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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Aspergers Syndrome

Aspergers Syndrome -- the name for the mildest of the autism spectrum of disorders -- may be overdiagnosed these days. (Children with Aspergers are given extra time in school to finish their tests, and some parents will do anything to give their child a leg up.) But that doesn't mean the syndrome doesn't exist. This post will describe some of the symptoms. If you know people who exhibit these symptoms, understanding Aspergers will help you understand them.

The trait mostly widely associated with various sorts of autism is an inability to read other people. I don't know how -- or why -- the brain would get rewired so that someone becomes incapable of interpreting others' actions, but people with Aspergers have little insight into others. If you know someone who seems to have no clue about how others think, this could means Aspergers.

In my experience, people with Aspergers try to compensate by acting as if they know things they don't, especially about people. And they try to act as if they are in on the joke. When they see everyone else laugh, they will laugh along to show that they too are in on the humor.

This is what people with Aspergers generally do: try to pass as normal. But no one can keep such an act up forever, and when you get to really know them, their autism is unmistakable.

An autistic's inability to predict other party's feelings, thoughts, or reactions will result in frequent social faux pas. I knew one guy with Aspergers who worked in an office. When he would make an awkward attempt at a joke, his polite assistants would smile. The others would look away. The word people with  Aspergers often get labeled with is lame. This often applies to their senses of humor, thei excuses, and their personalities.

People with Aspergers tend to be somewhat asocial. They are uncomfortable at parties, and often become panicky in social situations. They rarely keep in touch with others over the long term. And most of their "friendships" are often institutionally based.

The traits most commonly associated with Aspergers are lack of insight and being asocial, but there are a host of other symptoms that go hand in hand with these. People with Aspergers hate having their routines disrupted. If you ask them something, they will respond by saying things like, "Uh, your timing is off!" or, "I'm doing something!"

They have a hard time dealing with criticism. They are similar to narcissistic personalities in that any criticism immediately fills them with rage. You can give them the gentlest, most constructive criticism, and they might respond by screaming, "Who are you to be telling me that I'm doing it wrong?!" And, as with narcissists, every time an Aspie errs, it's always somebody else's fault.

Or they may simply deny their errors. If an Aspie says something like, "Uh, you know, there was more freedom in the Soviet Union than there is in the US," and you point out why that statement is misguided, they may later simply deny ever having said it. I've seen Aspies deny having said something within a minute of having said it. Most people would be embarrassed to do this; but Aspies simply stonewall, sometimes without even realizing what they're doing.

And because autistics can never admit they're wrong, you will almost never hear them apologize.

People with Aspergers have a hard time identifying with other groups. A woman with Aspergers, for instance, might always stick up for women over men, no matter the circumstance, simply because she is a woman. Ironically, this is often the same type of woman who accuses men of being sexist. This might appear garden variety hypocrisy. But when it's exhibited by an Aspie, it is simply an outgrowth of their complete inability to see things from another point of view. (Which, when you think of it, is also not that dissimilar from ordinary narcissism.)

I knew one such woman with Aspergers who would scathingly refer to men as "pricks," but if anyone ever used the word "bitch," she would huff, "Uh, you know, that's a really gender-loaded word," or alternatively -- and awkwardly -- "You're insulting my sex!"

People with Aspergers are more likely to throw back accusations at the accuser, no matter how ridiculous that makes them sound. For instance, if Mike Tyson were to say, "You're a wimpy little white boy," an Aspie might respond, "No, you're a wimpy little white boy." (That's an exaggeration, but you get the idea.) A better example might be, if they're told they have Aspergers, they then tell the accuser that he has Aspergers, even if he has no symptoms.

People with Aspergers will often develop a reputation for having no common sense. (By definition, they also don't have enough common sense to realize that they have no common sense.)

They tend to have poor fine motor coordination. So they won't be good at things like typing, or dipping a knife into a honey jar and then twirling the knife so that the honey doesn't drip down the side of the jar. They are also more likely to get into minor fender benders.

They are rigid in their thinking, to the point where they must ignore facts. They generally only willingly expose themselves to one viewpoint. If you quote a fact which conflicts with their viewpoint, they may respond by saying something along the lines of, "Uh, what's your source on that?" or "You know, one person's reality is another person's fiction." Sources can certainly err, and some fields do involve perception. But an Aspie will hide behind statements like these all the time, even when a source is unimpeachable and a fact has no subjective element.

It was probably someone with Aspergers who inspired the saying, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own set of facts."

People with Aspergers tend to be germ phobic, and have other symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

They dislike bright lights and loud noises more than most.

They have a tendency to mangle words (e.g., "buxmous" rather than "buxom" and "insiduous" rather than "insidious").

People with Aspergers often have an intense focus on one interest; they may be fascinated by something like trains, or buses. Those people you read about who are fascinated by trains and who will pretend to be conductors just so they can take them for joyrides are usually autistic (They usually have a more serious form of autism than just Aspergers.) Likewise, every now and then you'll read about someone who just takes a city bus out for a spin. These people don't have evil intentions: they don't want to hurt anybody, or actually steal the bus. They are simply completely and utterly fascinated by the big moving vehicles.

As a result of their narrow focus, Aspies frequently use non sequiturs. No matter the subject being discussed, they will just start talking about whatever their interest is.

People with Aspergers tend to be very literal. For instance, they may think that sailfish just swim around on the surface of the ocean, getting propulsion from their giant dorsal fins via the wind. Because, after all, they are sailfish. When someone uses a metaphor, they may take it literally. (This is partly why they tend not to get jokes.)

Because all of these traits can obviously result in an inability to get along with others, people with Aspergers often prefer the company of animals to humans. (Pets never disagree with them, or criticize them, or laugh at them. And their pets need them, and give them uncritical love.) 

John Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote the script for The Hangover, understood autistics perfectly. The Zach Galafianakis character is the brother of the girl that the Justin Bartha character is going to marry. At the beginning of the movie she thanks Justin for bringing her brother to Las Vegas with him for his bachelor party, and he reflexively replies, no problem, Zach is cool. The girl says no, Zach is not cool. We see little hints of Zach's personality early on. He says things that don't quite make sense. At one point, as they check into Caesar's Palace, he asks if Caesar slept there. The others look at each other, then ignore the comment and move on. Zach gradually grows more and more annoying with his malapropisms and inappropriate reactions and insistence that he is right, to the point of being infuriating. In the movie, he eventually he redeems himself by counting cards, the type of thing an autistic is more likely to be able to do, and after their adventure everybody ends up friends. (In real life, the other three would have put some distance between themselves and Zach as soon as it was decently possible to do so.)

Lucas and Moore had to have known someone who was autistic in their lives; the Galafianakis character was just too well drawn to for them not to have personal familiarity with the syndrome. Bear in mind, not all people with Aspergers look like Zach Galafianakis. Some can be beautiful women, whose beauty may initially blind you to their lameness. The interesting thing, as with any syndrome, is to see all the little behaviors that betray that syndrome.

Galafianakis pretty much reprised that role in Due Date, a buddy movie he made with Robert Downey. There he showed the same exasperating inappropriate behavior, lack of common sense, and all-around cluelessness, this time employed in the service of driving Downey to distraction.

Autistics are far more likely to join a cult, or become immersed in a system of thinking which becomes a substitute for any personal sense of judgment. They feel far more comfortable when they can view everything from the perspective of a rigid ideology. They are more likely to join the military, with its rigid hierarchy and rules. Or they may become immersed in an all-consuming religion, perhaps one with rigid and restrictive rules regarding every aspect of personal behavior -- and which disapproves strongly of nonbelievers. Or they subscribe with an almost religious zeal to a particular school of thought like Marxism. All of these ideologies, or systems, or structures, are a substitute for having to think on their own.

Aspies are not bad people; they're not sociopaths. We should never hold anyone responsible for anything beyond their control; and nobody chose to have Aspergers. But if you have constant exposure to them, or are responsible for them in any way, they are inevitably infuriating. If you've been around one for any length of time, the phrase "willfully obtuse" will undoubtedly come to mind. Most people you can talk some sense into, but people with Aspergers are so rigid in their thinking there's never any budging them.

In any loosely knit social group, you'll see that people tend to gravitate away from those with the syndrome. People with Aspergers may be stiffly polite (what they think of as "social skills"), since the give and take of normal banter is beyond them. If you know someone who seems to make a great effort to remember all the social niceties, but does so in somewhat robotic fashion, think Aspergers. If that person seems lost if he has to go off-script, you can be surer of that diagnosis.

One of the problems with Aspergers is that it is impossible to self-diagnose. Sociopaths, when they get older, generally come to the realization that they're sociopaths. Neurotics certainly know they're neurotic, depressives know they're depressed, and everybody is aware of their own sexual peculiarities. But if you're clueless about human nature, how can you possibly realize that others are not equally so?

One thing people with Aspergers do have in common with normal people is that the accusations they level most frequently often reflect their own weaknesses. They'll say things along the lines of, "You're so far out of it you don't even realize you're out of it." Or, "You just don't get it, do you?" Or they'll call someone a jackass.

All perfect descriptions of Aspergers Syndrome.

Addendum, 3/11/13: If you found this post via Google, you might find this post on whether or not Aspies are responsible for their own behavior interesting. Or this one, on whether Aspies span the full range of morality.

Addendum, 1/7/14: As you can see below, this post has attracted a slew of comments. A few are from people who've dealt with Aspies and who agree with me, but most are from outraged Aspies -- or their relatives -- who can't believe how insensitive I am. They are welcome to use this forum the same way I sometimes do -- to vent. I will post their comments. But I don't have the energy or inclination to respond to all of them, especially since I've long since found myself saying the same things over and over. So please feel free to tell me what a horrible person I am; just don't expect a response. 

649 comments:

1 – 200 of 649   Newer›   Newest»
Anonymous said...

Aspergers to a T, try living with three. :) Is there a title for people like us that have a partner and children with this syndrome? I think that we are the rare breed having to deal with their little "quirks" every day of our lives. We are the challenged ones.

John Craig said...

The word, I guess, is exasperated.

Anonymous said...

I can't even describe the relief this article has provided me. Living with an older brother with Aspergers is a continually draining process. He has horrible short term memory, and like you mentioned, lacks any ability to admit his own wrong-doings. Recently he has begun emailing articles to me suggesting that I too have Aspergers....which infuriates me to no end. It's a relief that his accusations are part of his "disability" and not simply an attempt to hurt my feelings.

John Craig said...

Glad you found this article reassuring. It must have been hard growing up with an older brother like that.

Anonymous said...

So tell me, how many Autistic people have you actually met? I'm thinking one or less.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I guess you didn't like the tone of the post, and I'm also guessing you have Aspergers.

I've known four Aspies at least fairly well, and a few others casually. Really, why would I bother to write this post unless I'd had some personal experience?

Anonymous said...

I have Asperger's. I didn't read the entire post because it just sounds like personal bitching.

Lets start with "Akward" and "narcissistic"? Yeah and you're Ghandi...right. Tell you what. Don't allow any people with Asperger's into your house...problem solved. You can't control what the people around you say or think, that's narcissism right there.

And hey, some idiot thinks we had more freedom in the Soviet Union, whatever. Sometimes people are going to say stupid things, once again, part of the adult world, better get used to it. While you were following that guy around the office all day demanding that he "take responsibility" for his political opinions and screaming and yelling at him creating a scene to show off to everyone what a hardcore thug you are...who was doing your job?

So I'm supposed to be super-nice and sweet, to make up for the fact I have Asperger's? In a world where "real men tell it like it is"? Yeah so I can be everyone else's bitch just because I'm "socially akward"

Screw you dude. I'm not here to be your bitch. Get over it. You don't owe shit to me, and I don't owe shit to you.

You don't have to like me, but that's your problem and not mine. What are you going to do about it?

If you are really that concerned with butting into other people's businesses, to the point that you think its a crime to be "akward" or "not fit in"

You sir have an entitlement problem. You're a "little dictator" who wants to control the behavior of others around you, and you are obviously compensating for something.

I don't have to "take responsibility" for YOUR emotions. If I do something that genuinely hurts another person, then tell me about it ASAP and I will take whatever steps are necessary to apologize and help clean up whatever mess I made.

In the mean time, if you get offended because someone talks different, dresses different, has different color skin, whatever, its not that persons "responsibility" to apologize to you. Its your responsibility to get over it and move on with life. Some guys get grossed out when a gay couple walks past them holding hands. Is it the gay couple's responsibility to apologise to him, or be super-nice to make up for the hurt feelings of everyone else? No.

