Sunday, January 25, 2015

Could it be?

The first time I heard the word "Asperger's" I was in the old AOL Christian chat room many years ago.  A young mother, Lori, used the word; she thought perhaps one of her children might have the syndrome, I believe.  Of course I googled it at the time and and learned that it is a mild form of autism.  I really didn't give it any more thought.  

Three years ago my daughter mentioned her favorite television show, "Parenthood", and I began watching the series.  One of the main characters is Max, a boy diagnosed with autism, and I learned more about Asperger's syndrome by watching the show.  By the way, everything I've read says that Max does a perfect portrayal of a child with autism. 

Later on, an adult character, Hank, read a book about Asperger's and decided he might have it.  I'm not sure if it was ever definitely settled on the show, but with Hank's portrayal, I began to wonder if perhaps I am afflicted to some small extent with this condition.  

I realize online tests are never to be taken seriously.  But this morning I took an online test to see what it would tell me about my chances of having Asperger's, and I fell into the "maybe" column.  

Here are things that make me think I might be affected.
1.  I have never made friends easily.  As a child, I actually preferred playing alone with my imaginary friends to playing with a crowd of real children, most of whom didn't like my peculiar ways anyhow.
2.  My husband is my only friend, and I'm fine with that, although I'm sure it's a burden on him.
3.  I hate social situations.
4.  I have to force myself to look people in the eye.
5.  When I'm shopping, or in any public place, I avoid eye contact with everyone.  That's why people often think I'm snooty... they see me, but I don't see them.  They think I am ignoring them.
6.  I often say inappropriate things to people, not intending to.  I sometimes insult people without realizing it until Cliff brings it to my attention later.  

The oldest grandson says I have no filters, and that my give-a-damn's busted.  

Maybe I just have Asperger's.  

OK, I'm seventy years old.  I'm not going to go hunting for a diagnosis; I've made it this long without anybody telling me why I am like this.  I've just assumed I was an introvert.  

What do you think?

By the way, the test results said there is a 30% chance I have Asperger's, but that it's not likely.  


sim warford said...

Well, I don't know, Donna--but you've described me to a T!

Celeste Sanders said...

Described me too. I know I can contribute a lot of those same symptoms to being hard of hearing. The not looking at people because I might eavesdrop on them(lipreader). I have very few people I actually would call my friend. BTW you also described intelligent people.

Pam J. said...

Asperger's is a diagnosis that has obsessed me for 30 years. My son is 32 and since he was 2-years-old I noticed that he was very different from his peers. Since Asperger's syndrome wasn't even recognized as a true condition until 1981 (my son was born in 1982) no doctor ever told me that he had AS. He's seen psychiatrists off and on throughout his life, and the consensus seems to be that he has clinical depression so he's been on antidepressants for much of his adult life. But here's the thing about AS: it's now no longer a diagnosis recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, the group that publishes the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) that is used to classify all mental/behavior disorders. As of 2013, Asperger's, and autism itself, have been merged into one broad category of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). So what does all of this mean? To me, it means that no one will ever truly understand Asperger's--not in my lifetime at least. It means that doctors and patients crave a label for any non-standard behavior. But what practical use is the label? It's not something you would put on a job application. It's not something you have to report to the Dept of Motor Vehicles. Maybe its only practical use is that people who believe they have it know they aren't alone, there are thousands, maybe millions of people on the planet with the same "condition." In other words, it's not really abnormal. It's just a personality type, one that can't be changed. If you are basically content with your life, I say try to put all of the AS thoughts out of your head because they are just renting free space in your brain.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

I like the grandson's diagnosis! Love it. I was married to Pete for 30 years before he ever told me as soon as he walks into a room he has not been in before, he begins immediately counting things. Not objects and decorations, but sheets of paneling, nail holes, that type of thing. Very Monk like. But it made him extremely good at finishing cabinetry.


It could be. But putting a label on yourself at this late date doesn't really change anything, does it?

Jon said...

I dislike labels and think they are used FAR too frequently. We're all human, we all have a wide variety of traits - some inherited, some acquired. Autism certainly exists, but my uneducated opinion is that it's over-diagnosed.

I have just about all the "traits" that you listed. I'm just very skilled at covering them up. I preferred to be alone when I was a child. I don't make friends easily. I hate any social situation. I avoid eye contact.
I am unbearably self-conscious. I enjoy my own company.

I attribute much of this to my abusive father. My mother was charming and exceptionally beautiful, but she had the same lack of confidence that I did. She hated social situations.

When I was a young musician living in Hollywood, I led a wild and gregarious lifestyle but it was all a sham. My confidence was completely synthetic. I needed alcohol and drugs in order to function in social situations. It wasn't the real "me".

The older I get, the more I enjoy being completely alone. I get anxiety attacks even when I have to go grocery shopping.

Sorry for the long comment. I seriously doubt if you have Asperger's and I wouldn't worry about it.

Margaret said...

I look at this way: whether you do or don't, what difference does it make? You are the person you are and those who love you accept the way you are. Patt thought he was on the spectrum too, but I think he was just reserved and not very social.

Sister--Three said...

You have some friends Donna


Back Porch Writer said...

I tested myself once on an online test and was not in the range of autism but just outside it. I prefer to be with people one on one (which is why I'm always suprised and energized when I have fun in a crowd), I feel uncomfortable looking people in the eye, I often say things that offend w/o realizing it. I know that I'm not but it's a little scary to be so close to the spectrum. I think a lot of my issue though was being an only child until I was 10 and being in an adult world and alone at play. Stuffed animals were my friends. I am way obsessive about having order to things, methodical and doing things in a certain order. Interesting post.

Snoskred said...

I was diagnosed with Aspergers a few years ago.

It affects everyone differently but these are the things that I struggle most with -

- sound sensitivity - I cannot stand it if someone is whistling for some reason that drives me up the wall. I cannot have two similar noise streams happening at once - eg the radio and the tv - but I can listen to five or six conversations and file away those conversations in my head for later.

- I have a cup of human interaction - once it is full I cannot be around other humans for a bit, until it empties again.

- going to places I have never been to can be very stressful for me, but once I have been there and I feel comfortable I'm happy to return.

- I struggle a bit to deal with change, especially if it is unexpected and I don't have time to prepare for it.

They say most of us get some special talent - I believe mine is number recognition. I can look at a friends numberplate once and I have it for life, in my mind. When I worked in the call centre I could look at the switchboard and tell you who an operator was speaking to by the mobile number they had called.

I'm the most comfortable in my own company and I don't really need friends to be able to survive.

I think the eye contact one is a dead giveaway (to me at least) that you do have it. I don't think relying on an online test is the best idea though..

The truth is, knowing you have it and finding ways to deal with it is the best thing in the world, at least it was for me. :)

Traci DeSheles said...

I've met you. That was not my impression. Just my thoughts!

Lori said...

I honestly don't think you fall in the spectrum. I have a very good friend whose oldest son has AS and whose youngest son is autistic -- a highly functioning autistic child. The one with AS is very similar to what Snoskred said above. I have another friend with two sons who are both autistic. The older is severely autistic -- he doesn't speak and can't do many things for himself. The younger of the two is not quite as bad as the older, but will probably never be able to live on his own. Her husband exhibits signs of having AS but won't admit to it or get tested. She, herself, is very reserved and is a lot like the way you described yourself. Autism and Aspergers are complicated conditions, but there is a very specific scale for testing.