Does it sound like I could have Asperger's?

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hannahal91
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06 Oct 2013, 6:58 pm

I know that the only way to know for sure would be to see a professional, and I know no one here can diagnose me. But I'm just curious if people would think I might have it if I list all of my symptoms. By the way, I am almost 22 (next month) and female. And if I understand correctly, AS tends to go undiagnosed more in females than in males because the symptoms can be a bit different and/or girls tend to be able to mask them better (that's just what I've read)? I did have a "normal" childhood without anyone really thinking that there was anything "wrong" with me.

Here are things I've noticed though:

-often feel like I'm in "my own world". If I'm not fully concentrating on something in the present, then I'm usually remembering/thinking about things that happened in the past, or imagining things that I want to happen happening.

-Often have difficulty reading people's body language and faces. I HATE when people just make hand gestures at me without saying anything because I usually don't know what they're trying to tell me, or it will at least take me awhile to figure it out. I'll often not understand jokes, and I often take people seriously when they are joking or being sarcastic. Or sometimes I will suspect they're just joking around, but I still won't be sure and I'll worry that I've annoyed/offended them.

-I've always been pretty socially awkward and shy. I was very shy as a child. Like probably between preschool and first grade, I had one friend who I would talk to. But I didn't really talk to my teachers or the other kids unless they asked me a question/said something that required a response first. Sometimes I could go the whole day without talking to anyone but my one friend. After that, I did open up and come out of my shell a bit more- I interacted with other kids a little more and wasn't quite as shy around my teachers. But, I've basically always just had a select few friends. I was never popular or one of those people who just had tons of friends in school. I've never been very good at making friends or starting conversations with new people. I always want to be polite and talk to people, but I often just don't know what to say. I've always just managed to make a few friends, many of who took the initiative to start talking to me. If they actually start the conversation then it is a little easier for me. But I tend to be awkward around people who I'm not close friends with, and again, I often just don't know what to say or how to talk to them. When people ask how I am, I never know what to say except "good", and I never have any idea how to respond to "what's up?" (because nothing is ever "up" lol). I often get nervous and tongue tied, and I either stutter or say the wrong thing. I notice this especially with people of higher authority (teachers, managers at work). i do often feel like I didn't say the right thing to someone, and that I didn't convey the message I had wanted to, or I came across a way in which I completely didn't intend to (sometimes I worry that I come across as rude when I don't want to and really don't mean to).

-Currently, most of my friends are the same few ones that I made during my childhood and teenage years. I've only really made two new friends in college. I have never had any desire to go to parties, clubs, or any big social events because I would feel so awkward and not know what to do or say to anyone. I'm perfectly content just "hanging out", going to the movies, or going out to eat with the few friends I have. I have never had a boyfriend before...guys don't notice/take interest in me, and I have no idea how to get them to. The only two guys that ever did were both creepers...so it's almost like I give off some vibe that I could be easily manipulated and THOSE types of guys come after me. Both of these guys happened to be ones that I wasn't interested in in anyway, so I never got involved with them in the first place. Which was good because one of them turned out to be a rapist (he went to jail for raping someone else) and the other was just a weird stalker who followed me around and tried to touch me, until I started taking a different route to class and never saw him again.

