Monday, January 31, 2011

I am me.

My sister has always been a bit, well, different. She never understood certain things the rest of us did. As Mom has said repeatedly over the years, she marches to the beat of her own drummer. Not a different drummer, but her own. She was, at times, just as confusing to us as we were to her. When she was diagnosed with Aspberger's we all went AHH! Everything makes sense now! And it did.

But where does the woman end and the Aspie begin?

For most of us, that primordial question of Who Am I, is asked sometime during puberty. We understand that we are not our parents nor do we want to be. So who are we exactly? For many of us, this constant search of self is a life long journey and if we're really lucky, we'll find someone to share it with us. It would be unfair to say EA never had this existential moment in her adolescence as she did. Only her question would have been shaped differently. Instead of asking who am I, she'd more likely to ask, why don't people make sense? And for her, making sense out of the nonsensical has been a lifelong journey.

It has been painful, laborious, frustrating and filled with anger and rage and doubts and sorrow. Sound familiar? As has been mentioned frequently already in this blog, she has had to learn everything most of us take for granted by rote. The world doesn't make much more sense to her as it did when she was thirteen but she understands it better and she has learned to fit into it better. Just like, for many of us, we may not really understand ourselves or know who we are perfectly, but we've gotten some idea as to who we would like to be. Well, some of us.

For EA things are much different. Now that she knows why she marches to the beat of her own drummer she can focus on learning more about fitting in her Aspberger's with the regular world. This will continue to be something she will be concerned about and worried about making sure she doesn't mess up. Only now, she has a new question, one that has plagued the rest of us since we first started puberty, Who Am I?

She knows who she is for she too has taken the journey of self-discovery and she has come to accept herself for herself. And, like most of us, she's learned to change the things she doesn't like and to accept the things we're too lazy to change. But more than that is the question of who is the woman and who is the aspie? Am I doing something because I am EA or am I doing this because I'm an aspie? Do I get frustrated because I'm waiting in line or is it because aspies don't do lines very well? Or is it both? How can I tell when I'm being Me or when I'm being an Aspie? Is there a difference?

There are certain characteristics that the two of us share. We get them from our mother. People will frequently remark that we walk the same or we look the same, some even remark that do X the same way. I have a very bad habit of playing with the ends of my hair. As a consequence I always have split and dead ends that drive me crazy. I come by this naturally, Mom does it as well. My sister does not and, not so consequently, she has perfect ends. I don't need to think, do I fiddle with my hair because those on the autism spectrum have a tendency to stem, or is it because this is a character trait I inherited from my mother? My sister does.

For EA it comes down to wondering what part of her Being stems from who she is as a person and who she is as an aspie. Does she hate, hate, hate, hate waiting because she's EA or is it because she's got something wonky with her brain? Or is it both? Mom hates waiting, I hate waiting for things. Mom hates talking on the phone and so do I. Chances are EA comes by these two characteristics naturally. EA hates waiting because she is, at her core, impatient. If the purpose is to get from point A to point B then she wants to do it as quickly as possible and she hates being slowed down. She doesn't want to wait. If something's due Monday she'll have it finished by Saturday. It's the aspie part of her brain that gets frustrated when no one else seems to get as impatient as she is.

For example, if she is going to turn into a shopping center off to the left she can either make a turn at the light or go through it then make an eventual left hand turn when the traffic's clear. If there is a green light she always takes it. Sometimes her way is quicker. We've timed this and she has, on occasion, beaten me to the front door. But not always. She goes for what appears to be faster than being patient and waiting for the light to change in the left hand turn lane. She doesn't take into account that it's much safer to wait and turn at the light than it is to cut across three lanes of traffic to make a left.

My sister has also made mention that she hates talking on the phone. Granted, chatting on the phone is annoying. Sometimes it's more expedient to have a phone conversation than it is to send emails back and forth. But she really hates it. I can simply accept that there are few people in this world I can talk to for hours on end without wishing I could just hang up on them. Very few. I am, not, however conflicted with the question of what part of me hates it. For EA, she knows that, as an aspie, she doesn't handle phone conversations well and, as an aspie, she can learn tricks to having phone conversations in which she needs to cue in to what the other person is saying.