John Craig said...

Anon --
So I guessed right.

Thank you for illustrating several of the points I made in the post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the article. My partner has Aspergers, not that he accepts this. He is never wrong, becomes verbally abusive for no apparent reason. I am tired of being told im bad, I am also every thing in between. I believe it is time to get out, but he has taken away my self esteem.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you. Just based on what you've said, it's also possible that your partner is a sociopath, but I'll take your word.

The commenter above (I think three comments ago) kindly provided a wonderful illustration of how Aspies think and act. He, a self-admitted Aspie, basically accused me of all sorts of things I hadn't said in the post, which he admitted he hadn't read carefully (Aspies don't like conflicting input).

My advice is, leave. Self esteem is always recoverable.

Anonymous said...

Not really. I'm wrong sometimes. Just like everybody is. I don't see what's wrong with what I'm saying here.

What points did I illustrate, exactly?

"Thinking only of myself"? Not really, actually I have a lot of people I care for, other aspies and non-aspies alike.

So where's the "a-HA...GOTCHA" anyways?

As for the "taking responsibility" thing.

I already said, if I've seriously hurt anyone or anything in any way, tell me ASAP so that I can make whatever reparations are necessary.

I don't see the problem with my philosophy, but I'm open to hear any suggestions. I'm not perfect, but I'd like to think my philosophy on life is somewhat-decent, you tell me.

John Craig said...

Anon --
OK, briefly:

-You want to start a long argument here even though you didn't read the entire post. Aspies don't like conflicting information, and always find a way to disregard whatever conflicts with their world view.
-You claim that I've said all sorts of things that I never said. Exactly where did I say I was Gandhi (not Ghandi)? And Aspies are awkward, they're practically poster children for awkwardness. And what they have in common with narcissists is that they are unable to take criticism, as you've demonstrated here. I didn't say they were narcissistic personalities, only that that's what they had in common with them.
--Whoever said that Aspies have to be "super-sweet and super-nice"? And who said you have to be anybody's "bitch"? You're putting all sorts of words into my mouth which I didn't say.
--Whoever said you owe me anything? You keep arguing with things I didn't say. Plus I said that Aspies are awkward, not that it's a crime to be awkward. Frankly, they're a pain to be around, but I never called it a crime.
--And how did this turn into my problem? I described Aspies the way they are, and for you that equates to my being a "little dictator." Absurd.
--Then you equate my describing Aspies accurately with holding the color of someone's skin against them. Nice try. You actually remind me of the other Aspies I've known: they will often miss the point of whatever anybody is trying to say, then argue against things that the other person didn't say.

As I said, thanks for illustrating the Aspie personality so well.

Anonymous said...

Well what viewpoint exactly am I supposed to be tolerant of? That I don't take responsibility for anything? I've covered that one.

Nothing wrong with other viewpoints, however, if those viewpoints are of you criticizing a large group of people, expect criticism in return.

I've done wrong before, and each time I faced up to it. So you said something incorrect, by saying that I do not face up to my responsibility or that I "think I'm right all the time".

And me typing this to you is only defending myself. I mean of course, try looking at it from my POV.

I really wish you the best in life and hope that you meet some aspies who don't exhibit those traits as much. I certainly wouldn't enjoy having someone wrong me, and then deny responsibility. And if you see the same group of people doing that over and over, then absolutely you should say something.

But as a member of that group who has not personally done any of those things, of course I have to play my part and speak for myself. Good day sir.

John Craig said...

Anon --
You didn't respond to a single one of my points, but that's to be expected.

Anonymous said...

I live with someone I believe has Aspergers, he has 85-90% of these tendencies. He has an appointment with his GP and will hopefully get the diagnosis he needs, tell me PLEASE, do they have meds for this as of yet?
I thought the person above, Anon, jumped all over you for valid points you made, sometimes people just don't get it.
Your article has given me a want to do more research on it before it ruins our marriage. I read 80% of marriages to Aspies don't work out, very sad.

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
The "Anon" you're referring to has Aspergers himself, and was illustrating many of my points with his misguided, off-target attack. He started attacking me for all sorts of things I hadn't even said. So I"m grateful to him for vividly illustrating how difficult Aspies are to deal with.

As for your situation, good luck. I hadn't heard that statistic before, but it's not surprising. By the way, I do have to wonder if a GP is qualified to diagnose Aspergers, especially after just one appointment.

Anonymous said...

Hi John, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog, I know several people with asperger's and some of the comments you made seemed spot on,though others showed what seemed to me like glimpses of asperger's traits. Are you ever wrong?
Tri.
(sorry for appearing annonymous, I do not have a google account)

John Craig said...

Tri --
Sorry, you have me at a disadvantage. (Do I have your name right? It doesn't ring a bell.)

And thanks for reading the blog, but are you also saying that my comments showed touches of Aspergers traits?

To answer your question: I'm wrong surprisingly frequently (surprising to me, anyway).

Anonymous said...

John Craig, you lost all credibility the moment you put down Aspies as being lame. The repetitive use of that vague term shows just how judgmental and unintelligent you are. If you wish to be taken seriously in life, form an argument based on fact and use proper terminology to express your poorly formed opinions.

I am a neurotypical female, and I have had much exposure to aspies. Their sensitivity and social awareness exceeds yours in spades.

Good luck in life. You're going to need it.

(Oh - I see you moderate the comments, too. No doubt you'll nuke this post, further proving my point.)

John Craig said...

Neurotypical --
Actually, I publish all relevant comments, no matter how negative.

One of your main criticisms of me seems to be that I'm judgmental, yet you yourself are extremely judgmental in your comment. Usually the trait that people are most critical of is one they have themselves.

You obviously have some close friends or even relatives who are Aspies, so I've obviously hurt your feelings. Aspies are practically defined by their lack of social awareness, so for your to ascribe that trait to them shows how skewed your thinking is. As far as "sensitivity," the Aspies I've known like to talk about their sensitivity, but really, it's just sensitivity to criticism directed at them, and most are insensitive to outwardly-directed criticism.

As far as "lame" goes, yes, it's a vague concept, but I think most people know what it means. Your comment is actually a pretty good illustration of the concept.

Andrew Ewers said...

Although I do agree that many of the traits mentioned in this post are accurate it is, IMHO, rare to find all of these traits in an individual with Aspergers. I do feel that the post has a huge fault in the fact that it starts off criticizing parents and doctors for over-diagnosing AS but then begins to criticize those with the syndrome. Also, people with AS are more likely to be excellent test takers and are fond of repetitious tasks so why pray tell would they need more time? Though many other pervasive developmental disorders are misdiagnosed as AS and vice-versa. Also people with AS are typically more honest and genuine than NT's. More to the point I feel your opinion, valid as it may be, is a skewed perspective and since you know very few people with AS, four fairly well and a few others not so well, it is nothing more than rumor and speculation. Especially once you realize there are approximately 17.5 million of us in the world. Yes I have it too, and I only fall into a third of the traits described, and was diagnosed by Dr. Paul Lebby Phd. Please keep in mind that those who have been diagnosed and have people who politely point out their faults are much more able and willing to implement change in their behaviour. I also found the comment about asking for sources funny because my friend who has bipolar disorder does that regularly along with many of the other traits described. However I doubt that these two disorders are the same thing, and that is a crack at your logic and reasoning skills.

John Craig said...

Anon --
One point I agree with from your comment is that Aspies are less likely to be (purposeful, manipulative) liars, even if only because they lack the social skills to do that.

See:
http://justnotsaid.blogspot.com/2012/12/do-autistic-people-have-full-range-of.html

Anonymous said...

This is a bs article with nothing to back up its authors claims and really is just personal venting rooted in ignorance. No one should take you seriously.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I certainly am getting a lot of flak from the Aspie community, of which I assume you're a member, for this post.

In a roundabout way it proves me right: Aspies can't take criticism, and can never admit they're "wrong," or, as I describe them here, annoying.

They can also never let anything go, but have to say their piece.

Anonymous said...

It's ironic how it's actually the blogger the one who seems to show low tolerance to differences therefore low tolerance to disagreement. Btw no offense but there's some perceivable lack of empathy throughout your writing that may make more than one eyebrow raise in "thought"

John Craig said...

Anon --
It's not low tolerance for differences, it's low tolerance for the rigidity of thought and all the other characteristics I describe in the post. And yes, I'll admit there's a certain amount of personal venting going on, I've done a lot of "involuntary field work" with Aspies, which I haven't found pleasant.

Reasonable people certainly have differences. It's just that most Aspies tend to be unreasonable.

Anonymous said...

John, you couldn't be more right. The absolute inability of my AS ex-friend to see that there maybe a a different possibility ( and yes even for proven facts) I happen to have a great memory and countless times this man has said something and one minute later he will contradict what he said. When I quote the statement he just said he simply cannot and willnot admit it. I once taped a discussion we were having played it back for him and he STILL claimed he didn't make the statement! Of course everything was my fault. I have given him 5 compliments and1 minor criticism and he will say things like " Why did you say I was worthless?: When I correctly point out that the word worthless Never came out of my mouth he won't believe me! Serious cognitive distortions no doubt. Oh I could go on and on............

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you. That guy does sound like a typical Aspie. The proof that they can't take any sort of criticism is actually the sheer volume of comments this post has gotten from Aspies who object to my characterization of them. This blog comes down much harder on sociopaths (a particular obsession of mine) than it does on Aspies, yet this post has gotten way more comments than the average one on sociopaths.

I can't see who reads this blog (I wish I could), but I can see what Google searches lead here, and there is a huge number of people who ask questions along th lines of, "Why can't Aspergers say sorry," or, "Will Aspergers ever admit fault?" Everybody who's ever dealt with them has the same frustrations.

Anonymous said...

That's how I got here. Aspergers can't admit they're wrong, aspergers hypocritical behavior during discussions. etc. etc. Surprised you haven't mentioned meltdowns, oh boy those are fun ( that's sarcasm for you aspies) Hey I tried to understand, even sitting in my own bathroom for 20 min twittling my thumbs to give him time to calm down. But we are ex friends now after he bruised me and shoved me against a frig because of another meltdown. Completely done now!

John Craig said...

Anon --
Trust me, you're better off without him as a "friend."

Don't know if you read all the comments above, but there was one guy who actually said, "I"m not here to be your bitch" -- as if I ever suggested he be.

That's another charming Aspergers trait, putting words into your mouth which you didn't say.

Thanks for your comments.

Cory Riesen said...

You point out a lot of truths about aspergers syndrome. However, your tone is pretty offensive. One major problem I had is that you imply or assume aspergers is "wrong" or "bad". And you seem to put the blame on the people with the this disorder for not "trying" hard enough. I realize you did not say these directly! BUT it is clear you hold these views. Especially if we take into account your replies to many of the comments on this post. You accuse people of being "typical" aspergers or showing traits... As if that is an argument? I mean it is a real disorder that they have to deal with on a daily basis. Would you write an article about how you have to wait for someone in a wheelchair to take the long way around instead of using the stairs?

John Craig said...

Cory --
Actually, in the fifth paragraph from the bottom I said:

"We should never hold anyone responsible for anything beyond their control; and people with Aspergers certainly didn't choose to be that way."

As for my "offensive" tone, well, that's sort of the purpose of this blog, to tell "offensive" truths. If people are offended by the truth, too bad. What a lot more people find offensive is narcissistic personalities, and Aspies have so much in common with narcissistic personalities that they are a trial to those who have to deal with them. (Everybody has had someone in their life who can never admit fault, and who will deny demonstrably provable facts put in front of them, as the commenter before you described.)

Also, the point of this post is to educate people on Aspergers, so they can identify Aspies in their own lives from the everyday behaviors I describe. Talking about something in vague generalities is never as informative as giving concrete examples, as I've done here.

Sura said...

I work with someone I think shows symptoms of this disorder, and just being around her is total torture. I mean the simplest changes are like pulling teeth, such as whether or not to close a door and YES I'm serious. When she's on vacation, I'm on vacation. She literally is the embodiment of a migraine.

John Craig said...

Sura --
Ha! Very eloquently put. They're not evil people, but being around them for any length of time is definitely a trial.

Sura said...