-As a child, I had no language or developmental delays (which I hear is normal for Asperger's) but I did have difficulty with motor skills. According to my kindergarten teacher I had a lot of difficulty jumping, skipping, and learning how to use scissors. I was definitely a late bloomer in learning how to tie my shoes and ride a bike. I think I was 7 when I could finally tie my shoes and close to 9 when I could finally ride a bike. I actually took dance classes from 1st grade until I finished high school. I actually wanted to be able to dance. And I was able to learn the routines and perform in recitals. But it did seem to take me longer to pick things up, and I was never good enough to make any competition teams no matter how much I tried to practice and get better. I've always had trouble reading directions about how to do something, and then being able to carry out the task with my hands. I remember having the worst time trying to sew in home ec class in middle school. I would read the directions but I just could NOT figure out what to do with my hands and with the sewing machine. I've never been able to play sports (I *hated* PE when I was in school) because I can't understand and remember all the different rules in the games. I also had trouble being able to hit/kick/throw balls. But no one else ever seemed to have such a problem with it. I also can have trouble with pretty simple things if they require multiple steps. A recent embarrassing moment I had at work was when I had to get a slice of cake for a customer. sounds simple enough, but I had to first go and get some gloves and put them on, then get a plate, and then get a slice of cake and take it out of a container. And I kind of just froze and couldn't figure out what to do. Of course, it was busy and I felt rushed, so maybe it was just because I was nervous?

-I don't care about my appearance nearly as much as most others seem to. Not to the point that I look like a slob (I do want to look decent, and I do keep myself clean and practice good hygiene) but I really can't make myself care much about my hair or makeup or anything. I just never want to mess with my hair, other than washing and brushing it. I don't style it or have any fancy haircut because I just don't care enough to mess with it. I'm really not interested in makeup at all. But I do throw on some mascara and eyeliner simply so I can look older and hopefully people will take me more seriously (I look very young for my age and could still pass as a 14 year old).

-I tend to have a monotone voice and have trouble changing my tone/pitch. For example, if I finish ringing up a customer at work and I tell them to have a great day, I definitely don't want to sound monotone, but I have trouble changing my voice and when I try to, it feels unnatural and I'm afraid I sound fake. And some people might take advantage of me because I can't really make my voice seem "firm" when I need to. I also don't think I use a whole lot of facial expressions. My 3rd grade teacher was the ONE teacher I had who didn't like me and who seemed to think there was something wrong with me. Though she never suggested that I had AS or anything on the autism spectrum, she just told my mom she though I had attentional problems because I was always "staring off into space". I think I just kind of had a blank expression on my face, but it wasn't that I was never paying attention.

-I do recall doing the "hand flapping" at least sometimes when I was a kid. I think it was mostly when I was frustrated. I mostly remember because my brother would tease me and start singing "I Believe I Can Fly". :roll: I really don't do that as an adult, but I do notice myself doing some other things, like randomly standing on my toes and squeezing my hands together (both of which I often do when I'm nervous). As a kid, I also remember I would shake my fingers or bang them together (sometimes for no reason, sometimes when I was excited).

-I am very sensitive to bright lights and loud noises. I have to wear shades at the dentist because I can't stand that little light shining on my face. Yet another reason I hated P.E. in school was because when we did sit-ups, we were facing the ceiling which had all these lights and they blinded me. And again, I also hate loud noises, and there are literally some noises that make my blood boil or cause me to practically have a breakdown. Luckily, it's only a select few noises that bother me THAT much so it's not usually a problem. I've managed to never break down in public, and I think I'd be able to control myself enough not to (or at the least, I could go to the bathroom). I have broken down crying and thrown things across the room while in the privacy of my own room (I believe the perpetrators were the loud annoying dryer signal going off, and my mom hacking and coughing extremely loud).

-I also tend to be a "picky eater"/like bland foods. I don't like strong-tasting food and also certain textures. All of my favorite foods are usually on the kids' menu at restaurants. :? People think I'm weird because I hate most salad dressings and I only eat sandwiches with meat, cheese, and lettuce.

-I've always had auditory processing issues. It's hard for me to talk to people on the phone and understand them. I don't have a hearing impairment that I know of, but I just have trouble understanding what someone has said to me. Especially in an environment where there's a lot of background noise, or if the person talks really fast. I have a terrible short-term auditory memory, and I wouldn't remember a single thing from an auditory lecture if I didn't take notes. If someone gives me multi-step verbal directions (even if they are fairly simple) I will NOT be able to remember it all and do it unless they write it down. If a teacher in school asked me to do several things at once I'd literally just get flustered and confused and stand there not knowing what to do. And basically, I tend to have a bad short-term memory but a good long-term memory.

