I might have high functioning autism?

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Izuru
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13 Dec 2013, 5:50 pm

About a year ago, one of my best friends told me they have gotten the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome (Now, I believe in May the name was changed to high functioning autism). Curious to learn about the syndrome (I love learning about things pertaining to the medical field. :D), I began researching it to an intensive degree, picking up as much information as possible from a variety of sources. As I read and read, I started to recognize a majority of the traits in myself. (Feel that I should add that I am a 14 year old female)

- Stimming behaviors.
I compulsively tap my fingers on everything, and most of the time I don't even realize it until someone snaps me out of it. I pick and peel the skin off the side of my thumbs, near my nails, until they are very raw. I also like to peel off skin flakes from my hands in the winter months when my hands are dry enough to see the flakes, to the point of developing scars. I like to pull on my eyelashes because of the popping sound my eyelids make (Been trying to stop this habit and it's been working, as I've lost quite a few of my eyelashes on one eye due to it but thankfully you can barely tell now). I also bite the inside of my cheek a lot and pick at my lips. Sort of similar to the finger tapping thing, I also rub my fingers on my scalp a lot. When I see someone, instead of waving I sort of flail my hands at them, as I find it feels very strange to wave normally. I also compulsively doodle, and I find that when I engage in this it is very hard for me to snap out of it (Gotta say that I do not mind this one very much, haha. Although it can be a bit bothersome at school.). I also engage in toe-walking, and when I talk while standing up, a friend pointed out that I bounce on my feet a lot, which is wierd because I've never really noticed it. :o

- Social difficulties.
I have always had a lot of trouble with putting my thoughts into speech. I find that when trying to converse, my mind just goes completely blank and no matter how hard I try, the conversation always ends awkwardly because I either just give one word responses, or nothing at all. A lot of my friends have said that they get the impression of me being standoffish or afraid of them due to this, and it pains me because that is not the case at all! I just don't know what to say. :( I'm also terrible at conveying my emotions, and I often find that my words sound almost emotionless and unenthusiastic, even when I'm really happy or thankful. My facial expression is pretty much always the same; a straight face. Many have commented that when they try to fool around with me, I just have a straight face as if I don't get or care for what they are saying (Even if I thought I had smiled!). I have pretty much no sense of humor, and it usually takes me a while to understand the point of a joke. My thoughts are really scattered and unorganized, which makes it even harder for me to communicate my feelings properly. I'm extremely sensitive to others' words and criticism. I hate trying new things, and have a very deep-rooted home in my comfort zone. I'm easily frightened, and will flinch and dodge out of the way of anything that touches me without warning. I also hate being touched by others, even my friends. They would often try to braid my hair or something and I'd instinctively shove their hand away or cringe.

I have a really bad short term memory, and often get yelled at by my parents because I forgot they had recently told me to do or remember something. I'm very clumsy, and often bump into things and trip on my feet as I walk.

- Narrow interests.
I have always had rather narrow interest compared to others, especially now. Right now I'm pretty much obsessed with art and programming, and my art interest can be traced back to when I could first pick up a pencil.

- Other things which I'm not sure if they're a cause for concern.
When I was younger (Around age 5-8), I'd often see certain objects in certain colors (Mainly stuff like little plastic toys)... And I know this sounds really strange, but the colors would make me want to eat the object. I wouldn't actually eat the object, but I'd imagine myself doing so. This doesn't happen anymore, though, so I'm not sure if it coorelates to anything.
As a child I would often play out elaborate games alone using my rubber dragon and lizard toys, often playing out pretty much the same things as I found it amusing. I hated being silly/goofy while playing, and would often become extremely frustrated when anyone who was playing with me attempted to alter the storyline I had in mind.

I took the AQ test, and scored a 35. I took the rdos aspie quiz, and the results were staggeringly weighted towards the 'aspie' side. I haven't spoken with my parents about my concerns yet, as I'm really not sure how to go about it. What should I do? I want very badly to get help in some way for my social problems. :c



OddFiction
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13 Dec 2013, 6:09 pm

When I brought up my beliefs (don't think of them as concerns) regarding myself and ASD, my parents were NOT receptive to the idea.

I'll suggest what maybe I should have tried - though I don't know if it would have worked better or not.
Start with telling your parents you have an assignment, and that you are trying to think of ways you could be more socially involved with family, friends, and society at large. That you need to write a paper on the subject. But that you are somewhat having writer's block. Have they any suggestions what you might include> the teacher did say that we are most often blind to our own shortcomings. And tell them you want them to be totally honest - have they got any concerns about you, in this regard?

And then WAIT. Let the thing stew, simmer, overnight, over a week.
This is where I failed - I tried to present it all in one sitting.

Do the essay. Show it to them. Ask for feedback.
Wait again.

At this point, I lose any sense of the plan. I think the steps here need to be personalized.



