~Rumi

All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there...Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison...I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

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08 March 2009

You're Not an Alien. It's Asperger's.

Can I take this mask off now?

From a young age, I was aware I was different from other people. I was also sure I was an alien. Kids at school often commented on the things I did they thought were weird. A few examples:

  • I stared at things for long periods of time, completely losing myself in whatever it was that caught my attention.
  • I guarded all of my belongings, afraid of people touching my stuff or setting it out of place.
  • I studied things such as the grain of wood, the reflection of light upon objects, and the various shapes of television knobs.
  • I preferred to play alone, unless I had complete control over what was played and how it was played.
  • I was very sensitive to smells, certain sounds, visual distractions, and tactile stimulation.
  • I had great difficulty understanding how to complete my schoolwork.

In order to make it in the world, I forced myself to record and store actions and responses I felt were normal. But behind the mask I created, was my real world--a place where I could be safely be me. A place where I did not have to answer questions like, "What's wrong with you?" or "Why do you stare at things like that?" or "Why are you so weird?

The DSM did not include a diagnosis of Asperger's until 1994. Numerous late-diagnosed autistics have been previously misdiagnosed with other conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or schizophrenia.

Due to current public education and awareness, more autistic individuals are being diagnosed.

If you suspect you may be on the autism spectrum, and you wish to be evaluated, choose a diagnostician with care. Unfortunately, the current diagnostic criteria does fully capture how autism may appear in adults. Sadly, there are a lot of clinicians and therapists who are still in the dark when it comes to diagnosing autism--especially in females. For example, an uneducated clinician or doctor may rigidly insist that to be diagnosed on the autism spectrum you must not have any friendships. This is an unfortunate assumption. Being an introvert is one thing, having no friends is another.

No two autistics are exactly alike: if you've met one person on the autism spectrum, you've met one person on the autism spectrum.

Click here to take an online test where you may receive an Autism-Spectrum Quotient score. Though this test is an interesting tool for self-awareness, it does not replace an evaluation by a licensed professional, such as a neuro-psychologist or a psychiatrist.

2 comments:

  1. That quiz is stupid, maybe not in itself, but the stuff on there isn't even autistic. You felt like a weirdo for not wanting to be touched by strangers or for noticing things? Now parents are going to think that if their children are picky, then they have autism and parents are going to think that children who are more difficult than average have a mild form of autism. I don't know you personally, so I don't know your deal, but to try to label everyone you don't understand "autistic" is absolutely irresponsible. I wish you well, but I don't want legitimate personality types portrayed as handicaps because of this "Asperger's" hype.

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  2. You'll have to take up your issues regarding the quiz I linked with Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge.

    Most concerned parents would NOT assign the label of autism to their child after reading a blog post. Making an appointment to see a professional with experience in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Conditions would be the more likely route.

    Children who are difficult, picky, or who do not like to be touched, are not displaying the full criteria used to determine autism.

    I agree with you that labeling misunderstood people as autistic is irresponsible. It's also unethical.

    Asperger's has gained a lot of attention since its introduction in the DSM IV criteria in 1994. But it has actually been around for decades. Unfortunately, in the past, it did not get as much consideration as Kanner's autism.

    Asperger's is a neurological difference, not a psychological difference. Anyone who would falsely claim to have the condition--for whatever reasons--would be doing themselves, as well as others, a great disservice.

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