dude. seriously. cool.

Okay, okay, I know I'm posting like some kind of a...a thing that posts way too much today.

Partly it's because I will, as of Friday, almost certainly be employed at Dominick's. I've never worked in a deli before! And as of next Wednesday, I may very well be employed at an outbound call center. It involves reading from a script, getting stockholders to cast their proxy votes. If I am lucky, I will be able to simultaneously surf the internet, at least for KoL purposes. If not I will at least get to experience the Zen of scripted phone conversation.

But a few posts ago, my girl kisekileia suggested some of my issues seem to match up with Asperger's Syndrome. As a smart lady and an Aspie herself (is that one of those things you can say about other people? or only okay if you're a member of the category?) her suggestion carries weight with me. So I looked into it.

This article over at the Autism Society of America is a good introduction.

But what really piqued my interest was this page, which has diagnostic criteria. I'm'a copy-paste Gillberg's criteria, and bold those things which either do apply to me, or definitely did when I was a kid, before I started to do serious overhaul of how I interacted with people.

1.Severe impairment in reciprocal social interaction
(at least two of the following)
(a) inability to interact with peers
(b) lack of desire to interact with peers
(c) lack of appreciation of social cues
(d) socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior

2.All-absorbing narrow interest
(at least one of the following)
(a) exclusion of other activities
(b) repetitive adherence
(c) more rote than meaning

3.Imposition of routines and interests
(at least one of the following)
(a) on self, in aspects of life
(b) on others

4.Speech and language problems
(at least three of the following)
(a) delayed development
(b) superficially perfect expressive language
(c) formal, pedantic language
(d) odd prosody, peculiar voice characteristics
(e) impairment of comprehension including misinterpretations of literal/implied meanings

5.Non-verbal communication problems
(at least one of the following)
(a) limited use of gestures
(b) clumsy/gauche body language
(c) limited facial expression
(d) inappropriate expression
(e) peculiar, stiff gaze

6.Motor clumsiness: poor performance on neurodevelopmental examination

(All six criteria must be met for confirmation of diagnosis.)


The "imposition of routines and interests" thing still counts, I think, even though which routines and interests I focused on would change from time to time. Obviously I don't know if my motor skills were up to developmental par. On the other hand, I've always been kind of bad at sports, or anything that required non-choreographed coordinated movements.

Yeah, I know, it's dangerous to self-diagnose anything. Especially neuropsychological stuff, where a host of different symptoms can be readily applied to different disorders. And the psychologists I've had over the years never brought this up. On the other hand, since most of the criteria involve social interactions with peers, they wouldn't have really had a chance to observe it, and would have had to rely on the information I gave them.

It would be nice, though, to be able to point to some faulty brain wiring as one of several causes for the social awkwardness that caused me so much trouble. Very nice indeed. After the hard part's over, too, so I'm in much less danger of getting a complex about it.

8 comments:

kisekileia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kisekileia said...

The Asperger's community on LiveJournal (http://community.livejournal.com/asperger) could probably help you out a lot. I think that if you fit the diagnostic criteria for AS as a child and have had to consciously learn to cover up the traits, you probably do have it, since women tend to be particularly good at learning to cover it up as we get older. Asperger's is still thought of as a predominantly male condition, and stereotyped in ways that fit more with how males with AS present than how females with AS present. So it's not surprising that none of the psychologists you've seen have brought it up.

The Gillberg criteria are also fairly strict--more so than the DSM-IV. Another trait that seems to be almost universal among people on the autism spectrum, although it's not in the diagnostic criteria yet, is issues with sensory processing--oversensitivity, undersensitivity, or other weird reactions to stimuli such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures. Picky eating, being unable to tolerate certain noises, being absolutely delighted by certain colours or textures--things like that.

And yes, Aspie is a term that's OK for everyone to use. :)

The Rambling Taoist said...

Let me tell ya, chances are if you think you're an aspie, you probably are! It's amazing how the standard criteria define many of us -- I'm a diagnosed aspie too.

One day while meeting with my mental health counselor, he started to read about a condition out of his DSM. We both agreed it fit me to a T and it was, of course, Asperger's.