-I can recall having very random and intense interests throughout my life. In preschool, I loved dinosaurs, but I literally studied them and could tell you the name of every kind. A little later I was fascinated with designing houses. Then it was US states and capitals. I was fascinated with them and again, I memorized them all. That was in 5th grade and I was pretty much the only kid in my class who could label every US state and tell you all the capitals. I was also very fascinated with people's names even when I was really small. Starting in kindergarten I would just look through my yearbook and look at people's names. I actually remembered a lot of them, and when I would just see people around school (who weren't my age or in my class) I would remember their name from the yearbook. When I was a little older I remember looking up names and their meanings on the internet and being fascinated with/remembering a lot of them. Ironically I'm pretty bad at remembering people's names now though. I've also been fascinated with dates and I've been able to memorize dates really easily, especially people's birthdays. Someone who I don't know very well could tell me their birthday and I would probably remember it. I also know so many celebrities' birthdays (even celebrities that I don't particularly like, I can just remember their date of birth). I'm actually studying Spanish in school right now, because starting in high school I LOVED learning a foreign language. It was always the one class that I wad really interested in. The problem is, I'm very good and reading and writing it, and translating it in its written form, but I find the speaking/listening part difficult because of my auditory processing issues, so I'm afraid I won't succeed.



RubyWings91
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06 Oct 2013, 8:30 pm

From what you described, it seems like you probably have AS.



serenaserenaserena
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06 Oct 2013, 9:47 pm

I don't know. Unless you're having problems, then I wouldn't worry about it.


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Callista
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06 Oct 2013, 11:45 pm

Yeah, those are definitely AS traits.

The crucial question here is--are they getting in the way? Are you having trouble doing things that are expected of you, or having to work much harder than other people just to get to barely adequate? If yes, then an evaluation might help you get some help with those things, therapy or counseling or whatever, or to get accommodations at work or school.

There are many people who have AS traits but don't need a diagnosis because they don't need help. They have a lot of things in common with diagnosed autistics, except that there's no disability and thus no diagnosis needed. We have quite a few BAP/subclinical people here at WP, and most of the time you can't really tell who's BAP and who's full-blown autistic, because disability is really more about what the world expects of you than anything else. Those expectations can be pretty arbitrary.


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JakeDay
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07 Oct 2013, 2:30 am

You're flying high on my Aspie Radar. I finally caved in to my ASD friend's assertion that I was on the spectrum when I saw the list of Female Aspergers Traits and ticked all but two. You sound like you know what you're talking about.



BritAspie
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07 Oct 2013, 9:28 am

It sounds like you do from what I have read. If it causes you problems then go and see a specialist to see what your options are, if not then I wouldn't worry about it.



foxfield
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07 Oct 2013, 1:14 pm

You may well have AS.

However, I should warn you that none of the descriptions of the symptoms you listed will stand out to people as being really that strange, and so you might find it difficult to be taken seriously by people in general.

You will probably find that if you told your friends, relatives or colleagues about your issues they will just say something like "Yeah, me too" or "Everyone's like that at times". You will probably be dismissed by most psychologists you talk to for essentially the same reasons.

Basically, unless you are obviously very deeply weird and different from other people, you will have an uphill struggle convincing them that you have a developmental disorder.

I'm not saying that any of this is right or fair, just that I know thats how the world is.

I wish you all the best in your journey of self-discovery.



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07 Oct 2013, 2:53 pm

Even if things are going well people may want to know so they can use it to do better or just for the sake of fully knowing who they are.


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Callista
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07 Oct 2013, 11:17 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Even if things are going well people may want to know so they can use it to do better or just for the sake of fully knowing who they are.
True. Self-knowledge is one of the only reasons to seek diagnosis in those situations where you've learned to deal with it on your own. Quite a few people who have done this--learned to cope, gradually gotten to the point where there's little or no impairment--still feel very different and want to know why.