But what about other aspects of her life? EA hates silence. She has to have noise, be it music or conversation. She likes to have music playing even when we're in the car talking. But why? Is it because, as a person, she hates having lulls in conversation, or finds the emptiness of a room without sound annoying? Or is it because she's an aspie and she cannot function without this sort of stimuli in the background? These are aspects of her personality that she now gets to figure out. If she, as a person, doesn't like silence then she needs to deal when others need a few minutes of quiet time. If it's the aspie in her that requires a constant source of background noise then she needs to learn how to cope during those times when silence is absolutely required and it's driving her batty.

But no matter the personality quirk that will undergo this new phase of self-discovery, there will most likely be tears and rage and frustration and confusion and anger and sorrow and confusion and drama. As a family, all we can do is help her the best we can, offer guidance and support and love her-the rest is up to her.

Sound familiar?

Next up: Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Aspergers and the Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang theory.  I'm willing to bet that everyone reading this blog has seen at least one episode.  Heck, I don't own a TV and I've watched the first two seasons on DVD and am working my way through season 3 as we speak.  I LOVE this show, as do most of the people who have seen it.

When I first saw the show, during the first season, I found myself oddly sympathizing with the group of geeks, the four male protagonists who are smarter than the rest of us put together but just don't GET the normal things of life.  Sure, it is exaggerated to make a point, but the subtle undercurrents struck a chord with me.  Always managing to say the wrong them?  Been there.  Not understanding sarcasm?  All too familiar.  Being unsure about that whole dating thing works?  Boy howdy,  yes.  The scene that struck the strongest chord in me is probably the one where they all show up to a party they are invited to at precisely the time they were told, and no one is there yet, nor is the hostess (Penny, their eminently normal neighbor) even dressed.  They are baffled because, well, isn't this the time you told us the party started?  It's a very funny moment that shows clearly that this group of men simply do not get social mores, but I have to say on this one I completely was on their side.  Seriously, if you aren't supposed to show up on time to a party, how late are you supposed to be?  If you want people to show up later, why not just start the party later?  I have never, NEVER understood the fashionably late thing.  It remains one of my minor pet peeves.

Then you have Sheldon.  Socially inept to the point that he insults most people he meets, absolutely incapable of recognizing sarcasm or subtle hints, very rigid in his schedule and absolutely catatonic at the thought of breaking out of it.  

Sheldon is an Aspie.  And he manages to make you love you because of it.  Sheldon is way smarter than I am, and I hope I have a few more social skills in my arsenal, but there isn't much difference between us.  Well, I might be cuter too.

To watch a perfect example of this, I suggest you watch this short clip (embedding is disabled, sorry!).

Watch the Big Bang Theory if you don't already.  You won't be disappointed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Waiting, waiting, waiting

Hello everyone!

Sorry for the lag in blogging...darn that whole life thing.  But I am back, and today I am going to choose to discuss something that I don't think anyone really likes over much--waiting.

Waiting.  In this world, we wait everywhere.  At the dentist, at the grocery store, behind a red light.  We wait for paychecks, and letters.  We wait for good news--is the baby born yet?  We anxiously await to hear if we got into college or got the job.  And we wait for the scary and sad--is it a tumor?  Was the surgery successful?  

The wonderful modern era we live in has provided us with an infinite number of ways to distract and entertain ourselves during waiting.  I, for example, have a smart phone and use it to check email, Facebook, play Angry Birds or solitaire or Tetris, and check the news while I wait.  In the days before smart phones, I always, and I do mean always, had a book with me so I could read while waiting.

The thing is, as an Aspie, I am constitutionally incapable of waiting without something to occupy my mind.  I simply can't do it.  In fact, trying to do it drives me just a bit crazy (short trip, pack light, I know).  I just get, well, bored.  So I find something to do to occupy my brain.  

I am pretty sure that this is one thing my Aspie brain has in common with the Neurotypical brain.  Do you agree?  

Monday, January 17, 2011

Vastly Improved, AKA, are you sure you are an Aspie?