If nothing else, knowing that one is an aspie helps to explain the parts of our lives that have never made much sense.

Fiat Lex said...

kisekileia:

Thanks for the link! I will definitely go over there and lurk a bit. Though I'm not sure if I have the mental bandwidth to expand into another online community right now! XD I'm a bit longwinded, y'see...

That would make sense; if the psychologists I'd seen were more used to thinking of Asperger's as a "male" condition it might not have occurred to them. Also there's the fact that I mostly saw them in the context of my parents' divorce. So they could pretty easily chalk up my social problems to the stress of my situation and not look for less obvious factors.

The noises thing definitely rings true, too (ha, pun). I cannot bear the sound of styrofoam rubbing against anything--it's like a dog whistle, almost physically painful.

I'm pretty happy about this idea, and when I was telling my sisters about it they too were cautiously pleased. Amber was very encouraging, and glad for me that I found out now, when it could be sort of an after-the-fact attagirl for having reacted in the right way at the time. If I'd found out as a teen I have no Idea how I would have reacted! Pearl was kind of amused, remembering how easy it had been for her to make friends and communicate effectively with a high school classmate how had full-blown autism. We were like, "yeah, guess you had a prior frame of reference and didn't even know it!"

Rambling Taoist:

Totally. If and when I get health insurance at my new job and have a chance to go back to my local mental health clinic, I'm'a spring this on them right off the bat. My general vague certainty that
"something" about me, the person, is weird and different from everyone around me can now be translated into the general vague certainty that my brain just works a little differently! So much less worrisome.

It would/will be nice to get official confirmation, of course. You can only get so far by saying "well, I read some stuff recommended to me by friends on the internet, and I'm reasonably sure..." Heheh. One of the positive side effects of being so focused on my own personality, psychology etc. for so long is that I feel like I can rely on my own opinion a fair bit on a thing like this. Eases my mind, though alas, it doesn't have much evidentiary value for people who weren't around to see how weird I used to be.

Lorena said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing that. I seem to fit some of the criteria, too, but maybe I'm not, since I've been in-and-out of counseling for the last 18 years. Somebody would've said something.

Glad to hear that you're rejoining the workforce. Some financial stability never hurts.

Amber E said...

Just to clarify I'm not saying - yay you have a problem. It's a positive supportive type thing that if you find answers about yourself that is a good thing. If you understand challenges that you have overcome or that are puzzling you know that is useful to you. I'm writing this because you described my reaction as pleased. I think if it more as supportive. Not yay you have issues but yay for better understanding of yourself that may be useful or beneficial to you.

Okay, love ya kiddo.

Fiat Lex said...

Lorena -

That's one of the reasons it's so difficult to self-diagnose; every time something comes along we tend to think "oo! maybe that could be what's up with me." And of course, if one turns out to have a real brain-thing or personality-thing which already has an official name, there are bound to be a dozen other conditions similar to it which describe most symptoms but don't quite hit the mark. ("Sin", ha! Missing the mark, get it? Ah, I'm terrible. ^_^)

Although given the varying degrees of competence of psychologists I personally have seen over the years, I do ponder the psychological community's motives for discouraging self-diagnosis. The good ones worry that we might make mistakes or drive ourselves even crazier "trying on" new diagnoses. The bad ones just worry we won't need their help putting together a treatment plan if we do manage to figure it out, ha!

So depending on how good your shrinks have been, m'lady, I wouldn't put too much stock in their failure to mention anything. None of mine ever so much as hinted I had something neuropsychological--except the one I hired myself, and she thought I had ADD! XD

Amber -

Good point, good point. I certainly didn't mean to imply that you were pleased I may have a thing. Rather, I intended to convey that you are pleased I have a name for a thing which already would have been there in the first place. As my favorite C.S. Lewis quote puts it, "If there is a wasp in the room, you like to be able to see it."

Love you too. :)

kisekileia said...

Lorena, someone wouldn't necessarily have realized it. Most counselors just don't have Asperger's on their minds--especially for adult women, since many women with Asperger's have learned to camouflage it well, and since it doesn't occur to most people to suspect Asperger's in anyone other than a little boy.