That is why I really think we need the "subclinical autistic traits" category. There are many differences that aren't disabilities and don't need to be labeled as disorders, but they're still differences and still affect the way you experience life. If you go into treatment for something else, they could be important. Someone with subclinical autistic traits who is being treated for depression might notice that withdrawing from society is nowhere near as bad a red flag as it would be for an extrovert, or they might notice that they benefit much more from practical problem-solving than from discussing their feelings. The subclinical category would be a way to validate the experiences of people who have those autistic traits, but without disability, perhaps because they have spent a lifetime figuring out a way to get along in the world.

Not that every situation where self-knowledge is the primary motive will turn out to be subclinical... Some will be autism proper, people who are autistic and disabled, but whose environments are particularly friendly, who are depending on spouses or other family, who are particularly skilled at figuring out how to compensate--having essentially become their own occupational therapists--or whose impairment consists mostly of having to spend more effort on things that most people find easy.


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07 Oct 2013, 11:46 pm

Callista wrote:
ASPartOfMe wrote:
Even if things are going well people may want to know so they can use it to do better or just for the sake of fully knowing who they are.
True. Self-knowledge is one of the only reasons to seek diagnosis in those situations where you've learned to deal with it on your own. Quite a few people who have done this--learned to cope, gradually gotten to the point where there's little or no impairment--still feel very different and want to know why.

That is why I really think we need the "subclinical autistic traits" category. There are many differences that aren't disabilities and don't need to be labeled as disorders, but they're still differences and still affect the way you experience life. If you go into treatment for something else, they could be important. Someone with subclinical autistic traits who is being treated for depression might notice that withdrawing from society is nowhere near as bad a red flag as it would be for an extrovert, or they might notice that they benefit much more from practical problem-solving than from discussing their feelings. The subclinical category would be a way to validate the experiences of people who have those autistic traits, but without disability, perhaps because they have spent a lifetime figuring out a way to get along in the world.

Not that every situation where self-knowledge is the primary motive will turn out to be subclinical... Some will be autism proper, people who are autistic and disabled, but whose environments are particularly friendly, who are depending on spouses or other family, who are particularly skilled at figuring out how to compensate--having essentially become their own occupational therapists--or whose impairment consists mostly of having to spend more effort on things that most people find easy.


This is so good, thank you!


With me, I also am not sure if I really am on the spectrum or not, and the reason I keep looking into it is because I keep hoping to find useful strategies for dealing with those parts of who I am that occasionally make it difficult for me to function well in life/society. (sensory issues in particular can be a huge problem and overwhelm from people). However, my 'symptoms' are so contradictory that nothing really fits (started talking at very young age, fantastic memory for faces, but at the same time, used to have fantastic memory for everything when I was younger, a bit hit and miss with facial expressions/body language/social cues, used to have massive meltdowns as a child - and still do but more controlled and now know when they may be coming so can remove myself from the situation in order to avoid it, neverending procession of special interests, really really bad at verbal processing i.e. verbal instructions ick, I am very clumsy naturally but work like a crazy person to address this, so can walk on a narrow ledge comfortably but will trip over my own feet /sigh/, and so on. The biggest issue is coping with people really because if I am having sensory issues when I am on my own it's fine because nobody is disturbed by my meltdown or whatever but if I am around people and especially if they are the ones causing me issues than it becomes difficult, especially in the work context but also in personal relationships. Since I started to suspect I may be an Aspie and brought this up with my mother, our relationship has improved a lot because she no longer takes my actions as personal slights and tries to understand and accommodate me a lot more. On the other hand, some people may use the Aspie label as an excuse to bully, so I don't bring it up as much although it would make it easier I think as people wouldn't feel so offended by my actions and words if they had such a label to pin it on instead.