The Importance of Identifying Asperger’s Syndrome / High Functioning Autism in Adults

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“Growing up with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome can be traumatic for many individuals.”

Many adults with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome are usually keenly aware that they do not ‘fit in’, yet are unable to either express or understand exactly what it is that makes them feel differently to others.

For this reason many undiagnosed adults develop negative perceptions of themselves as “weird”, “crazy,” or “broken.”

Despite these negative self-images, many undiagnosed adults are able to hide their difficulties by developing coping mechanisms, such as mirroring or mimicking those around them in social settings.

They are therefore seen as being able to engage in the everyday routines of life such as working, having relationships, getting married and having children.

Yet though they have the ability to apply such coping mechanisms, many individuals with undiagnosed AS, are never able to shake off the underlying awareness of themselves as inherently ‘different’ to those around them.

Ironically, the very skill sets that adults with undiagnosed moderate to mild Asperger’s apply, in order to try and ‘fit in,’ have meant that they have flown “under the diagnostic radar”.

Other individuals with undiagnosed AS, who have not learnt such skill sets, may show greater signs of having social communication difficulties.

This can make them more susceptible to situations such as chronic unemployment and social isolation due to the fact that they may be mistakenly perceived as people who are deliberately anti-social, argumentative, objectionable or aloof loners who crave only their own company.

In reality, these people may be individuals who are displaying the lack of social skills required to communicate and act appropriately, that make up the characteristics or traits commonly described in Asperger’s Syndrome.

It is now well established that individual with AS may display varying degrees of some or all of the following characteristics:

A lack of social skills which manifest in inappropriate social approaches, responses or social awkwardness.

Difficulty recognizing the facial expressions or emotions of others.

Difficulties in considering or understanding others’ viewpoints.

Limited interest in friendships


Difficulties with being able to communicate their ideas, thoughts and emotions.

Difficulties in comprehending and following social reasoning and adhering to the status quo.

Difficulty with transitions and changes.

Hold a strong need for routines.

Narrow range of interests or idiosyncratic special interests.

Be overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells and sights.

Have motor coordination difficulties.

Experience difficulty managing their own negative feelings, especially anxiety, anger and depression

Adults with undiagnosed AS are susceptible to experiencing high degrees of stress, frustration, confusion and anxiety due to their awareness that they do not ]fit in’.

These additional difficulties have often been misinterpreted, misdiagnosed, misunderstood and mistreated, especially when their underlying AS is undiagnosed or not adequately understood.

Some of the most common additional difficulties include:

Angry outbursts (physical or verbal aggression, verbally threatening behavior)

Agitation and restlessness

Increase in obsessive or repetitive activities, thoughts, or speech

Low mood or depression

Apathy and inactivity

Unfortunately many professionals who are unfamiliar with AS often only focus on the surface symptoms and behaviors that an individual with undiagnosed AS may display.

This leaves individuals with undiagnosed AS at risk of being incorrectly diagnosed with conditions such as:

Personality Disorders

Psychosis

Bipolar Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Mood disorder

It is therefore essential, that in order to prevent individuals with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome from being incorrectly diagnosed with conditions, treatment plans and medications that will not help them, that a thorough Autism assessment must be applied to adults who fall within this criteria.

A proper diagnosis of AS can better help adults put their difficulties into perspective and enable them to understand the underlying reasons for their lifelong struggles.

Correct diagnosis and effective treatment can help improve self-esteem, work performance and skills, educational attainment and social competencies.

More importantly a correct diagnosis can trigger both a journey of self-discovery and a healing process for the individuals concerned. 

 

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Please Look Me in the Eye When You’re Talking to Me.

Sounds like a simple enough request doesn’t it?

And for most people it is.

But I have found over the last few years that looking people in the eyes when I’m speaking to them is something that does not come naturally to me.

I can do it for brief periods of time when I really concentrate on it.

But in those brief moments of time I find that I focus so hard on reminding myself to look the other person in the eye, that I lose track of whatever it was I was saying in the first place.

No matter how badly I may have wanted to communicate an idea, whatever train of thought I might have been traveling on at the time, quite simply disappears.

It’s as if I can’t do those two things at once.

Because whenever I don’t try to rein my gaze in, even though it may wander all over the place, my though processes and communication skills remain clear.

I wonder what this says about me and how it affects the way others react to me?

I know for instance, that the idea of being able to look someone in the eye while speaking to them is often perceived as a sign of honesty.

It’s meant to indicate that the person speaking is telling the truth.

So what must people think of me when I’m speaking to them, yet not looking at them?

Sometimes the person I’m speaking too will actually turn around to try and see what it is that I’m looking at as I speak.

It is in those moments that I become acutely aware that I’m staring at a random spot on the wall or gazing at nothing more than the patch of invisible air just beside the person’s head.

Then there’s always that empty space just beyond the other person’s shoulder that somehow always seems to hold me spell-bound, for no apparent reason.

It seems I will look anywhere but into the eyes of the person I’m talking too.

One of the things I find so weird about this though isn’t just the fact that I can’t seem to look others in the eye when I’m speaking to them, it’s that I can easily, sometimes almost obsessively, look other people in the eyes when they are speaking to me.

It’s as if, when they’re speaking to me, eye contact  is not just Okay, it’s mandatory, but when I’m speaking to them, eye contact becomes an additional sensory burden.

It’s almost as if I can’t do the two things at once; Speak and look into another person’s eyes at the same time.

I do not understand why this is.

I only know that for some odd reason, I can’t seem to do this thing that comes so easily to others.

I’m not sure if it’s getting worse as I get older or whether years of noticing people’s strange reactions to me have simply made me more aware of it.

I’m also not sure whether or not this indicates that I have Aspie (Asperger) tendencies,  as I can look people in the eye, so I don’t actually have a fear of looking people in the eye, it’s just that I can’t  look them in the eyes when I’m talking.

Does anyone else experience this or know what it means?