John, pretty much it's like drowning yourself on purpose and omg, don't forget the explosive tantrums and the demand that everyone pretty much become as morose as they are. The horrifying thing is that this person insists on speaking to me about everything that she's done, such as mundane things like going to the dentist, taking the bus, buying black forest cake, and she actually wants me to share in her enthusiasm about such things. Putting nails through my eyelids would be far less painful.

John Craig said...

Sura --
In all honesty, I wouldn't list "the demand that everyone pretty much become as morose as they are" as an Aspergerian trait, that's something I've never noticed or read elsewhere. But the other stuff, like the tantrums and the ability to be boring, certainly ring true.

Glad you're having this opportunity to vent, that's what I often use this blog for myself.

John Craig said...

Sura --
PS -- Take a look at the post I put up two days ago, about whether Aspies are responsible for their own behavior. I find it an interesting question.

Sura said...

Well John, it's not so much that she wants everyone to be as morose as she is, it's that when she's in a bad mood,which is pretty often, and the rest of us at the office are laughing or simply chatting, she does things that are unnecessary to interrupt the conversation such as slamming doors and it often makes everyone else feel like they're doing something wrong by chatting or laughing. Maybe that's not a trait but the other things you mentioned about the disorder are spot on where her behaviour is concerned. She also talks "at" persons, instead of talking to them i. e. it's as if she's having her own conversation with herself and often doesn't stop to allow other persons to comment. I read somewhere that aspies often have meltdowns and that's the absolute best way to describe what happens to this woman. I have to admit I do feel sorry for her sometimes as it appears her anxiety level is through the roof and must be a constant source of pain.

Sura said...

PS Another symptom she displays is if any of us makes even the simplest of errors, we are categorized as incompetent. If she does, she either categorizes herself as in "need of rest" or immediately thinks that it must have been someone else's mistake. She also has a habit of being quick to punish severely for leaving a door open which isn't harming anyone by being left open, or serving any purpose by being closed. This is one of the MANY rigid routines that she has to follow on a DAILY basis. Ugh!!!!

John Craig said...

Sura --
Ah, the talking "at" people really rings a bell. I've encountered that myself. And because of that, they will often not really hear what you've said and as a result put words in your mouth which you never uttered. It's very frustrating.

I know what you mean about feeling sorry for them, I do at times too, but that feeling usually evaporates pretty quickly upon the next display of willful obtuseness or hypocrisy. And yes, their anxiety level over ordinary things tends to get pretty high.

I'm curious -- you say she shows signs of the disorder (it does sound as if she definitely has it); has anyone ever broached the subject of Aspergers with her at the office? Do you think she is aware that she has it?

Sura said...

Another co-worker observed the oddities and also came to the same conclusion regarding the possibility that she has the disorder. In terms of speaking to her about it...um... I'd rather not...since there's a general stigma about neurological and/or mental disorders. I think to an extent she's aware that there may be something different about her in that one day recently she came to me, said good morning and then said that if there was anything I don't like about her that I shouldn't be afraid to let her know since we've worked together for a little over 5 years. I thought the statement was very abrupt but then that's kind of typical of her.

I also wouldn't dare to talk to her about her symptoms because her tantrums are legendary. For instance one morning a door was closed and the handle had broken off. Now, the office is set up in such a way that would allow for walking around to open said door from the other side. Instead of simply doing that, or asking someone who could open the door from the other side to do so, she banged on the door with her fists, demanding to be let in. The morning in question, I just froze in shock and utter confusion watching her bang on the door. I should also mention that before the handle broke off, she would insist that this particular door be kept closed at all times, going so far as to get up from her desk to close it regardless of how busy she was.

So she especially displays that symptom of HAVING to complete purposeless tasks because in her head not completing these tasks seem to have a "life or death" significance.

The scariest part for me is not knowing what kind of mood she's going to be in. She's often looks extremely angry or wears a permanent scowl on her face. On the rare occasion that she's in a "good mood", she will talk incessantly about whatever it is she's interested in such as how happy she is it's Friday. Once she goes back to her desk, she will say the words "woo hoo" loudly a number of times and/or clap loudly which is honestly off-putting to say the least.

Sura said...

There's one other thing that I really need to ask about which I've recently read elsewhere...the obsessiveness with an object or an individual. The thing with this woman is that her office is directly behind mine, and whenever another co-worker comes to talk to me, like clockwork, or a trigger, she will leave her office and come to my office and just stand there listening to our conversation in the doorway and I do mean EVERY time another co-worker comes to talk to me, she will do this.

My colleagues often tell me that they feel like she's being a little possessive with me or something, but when I read that persons with aspergers may become obsessed with an individual, I wondered if that's how this trait is manifested. It's bizarre and absolutely creepy.

John Craig said...

Sura --
You're probably smart not to ask that question (about her condition) directly.

And that bit about how abrupt she is also rings a bell.

The "legendary tantrums" is also symptomatic, Aspies are well known for their melt downs.

And the part about HAVING to complete some useless task is typical of obsessive-compulsive disorder, which people with Aspergers are reportedly more prone too.

As far as the possessiveness and the fixation on you, I've never heard of that as a particular trait of people with Aspergers, but it does fit. They are known for becoming fixated on certain things (like buses, or trains, or some such); why not a person? I've often wondered about the psychology of stalkers; it makes sense that some of them would have Aspergers, as they are both obsessive and delusional. I thought at first that they might be sociopaths, but most of them are too pathetic to be sociopaths; most of them don't seem capable of sly manipulation.

Yikes, I hadn't realized that you were a particular target.

sandra said...

i personally have had friendships with people with varying levels of aspergers. some people you can barely even tell.

however I work with a guy who has aspergers and i find him very difficult to work with. i know he is an aspie as my boss had to admit it to us when we were reporting issues with his behavior.

he doesn't seem to have a mean bone is his body, but he can be quite rude, talks over people, dismisses people when they correct him.

he also jumbles up words or says things wrong but won't be stand to be corrected.

he has very little pride in his appearance, shows of his butt crack frequently, messy hair, shirts that are too small so when he lifts his arms you can see his belly. actually pride might be the wrong word.. i think he just doesn't realize what's appropriate.

he claims to be asexual, which i've also learned is common but not always the case. he becomes uncomfortable when people talk about relationships. he also does not seem to have any friends outside of his church group.

he quite often tells very random stories to the group that have no real ending or interest point. he also likes to talk out whats happening at the time out loud. eg)driving out to lunch : "wow that truck is in our way isn't it?"

he does not like change, does not watch movies or television and has a fascination with food. he hates the idea of medicine.

i feel bad for him that my boss employed him and gave him the job he has at the moment, which is managing a help desk and troubleshooting where he has to deal with complex issues quite often with 3 or 4 issues on his plate at once, with people asking "where he is at". from my research it appears alot of aspies like to do one thing at a time and are not naturally multitaskers.

the thing that i guess bugs me the most is that he has alot of tics that fire off rapidly when he is agitated. frantic head scratching, big exaggerated smiles, almost grimaces for no reason, grunting, HUGE sighs. They are all very very distracting. and he gets agitated almost everyday due to his workload.

he is also very good at giving up when he finds something too hard. he'll sit staring at nothing for ages, waiting for someone to help, or he'll just say "i have no idea how to do this, ask someone else" which is problematic since he was hired to be the guy that fixes things.

we still invite him out to lunch with us and try to make him feel like part of the team, no one is mean to him at all. we all just suffer in silence. even when he does inappropriate things like take food off you plate and then ask if he can try it...

i try to keep this to myself except for another guy at work who we talk about it in order to vent frustrations.. only to each other though.

i generally do feel bad for him, and i feel bad myself for the way i feel when he's around. i know he's not trying to annoy people and just wants to do his job. but he infuriates me frequently like no one i have ever met.

John Craig said...

Sandra -
Thank you for sharing that eloquent description of Aspergers. I think the situation you describe happens in all sorts of social situations, very day. Often they're put in jobs they're ill-suited for, as you describe. (I actually knew a guy who was a national sales manager for a certain product on Wall Street whom I'm pretty sure has it.) And the bit about garbling words yet hating to be corrected certainly rings a bell.

I guess we have to keep reminding ourselves that it's not their fault (well, not entirely -- see my recent post about whether Aspies are responsible for their own behavior from February 26, 2013).

Once you've had prolonged exposure to a certain personality type (like a sociopath, or an Aspie) and you figure out what's wrong with them, it becomes much easier to recognize them in the future, and it's also possible to go through your past and pick out the people who must have been also been sociopaths, or Aspies, and the world seems to make more sense.

John Craig said...

Every day, not very day.

dappled days said...

In my experience about 80% of the population have these traits.
Are there that many people with AS around?
Maybe I'm living in the wrong town.

John Craig said...

Dappled --
Not sure what the percentage is, but it's definitely not 80%.....I guess it's a matter of degree.

Sandra said...

I think that yes, alot of the traits would be exhibited by alot of people that don't have AS. But it would be rarer to have someone that displays most of them all on their own and with such frequency.

Plus it's also the manner in which they are displayed. overall the majority of the behaviors i've witnessed, including the more "typical" conversations, are somewhat jarring, like they just don't fit right into the current situation or environment.

John Craig said...

Sandra --
You radiate common sense.

Anonymous said...

I read the entire post and I've now thought about your views on Aspies for ~24 hours so I figured I should leave a comment. I'm an adult with the syndrome and even though I wouldn't call this an accurate description of who I am, I could definitely see my past teenaged self in some of those points.

Before you opened Pandora's box for me, so to speak, I firmly believed that stuff like "stonewalling" and other immature tendencies simply aren't very me - and omg I can't help noticing doing something like that in my head nonstop now. Freaking ridiculous. ^^

Would my girlfriend, friends or relatives think this blogpost reminds them of me? I highly doubt it, personally I believe that I've learned to cope with my problems through trial and error by age, at least for the most parts.

So as much as it makes me feel nauseous to say this due to the crazy amount of generalizations you made, I'd like to thank you for helping me understand something about myself that I wasn't fully aware of before. I've informed myself about the syndrome with scientific sources of information but none of them really succeed to give a good image of what the syndrome can be like from the perspective of others.

With regards, Anon.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you for your balanced and thoughtful comment. Of all the Aspies who have commented here, you've shown the most perspective and calmness (both non-Aspergerian traits in my experience).

It's good that you don't think the description in the post applies to you, but it does seem to have resonated with a number of people who've had Aspies in their lives.

Anyway, appreciate your comment.

Anonymous said...

I am a female, 33, autistic. Anyone that has autism/asperger will feel like complete garbage after reading that description of our personalities. Anyone with half a brain can paint a disparaging portrait of a group or type. The person that you describes sounds like someone who shouldn't even attempt to be in society with everyone else. We do try and fit in -- so sue us. Most people want that as well. If you ever wonder why many of us do not socialize it's because of the way we are viewed in such a negative fashion. We be ourselves and people don't like it, we try to fit in and they don't like that either. Turn that entire post on yourself and ask yourself would you want another person to cut you down for being who you are? Also, I thought it was laughable to add a caveat at the end stating "Asperger people are not really bad." You don't say. Yet, everything in your post was nothing but. People do the best they can in this life and you're not any more superior then the next, autism or not.

Anonymous said...

"Virtually everyone who knows John finds him completely tactless and insufferably opinionated. He sees himself as refreshingly honest."

Delusional is a better fit. Most people know the difference between being 'tactless & insufferable' and constructively honest. Insulting and tearing people apart is always easy to do over the internet. Spin it any way you wish.

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
I'll assume it's the same person who wrote the last two comments. You're making the point that Aspies can't help but be what they are. Take a look at the post i wrote on February 26, 2013, in which I addressed that point.

Secondly, you basically tell me I'm a horrible person for judging Aspies, and that I shouldn't be so judgmental, then you do exactly the same to me. Why is it that people who so strongly object to being judged are always so quick to do the same themselves?

The comments on this post fall into two categories: Aspies who tell me how unfair I am, and people who've known Aspies and had to put up with their behavior who agree with my description. You tell me I'm delusional: if that's the case, then why would the post make you feel "like garbage"? If I'm delusional, then this post is just the ranting of a crazy person, which shouldn't be a matter of concern to you, and it certainly shouldn't have the power to make you feel bad. Nor should it have gotten the positive responses it did from others who've had to put up with Aspies.

Pete said...

