this subconsciously. Keeps my fingers moving.

2. I do this thing with my fingers, where I touch my thumb to each finger and then touch each finger to my thumb. And continue this until I get out of my trance.

3. I constantly chew on pen tops or pen caps. Sometimes, I don't even realize I am doing it.

4. Whenever I hold a small object that can toggle (say, between open/close state - e.g. a retractable pen), I constantly toggle it.

5. Scratching my scalp. This actually caused a problem (as it caused scabs, which when picked got worse). Thankfully, I somehow stopped this.

6. Chewing my gums. This actually caused a problem. Thankfully, I somehow stopped this.

7. Playing with the wedding ring on my finger (twisted it; took it off/on). I stopped doing this after I lost the dang thing :(

8. Pacing. I do this especially when on the phone.

9. Talking to Myself. I do this when walking the dog. I also did this at work (when I was working).

10. Taking apart a pen, and putting it back together. Again and again.

11. Twirling Pens.

Note: All of these drive my wife crazy. She always tells me to stop. Some of these, I am not even aware that I am doing them.

One other thing I did not mention. I have BIG ISSUES recognizing faces and remembering names. It's quite common for me to walk past people who know me. In fact, I never look at people's faces, when I am out and about.

Regarding whether my obsessions cause any impairments

Other than having intermittent episodes of depression? No.