Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior

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Philosoraptor
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16 Feb 2013, 3:21 pm

Out of curiosity, does anyone exactly know what neurological, psychological or clinical connection links the two main characteristics of Asperger's syndrome together?

On one hand, you have nonverbal communication impairment, which results in most of the social dysfunctions we Aspies tend to experience (unable to read between the lines of body language, unable to effectively pick up on motive and intent, unable to understand or appreciate rituals like small talk, etc.).

On the other hand, you have what the DSM IV calls "restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities", as manifested by obsessions in very narrow topics, inflexible adherence to specific nonfunctional rituals or routines, motor mannerisms, and preoccupation with parts of objects rather than the wholes.

It seems to me that these two "domains" are completely unrelated, however. Deficiencies in cognitive empathy don't necessitate behavior that seem to loosely resemble obsessive-compulsive disorder, and vice versa, no?

See, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, but I have far more pronounced symptoms of the former category than the latter category. I have heavy interests in culturally "odd" topics, but I have still have many interests (even if they are all "odd"), and these interests do not only include parts but also the wholes. Also, I do certainly have routines and rituals, but I'd hardly describe them as "nonfunctional". If I didn't see any function in consistency and routine, then I wouldn't put so much emphasis on them, no?

So, my question is this. Is this latter aspect of "restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior" really a fundamental element of Asperger's syndrome? Or, is it merely an external NT assumption about how Aspies look at the world? Or, is it merely a leftover characteristic from low-functioning autism diagnostic criteria?

Does anyone with strong knowledge in the psychiatric and psychological diagnostic criteria for Asperger's syndrome have a perspective that explains this? If it isn't already obvious, I am quite confused by this.



dyingofpoetry
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16 Feb 2013, 3:59 pm

To me, the two criteria are very compatible, because they are both consistent with the traditional definition of autism, which is primarily a condition of internal orientation. Because we look inward for thought, feeling, and comfort, we tend to miss the non-verbal communications of others. The stereotyped behavior is another aspect of this as we try to soothe ourselves and seek some kind of order from the external chaos.


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16 Feb 2013, 4:00 pm

While I myself don't possess a strong knowledge in psychiatric or neurological affairs, I have at times wondered about the same thing. My personal little theory on the matter is that the one (rituals and special interests) flows out of the other (social cognitive impairment). I view autism as mostly a sensory-cognitive issue; outside stimuli aren't optimally translated in the brain.
If the world around you -and especially the people and their social interactions- are kind of a blind spot most of the time, then one feels the need to 'secure' themselves so to speak- hence the repetitive behaviours and the rituals that provide some form of personal continuity, something that can be controlled.

EDIT: In other words, what ^dyingforpoetry said.

Philosoraptor wrote:
See, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, but I have far more pronounced symptoms of the former category than the latter category. I have heavy interests in culturally "odd" topics, but I have still have many interests (even if they are all "odd"), and these interests do not only include parts but also the wholes. Also, I do certainly have routines and rituals, but I'd hardly describe them as "nonfunctional". If I didn't see any function in consistency and routine, then I wouldn't put so much emphasis on them, no?

Bolded part hits home for me. There is a certain bias/prejudice from 'regular folk' about what serves a function and what doesn't. I've gotten weird looks for certain peculiarities pertaining to my rituals/routines as well as special interests. Yet my rituals had/have meaning to me and don't necessarily impair my functioning. To outright label them as nonfunctional seems, to me, to go past the causes/reasons at the stem of each individual autistic's routines and rituals.


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16 Feb 2013, 6:28 pm

I think of it like a balancing act: you have chaos or at least things that look chaotic to you on the outside (with social interaction between humans being one of the most complex and chaotic things ever); then you try to counter-balance that chaos with the opposite of chaos: i.e. things that look and feel like calm, harmony, normality, order, organization, quiet, etc on the inside. It’s what you have troubles with and how you cope with those troubles. So its kind of like cause and effect within an autistic's mind.

Philosoraptor wrote:

Also, I do certainly have routines and rituals, but I'd hardly describe them as "nonfunctional". If I didn't see any function in consistency and routine, then I wouldn't put so much emphasis on them, no?