I have been diagnosed with Aspergers, and I can state to a virtual certainty that this article presents an extremely biased, borderline-witch hunt, one-size-fits-all approach. It says a hell of a lot more about the author than it does about Aspergers in general.
However, Aspergers is a condition that acts like a form of social cancer, where it is perceived by others that every single molecule that makes up our very beings is comprised of pure, unadulterated 'wrong!' It is so annoying, especially when our sickeningly hypocritical society claims to embrace individuality, diversity, and tolerance.
And let's not forget the Aspergers 'geeks' throughout history who's 'crazy obsessions' have led to the discoveries of cures for diseases that would have otherwise annihilated so many neuro-typicals!

John Craig said...

Pete --
Most of what I'd say to you, I've already stated in my replies to other Aspies who've objected to the post (see above).

Actually, I do have one thing to add: you say that society is "sickeningly hypocritical" for claiming to embrace "diversity, individuality, and tolerance" but then not appreciating Aspies. In my experience Aspies are by their very nature the most rigidly intolerant (of any viewpoint other than their own) of any group I can think of. So we're supposed to be tolerant of your intolerance?

This is a little like those who advocate tolerance for other religions like Islam, and try to couch acceptance of Sharia law as a matter of open-mindedness: what if that religion itself is intolerant of other beliefs?

Anonymous said...

From: Grace C.
I have found this website helpful.
I was recently stalked by a co-worker at a new job. His conduct was abnormal and frightening, as well as being illegal: laying in wait for me if I used the ladies' room; standing 1" away from my body if I used the photocopier or
other office equipment; coming up
and staring at me for long periods
of time; coordinating all of his hours around mine; tracking my every move; wanting to know where I live; take a class (its hours); etc. I told him to leave me alone
and that his behavior was frightening and inappropriate. I stopped parking my car in the parking garage because I was afraid of him. He just wouldn't stop his harassment of me. When I declined to go to a going-away lunch with my boss and this co-worker who'd been stalking me, my boss fired me from my job. Now the entire thing involves three law enforcement agencies, four government agencies, and attorneys.

John Craig said...

Grace --
Did this coworker have Aspergers? Is that what caused his behavior? I've always wondered about stalkers, have never been sure of exactly what their syndrome is, but Aspergers would certainly seem to be a possibility, given that "inappropriate" is so often a good description of their behavior and they also tend to be obsessive.

If everything you say is true, I'm amazed that you and not he were the one who was fired. Didn't you complain to your boss about him?

Anonymous said...

Landed here after searching for a trait exhibited by my non-diagnosed, but almost certainly AS 6 year old. The tone of the post is offensive to me, but I do understand that it comes from the frustration of dealing with people whose brains function differently. Here's the deal: People with AS have a lot going on in their brains. They do not have lame personalities; they can be extremely creative. To neurotypicals, Aspies may seem lame because Aspies have trouble connecting with others, hence the neurotypical's perception of the Aspie's awkwardness. Most Aspies do try to fit in, and after a certain age they are socially aware. Connecting with others requires an immense effort from Aspies, however, and can only be done in small doses, which is why they are considered asocial. I do think that some of what you've said rings true as a neorotypical perception of Aspie traits, but you really don't seem to care much about what these examples might look like from an Aspie POV.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Lameness and creativity are not necessarily mutually exclusive. And Aspies are not necessarily creative. Their intense focus can lead to extreme expertise on one subject, and that can also lead to scientific and other types of breakthroughs.

Plenty has already been written from the Aspies' viewpoint, but very little (except obliquely, in movies like The Hangover) about what they are like from the others' point of view.

And yes, I plead guilty to having written this post out of frustration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your response. The problem with lameness is that it is subjective. Since I am someone who values creativity, I suppose I wouldn't find a creative Aspie lame. And no, Aspies are not necessarily creative; nor are they necessarily lame. It all depends on your connection, or lack thereof.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Yes, lameness is in the eye of the beholder. But it's a word which is generally used in reference to two things, excuses and a sense of humor. Ignoring humor for the moment, let's just look at excuses. There's fairly universal agreement among people who know them that Aspies have a hard time admitting fault or blame. When people are like that, they tend to grasp at any excuse for their actions, no matter how flimsy or implausible. That's pretty much the definition of a ;ame excuse.

Just look at some of the responses I've gotten above from Aspies themselves. In particular I'd point out the fellow who told me he wasn't put here to be my bitch. When I finally responded to him, he wouldn't directly address any of the points I had made, but continued on in that vein. That's awfully lame.

I understand you feel protective of your six year old child, and that's natural enough, and commendable. But while he's cute now, as an adult he'll be less so, as happens to everybody. And while you'll always love him, most of the people who meet him will have no such attachment, and they will, if they get to know him well enough, find him frustrating in one or more of the ways I described. It's better to understand that than not. That said, he may turn out to be one of the ones who has some special skill which balances the ledger -- or more than balances it -- like Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, etc.

Aspergirl said...

I'm also an aspie, and there is a lot of truth in that post, but I can see why so many aspies have been offended by it. The closest you've got to mentioning our good traits are saying that we can't help having Asperger's and saying that we're not sociopaths. It sounds like you've met a few annoying aspies and are judging all aspies by that, and while we share some traits, every aspie is different just like every NT. In the population of narcissists aspies are a minority, like they are in the general population, and to say otherwise would probably set off another tsunami of aspies complaining. So I do agree with some of your points, but I can't help feeling that this post is just a list of things you hate about aspies.

John Craig said...

Aspergirl --
Please, go ahead, list the good traits then. I promise to post your comment (as I have all the other comments, positive or negative).

I think you meant to say, "In the population of Aspies, narcissists are a minority, just as they are in the general population." I never said that all Aspies are narcissists; what I said was that the syndrome shares certain traits with narcissism, mainly, the inability to admit it when they make a mistake -- something the majority of Aspies seem unable to do. I never suggested that Aspies have the generalized egotism and pride that narcissists have, in fact that too is almost nonexistent in the Aspie community.

Anonymous said...

Dear John, I was diagnosed with Aspergers at 8 years old, I show some of the symptoms that you listed, but not all of them, etc. narcissism, accusing the accuser. I not only admit to having aspergers, I tell people that I have it, in the hope that maybe they will research it and treat me a bit differently... oh I'm rambling aren't I? best regards, some randomer.

John Craig said...

Some Randomer --
That may not be a bad tactic. I'm of two minds as to whether Aspies should be treated differently. Please see my post, "Are Aspies not responsible for their own behavior?"

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most offensive articles I have read towards people with AS. Every bit of this is derogatory and negative. Nothing angers me more than a neuro-typical person trying to analyze autistic behavior. People with AS can be amazing friends and partners. It is the neuro-typical persons job to adjust in order to reap the rewards of the person with AS. The person with AS cannot change many of their behaviors, but with the right treatment and sensitivity they can be perfectly happy. I love my life with my AS partner. He is all of the things you described in this article, but I see it as a GOOD thing.

Anonymous said...

To add to my last submission- every person I have ever known with AS held more kindness, love, and tolerance in them than you ever will. There are just as many neuro-typical people who are awful as there are aspies who are awful. Who are you to shun an entire group of people from being welcome in society because they have a neurological disorder? Every single thing an aspie comments, you find a way to attribute their words to their disorder. If it is a positive comment, you tell them they seem neuro-typical and non-aspie?? You are making yourself look immature and thoughtless. It's not like everyone cannot easily point out the difficulties of AS without your ridiculous drivel of a blog post. The difficulties of dealing with aspies is common knowledge and old news- the focus should be on the POSITIVES.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thanks for reading.

Anonymous said...

To add to my last submission- every person I have ever known with AS held more kindness, love, and tolerance in them than you ever will. There are just as many neuro-typical people who are awful as there are aspies who are awful. Who are you to shun an entire group of people from being welcome in society because they have a neurological disorder? Every single thing an aspie comments, you find a way to attribute their words to their disorder. If it is a positive comment, you tell them they seem neuro-typical and non-aspie?? You are making yourself look immature and thoughtless. It's not like everyone cannot easily point out the difficulties of AS without your ridiculous drivel of a blog post. The difficulties of dealing with aspies is common knowledge and old news- the focus should be on the POSITIVES.

Couldn't have put it better, Anon. I'm neurotypical, but I grew up with an Asperger brother who was the kindest person I knew and seemed to actually have more empathy than most people. As for narcissism, it and Asperger's Syndrome are at opposite ends of the scale - my brother was far, far, far from egocentric.

Anonymous said...

You claim to have posted some of the symptoms for Asperger's. However, you only posted two or three, and the rest are sweeping generalizations that can be very offensive.

People with Asperger's are just as diverse as people without Asperger's. The only things that we have in common (besides basic human traits) are the DSM approved symptoms, e.g. poor eye contact.

I know multiple Aspies that do not fit any of the sweeping generalizations you posted. In fact, they display exact opposites of them:

-germ phobic: most Aspies are, quite frankly, slobs, because they do not understand what the societal expectations for hygiene are.
-unable to take criticism: there is a fine line between criticism and insulting, and you walked the line. not to mention that most people have difficulty with criticism, even if it is said in a nice tone.
-cults and religions: most Aspies avoid religions and cults, because it is not logical, which most Aspies are.

Please understand that the tone you took could also be construed as offensive. If you would like to not offend people, I would recommend nto using that tone in the future.

Best of luck

Anonymous said...

I don't know what kind of aspies you have met, but i am so logical that when i do wrong, i know it and there is no point in lying about it.
People also think i behave like a kid, my closest friends know that most of my behaviours can be mistaken as childish but they know it's not the case. I get the feeling that i should always be right, but my logic doesn't allow that, because my logic also takes into consideration the brain which is a derivate of our reality and therefore perfectly imperfect.

applying my logic again to this thought makes it so that i am not sure about it. see? i am fucked.


JesusZone said...

I have Aspergers Disorder and I'm a woman..so Aspergers manifests itself a little differently in women. In men, Asperger people will be like you described...but women will not. When a male has Aspergers he is eccentric and antisocial.. when a woman has Aspergers she is awkward, whiny, sensitive, or philisopical. Because even without Aspergers, women are more social than men and that comparison does exist among Aspergers as well.

It also depends on the person, not all Aspies are cranky.

In my case I have had a lot of experience in my life and a lot of support as a child so that I could be independent and EVEN socially inclined. The only problem is that I'm imitating, acting, and I still can't read people and nothing feels natural to me, plus I don't fit in with other girls because I don't like the mind games and I don't like it when people don't communicate with me when it comes to meeting up or having an event.

Having ADHD also helps me to be less of a rigid thinker and more social and craving stimulation rather than being overloaded by it on a daily basis.

I also have a blog about having Aspergers :)
http://www.anticsofanaspie.blogspot.com

Sean said...

The person who wrote this apparently loves to generalize people. Even in my "rigid" thought patterns, I can see the complexity in others. Lame humor? Its in the eye of the beholder. My humor is dry and is not for everybody. Who knew that people have different styles of humor?! What a revelation! We're also a pain to be around? Have you held up the mirror, mate? I doubt you're a treat to be around all the time either. Instead of stroking your "superior" neurotypical ego, why don't you make the effort of getting to know a broader range of Aspies? You might be pleasantly surprised.

svenja said...

a really mean and sad article, or shall i say hatespeech?, that shows you're lacking an understanding of this disorder.
How can you judge people with a developmental disorder this way? you don't know how it feels to be autistic

Shayna said...

Wow..I'm amazed. You must be basing this on

1) One or two Aspies
and
2) An aspie leaning more towards autism than the general aspie population.

I have Aspergers and so do some of my children. We are all sensitive, considerate of emotions, think of how others would/could feel in a given situation and have outrageous senses of humor. In fact, that's what we're known for .. crazy-funny, quick witted sense of humor.

I also am a humble person, freely admitting (and even obsessing over) my mistakes. 70% of aspies obsess over their mistakes and never ever forget them).

Nice stereotype you're generating there. Did you ever stop to consider maybe it's PDD-NOS or Autism? Or perhaps an Aspie with a narcissistic personality disorder with whom you've dealt?