It is quite interesting when I talk to people that have known me only for the last two or three years and try to tell them I am an Aspie, because they don't see it, and they don't get it.  I explain to them what it means to be Aspie and the basics of Asperger's Disorder and being on the Autism Spectrum and they look at me with genuine bafflement..."Wow, I am glad you know, but are you sure?  I don't see this with you at all".

My answer--first, I hide it really, really well.  And second, you should have seen me when I was a teenager and into my early 20s.

Imagine your teen years, and going through puberty.  Now imagine going through the same thing while having Asperger's or being on the Autism Spectrum.  I cringe at what a tough time I had, and how hard I made it on others, and how many people I hurt or offended or turned off because I just. Didn't.  Get it.  And I was way too stubborn to even contemplate the idea that I could, in fact, be wrong.  I suggest you all read the Erudite Mom's post on emotions for further details on this from the one who was right there with me the whole time.

It was not until my mid twenties that I finally had the epiphany that even though I thought so many of the social niceties were stupid, and even though I hated small talk and didn't do well at all in groups of large people, and even though I just didn't get any of this at all--well, I was going to have to buckle down and learn some social skills and basic diplomacy for relationship building.  It took learning it by habit, training, and rote, and NONE of it was instinctive.

It still isn't instinctive.  The only reason I seem to have 'good social skills' now is because I have learned what to say and how to say it and what to look for.  And this is not an easy or a natural process for me.  I have to be on my toes and paying attention and focusing on everything I do and say every second of a social interaction.  I can't let my guard down at all, or I will inevitably do the wrong thing and make a fool of myself.  My brain still doesn't understand why I have to do it, but I have accepted that I DO, and so I practice and fake it, and I'm lucky in my friends that still love me and are forgiving of my slip ups.  They also are good at cuing me if I am heading down the wrong road so I can stop myself from making an egregious mistake--more on that in another post.  The end result of this is that I leave social interactions absolutely exhausted, even when I've had a good time.

So yes, I am an Aspie.  If you can't tell, then that means I did it correctly.  If you can tell, well, please forgive me, and let's try and get past it and be friends, OK?  I promise, I really do like you.  And I'm worth getting to know.

Friday, January 14, 2011

People Who Need People

A post on EA and social interactions and why the two are like water and oil. They can be mixed but eventually they will always separate by Erudite Sister.

Today I wish to discuss my sister and crowds of people. For many of us being around a group of people is hardly a panic inducing, especially when several of them are people we know fairly well. We might not necessarily enjoy the situations in which we find ourselves. I don't like crowds of people and I'd rather be at home with a few people than in some crowded place forced to talk to people I don't know. Neither does my sister. The main difference between the two of us is that I can handle it; she can't.

One such example is the full blown anxiety attack she had at our cousin's wedding several years ago. It was a very nice outdoor wedding at a winery. Granted EA wasn't the only hungry person getting patient for the newly married couple to show up so we could eat. However, she was the only who got physically ill being in an enclosed room with two hundred of her closest strangers.

EA had brought a book to read during the off times during the wedding. The three of us told her to put the book away as it was pretty rude to read at a social function. She didn't exactly agree and became quite agitated when she was eventually forced to put the book away. Erudite Brother tried to reason with her. It was our impression that she was overreacting and being dramatic. EA has been known to be overly dramatic when people just didn't listen to her and see things her way.

Though she is much better at dealing with large groups of people now, at the time she had a very hard time interacting and making small talk with people she doesn't know or know well. What exactly is one supposed to say to the bride's great-aunt who wants to know who you are and how you know her niece? For most of us we put a nice smile and say that we're cousins to the groom and that his mother is our father's sister. We might even say that we don't know the bride well but we've met her a few times and we thought she was quite lovely. We might even make some comment about how lovely the ceremony was and how much we liked the bride's gown and we'd end the conversation by remarking how proud of her niece the aunt must be.

