FAQ

Q: Is there such a thing as Asperger's syndrome?
A: Yes. Dr. Hans Asperger identified certain common characteristics in children whom he nicknamed "little professors." As his findings were published, these similarities among people with specific strengths and weaknesses came to be called "Asperger's syndrome." Asperger's syndrome is considered by many to be a less severe form of autism. During the mid-twentieth century, however, Dr. Asperger was developing his own theories about "little professors" while doctors in other parts of the world were doing studies of autistic children. Doctors are still trying to define the distinctions between a classic case of autism and a classic case of Asperger's syndrome; hence the term "autistic spectrum disorder."

Q: Why refer to "traits" when Asperger's can legitimately be called a "syndrome"?
A: I'm not going to lie. We Aspies are smart. We're quick on the draw intellectually, and to be told that we have a "syndrome" is insulting to our pride. The medically related struggles an Aspie faces are limited to sensory perception differences and stress-induced illnesses. I see the rest of our "problems" as personality traits. Viewed this way, the same characteristics that make us exasperating also make us lovable. We can't change who we are. We can only change how we behave.

Q: What are the Asperger's traits addressed in this blog?
A: Source: TonyAttwood.com
*Sensitivity to sensory input
*Abnormal fascination with special interests
*Detail-orientation
*High IQ and high level of talent
*Perfectionism
*Rule-bound behavior
*Finding celebrations and parties stressful
*Boredom with small talk
*Following scripts when interacting
*Prefer routines and structure
*Getting misunderstood
*Too quiet or too talkative
*Honesty and bluntness
*Much time spent on introspection
*Anxiety and depression
*Loneliness or isolation
*Difficulty communicating
*Difficulty expressing emotions appropriately
*Difficulty learning to relax
*Intense loyalty to friends

Q: Why should people who have Asperger's traits learn to identify these traits as such? Shouldn't we leave well enough alone?
A: A diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome may provide access to valuable assistance, especially for children. Before a person can be determined to have Asperger's syndrome, he or she must be evaluated by a psychologist or psychiatrist to obtain a diagnosis. However, getting a diagnosis may be pointless for those who are not having serious struggles with their employment or education.

If you have Asperger's traits and you are doing well in life, then your reason to study Asperger's syndrome can be to find more joy in successfully interacting with the people around you. We who have high-functioning autism (Asperger's syndrome) also can be a voice for those who are locked into isolation by the severe communication struggles of low-functioning autism.

Q: Where are you getting this word "Aspie" from?
A: Writers who have Asperger's syndrome sometimes call themselves Aspies, mainly because it takes less time to type.

Q; What are some of the misconceptions about people with Asperger's syndrome?
A: Please click to read the explanations behind each of these myths.
  1. Aspies always, consistently have trouble reading people's faces and body language. 
  2. Making and keeping friends has nothing to do with intelligence.
  3. Boys and girls with Autism/Asperger's don't use their imaginations.
  4. Autism and Asperger's Syndrome - those are the same thing.
  5. A diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome and mental illnesses (such as bipolar disorder, ADD, or schizophrenia, for example)are mutually exclusive. You can't have both at the same time.
  6. Interpreting non-verbal signals, the core of all communication, is something that the AS individual will always have a lot of difficulty doing.
  7. Aspies are weird because they refuse to wear uncomfortable clothes. 
  8. Without proper diagnosis, children cannot get proper treatment - without proper treatment, they cannot succeed.
  9. People with psychosocial illnesses cannot (or should not) enter into relationships and maintain them - at least not without regular counseling sessions. 
  10. Aspie emotional outbursts are always inappropriate.
  11. Aspies are incapable of learning social skills and etiquette.
  12. Aspies don't know how to have fun like "normal" kids. 
Q: What is the purpose of having an abnormal fascination with interests that are specific to each person with Asperger's traits?
A: The special interest has several functions:
    1. To overcome anxiety.
    2. To provide pleasure.
    3. To provide relaxation.
    4. To ensure greater predictability and certainty in life.
    5. To help understand the physical world.
    6. To create an alternative world.
    7. To create a sense of identity.
    8. To facilitate conversation and indicate intellectual ability.

Q: What are the positive aspects of having Asperger's traits? How can I show kindness to my Aspie friends?
A: Christian Aspies can generally be described as loyal, truthful, creative, intelligent, witty, conscientious, kind-hearted, teachable, determined, talented, generous, and above all, "nice." If they constantly meet with opposition to their ideas, however, their personalities can sour, and I think that is such a shame.

Whether you have Asperger's traits or not, this is the best advice I can give you for getting along with people. Anytime you don't understand where a person is coming from, LISTEN harder to what they say. Listening is the best way to help an Aspie bloom. I owe so much to those who took the time to listen to me!

Q: What are the cognitive distortions so often experienced in the mind of an Aspie?
A: This is a list used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and it lists lies and distortions of the truth. I borrowed the list from the book Living Well on the Spectrum, by Valerie Gaus - a book I highly recommend, by the way.

1. All-or-nothing thinking
2. Catastrophizing
3. "Should" statements
4. Personalization
5. Labeling
6. Mental filter / disqualifying the positive
7. Mind reading
8. Emotional reasoning
9. Overgeneralization


Q: How can I recognize Asperger's traits in myself or a loved one without getting a doctor's evaluation?
A: Start by being observant. If you suspect these traits are strong in yourself or someone you know well, here are some true/false statements to help confirm your suspicions. MOST of the following statements will be true of someone with Asperger's traits in MOST situations.

TRUE OR FALSE?

1. I find social situations confusing or boring.
2. Making small talk seems pointless to me, and it's hard for me to do.
3. I tend to turn any conversation back to my own topic of interest.
4. I am good at picking up details, facts, and trivia.
5. I find it hard to figure out what other people are thinking and feeling.
6. I can focus for long periods of time on things that interest me.
7. People often misinterpret my intentions or my motives, calling me "rude."
8. I take an intense interest in a select number of topics.
9. I like to repeat certain tasks in the exact way I have always done them.
10. Participating in conversations is much harder in a group than one-on-one.

Q: All right, you've convinced me. I've got a lot of Asperger's traits. What now?
A: Be happy! You finally have an explanation for all the times people misunderstood what you meant or what you were feeling. You have a reason for the times you couldn't meet people's expectations no matter how hard you tried. It makes sense now why you didn't want to be like other kids who had fun hanging out with big groups of people. If you have an obsession, and you can't stop talking about it until suddenly you realize nobody's listening, it's because you're an Aspie! Isn't it fun to know why you are the way you are?

When you're through celebrating your new identity . . . the work begins. It's called change, and we Aspies really don't like it. Yuck. Change. But if you look for help in the right places, and take it at your own pace, you'll come out on the other end being better able to make and keep friends, having a better grip on how emotions work, and - uh-oh, are you ready for this? - getting more ATTENTION from people. You might like it. I sure do.