Willard
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13 Dec 2013, 6:29 pm

Izuru wrote:
About a year ago, one of my best friends told me they have gotten the diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome (Now, I believe in May the name was changed to high functioning autism).


Technically, no, the name hasn't been changed, the specific designation was dropped from the diagnostic manual - you can still have Asperger Syndrome, it's just that officially and on insurance documents (in countries that use the DSM-V as a diagnostic standard), the condition will be listed as High Functioning Autism or just Autism Spectrum Disorder, which many feel is a bit too generic and vague.

Clinical research, however is demonstrating actual physical differences between the brains of AS/HFA autistics and those with lower functioning forms of autism, so the Asperger designation is very likely to be reinstated at some point in the future.

Strangers on the Internet cannot give you anything resembling an accurate diagnosis, either for Autism or Leukemia, nor should they. You'll need to seek out a qualified Mental Health professional for that - and by qualified, I mean someone who has experience in diagnosing Autism in adults. The external symptoms are far more subtle in older teens and grownups than in children and those who are used to dealing with autistic children are often unable to recognize it in adults, who have been forced to hide their differences often for years, in order to function in the workplace and in adult social situations. I wouldn't expect that it looks the same in a 14 year old as it appears in a 5 year old, either.

As far as getting help for your social issues - not to throw cold water on your hopes, but in my experience, the only thing that improves an autistic's social skills is honing them in social situations, which means making mistakes and embarrassing oneself until you figure out what works for you and gradually developing your own coping mechanisms. If you truly are autistic, you're never going to have the smooth, natural social graces of a neurotypical person - that's why they call it a "disorder" - it means there's a part of your brain that isn't like a normal brain and that's never going to change.

So all a diagnosis can do is point you toward explanations that can help you better understand WHY you are the way you are, so that when you experience difficulties and handicaps in your life, you will at least understand what's happening to you and maybe learn to work around it, or at least deal with it without feeling that it happens because you're just a loser.

What a diagnosis won't do is 'cure' you or solve your problems by introducing you to some magical therapy that will act as a prosthetic to help you function as well as a normal person. There's no medication for this disability. It is what it is.

But that's okay. As many challenges as AS has thrown in my path (and they have been many and difficult), I also understand that because it is a part of my brain, it has affected the way I see and experience the entire world since the day I was born, which is to say that it has informed and influenced the shaping of my entire personality and to take a 'cure' for that would be like erasing most of my identity. I can't imagine what that would be like and I for one don't want to find out. It sounds terrifying. I'll continue to live with the devil I do know, thank you very much. :wink:



kanashimoo
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13 Dec 2013, 6:59 pm

Hi,

I wrote a fairly long, somewhat comprehensive description of autism in this thread here: http://www.wrongplanet.net/postp5792270.html

Its missing a lot of details of course, but its a good start. The biggest giveaways in my opinion are:

1) Hypersensitivity. Do you have sensory issues? Do loud noises. ex. dance music bother you to a large degree when others seem to be okay with it and having fun? Does sunlight, room lights etc. feel overly blinding and painful when others don't suffer from the same light?

At worst, do you ever need a time out? Do you 'melt down'? That is, you need to be alone, away from stimulation, in darkness and quiet. Or perhaps you may get aggressive and throw a tantrum, or you may cry.

2) Flapping your hands when excited. This is a stim thats common with autism and one of the better giveaways. You might bounce around, smile, and wave your arms up and down.

3) Speech processing. Does it take an extreme amount of attention to process speech? Does it demand so much attention that you can't focus on anything else? Does it also take a huge amount of effort for you to think up of and offer a reply?

4) Do you have issues with eye contact?

5) Do you focus a lot on details but not the big picture, the grand scheme of things?

I'm no expert, but these to me personally are some of the best indicators of whether you may be an aspie. However - make sure you do know that self diagnosis is very difficult to do and it is always recommended to get a professional assessment if you can afford it. If its covered under your medical care you should absolutely go see a psychiatrist/psychologist for more information. From the neat, organized way you type as a 14 year old as the only thing I can go on I'd have a moderate inclination that you *may* be an aspie - however, as I stated, nothing is certain without a professional assessment.


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For those of us in Vancouver, there is an Aspies Meetup group; pm me if you're interested. I look forward to seeing anyone in Vancouver either in person or in a larger gathering!


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13 Dec 2013, 7:40 pm

Maybe tell your parents exactly what you posted---that you badly want help for social issues. Then, and this may be hard, don't push the diagnosis issue too hard. Unless they are already thinking about it, it would likely provoke arguing. People may feel you are being negative about yourself....Whereas if you want help socially, nice people are likely to try to help with clothing, hair, conversation etc advice. If you are on the spectrum, that support for the things that don't come naturally will be priceless. And when people know and support you, they can better help smoothe over the social problems that do occur. Because they like you for you.