Someone like my sister doesn't get small talk. She would never go up to a complete stranger and just talk to them unless she believed they had something in common. That a complete stranger would come up to her and start talking as if they knew each other is not within her parameters of things that make sense. And so she freezes. She hates small talk, doesn't understand the purpose of it. It's pointless and makes absolutely no sense. And knowing that she is going to be expected to talk to someone's Great Aunt Muriel* about random things is something that is going to cause her a bit of anxiety.

The logical assumption would be that she would feel anxious being around any large group of people, after all, no matter where you go there will always be those instances of small talk. It would also be logical to assume that going somewhere like Disneyland would give an Apsie like EA fits to be surrounded by so many people. The difference is expectation. Different social groups have different expectations.

At our family reunions EA has never had any anxiety attacks. She has a pretty good idea as to who is going to be there and what they expect of her. She knows that her great aunts are going to want to know about her work and love life and she has answers ready for them. She knows that her cousins are going to ask about her job and her love life and she has answers ready for them too. And then she has outs. She knows that she can escape when it gets to be a bit too much. And she does. No one expects her to be front and center all day every day. And if she chooses to sit in a corner and read the day away no one is going to accuse her of being anti-social. Someone might come and talk to her, make her play a game or two of cards but she knows that she can escape.

Similarly when we go somewhere where there are just gads of people, she knows that she doesn't actually have to interact with anyone she doesn't know. She doesn't have to smile and think of witty answers to questions nor does she have to pretend as if she cares about the orange taffeta dress the maid of honor wore that clashed with her red hair. She doesn't have to pretend she noticed that the maid of honor had red hair or that her dress was a summer color when it is obvious the MOH is a winter person. My sister doesn't even know what that means. God bless her.

What I have found to be helpful to my sister in cases where I know that floundering is to take over the conversation. EA has voiced her frustrations in small talk over the years. I have never understood why she can't just make small talk. It's not hard. It's been frustrating for me to understand why she always has a problem with something as simple as small talk. It's pointless conversation that you don't always mean and isn't really important. A concept she also doesn't understand.

But as she is my sister and I love her I have taken to watching her and noticing signs of distress. If I feel that she is at her limit I interject myself into the conversation and take over. I have no problems with commandeering a conversation and doing all the talking. It's easy for me and EA knows that, so long as I am talking she isn't expected to contribute to the conversation.

Again, it all boils down to expectations. If she knows what is expected of her in a conversation or if she knows that she doesn't have to worry about talking too much or too little then she isn't going to be anxious.

To make an Aspie's life easier when going into any social setting, help them know exactly what they are expected to do or say and I am sure that they will be grateful for the assistance.

Heck, your favorite aspie might even begin to expect it.

*Not to be confused with Great Aunt Agnes or anyone who is real or living.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Treatment for Asperger's disorder (the nitty gritty)

Yesterday I was discussing having Asperger's with a group of people, and the topic of medication came up.  The simple question is:  Are there medications specifically designed for treating people with Asperger's?

The simple answer is, no. Autism, no matter where you are on the spectrum, isn't something that can be cured or controlled through medication.  That being said, however, there are many drugs that can be prescribed to treat the symptoms of Asperger's, which are detailed in the excellent Mayo Clinic page on the subject.  SSRIs can be used to help control the repetitive movements as well as help anxiety, for example, and stimulants (much as would be prescribed for ADHD or ADD) can help the Autistic person to remain focused on a task.  I don't take any medication, but my psychiatrist has suggested that I might consider an SSRI and has a prescription for me whenever I might choose to fill it. 

So, how do you treat Asperger's?  Training, training, training, and practice in social skills, behavioral and educational intervention, psychotherapy, and similar treatments that depend on the severity of the symptoms and each individual's manifestation of the disorder.  What it all comes down to is practice, and training, and learning by rote.  We Aspies have to learn to recognize social cues, body language, general diplomatic social mores (this was and still is my particular difficulty) and a myriad of other things with the same difficulty as if learning a foreign language, and this just takes discipline and practice.  It's a tough road to follow, but it is possible.  I did it, with the erudite mom guiding me every step of the way.  Neither of us knew at the time that I had Asperger's or that she was doing exactly the right thing to train me to handle it and to be a productive, educated, and competent individual, but through the grace of God that is exactly what happened.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011


One of the reasons therapists really REALLY wanted to classify EA as bipolar was because she was so "emotional," and it really does seem like she is. I cannot tell you how many times we--especially the Erudite Brother, who is extremely rational to the point of being rather annoying about it--would tell her to take a deep breath, calm down, and try to think rationally...which she had a very difficult time doing.