Anonymous said...

just a few thoughts that may or may not be of help. I'm married to an aspie, and my two boys (now adults) also have aspergers. It has been hard, I will not deny. I have observed that aspie traits, especially in men, seem to resemble those of adolescents - almost as though, in spite of maturing physically and mentally, their emotions never matured beyond the adolescent phase. I have found the best way of communicating is to be very calm,logical, with short,to-the-point sentences. A bit like I was communicating with a robot (think Data in Star Trek). Subtlety, nuance and non-verbal communication are a no-no. You learn to damp down your own emotions and to become adept at rehearsing conversations before you speak.(Not a bad thing anyway). In trying to find out what the problems were with my men-folk, I have learnt a lot about human psychology generally (again, not a bad thing).
Nowadays Aspergers is being recognised in children at an earlier age,enabling them to be helped to develop coping strategies in dealing with the confusion of everyday social life. However,I do wonder if some of the problem for Aspies is that social life is now so 'free' and the norms of social behaviour much more subtle (?). I've often felt that my husband would have been an ideal Edwardian gentleman - good provider, upholder of virtue, and adhering perfectly to the rigid strictures that were an accepted,integral part of social life. The same might be said of almost any period of time, except for the present. Maybe Aspies did not 'stand out' as different, simply because the rules (oh, those beloved rules!) for social behaviour were the same for EVERYBODY.
Hope this may have been of help to someone.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you for that intelligent and considered view. I'd never thought of it that way, but yes, they would do better in an Edwardian society where the social rules are fairly rigid for everyone.

(I don't have the energy to reply to all the Aspies who write me themselves to tell me how insensitive I am, and how I can't generalize about Aspies (they should take that up with the DSM), and how I'm a hateful person (I am, of hypocrisy).

I would once again steer people towards another post on this blog, "Are Aspies not responsible for their own behavior?" (Type that title into the search line on the blog and the post will come up; it's dated February 26, 2013.)

Anonymous said...

John Craig,

Thank you very much for posting this. One of my high school friends has recently been diagnosed with Aspergers at 30 years old. Since then I felt like I was Alice going down the rabbit whole with some of the points he was trying to make. I have had very similar conversations that you have had with Anonymous. A lot of the points that you made in the article were 100% valid. To answer your question about who’s reading this, I was searching trying to figure out the differences between narcissism and Aspergers. Thank you for posting this article. This article made it very clear that my friend has Aspergers and not narcissism. It's helpful knowing that the confusion is not done on purpose, and that I’m not alone in dealing with people who have Aspergers quirks.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank YOU. You're actually part of the target audience for this post: people who have to deal with Aspies but who don't realize what they're dealing with.

(It took me a long time to realize what I was dealing with.)

Anonymous said...

John,
I'm the same person who went down the rabbit whole. What your opinion was on Sheldon in the Big Bang theory and Aspergers?

John Craig said...

Alice --
Never seen it, sorry.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that not all people with Asperger's are toxic. However my friendship with a person with Aspergers seems to be extremely one sided. The only time he ever asked anything about me was when his therapist suggested it and then he wanted credit for doing so from me because she said that he should tried. Does it get easier when you've realized that they aren't doing stuff like that to be hurtful and that they can't help it?

John Craig said...

Anon --
I think it does help to realize that they essentially have little choice but to be t he way they are; but that doesn't necessarily make the friendship worthwhile. (No one-sided "friendship" is.)

Anonymous said...

Hi, all these comments have made me laugh so much. I have self diagnosed as AS and now have an appointment with a professional for an official assessment. Although I consider myself an attractive, intelligent, successful, compassionate, people tend to think I'm difficult and keep their distance. I have always been of the school of thought that most people are stupid, possibly because I cannot see the rational behind their arguments. My brain processes information entirely based on logic and when this doesn't happen, I become very frustrated. I can not understand why people engage in things of no purpose and find chit chat usually very energy draining and boring. I want to have more of a fulfilling life so I definitely welcome trying to understand how people see me as opposed to how I see people which is how I've lived my life so far. Wish me luck!

John Craig said...

Anon --
Good luck -- and also congratulations for having such perspective on the syndrome. As you can see from the comments, most people take a highly partisan viewpoint on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Annon-
I too wish to thank you for your positive attitude on Aspergers. Your attitude made the freak out that my friend, who has Aspergers, a lot easier to deal with. He freaked out over a link I sent him that I thought was interesting about health. He took it personally, and thought to make things fair I should send it to all of my friends and coworkers who drank soda because he found it hard to believe that he was the only person that I knew who drank soda. I explained that I do post health articles/videos that I find interesting on Facebook (he doesn’t have an account). Thank you so much for having a positive attitude about Aspergers, just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your post.

Cadzie said...

wow you all fell for this obvious attempt at trolling, especially the anonymous postings who are clearly the author of this Blog, sir I sentence you spend time with some actual people with Aspergers and autism, if not you are sad and I No longer wish to speak to you, good day

Andy said...

Funny how this seems all these comments are the blogs poster under fake names agreeing with himself, is this a online circle jerk? John, other names ETC. are you meaning to tell me your jealous of this people with autism, proaby because they are smarter then you and not cruel like this in any way?

Anonymous said...

"Fuck You (Very Much)"


Look inside
Look inside your tiny mind
Now look a bit harder
Cause we're so uninspired, so sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor

So you say
It's not okay to be gay
Well I think you're just evil
You're just some racist who can't tie my laces
Your point of view is medieval

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause your words don't translate
And it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Do you get
Do you get a little kick out of being slow minded?
You want to be like your father
It's approval you're after
Well that's not how you find it

Do you
Do you really enjoy living a life that's so hateful?
Cause there's a hole where your soul should be
Your losing control of it and it's really distasteful

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,
Fuck you

You say, you think we need to go to war
Well you're already in one,
Cause its people like you
That need to get slew
No one wants your opinion

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you
Fuck you very, very much
Cause your words don't translate and it's getting quite late
So please don't stay in touch

Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you
Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you

John Craig said...

Cadzie, Andy, and the latest Anonymous --

(Whom I suspect ARE the same person because you "all" said essentially the same thing and posted in quick succession, judging from the time of your posts) --

I promise, I did not submit any of the anonymous postings; if I were the type to do that, then many of the other posts on my blog would have featured similar numbers of comments, which they don't. The reason this post has so many comments is because, as I pointed out in the post, Aspies can't take any criticism, so they often respond venomously, as you just did. Thank you for illustrating my point so well.

Anonymous said...

This article was incredibly negative about people with Asperger's. You call them lame, a pain, and call anybody who disagrees with you an obvious Aspie. So all neurotypical people must be annoyed by people with Asperger's, and anyone who actually doesn't want to call them lame or a pain to deal with must surely be an Aspie who cannot deal with criticism. Saying that people with Asperger's have lame personalities and are inevitably infuriating to be around is, frankly, offensive. People are going to come here after getting a diagnosis and they are going to feel like crap. Talk about insensitive.

Just write the facts about Asperger's without throwing in offensive opinions.

No, I don't have Asperger's. You can assume I am lying or have simply never been officially diagnosed, if you wish. But, reading your responses to peoples' comments who dislike your article, you seem to have a hypocritical inability to accept criticism on your article.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Does she sheer volume of comments from people like you on this particular post tell you nothing?

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for this post. I have read a lot about Asperger's, but have struggled to find a good description of them like this. Everything I've read were all scientific, generalised descriptions of what people with AS are generally like, not detailed portrayals of real-life Aspies.

From personal experience with sociopaths, I find that generalised accounts do not really tell us anything: despite having read Hervey Cleckley's generalised portrayals of them, I still failed to realise that the sweet, charming fellow I had a crush on was a sociopath until after he'd used me. From now on, I rely more on case studies than textbook descriptions.

So thank you very much - pages like this one on Asperger's are notoriously difficult to find, whereas narratives of people with most other behavioural disorders (BPD, narcissism, etc) are plentiful. Could this be because authors are too afraid to offend, since everyone is trying to be "tolerant" of AS through refusing to report the truth about it, knowing the rage it will invoke amongst Aspies? After all, most people with BPD don't become outraged when people suggest that they are impulsive, self-destructive and emotionally unstable - they freely admit to it!

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank YOU. Yes, a lot of psychological jargon is turgid stuff which is sometimes hard to translate into real life behaviors.

And yes, there's nothing like a real life experience to learn about sociopaths; that's how I learned (and I've become almost a "connoisseur" of them since). Type "sociopath alert" into the search bar of this blog and you'll get a lot of descriptions of real life ones, including some pretty famous people.

I'm not sure about the answer to your last question. I suspect it has to do with the fact that Aspergers is essentially an organic disorder, therefore Aspies are not considered somehow less responsible in a way for their own behavior (I'm of two minds about this). And since it's organic, describing their behavior in a realistic -- and therefore somewhat critical -- way would seem a little unfair, and unsporting. This is probably a little like the way no one ever says anything bad about people with Downs Syndrome, because it seems harsh.

Anonymous said...

I live with a man who I am positive has Aspergers but he wont accept it.I think his brother and dad have it also. Took a couple years in to figure it out. After 8 years I am slowly going insane. I agree with much that you say but I just want to point out that some of the language you use is "attacking" and not just informative. I am only saying that because people will note that and say it is a bitch session or attack on aspeys and ignore the valid points. And trust me I understand.. I never quite got how a person could want to beat the person they love to death until I have lived with an Aspergers for 8 years. He has a huge case of sorry ass laziness on top of the crazy stuff and cant understand why I am no longer sexually attracted to the helpless useless nasty no bath little boy that he is - see ? all you want to do after a few years with close contact with one is insult them. They can be the most obnoxious human beings I have ever met. But still I would recommend going through your article with a fine tooth comb and taking out the small attacks and leave it strictly informative. Just a suggestion.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you, that's good advice, and I just took it. (I toned it down just a touch; I still have to vent, even in retrospect.)

As to your situation, you have my sympathies.

Robin said...

See? Now they can't say you aren't open to constructive criticism so you can't be an aspey yourself lol. Aspergers often are idiot savants and can be genius in one area. My boyfriend is a computer genius and his place of business would collapse if he left. He often speaks of things as if he has deep knowledge and after a couple of years with him I finally said -" Hey you don't know the first thing about (insert topic) so why are you talking about it as if you do? You need to preface your comments with things that let people know you are guessing and finally after four years he sees it my way. They can be loving and gentle people as long as you don't demand too much from them or make sure they have their down time and space and not overwhelm them with questions. Just like any other type of disorder you have to understand their needs and not expect too much from them. Not all aspeys are the same either. I know of one through a friend that does radio. That may be his genius. As long as we can vent some and then still love them we will all be fine.

John Craig said...

Robin --
Well, I only made some slight changes so I must be part-Aspie myself.

You're right about how they talk about stuff they know nothing about as if they're experts. The Aspie I know best will often make statements and try to project a confident and reasonable tone of voice, but that means absolutely nothing. Half the time the facts are just completely off base.

You're also right that most of them are decent people when un-stressed; in some ways they are the opposite of sociopaths (even thought they will say stuff that's not true, at least they generally don't do it with the same manipulative, evil intent). Just a little bit of stress though and you're in for a real treat: meltdowns, and blaming everyone but themselves for their problems.

You sound like a decent and also well-adjusted person. Good luck with everything.

Robin said...

not very well adjusted - just pretty good at looking at things dispassionately even when I am not so dispassionate lol
Good luck to you too.

John Craig said...

Robin -
Gotta disagree. Mot people who can actually admit to not being well-adjusted usually are in fact fairly well-adjusted.

Anonymous said...

Wow, overgeneralization, much? I find it it so much easier to criticize others than actual introspection of one's own self. I have Aspergers. I have been guilty of a few things on this list, but so have the "neurotypicals". So have you, I'm sure! We're all a reflection of each other, even if our ego says otherwise. Stop creating an Other to find a monster to fight, for the same demon lies in you. It just has different tendencies than others. Fight and conquer your own demons, then get back to us!

Anonymous said...

I see what you mean about general Aspie behaviour by some of these comments - the above one in particular (written 21/08/13). Note the red herrings, slight ad hominem attacks and psychological projection. Everyone uses red herrings from time to time, but these comments suggest that Aspies do it more often. The responses they give to the post are constructed in a manner so tangential that they nearly miss the point entirely.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you, you understand perfectly. All of the things you've just described -- and seen so clearly -- are typical of Aspergerian arguing style.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I'm glad you think I understand the situation well.

I will disagree with you on one thing though: Aspergers isn't necessarily impossible to self-diagnose. Many adult Aspies realise they have a problem (although they may refuse to refer to it as a problem; I've seen some suggest that neurotypicals are the one with the problem) relating to and communicating with others, and thus seek professional diagnosis. Contrast this with schizoids who, although they realise they're abnormal, are very rarely seen by psychiatrists because they often don't consider themselves to be suffering from their condition (unlike the Aspie cognitive dissonance of "I have difficulties socialising, but there's nothing wrong with me!")