I could be wrong, but I assume this means "functional" from a psychologist's or psychiatrist's neurotypical point of view in terms of how average people go through life: e.g. a normal person can have "functional" routines or rituals at their workplace which are normal and expected (especially given how efficient you have to be when it comes to making money and profits); or a mother might have a regular routine of picking up her kids from school at a given time; etc. It might translate to something like routines or rituals that average people would not need in order to function and make it through their idea of a normal day.


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16 Feb 2013, 7:01 pm

Quote:
See, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, but I have far more pronounced symptoms of the former category than the latter category. I have heavy interests in culturally "odd" topics, but I have still have many interests (even if they are all "odd"), and these interests do not only include parts but also the wholes. Also, I do certainly have routines and rituals, but I'd hardly describe them as "nonfunctional". If I didn't see any function in consistency and routine, then I wouldn't put so much emphasis on them, no?

So, my question is this. Is this latter aspect of "restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior" really a fundamental element of Asperger's syndrome?


I had both as a teenager. However, the latter had nearly disappeared by the time I reached my mid 20's, so I did not qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis. So, yes, it is essential. However, as long as you had BOTH at some point, you will still qualify to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum even if only the former (social impairment) is still true of you (and the IQ tests check out, lack of eye contact, bad prosody, etc.).

I think it's quite common for individuals with Asperger's to outgrow the RRB, so if you get diagnosed late in life, it's quite common to get slapped with the PDD-NOS diagnosis by physicians who insist that RRB has to be currently visible.



Philosoraptor
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16 Feb 2013, 7:12 pm

Tyri0n wrote:
Quote:
See, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, but I have far more pronounced symptoms of the former category than the latter category. I have heavy interests in culturally "odd" topics, but I have still have many interests (even if they are all "odd"), and these interests do not only include parts but also the wholes. Also, I do certainly have routines and rituals, but I'd hardly describe them as "nonfunctional". If I didn't see any function in consistency and routine, then I wouldn't put so much emphasis on them, no?

So, my question is this. Is this latter aspect of "restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior" really a fundamental element of Asperger's syndrome?


I had both as a teenager. However, the latter had nearly disappeared by the time I reached my mid 20's, so I did not qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis. So, yes, it is essential. However, as long as you had BOTH at some point, you will still qualify to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum even if only the former (social impairment) is still true of you (and the IQ tests check out, lack of eye contact, bad prosody, etc.).

I think it's quite common for individuals with Asperger's to outgrow the RRB, so if you get diagnosed late in life, it's quite common to get slapped with the PDD-NOS diagnosis by physicians who insist that RRB has to be currently visible.


This definitely seems like a good point. At various points in my childhood, I did have some "obsessive" interests in various things. The last obsession of mine was politics, which I still have as an interest but it dropped from what could be called obsessive levels when I was 18 (I picked it up at 16). Since then, I haven't had any really obsessive interests; just peculiar interests.

I suppose, since it is a relatively new diagnostic label, a vast majority of the criteria were decided by observing the behavior of children?



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16 Feb 2013, 11:28 pm

I always had rrbs because I liked them, not because they helped me deal with a confusing chaotic world. The world is not confusing or chaotic to me.


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17 Feb 2013, 1:01 am

Philosoraptor wrote:
Tyri0n wrote:
Quote:
See, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, but I have far more pronounced symptoms of the former category than the latter category. I have heavy interests in culturally "odd" topics, but I have still have many interests (even if they are all "odd"), and these interests do not only include parts but also the wholes. Also, I do certainly have routines and rituals, but I'd hardly describe them as "nonfunctional". If I didn't see any function in consistency and routine, then I wouldn't put so much emphasis on them, no?

So, my question is this. Is this latter aspect of "restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior" really a fundamental element of Asperger's syndrome?


I had both as a teenager. However, the latter had nearly disappeared by the time I reached my mid 20's, so I did not qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis. So, yes, it is essential. However, as long as you had BOTH at some point, you will still qualify to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum even if only the former (social impairment) is still true of you (and the IQ tests check out, lack of eye contact, bad prosody, etc.).