It's commonly thought that those on the Autism Spectrum are lacking on the emotional front, at least when it comes to wearing your heart of your sleeve, which our EA definitely does. This is not only NOT true, because they of course do have emotions to varying degrees, it's not what the problem was all along anyway.

EA sees the world from her own unique perspective and has a very hard time seeing it from any other. It's not that she lacks empathy, she has it, but it's limited to what she understands viscerally--at the easy kind of empathy that comes naturally to most moral, ethical people. If she has to learn it by rote because it's beyond that visceral understanding, she has a harder time recognizing it in others, and finds it utterly impossible to replicate it in herself.

I've come to realize that she's not really being emotional, per se, but frustrated. She sees the world entirely through EA glasses, and feels very strongly that she is right about...well, whatever the issue is. If someone doesn't share her unique EA vision about the right thing to do in any given situation, she gets extremely agitated because for pete's sake, can't that other person see that she's right and they aren't? Since she sees the world in black and white she has never understood why she couldn't just tell the other person what they were doing wrong--with many disastrous results growing up, especially in her teens. Once she got worked up about any aspect of this she'd get distraught, and it took me hours--HOURS--to talk her down back to reality. It was exhausting for both of us because she really didn't understand and I could see that she didn't understand, worse, there was no way I could help her understand. It always came down to "Honey, the rest of the world doesn't see it the way you do, and you just don't have any more right to tell people what to do than they have to tell you what to do (and you know much you hate that)."

"But they're wrong," she'd wail, and we'd have to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Did I mention hours? Add to this the unequivocal fact that she's as pigheaded as I am (although not as experienced and I always outlasted her, not that I had much choice, I couldn't leave her like that), it was exhausting, all right. Try as she might, she never understood why this happened over and over again--until now.

She is certainly capable of deep and abiding emotion, and she recognizes it in others when it's something she shares--love, honesty, loyalty, compassion, etc. She's not so good at recognizing emotions she doesn't share, like hatred, distrust, envy, bitterness and the like. This is very endearing in her, but it also gets her in trouble from time to time.

But that's another story for another time from the Erudite Mom.

Erudite Sister

Greetings All!

I'm the sister and from time to time I too shall be logging on and giving my own two cents about what it was like to grow up with an aspie for a sister. Ever since she's been properly diagnosed all of those weird things she's said and done now make a whole world of sense. I have almost 5 years of experience working with kids from first grade to high school who have a wide range of special needs both physically and mentally, which allows me to look back and understand much better why it is my sister behaved or reacted the way she did in certain situations. If only we knew then what we know now. But because the use of Time Turners are heavily monitored by the Bureau of Magic (in the US it's the bureau not ministry), we don't have the ability to turn back time and correct the incidents that have made her life harder. What I hope to do is give little vignettes into our lives as kids and reflect on my reactions and discuss what I did or did not do and what would have been easier on my sister.

Of course, as a kid, when your sister is driving you crazy and you want to drive her crazy right back, you're not about to take her tweaked brain into account. No matter how much you might love her.

Tiny personal triumphs

Happy Sunday everyone--

One of the odd things about being an Aspie is that we tend to easily do things most people find at least a bit challenging, and we are horrible at doing other things most people do as naturally as breathing.

For example, I am practically a speed reader, and I can do it with absolute comprehension of what I am reading (this is not a skill limited to being an Aspie, but it serves as a general example).  I've been able to do this since I was about seven, and it took no extra work or effort on my part to develop this skill. My brain is just wired that way, it is an innate ability.

On the other hand, little things like going to a party and making a business phone call throw me into a tizzy.

So, without further ado, I'd like to share my triumphs over the past week.

