I am using this site to not only provide great website sand marketing services to small businesses but to also educate people on various topics I know about. One of these newer topics I am learning about is Autism Spectrum Disorder ( Aspergers). I have recently found out that I more than likely have Aspergers Syndrome. This is a an outdated term, and is now lumped together in to the broader category of Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD).
ASD is what DSM 5 uses to diagnose Autism. I fall in the high functioning Autism category. This essentially means I am better at communicating than those of my ASD brethren that are lower functioning.
This discovery about myself is kind of shocking and overwhelming. At first I felt very upset, and low. I felt like I was inferior to other people who are considered NT (neurologically typical). This feeling was in fact very false, because people who are Autistic just have their brains wired differently than those who are considered NT. In fact sometimes while Aspies (people diagnosed with Aspergers) may lack certain social skills, they are in fact usually of average to above average intelligence. Finding this out about myself, and once I was able to discuss this with the people closest to me and they did not shy away from me I was able to come to terms with it better.
In order for people who still do not know about ASD or specifically higher functioning Autistics, I am going to share a bit about the common symptoms I am experiencing and how they currently affect me. So that way you can look further in to yourself or your loved one to decide if they should get tested themselves.
Social Anxiety is a very large symptom I face on a daily basis. This is the inability to remain in a calm state in large groups of people (simplest form of a definition). How this effects me personally is in several ways:
Long Lines – When at the grocery store, or movie theater, or amusement parks…etc I get really uncomfortable when standing in a long line. This increases if I have people in front of me and behind me. I feel like my heart is racing, I get really heavy butterflies in my stomach, and my ability to keep a calm demeanor completely disappears. I become very snappy, and uncomfortable throughout my entire body. This escalates more and more the longer I am stuck in this line.
Big Crowds – This one is very similar to the above one. I cannot be surrounded by people on all sides of me, it makes me feel trapped. I begin to panic and must remove myself from the crowd as quickly as I can. If I am not able to leave the area, I must go to a less crowded area in the place I am in.
Also with Social Anxiety there are certain places I do not like to go regardless of how many people there are. Although most of the places I am about to name will be places normally with a large number of people in them.
Airports – This one stinks because I absolutely love to fly in an airplane. I just do not like the chaos that comes with going in the airport. I hate the uncertainty of where we need to be, and how long it will take, and waiting. I also do not like the idea of having to rush around which always seems to happen at airports. All of these things make Airports a trigger for my anxiety.
Amusement Parks – I absolutely love to hate these places. I love riding rides, and eating unhealthy foods. I hate the massive crowds of the most seemingly rude people around. When going to these parks, I get stepped on, and bumped in to. People cut me in lines, and it just seems like everyone is out to step all over me and go first. This causes me to become very anxious and I am not able calm down enough in time usually to actually be able to enjoy the rides I got abused in line to ride.
New People’s Houses – This is a tough one, if I meet you and you invite me over. I feel flattered and happy to have a friend who wants me to spend time with them at their home, but I hate new environments. It’s not even because I feel that this new friends house is going to be messy, or cluttered. It comes down to safety, I do not feel safe in new environments. So it often times takes me a long time to agree to go to someone new’s house.
Doctor’s Offices / Waiting Rooms – Now before you tell me you hate the doctor too and everyone does hear me out. I do not mind the doctor, or procedure as much as I do the waiting room. I am highly uncomfortable in the waiting room of the doctor. I hate how close together we all have to sit when waiting our turn. This makes me uncomfortable as well.
Sensory Overload is very complex and can cover a bunch of different aspects of my life. So I will do my best to break down each of these as best I can.
Taste – This is a big one, because I absolutely love food. What I do not like about certain foods is the texture. This bothers me to the point that I am not able to continue eating said food. This can be a problem when it comes to certain moments when that is all I am able to eat. So sometimes I go hungry.
Sight – Sometimes if I have been concentrating really long on a task that uses my eyes, while some people will just get tired, my eyes completely stop focusing. Even in my glasses I get very blurred vision. This is something that sometimes will only last for a moment while other times it could last for several. This causes me to panic and become very uncomfortable.