Many who self-diagnose are correct, but other times the self-diagnosis ends up with disastrous results: I read one case study written by a psychiatrist where a teenager who'd self-diagnosed was absolutely furious when the psych told him his symptoms sounded more like social anxiety than AS. This was because he'd already made friends on online autistic communities, saying "and now you've taken all that away from me" before storming out of the clinic, having wanted nothing more than confirmation that he really was an Aspie. That sounds like pretty odd behaviour: I'd rather be diagnosed with social anxiety than AS, because at least the former is curable. It's odd, though, how having Aspergers is pretty much regarded as "cool" nowadays, isn't it? It's like a weird trend where non-Aspies actively wish they had this syndrome. I guess that's because it would provide a catch-all excuse for their poor 'people skills', whether their deficiencies actually result from autism or not...


Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Are you sure those adult Aspies who realized they had a problem even though they didn't refer to it as such had actually self-diagnosed?

I really haven't known many schizoids, so can't comment there.

That's an interesting case you cite. I agree with you, I'd much rather have social anxiety than Aspergers, and for the reason you give -- at least there's hope there. I hadn't realized that having Aspergers was considered "cool" anywhere. (How can being clueless be cool?!)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my last comment wasn't very clear. What I meant was that the Aspies had self-diagnosed and then gone to a psychiatrist for confirmation. Most of them came out positive, apart from the one example I gave you. I was just trying to point out that, like the sociopaths and neurotics, Aspies do sometimes spontaneously come to the realisation that they're Aspies.

I didn't mean the actual syndrome was considered cool per se, just the label. So many people are self-diagnosing (check out WrongPlanet.com or the Aspergers tag on Tumblr - there are so many self-diagnosed "Aspies" that the Aspies who've been professionally diagnosed are becoming annoyed about it) and I've read a report from a psychiatrist saying that parents who've brought their kids for testing are disappointed when he has to tell them that their kid is *not* autistic. I've heard quiet people who in no way have poor social skills - they're just a bit bookish - speculate whether they have AS, despite not having any symptoms. It seems people think of Aspergers as a trendy social label rather than a serious condition that ruins one's ability to communicate effectively.

Anonymous said...

You say Aspies can't self-diagnose. Thats an interesting blanket statement. Some are more self aware than you think they are capable of. Some are quite gifted, but they are hindered by their social skills, and their reluctance to put on social masks required in this society. Quite a few Aspies embrace telling it like it is, a trait you seem fond of as well. There's usually a kernal of truth in every harsh criticism, but does harsh criticism bring about the results it wants? The answer is usually no. When criticism is due, it is best handled with tact and compassion. You bring about the results you want to see in a positive way. Try it sometime. It beats tearing others down to build your own self up!

Anonymous said...

This is a VERY badly written article. You seem to forget that people with aspergers are HUMAN BEINGS. I don't even know where to begin…I mean quoting The Hangover of all films really..
I mean it's so bad it's nearly funny.
The only people that seem to agree with this article are people who DON'T have aspergers… Ignorance is bliss.

PC

John Craig said...

Anon --
Did I ever suggest that Aspies were not human beings?

Of course the people who agree with it don't have Aspies. The entire point of the article was to help people who don't have it be able to identify the people they know who do, and be able to understand it and identify it -- and, not least, know what to expect.

The sheer volume and ridiculousness of the comments from Aspies here actually proves much of what I said in the post. And the fact that they -- and you -- are unable to take any criticism proves that point very eloquently.

"Ignorance is bliss"? That's certainly an incisive, insightful comment. Exactly what people should expect from an Aspie.

Anonymous said...

Hello! I am an Aspie woman and I would like to comment on your insulting article. First, it's true Aspies look arrogant and egocentric. I have definitely looked that way, I'm sure. But we just process information in a different way and we don't realise how our actions or words affect others because we can't read the nonverbal cues. It's like calling a deaf man stupid because he can't understand what you are saying to him. I actually really care about others and I am constantly thinking what I'm doing wrong that leads to more wrong doing. I also get so stressed about what to say that when someone says I'm still not doing it right, I sometimes can't take it anymore. Also, it's difficult for us to express our own emotions and we are often misunderstood. I deeply care about everyone but most people think I only care about myself. I've been working on this since... Forever. I was so often rejected by my peers that any sort of criticism reminded me of that rejection (and bully), that's why I used to take it so personally. Actually, if you just tell the Aspie in a polite way what they are doing wrong and why it is wrong, the Aspie will most likely understand and be willing to change it. We don't like being rejected all the time and it's really confusing for us why people reject us. On the other hand, our mind is very logical and we are able to understand when it's explained to us. I now understand a lot, I'm still working on controlling my voice and other things but I do care about others, I often doubt myself (less this days, I have learned to love myself, it's not easy for someone on the spectrum to do it) and I'm not arrogant even if I sometimes look like this. I think your article is very misleading and one sided, you seem to completely lack empathy and any sensitivity.
And I was always the first to finish the test at school, why would I need more time????

Anonymous said...

Just one more thing. You say keeping an Aspie as a friend is not worth it. Well, I think you definitely can't have an Aspie friend but this is just you. I am a very loyal and true friend, I care a lot about my friends (sometimes too much), many people have rejected me, betrayed me or taken advantage of me and have left me hurt but I still approach others with an open mind without judging them. I don't care about superficial stuff such as looks or money, I only care about the person inside. People who have given me a chance to get to really know me are now my dear close friends and they know they can always rely on me, they know I will go out of my way to help them, they know they can have fun with me and because I'm so different from others I always do something unexpected. They love me for my honesty and pure intentions, they love that I mean what I say and keep my promises. They love that I give freely and I'm happy to see them happy. They love that I have a deep understanding of relationships (because all my social failures have made me dig deep) and I give them good advice. They love that I couldn't care less about gossiping. Of course, I don't suggest you all make friends with Aspies - many people don't appreciate these traits and are quick to judge others. Most people don't appreciate that the other person sees the world in a different way, they project their own desires and thoughts to the others. It's just that with neurotypicals the differences are not as dramatic and often even go unnoticed and unaddressed. But deep bonding with another human being is impossible when you project yourself on them no matter if they are neurotypicals or not.
It's like speaking two different languages. Aspies need to learn the social cues the same way a foreigner needs to learn the new country's language. It's not that they can't bond with others, it's not that they can't understand others, it's definitely not that they don't care about others.
You mention sociopaths - well, sociopaths recognise the social cues and are also very likeable. Most people would choose a sociopath to communicate with. But sociopaths are trying to destroy you, nothing they say is true, yet most people think very highly of them. Aspies are the opposite. They deeply care about others, they really mean in their heart to help others, they just can't read the social cues and most people don't like them, don't trust them and think they are arrogant and self centered. While Aspies are to be trusted nobody trusts them and everyone trusts sociopaths. This is a bit of oversimplification but I hope you do get my point. I don't say Aspies are superior to neurotypicals, we are not but I think there's a lot to learn from us if we can reach you.

John Craig said...

Anon --
You sound like a decent and reasonable person. And you make a good case for Aspies. I agree, they are in many ways the opposite of sociopaths, as I pointed out in my later post, "Do Aspies span the full range of morality?" in my post of December 2012. Aspies tend to be far more honest than most.

You say that most people think very highly of sociopaths; not quite true. People are often charmed and swayed by them at first, but in the long run, they always end up hating them.

I congratulate you for taking such an even tone in your comment; many of the Aspies who have commented before you have actually done a great job of illustrating many of the points I made in the post about how they tend to be unreasonable, immature, incapable of taking any criticism, subject to meltdowns, and off the mark in their opinions of others.

Anonymous said...

If you bother to search for blogs and articles written by Aspies you will discover most are like me. But by being judgemental and not understanding you attract only those who are still in the very tough stage of their lives where they haven't learned how to control their emotions (been there, done that). If I write an article how men are pigs (no shortage of such writings by neurotypicals) most reasonable and decent men will not even bother to answer me and I will have a proof how all men who comment are assholes. You didn't take an even tone in your article, so it's expected that people will not respond to you in an even tone.
It's not that Aspies can't take criticism. We take it too deeply. We are also criticised most of the time. It's really painful to live like that. I have often argued with someone and he was convinced I didn't listen to him at all. But it wasn't true - I was thinking of what he said all the time and criticising myself even more. I say this because many people think that what they see is what is happening in the Aspie mind - it is not.
Also, an Aspie person is the one who will say that the Emperor has no clothes. You need people like this. You need people who say what they think. I have had some problems with authority because of that (most of them were incompetent), I have had serious problems with teachers for saying what others were also thinking but not addressing. It was tough. But at the same time this very trait has gained me a lot of respect by decent people and I had a boss who always asked for my opinion even though I was 23 and he was 55. So is it worth it to try to tolerate and understand Aspies? You decide. We are the same as everyone else, the fact that we need to work harder to understand social cues and to recognise faces doesn't make it impossible to communicate with us. We are more than willing to bond with others and will do it once we know how. Don't pity us, just be clear and honest, be straightforward and communication will be great. Also, the fact that you stop mind games and are absolutely raw when you are with us makes the relationship a lot deeper and more intimate. If Aspies start being comfortable with who they are and stop trying to be like others, then others will appreciate them. All an Aspie needs is appreciation, this is what we feel is constantly missing in our lives. Give it us and we'll give you the world.

John Craig said...

Anon --
If all Aspies were like you then they wouldn't have the reputation they have. But the fact is, many of them act the way I described in the post. (I have extensive personal experience with one.) They can correct your pronunciation, for instance, but if you correct their pronunciation or tell them they're misusing a word, they will become filled with rage and start screaming "You're such a prissy little sit! You couldn't be more unpleasant!" and have a complete meltdown. Most of the literature on Aspies mentions their inability to take criticism. (And many of the responses above illustrate that.) If Aspies never criticized themselves, this trait wouldn't bother me as much; it's the hypocrisy that is most galling.

The fact is, whoever created that character in The Hangover had obviously had experience with Aspies, and he illustrated many of the classic Aspie traits, albeit in an exaggerated fashion.

I never said that Aspies have nothing to contribute. But they come with a host of characteristics that generally make them difficult to deal with. Read about Nikola Tesla sometime; he was one of the great scientific geniuses, but would have been impossible to live with.

The purpose of the post was to help neurotypicals identify typical Aspies. (If you object to the characterization "typical Aspies," then I suggest you desist from using the word "neurotypicals.")

Aspies come in a wide range of IQ's, just like sociopaths, and just like the rest of us. A smart sociopath is a more effective sociopath and can hide his sociopathy better. And a smart Aspie -- like you -- can come across as balanced and reasonable and less Aspie-like. But the existence of someone like you doesn't negate the truth of what I said in the post.

Finally, you cite giving the unvarnished truth as one of the strong points of Aspies; well, that's what I've done here, given a non-diplomatic assessment of what they're about, with no sugarcoating. (Look around the blog, that's in fact what this blog is about.)

Anonymous said...