  • I managed to successfully make a very important business phone call on Thursday--successfully enough that I got the result I was hoping to get out of it.
  • I went to a party with a lot of people and managed to A) not go into my normal 'I am totally overwhelmed and need to hide' mode and B) managed to not make a fool of myself.  I think.

I also read a 450 page book in just a few hours but you know...that's the easy part.



PS--if anyone would like to see a post on a specific topic related to to Autism or Asperger's, please leave it in the comments below.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

MMR does not cause Autism

Well, parents, breathe a sigh of relief.  The MMR (the Measles, mumps, rubella vaccine given to children), does not cause autism.

I've actually known this for a while, having been interested in the story for many years (way before I had a clue I could be on the Autism Spectrum myself).  I can't help ponder the history of medicine and social health in general...there was a time it was thought being dirty was actually beneficial to health because the dirt stopped any foul vapors from entering into the skin (thanks, Bill Bryson!).  You'd think that with all of our knowledge and technology we'd have progressed past the point of scaring the public with such spurious, misleading. and deliberately panic provoking science...

But I guess not.  :)

HT--Glenn Reynolds.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The glory of electronic communication--AKA, down with telephones

Good evening everyone--

When I first started researching Asperger's and Autism Spectrum disorder, one of the first things I read was that Aspies dislike talking on the telephone, and much prefer email, text messaging, and other forms of electronic communication.  I thought immediately, well, yeah.  That describes me perfectly.  I find being on the phone exhausting, difficult, and I know I don't communicate what I really feel OR understand what people are trying to tell me nearly as well as when I have words in front of my face.  This becomes a real problem when the topic of the phone call relates to important issues--medical, financial, career, etc. Heck, I can't pick up on vocal cues when I am in person, and now I am supposed to do this over the phone?  Added to this, I am a visual learner, and have a hard time absorbing what I don't see.

I know many, MANY people who feel exactly the same way who don't have Asperger's--but pretty much every Aspie I've read or talked to does.  In my case, it is definitely a family trait.  The amazing Erudite Mom is exactly the same way and she is not an Aspie, to give an example.

I am curious--how do you like to communicate?  Do you like both, depending on the situation, and if you have a preference, why?  And if you are like me and have almost a pathological hatred of making or taking phone calls, what do you do to overcome it in those situations you can't avoid that cursed invention of Mr. Bell?

My ulterior motive for writing this post?  Thursday morning I have a phone call interview (not about a job, curses!) of great importance.  I have to do a really good job of getting my point across, and I have to do it on the phone.  I have it written out what I can't forget to say, but... 

I have to admit to being very nervous that I won't do a good job, so any tips and tricks are vastly appreciated by me, and hopefully, other readers of this blog.

Here but for the grace of God go I...


Monday, January 3, 2011

Let the job searching begin!

Happy Monday morning!

Today, I am going to focus on finding a job.  Though I have been job searching for the last couple of years,  up until now I was always looking for a new job in the field of libraries and being a librarian.  No more!  Now I am looking way outside the box and considering fields of work I've never previously considered, even if it means going back to school.

This is, as you can imagine, both exciting and scary.

So I ask you all--any ideas?  I'm especially interested in my fellow Aspies and those swimming in the Autism Spectrum...what jobs do you have, and what do you think are essential elements in a job that allows our tweaky yet highly smart and productive brains to be successful?

New year, new blog, and a new start.  Let's raise a glass to 2011 being the best year yet.



Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Erudite Mom

Hello, I'm the Erudite Mom, and I'll be posting here from time to time my thoughts on what it was like to raise up a kid with Asperger's...and not knowing it. We're really a family that tends to pooh-pooh spurious psych diagnoses, champions of a pull yourself up by your bootstraps sort of a mentality, and generally do not like expecting people to accommodate themselves to our little quirks just because they are ours. On the other hand, it's nice to know that some of her little quirks aren't just her being dense, or arrogant (okay, she is that sometimes), or rude or any other tag that might be put on a person on the Spectrum. She's had to learn all the little social niceties that most of us understand instinctively from a very young age by rote, not easy, in fact exhausting. It was hard on both of us as she was growing up. It still is, actually. It's been an adventure.