Hearing – This is another big one for me. Before my diagnosis I thought I had hearing problems because I would be talking to someone and not be able to focus on (hear) what they were talking about. The reason this is happening to me is because I pick up on so many noises at the same time around me that every sound blends together making it very difficult to distinguish singular sounds. So in order for me to be able to hold meaningful conversations where I actually know what the person is saying I have to be in a very quiet area. There are also certain sounds that really annoy me. I hate the sound the car makes when the key is in the ignition and you open your door. I also cannot stand the sound people make when they scuff their feet when they are walking. The sound of slamming doors gets on my nerves, and many other noises push me in to a panic.
Touch – This one is different for every Aspie. I say this because some of us do not like to be touched by other people at all. I do not mind as long as I have developed some sort of relationship with you first. The biggest complaint in touch for me is Dust. I hate getting dust on my fingers and hands. This does not just have to be dust, but dust like textures (Flour, Dried Play Dough, Chalk, Dirt,…etc) I also hate having sticky substances on my hands. When this happens it makes me feel very high anxiety and sometimes even anger.
Smell – This one I feel like most of my thoughts on are pretty normal. I hate the smell of cat feces and dog feces. I also cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke in the house. This one causes me to become upset. I feel like this is the one sense that is pretty normal for me.
Lack of Communication Skills
Communication is very important when it comes to interacting with people. This is a skill that I feel like I am very horrible at. I feel like I lack good verbal and non-verbal communication skills. I tend to upset my peers in a variety of ways. The first and most common way is not being able to understand their non-verbal gestures and cues. For instance, I could be telling them a story that makes them feel uncomfortable, and they could be trying to be nice to show me that they are uncomfortable by displaying a non-verbal cue or gesture, and I will be oblivious to it, or misunderstand it as either them being rude to me, or them not feeling any bit uncomfortable and keep telling my story. One of the biggest verbal issues I have is reading between the lines. Sometimes people are not as direct as I feel they should be with me, so because of that they will say something to me, and I take it the wrong way completely.
I have been known to get offended by something someone said when they were just joking. I have also been just joking and offended someone else. Someone might also say something to me, and I take it as hostile or rude when they are just sharing how they feel. This is a big one with my significant other. She will tell me how she feels about something, and instead of relating to her I get offended. So she has to be very careful how she words things, and I have to really question the intentions and possible intentions before reacting.
Inappropriate Facial Expressions / Body Language
This one is not what some of you all are thinking, I do not make crude faces. What I mean by Inappropriate facial expressions is that sometimes my facial expressions and body language lie. For instances there are days where I feel totally fine, and happy but if you looked at my face you would think I am sad, or mad. This makes communication very difficult with people. As sometimes people will be sharing something very sad with me, and expect me to empathize with them, and instead I appear to not care at all. This is completely not the case though as inside I could feel very bad for you, and be very sad for what is going on with you. Another problem I have is sometimes when I get very uncomfortable and am in the middle of an intense argument I sometimes start to smile. This is not because I am happy or wanting to laugh at the person, but rather because I am not in tune with my brain and facial expressions and body language. So while I could very well be upset inside, on the outside I am smiling. This can be a very dangerous time for me during fights.
Inability to recognize Facial Cues / Body Language
Much like I am unable to maintain correct facial and body language cues, I am just as ignorant to others non-verbals. This is a big problem in that it makes it hard for me to know how someone I love feels. So when she gets sad and upset to me I interrupt her as being angry sometimes irate. Or when she is mad or aggravated I take it as her being sad. I also sometimes completely miss it and think she is fine when indeed I have upset her. This lack of understanding is definitely a hard and frustrating situation to face. It is difficult when the person you love is hurting and you do not always recognize it for what it is.
There is light at the end of the tunnel:
There is some good news, with treatment and practice you can learn how to communicate in a way that will allow you to be able to function in normal every day society. I have just recently been tested for Aspergers and regardless of what the test comes back with I know if I do not qualify for ASD, I still exhibit several of the symptoms if not all of them. So because of this, I am going to work with my therapist, and practice implementing techniques that will help me with these symptoms. This is a very treatable condition.
So below are some resources that I have included in this document to learn more about ASD, and Aspergers. Please visit these resources, and also feel free to leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.
to our success,
Sam Austin Lee