Same girl again, sorry for so many posts in a row.
I read your other posts and I certainly can't blame you for not having a clue about what's happening in an Aspie's head since most probably you are not one and since most Aspies aren't great at communicating their thoughts and feelings. I saw you mention somewhere that Aspies are like narcissists when it comes to blaming others. You say an Aspie never thinks it's his or her fault. I understand why people would think that. But it's the opposite. We always think it's our fault or at least most of the time. We are always questioning ourselves. It doesn't look like that but that is what is happening inside our heads. Sometimes we have gone out of our way to do something right and when someone starts telling us again that we have failed, or worse, they tell us we don't even try, well, it infuriates us. Aspies hate injustice and we really hate when they blame us for having intentions we have never had. When somebody tells me my tears are crocodile tears when they are real tears and on top of that I have been trying not to cry in front of him, you can imagine that this deeply hurts me. Imagine living your whole life like that.
Also, this is similar to the myth that we don't have emotions and are like robots. Google intense world syndrome theory about autism and you may find it makes a lot of sense. It's not that we don't have emotions, it's that they are strong and overwhelming that we can't cope with them. Sometimes we might not be aware of them and "feel" them later, after hours or even days. And even when we are aware of the emotions we express them differently than most people and others have no idea what we are through. That's why we may look like robots when actually we are burning inside.
And I read how you think only autistic people would ever consider the need social skills to be taught. Wow. Maybe only people who can't walk will consider being taught how to walk. I don't see the problem with that. What was the point of this statement? To me solving maths problems comes naturally and I don't understand why so many people struggle with it but obviously some people need to put more effort into studying and understanding maths.
Again, I'm not definitely not your fan (although I do enjoy your articles about sociopaths) but I don't blame you for misunderstanding Aspies. After all, a part of our condition is that we are often misunderstood. I found this article while searching for an answer whether I should let the world know about my condition and sadly, the answer is no. Thank you for giving me this insight, I now expect no understanding from others.
To all the Aspies reading this - don't expect the world to understand you. It won't. Focus on understanding and knowing yourselves. I now tell people as soon as I meet them that I might not recognise them or see them on the street and if I don't say hi that's the reason, not because I'm arrogant or pretending not to see them (I have had problems with this in the past). They take it unexpectedly well and some guys even find it cute. I tell them to be straightforward with me and most of the time they love it. I have learned to recognise many cues and hints and if I'm not sure, I ask. This way they see me as a human being, not as a walking diagnosis and they respect me. I recommend the same approach. Don't try to be like others, just be the confident and self loving version of yourself, then people will like how you stand out from the crowd, not pick on you because of it. Don't take blog posts like this one personally and don't waste your energy being mad about them. And most importantly, don't ever label yourselves and don't believe in labels other give you.
Sorry if that's too long and sorry for the mistakes, I'm writing from my phone and I'm not a native English speaker.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Wow, you are smart. I'd never have known you were not a native English speaker, not a single grammatical or spelling error, and from a phone, no less. What is your first language?

Your comments provided a welcome counterpoint to the comments from other Aspies.

You say I don't understand Aspies; fair enough, I'm not a mind reader. But I do judge people on their actions and words, and I've seen enough of those from Aspies to be able to draw certain conclusions, which I put in the post.

Aspie girl said...

Ok, I have a name now.
I don't want to share my nationality here, I'm from Eastern Europe, I hope that's enough (if you are still curious, I can tell you in an email or something).
Another typical Aspie trait is that we can't take compliments and feel uncomfortable with them, I definitely felt a bit uneasy when you called me smart. No matter how arrogant we look, deep down we believe we are unworthy. Most Aspies have a negative self image.
Btw, if an Aspie girl happens to be physically attractive (which she will never believe) many, many men are attracted to her because she is genuinely humble and honest, she also lacks many annoying female traits, doesn't care about gossiping, etc. She is often clueless about her attractiveness and has no idea how to use it to her advantage. She's an easy prey for predators at least when she is young. So girls, be careful.
John, I don't blame you for not reading our minds. I understand you. I suspect my father is on the spectrum and it wasn't easy to live with him so I also understand where all the bitter responses are coming from. I also suspect my dad's first wife was a sociopath so you can imagine how difficult it is to live with someone who is so deeply hurt and scarred. But you know what? Bitterness doesn't help you have a better relationship with your autistic parent or spouse. Blaming and complaining about what they SHOULD be doing is counterproductive. Understanding them, not fighting them, giving them what they need, this is what works with every human being except sociopaths of course. I now know my father loves me and I'm always on his mind. I know he shows it in a different way and I no longer think he's a bad father.
Try doing the same with your Aspie husband, son, daughter... One very positive side of Asperger's syndrome is loyalty and reliability. Appreciate it and don't take it for granted. This actually applies to any relationship, Aspies are not that different.
Please, correct my grammar mistakes, I'm constantly trying to improve my English. :)

John Craig said...

Aspie Girl --
I don't need t know exactly where you're from, thanks. But your command of English is excellent considering it's your second language.

That's an interesting point about Aspies being uncomfortable with compliments. Now that I think about it, it's true.

As far as men being attracted to pretty girls with Aspergers, I can assure you that men are attracted to pretty girls, period. Later on they may find the lack of annoying female traits, as you put it, a refreshing -- and happy -- change. But the initial attraction is purely physical: we men are very superficial creatures.

I agree, Aspies can be loyal. But as far as the understanding required, it's usually way too one-sided for my taste. We neurotypicals are supposed to make all sorts of allowances for an Aspie's rigidity, and their rigidity will generally preclude them making any allowances for anybody else.

Glad to hear you'll take grammatical corrections well, but you haven't given me the opportunity to make any corrections yet.

Aspie girl said...

I just saw your other response.
I don't mind the truth without sugarcoating. I appreciate it. And I was also one of those aggressive Aspies, trust me (I had no idea I was an Aspie though). The truth is many Aspies do outgrow this but they will not bother to comment on such an insulting article and will choose not to pay attention to you.
Also, what you are saying here is not the absolute truth about Aspies, it's your point of view. I happen to not agree with some of the points and I explained why. I appreciate that you give your candid opinion, this helps me understand how others perceive me. But this still doesn't mean it's true Aspies are really arrogant or they don't care about others. It only looks this way.
But you don't seem to want to understand Aspies, you seem to want to warn people to avoid them. I understand why you have these views but you can't really expect an intelligent discussion when you start like this.
I'm using the term neurotypical because I saw it's the accepted one. I don't really care so much about words and the whole political correctness stuff is completely beyond me so if you don't like the word neurotypical, I'm fine with it.
There's no typical Aspie. Asperger's is a neurological condition and that's all it's about. We perceive the world in a different way, I don't think it's a disability. What is important is the level of consciousness and self awareness and people who don't have enough of it are not nice to be around. Whether they have Asperger's or not is irrelevant the same way it is irrelevant whether they can walk, see, hear, whether they are smart or not. Yes, for people with normal brains it's easier to fit in but that doesn't mean their relationships are meaningful, that they are happy, etc. Actually, a person who undergoes great suffering is more likely to be motivated to become more self aware. And people who are constantly rejected by everyone, bullied at school, taken advantage of, well, these people just happen to suffer a lot.
John, if it's so annoying to be around this Aspie, try changing your approach. Tell him in a neutral situation how you don't like it when he says this or that and it makes you feel uncomfortable. Don't start an argument and don't put him on the defensive. Try not to sound patronising, but friendly and considerate. You'll be surprised how well this works. Aspies love when things are logical and well explained, just try not to push any emotional buttons and we are really good learners. Most Aspies WANT to bond with others and want to be effective in communication, we don't want to annoy anyone, believe it or not. And we are very easy to "coach" once you find the right approach.
Btw, Aspies do come in a wide range of IQ (although I don't believe IQ is that important) but one of the criteria to diagnose an Aspie is IQ above 70, so people with serious mental disabilities cannot have Asperger's. And I don't know if you know, according to the new DSM, Asperger's is not an official diagnosis anymore, it's a part of the ASD. Some psychiatrists don't accept it though.

John Craig said...

Aspie Girl --
I never said that Aspies are arrogant or don't care about others.

I'm glad you're not PC. I just made the point about "neurotypical" in case you objected to "typical Aspie," which you sort of did. When I say "typical Aspie" I"m not suggesting that they're all exactly the same, any more than all sociopaths or all neurotics are the same. But there are certain traits which they tend to have, just as with other disorders. If they didn't, there'd be no identifiable disorder.

I would never suggest that non-Aspies all have happy lives, or fulfilling relationships. (You do seem to have put a fair number of words into my mouth, which I have found to be an Aspergerian trait.)

And yes, I was aware that Aspergers is not officially recognized by the DSM anymore, that it's just on the spectrum.

Aspie girl said...

Not everything I said was addressed to the points you made in the article or in the comments. No reasonable person ever thinks that being "normal" is enough to lead a happy and fulfilling life. I was just making a point how Aspies are not that different.
Yes, you didn't say exactly that we are arrogant but many people perceive us to be. I'm trying to reach more people, not just you.
I understand it's easy for many people to think that narcissists and Aspies are similar but this is just not true. Aspies have a negative self image and often we view others positively. Only after a lot of rejection do some Aspies view the world negatively (the same way a rejected lover starts hating the person he used to adore) but even in that case they still see themselves as inferior. People with narcissistic traits, on the contrary, view themselves as superior to others. On the surface it may look like the same thing but it's actually not.
I understand why you think it takes too much effort to understand Aspies and how this is one sided. But actually Aspies are trying all the time to understand others, to communicate effectively, it's just that we need to make efforts where other people don't, that's why most people can't appreciate it. Also, if you have ever tried to reach an Aspie without judging, blaming and criticising you will know that once you have given them hope for a genuine and deep interaction, they will do their best to keep you. You will be surprised how easy it is to communicate after that, you just need to remind them when they seem not to understand you and they will try to understand you. Of course, I'm not saying you should become a friend with every single Aspie you meet. You might not be compatible with this particular one and that's ok. I know some people who I strongly suspect are Aspies but it doesn't mean I can bond with them or I like them. In the past, I used to try to be friends with every lonely person because I didn't want them to feel bad but I'm not trying to save the world anymore and I no longer feel responsible for how other people feel. Just give Aspies the benefit of the doubt, if you click you will be surprised how easy it is to have an Aspie friend, lover or coworker. If having a loyal friend who will always be there for you is not worth the effort, I don't know what is.
I saw some people here or somewhere else on the blog complain how some Aspies don't want the world to know that they are Aspies. I see nothing wrong with that. It means that such a person is not whining or looking for sympathy, not trying to gain any benefits, just trying to live like everyone else and not be treated in a special way. If they are successful this means they have learned their lesson well and don't repulse people. It has to do with self improvement, not deception. If I have my emotions under control, have deep relationships and people like me and accept me because I have worked hard to reach them is it really relevant that I have this neurological condition? If you can go through your daily life wearing glasses or contact lenses does it really matter that your eyesight is not perfect? I may have some quirks but I have noticed that if instead of feeling embarrassed because of them I own them people like me even more because of them. I may still make mistakes sometimes but so does everyone else and nobody's perfect. I was actually quite happy when I told a friend I might be autistic and he said - no way, you bond well with others.
And of course men are attracted to pretty girls, but I wasn't talking about sex only. The Aspie girl just has this "damsel in distress" vibe and she might be even more attractive because of her condition while very few women feel attracted to a shy guy. So a woman with Asperger's is more likely to be in an abusive relationship and a guy with the same condition is more likely to be the 25-year-old virgin. It has nothing to do with the discussion, just felt like mentioning it.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the fine motor skills, is autism frequently co-morbid with dyspraxia? If so, are there any autistics with very good fine motor skills or do they all tend to be clumsy?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Honestly, I don't know. (I had to look up "dyspraxia.")

We should distinguish between fine motor skills and overall body coordination, though. Fine motor skills refer to things like typing or threading a needle. Overall clumsiness usually refers to actions taken with the entire body. I've definitely known some Aspies who've been coordinated overall, even if their fine motor skills may have been lacking.

Anonymous said...

So Aspies typically have good gross motor skills then? That's a bit strange as I've read a bit online about Aspies having abnormal gait. Unless the gait thing has nothing to do with motor skills, and is just the way they prefer to walk/stand?

John Craig said...

Anon --
I"m not saying that Aspies "typically" have good gross motor skills, just that I've known a few who were quite coordinated. I've definitely seen that strange gait thing going on. One Aspie I've known almost seemed to walk with her left hand seeming to go forward as the left foot went forward, and the same with the right side; that exaggerates it, but it was a little like that. Another thing I've noticed with a couple of them is that sometimes when they want to emphasize something they sort of bend at the knees and go up and down while they talk.

Fine motor skills refers to something else entirely, like the ability to dip a knife into a honey jar and twirl it so that the honey doesn't drip on everything.

Aspie girl said...

Actually, not all Aspies are badly coordinated, that's why it's called a spectrum. I (hopefully) don't look badly coordinated most of the time but my coordination is a big problem (I can never work as a waitress). Actually, my fine motor skills are kind of poor but bad gross motor skills have given me the hardest time of my life - I was bullied because I could not catch a ball and all team games were a nightmare for me.
And yes, my gait is strange, well to other people I mean, it never looked strange to me. One week ago I learned that I am supposed to swing my arms when walking, I never thought of it! Now I'm doing my best to walk like a normal person but I'm not sure it's possible.

aspiemike said...