You'll hear from me about the trials of being a mom of an inexplicable kid, how I coped, and mostly how SHE coped (usually amazingly, which is why she went undiagnosed for so long). Along with EA, I hope you'll participate in the conversation by sharing your own adventures, because although we've been on this journey for almost 35 years, we've also just begun it. Here's to a journey with no real destination but much to learn along the way!


The Erudite Mom

The many misdiagnoses of Asperger's

Good morning--

It's a beautiful rainy morning in my neck of the woods, I have hot chocolate at hand, and the time is ripe for  starting a discussion on the issue that plagues many people with Asperger's--getting diagnosed.

First, my story.  When I learned that I could be on the Autism Spectrum, I immediately sought a diagnosis. The psychologist I saw met with me for about 30 minutes and immediately said I was in fact Bipolar II, based primarily on the fact that I am highly emotional and because I tend to talk loudly, fast, and am always moving some part of my body (and that I was absolutely not autistic in any way because I am emotional and according to her, autistic people aren't).  Later, as I failed to show trackable mood swings or impulsive behavior, she altered it to Bipolar NOS.  Was she wrong?  Yes, and I did eventually get the more studied and proper diagnosis of having Asperger's Disorder.  But did she make a very common mistake?  Absolutely.

It is very difficult to detect someone on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum disorder, especially in adults where it is so often misconstrued as being shy, or socially inept.  The Mind institute at UC Davis lists just a few reasons, and provides an excellent list of resources.  Moreover, Asperger's or Autism Spectrum can be misconstrued as many things-ADD, ADHD, Bipolar, and others as well.  One merely needs to peruse the internet to find many, many people on the autism spectrum that have had issues with being misdiagnosed, often misdiagnosed within the Autism spectrum itself.  Does your child have High Functioning Autism, or Asperger's?  Does this change with treatment, or age?  And where do you draw the line between being on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, as opposed to just being a few 'quirks'?

To compound the difficulty of getting a proper diagnosis, there is the question of what to call it.  In 2010, The American Psychiatric Association decided that Asperger's is not a seperate condition but should be subsumed into the Autism Spectrum Disorder category of the in-progress DSM V (the primary source for diagnosing mental and behavioral conditions),  a choice that many dislike.

If this wasn't complicated enough, there are many who have more than one disorder.  I have a friend who was long ago diagnosed as being ADD, but only found out in his 30s that he has Asperger's as well.  I've read of others with ADHD and Asperger's, or even one women who is struggling with being Bipolar and having Asperger's.  

The final conclusion to be draw from this is that diagnosis is not easy.  The human brain really doesn't quantify itself as neatly as the DSM categories do, and God bless those who try to do it anyway.  

I hope you learned something, and please feel free to share your stories, insights, disagreements if they are respectful, and further information in the comments below.  


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blog Roll

Hello everyone--

I have started a blog roll with the excellent website by Brian King, as it and he have been a very valuable resource to me in learning about this whole Aspie thing. I intend to post many more useful blogs, and encourage anyone to read those blogs for further information.

Also, if you know of any good resources, please put the links in the comments and I'll add them to the roll!



A brand new year, a brand new blog, let the adventure start!

Hello everyone.

Wow, my first blog post.  Though I have been reading blogs for years, I never thought that my life was interesting enough to start writing one myself.  Times change.  I promise to keep this blog cogent to the topic of Autism, and NOT bore you all with cute pictures of my cats and descriptions of what I am having for dinner.  I'll save that for Facebook.

As you can guess by the blog title and the about me section, I have Asperger's Disorder.  This link will explain what that is for those that don't know.  I have only recently been diagnosed (Asperger's is a very tricky thing to recognize and often gets misdiagnosed, especially in adults), and though nothing has changed in one sense as I am still the person I always was, everything has changed as I now know WHY I am the way I am and can use that information to strive to become a better me.

My purpose in starting this blog is to start conversation and create community.  So please, post away.  We are only as strong as we are together.

Happy New Year and God's blessings on you all,