Also historically ASD has been mostly diagnosed in boys, and I think it's a pretty male model. Meaning it's hard to get that diagnosis for females most places. And generally looks different too. I guess that's why girls tend not to get the diagnosis, we look different often. And the experience isn't the same. So what I wrote above, I think would not be at all what the men and boys at Wrong Planet will tell you, because it is somewhat different for them. At least I think so.

A counselor should be able to help you with your social problems. And many can diagnose ASD, or they can refer you to someone for an evaluation. I just think you will be more successful if you are asking for help socializing.



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13 Dec 2013, 8:08 pm

As someone with a self diagnosis, the next step is to see a mental health professional and get a full Dx...

There are many reasons for an official diagnosis... I discuss most of them HERE...

A couple simple reasons are

1) to claim you are autistic, you need a diagnosis... Many of us deal with a great deal of attention seeking behavior by people claiming to have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder and find it a little bothersome at best...

2) To know for sure... there is overlap between Autistic Spectrum Disorders and several other conditions... treatment plans for these divergent mental conditions are drastically different... and pursuing one treatment plan for the wrong condition can cause more harm than good.


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ZombieBrideXD
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13 Dec 2013, 9:14 pm

there are definitely key traits but there are a few key symptoms to look into, such as sensory sensitivities, do things that are considered slight sensory bothers seem painful to you? like a florescent light feeling like a blinding strobe light, a dog bark is like knives drilling your ear drums, wool is like hedgehog quills, a simple foul odour can seem sickening, or a certain taste like cinnamon or maple can seem to much and stop you from eating it. there are also some things that may require a professionals opinions, such as social misconceptions, i didn't know i had to look at people until i was told at thirteen, and was constantly reminded to say please, thank you, and sorry and now i have a bad habit of saying it,i had to teach myself facial expressions at a young age because i couldn't draw them right . ADHD is a sort of co-diagnoses with autism which seems to appear in your description and a bit of OCD as well, and sort of slow information processing would explain short term memory loss. you should talk about it with your parents and do a bit more research.

look into your childhood and look for any delays in hand-i-cordination and social communications like not being able to use scissors, pencils forks and spooks, and wanting to be alone as a child. autism is present in early development and young children with autism tend to stack and line up objects compulsively.

since your a girl, it wouldn't be odd to only find out about your autism now, most girls with mild autism dont get diagnosed until their teens or they may never get diagnosed. its a long process but its also eye opening.


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13 Dec 2013, 9:18 pm

Hi, whether you're Spectrum or just 'Spectrum-friendly,' we might be able to share some information on social skills.

One thing, please think in terms of engagement rather than conformity. And like a major league baseball pitcher, sometimes a solid B game is all you need. For example, I have improved my social skills through commission sales in furniture, through politics and activism, and through playing poker.

And I might encourage you to experiment with nonschool activities such as community theater.

Social skills is in large part about 'right brain' feel and texture, rather than 'left brain' analytic and hard logic. For example, take a medium step and then on the basis of what feels right, take another medium step. Combined with such skills that if another person needs space, go ahead and give them space.



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13 Dec 2013, 9:40 pm

Willard wrote:
As far as getting help for your social issues - not to throw cold water on your hopes, but in my experience, the only thing that improves an autistic's social skills is honing them in social situations, which means making mistakes and embarrassing oneself until you figure out what works for you and gradually developing your own coping mechanisms. If you truly are autistic, you're never going to have the smooth, natural social graces of a neurotypical person - that's why they call it a "disorder" - it means there's a part of your brain that isn't like a normal brain and that's never going to change.


This is very true. 90% of what I know about socialising is what I learnt from embarrassment/mistakes. If you want to function (or at least appear to function) like NTs you will have to put yourself out there. In my opinion, cognitive behaviour therapy can help but the real learning is done by trial and error.

Having said that. a diagnosis could probably be a very positive thing for you (assuming you are on the spectrum). Speak to you parents about your concerns.

I wish you luck.



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13 Dec 2013, 10:43 pm

I myself have not had the best of luck with mental health professionals. Some mental health 'professionals' seem to have the occupational hazards of being ideologues and prima donnas.

And of course it goes both ways. Some people here at WrongPlanet have had good results and good experiences with professionals, and some haven't.

I do not want us to give them a monopoly as the only source of help or the only source of open fields.



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13 Dec 2013, 10:47 pm

AardvarkGoodSwimmer wrote:
I myself have not had the best of luck with mental health professionals. Some mental health 'professionals' seem to have the occupational hazards of being ideologues and prima donnas.

And of course it goes both ways. Some people here at WrongPlanet have had good results and good experiences with professionals, and some haven't.

I do not want us to give them a monopoly as the only source of help or the only source of open fields.

The problem with this is that they are the ONLY ones that can give a diagnosis... it is problematic at times... but necessary.


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