I think it's quite common for individuals with Asperger's to outgrow the RRB, so if you get diagnosed late in life, it's quite common to get slapped with the PDD-NOS diagnosis by physicians who insist that RRB has to be currently visible.


This definitely seems like a good point. At various points in my childhood, I did have some "obsessive" interests in various things. The last obsession of mine was politics, which I still have as an interest but it dropped from what could be called obsessive levels when I was 18 (I picked it up at 16). Since then, I haven't had any really obsessive interests; just peculiar interests.

I suppose, since it is a relatively new diagnostic label, a vast majority of the criteria were decided by observing the behavior of children?


OMG! Me too! Exactly.

Did you used to offend people by talking about it too much, especially from one slanted perspective?



Philosoraptor
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17 Feb 2013, 1:52 am

Tyri0n wrote:
Philosoraptor wrote:
Tyri0n wrote:
Quote:
See, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, but I have far more pronounced symptoms of the former category than the latter category. I have heavy interests in culturally "odd" topics, but I have still have many interests (even if they are all "odd"), and these interests do not only include parts but also the wholes. Also, I do certainly have routines and rituals, but I'd hardly describe them as "nonfunctional". If I didn't see any function in consistency and routine, then I wouldn't put so much emphasis on them, no?

So, my question is this. Is this latter aspect of "restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior" really a fundamental element of Asperger's syndrome?


I had both as a teenager. However, the latter had nearly disappeared by the time I reached my mid 20's, so I did not qualify for an Asperger's diagnosis. So, yes, it is essential. However, as long as you had BOTH at some point, you will still qualify to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum even if only the former (social impairment) is still true of you (and the IQ tests check out, lack of eye contact, bad prosody, etc.).

I think it's quite common for individuals with Asperger's to outgrow the RRB, so if you get diagnosed late in life, it's quite common to get slapped with the PDD-NOS diagnosis by physicians who insist that RRB has to be currently visible.


This definitely seems like a good point. At various points in my childhood, I did have some "obsessive" interests in various things. The last obsession of mine was politics, which I still have as an interest but it dropped from what could be called obsessive levels when I was 18 (I picked it up at 16). Since then, I haven't had any really obsessive interests; just peculiar interests.

I suppose, since it is a relatively new diagnostic label, a vast majority of the criteria were decided by observing the behavior of children?


OMG! Me too! Exactly.

Did you used to offend people by talking about it too much, especially from one slanted perspective?


I think I may have offended some people, as I was claimed to be "heartless" a couple times (not by the most logical of individuals, however). I also received comments from people asking why I had such high amounts of interest in the subject, spoken in such a way to designate that my interest in the topic shouldn't exist.

My social studies teachers in high school were rather impressed, at least. I always made political comparisons in history, and always invoked obscure political facts in papers for my AP US Government class. Hell, my obsession got the point where I knew everything going on in the 2008 presidential elections to a tee from following the news everyday, despite being a lowly high school student. I'm not that obsessed with day-to-day politics anymore, but I definitely remember how fundamental it used to be for me. I would drive my friends at the time crazy with my unconventional beliefs lol.



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17 Feb 2013, 3:20 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I always had rrbs because I liked them, not because they helped me deal with a confusing chaotic world. The world is not confusing or chaotic to me.


Yes, but why did you enjoy them? There was something about them that brought pleasure and could that have been a matter of self-soothing?

Philosoraptor wrote:
I think I may have offended some people, as I was claimed to be "heartless" a couple times (not by the most logical of individuals, however). I also received comments from people asking why I had such high amounts of interest in the subject, spoken in such a way to designate that my interest in the topic shouldn't exist.


Me too. I have often been accused of being heartless because I would speak on my favorite topics from the logical, rather than emotional point-of-view. I have also been asked many times what business I had being so interested in a topic that had nothing to do with my career or studies.


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17 Feb 2013, 3:21 pm

I enjoy rrbs, because they are fun to me. NTs enjoy social interaction, because that is fun to them.


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