An enlightened aspie with a radically different view than most on what Aspergers is. Now, i see a lot of people in this world who claim to be experts on Aspergers and their behaviours. I have also read the other comment and I can assure you I hate the fact that most advocates will want to tell people that someone like me is incapable of responsibility. But truth, I won't help people if they don't help me either. Here is an excerpt from one of my blog entries. I actually thought this after meditation one day.

1. Due to the sensory issues, I can tell you that I have been able to define the first part of Aspergers for myself as being this: Aspergers at its core is sensory control issues with problems in communication. The more you work to try and control the sensory issues, the better equipped you will become in improving your social skills. Such a thought alone will make everyone question whether they have Aspergers or not. It’s better to avoid thinking about it as you may obsess over it and get diagnosed because of your obsession.



2. The second part of my description of Apsegers is this. It is so complex and so difficult to understand, that not even most psychologists or experts on the subject have the best understanding of it. Part of the problem is that some people with Aspergers/autism aren’t even capable of speaking or expressing feelings. And when some do speak, they are told to shut up. This is possibly why so many labels are thrown at an Aspie and can also help attribute to the lack of social skills. This path of least resistance often leads to anger and depression and others not liking it when we speak up. This could easily result in people on the spectrum getting abused as well.



3. The third part of understanding Aspergers is that the brain is very overactive. The brain needs to be properly stimulated and as a result, the wiring of the brain in those with Aspergers can likely cause an opposite effect of what is desired for any given situation. Underlying causes such as anger, depression, and anxiety can contribute to this overactive brain.



4. The final part of Aspergers to understand that is that the major sensory issue involved is the emotions of an Aspie. It may not be clear to those when an Aspie is feeling something or not. However, the emotions when they do come out can be quite strong. Like with part number three, the emotion may come out at an undesired time for the average neurotypical (NT) thinker, and when the emotion needs to be shown, it isn’t present.

Anonymous said...

Aspiemike: which sensory issues? What do you mean by this?

aspiemike said...

Sensory issues are more relating to how people function. Some may have more sensitivity to brighter lights, loud sounds, etc. Some may even have stronger emotions than the average person (another sensory issue). This might actually help in figuring out when an Aspie gets overwhelmed.

Look at environments with loud sound or noises and many people in an environment interacting all at once for example. It's something that comes naturally for almost all people who aren't diagnosed to just brush it off and go with the flow. The Aspie might possibly get overwhelmed with all the events happening around him/her and may not cope well with all the sounds and voices. My understanding is that this might just be an anxiety issue.

Aspies typically deal better with smaller groups of people. Put them in a large social setting and they might be more difficult to read, or even look like a deer caught in the headlights.

Anonymous said...

lol. i havent read a biased and wrong facts spouting article like this about aspergers in quite a while. i relly laughed at your lack of knowledge, lol. sounds more like a passive aggressive who got his/her ass kicked by the intellect of an aspie and is on a whining streak. seriously, theres so many factual errors about aspergers in this article that i wont even dignify to address them all. i will however point out two glaring signs of total inaccuracy and possibly envy here, the first being aspergers not having a clue what others feel: this is 100% wrong. aspergers is a syndrome which a person is born with, and it entails different neural pathways and systemic processes to actually process things like non verbal communication. aspergers clients get a set of non verbal cues from their partner, but sometimes the neural pathways either translate them into the incorrect meaning, or it subconsciously sends back the wrong set of "perceived appropriate non verbal cues as an answer. just to give you an idea on not to simplify something that you seem to know zero about in the first place. second: asperger clients dont lack empathy, that is full on horse apples. you say you met at least 4 aspies? i guess you must top my 138 iq then, because you seem to make all your assumptions on those 4, and im even a trained socialworker besides a high functioning aspie. and even with my years of experience i wouldnt base my general assumptions on any disorder on such a low count of meetings. i really cant begin to describe how laughable and small-minded you come across. ow btw, that computer you typed your offensive little blog on? you have that thanks to aspies. yeah youre welcome, lol.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say, as a mother of an aspie, this post was laughable. It's like you googled Aspergers and then decided you were an expert on the topic. You took SOME valid traits and twisted and exaggerated them into caricatures. I'm sure you'll somehow try to twist this comment around and say I proved your point, as you've pretty much done with every negative comment. At the risk of you deleting this comment altogether, I'm going to go ahead and just write - you're really not an Aspergers expert. You're just a blogger with no area of expertise to blog about.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thank you so much for this post. It resonates with me 100% and I found it by searching (yet again) for "relationship with an aspie man infuriating me." I can't even believe you have the patience to respond to all these people who are absolutely (you couldn't have scripted it better) proving each one of your points WORD. FOR. WORD. Come ONNN! I'm so sick of having the most circular, infuriating and ridiculous "conversations" with an aspie man. You think it's hard being friends with one, try being in a relationship!! It's completely impossible for all of the exact reasons you've described.

also- to anon - I have a child with the diagnosis too, and I suggest strongly that you step out of denial so that you can do something about it now before your child grows up as clueless as the aspie adults we're dealing with now. The blog isn't offensive - it's fact. If you don't want to face facts, don't do the exact thing he's saying you're going to do which is attack him.

One has only to read a message board (or two) dedicated to NTs in relationships with aspies to know that trying to invest in this person is what we call CRAZY MAKING. To be fair, I should say that I'm only speaking about male aspies with NT females. I have read, (as a previous poster mentioned) that symptoms in females differ, and I can't be sure I know any woman aspies personally.
I am off to read the other post (are aspies responsible for their behavior) right now.
Again....thank you so much for calming me down and making me feel less alone!....and less like I just stepped off the crazy train and hallucinating conversations while someone blatantly accuses me (and gets mad at me!) for saying something I'm 100% sure I didn't say.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you very much. You're a voice of sanity (in a wilderness of Aspies, at least on this comment thread).

It IS frustrating to have to deal with Aspies over time, and your description of conversations with them ("circular, infuriating, and ridiculous") is perfect.

My guess is that the anon who commented before you has symptoms of Aspergers herself, even if she hasn't been diagnosed (it does tend to run in families). Her suggestion that I Googled Aspergers and then considered myself an expert is typical of the kind of accusation Aspies make. In fact every single example I used (other than the characters Zach Galifianakis played) was from real life, even if I didn't identify the person I witnessed them from.

As to your last paragraph, yes, it is infuriating to have to deal with someone who not only accuses us of saying things we didn't say, but constantly denies things that they HAVE said. I sometimes think there should be support groups for people who have to deal with Aspies on a regular basis.

Anyway, thanks again and good luck.

Anonymous said...

I thought this might be an interesting link for people who think that what is referenced here is exaggeration. It's a blog written by a counselor who deals with apspie/NT relationships. Even though it seems to me that most of the relationships are romantic and cross gender, it's interesting just the same. The characteristics still remain. For anyone interested, check it out.

http://www.aspiestrategy.com

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you for that, that article on the 98 percenters was especially enlightening.

Anonymous said...

"Aspergers Syndrome -- the name for the mildest of the autism spectrum of disorders -- may be overdiagnosed these days."

That's pretty funny, YOU writing that, and yet almost every person who posted a negative comment, you "diagnosed" as having Aspergers. You missed your calling. You should be writing comedy.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Why else would they -- and you -- be so bitter?

Michael Dietsche said...

I completely identified with your description of negative AS traits, as a normal male having recently been in a relationship with an AS female. There’s some unusual circumstances with me that I feel gave me some insight (I am a scientist, during the relationship I suffered a right-hemi brain injury which ironically mimics many AS traits, and as I recovered my perceptions of her behavior changed from tolerance when I was most neurologically affected, to revulsion as I approached “normality”), but I would like to comment apart from my personal experience. Below is my summary of AS behavior based on a survey of the literature and the works of Dr. Tony Attwood (highly recommended).

At about age 4 normal children begin to develop “theory of mind”, the ability to empathize with the perspective and thoughts of others. This ability does not arise in AS children, or is severely stunted. Thus most AS adults are forced to operate at the instinctive social-interaction level of a preschooler.

As the AS child faces the inevitable rejection and socialization difficulties as they proceed through school, they develop psychological compensations and adaptations, as any suffering child will do. These adaptations take on one of four basic patterns, which follow the child into adulthood.

If the AS child is fundamentally introverted, he may fall into a cycle of social failure and resulting trauma and despair, resulting in a depressed withdrawn personality. Alternatively he may retreat into a fantasy world where he can be more “socially” successful. This can border on a delusional state. These are the first two basic types.

If the AS child is constitutionally extroverted, he may become a mimic of normal social behavior, observing and attempting to apply rules to situations which normal children accomplish instinctively. Or he may develop a denial complex, actually believing he is fine and everyone else inferior, demanding acceptance of his behavior and playing “god”. This is reinforced by people “playing along” with him rather than endure his touchy outbursts and tantrums. This last type is what you described so effectively in your post and is the most impossible to deal with as adults.

Of course there may be blending of these types in a given individual. These four types appear in AS females as well, although generally they are more subtly expressed in girls.

John Craig said...

Michael --
I just wrote a fairly lengthy reply to you but it got swallowed by the computer, so I"ll try to reconstruct (at least part of) it:

Thank you very much, that was quite interesting.

I'm curious: did that female tell you she was AS from the start, or did you figure that out on your own? And if she didn't tell you, did she actually deny it, and how long did it take you to figure it out? Also, how long after your own recovery did it take you to end the relationship?

Your comment about applying rules definitely rings a bell. I knew an Aspie woman who insisted that children have to go to school to "be taught social skills," as if that's not something you can just pick up at the playground or from whatever social setting you find yourself in, instinctively. Rules, rules, rules, are what rule an Aspie's existence.

Your comment about "touchy outbursts" also rings true. Probably no better example than the comments on this post. Maybe a quarter of them are form neurotypicals like yourself who are relieved that someone else has felt as much frustration as they have in dealing with Aspies. But three quarters of the comments are from enraged Aspies who can't stand it that I have described them as others see them. There is a tremendous amount of poison -- or tantrums, as you put it -- in this comments. It's sort of funny, in a way: they've all decided to prove us right with their outbursts. (I talk about sociopaths far more often than I talk about Aspies on this blog, but sociopaths never write in to complain.)

Anyway, thank you for your comment.

Michael Dietsche said...

There were hints of an old diagnosis, but she doesn't accept it and we didn't discuss it. I heard that from others, and a mental health professional who knows her explained it to me, that he was certain she is AS. I was clueless till then and initially thought she was quirky or artsy, the closer we became the clearer I saw real problems, especially after my own neuro problems subsided. Until I was informed I knew nothing about AS and thought she was a "difficult woman", the more I learned the more I understood what was happening. Knowing "why" helped me not to despise her, but her behavior was still unacceptable. The relationship would have ended regardless based on her behavior: I am neither a relationship-caregiver for damaged adults nor a martyr. Its funny that right brain damage causes many AS-like symptoms; while I was most "like" her we got along fairly well. They say AS get along best with their own, and I feel I was "AS" for a time. I am quite familiar with sociopaths and narcissists. Aspies are not sociopathic but they are socially blind and potentially damaging to others (inadvertently). They are not motivationally narcissistic in the classic sense, but those acting out the "god-complex" pattern are functionally identical to narcissists in their external behavior, and just as repulsive.

John Craig said...

Michael --
Thank you for that answer. You have an excellent handle on Aspies. It's strange the there is very little literature saying what you and I have said. Most of what you'll read about Aspies is from advocates, who'll talk about what wonderful people they are, how they are differently abled, how they are reliable, innocent, see things in a different light, see things which neurotypicals can't see, etc. It's never: hey, it's Alan from The Hangover.

to get any sense of how they actually act, you have to almost read between the lines of the less biased information sources.

Your own experience is fascinating, sort of a "Flowers for Algernon" in reverse, if you're familiar with that classic story. (It's the story of a man of subpar intelligence who took a drug that gave him genius-evel intelligence, but then its effects wore off and he went back to being the same dumb guy.) You took the opposite arc, but came out of it with more insight.

Thanks again for your insight.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed bias in the literature too: every time I read anything on Aspies, it's basically a list of positive traits, making them sound as if being autistic is some kind of a gift and that they aren't actually disordered at all. Only when you meet someone who is autistic do you get any real idea of how much it can negatively affect the Aspie's life and those who have to deal with him.

John Craig said...

Michael --
In reference to what you wrote two comments ago: I too am generally more sympathetic when I realize that a certain behavior is a result of some sort of neurological deficit than when I think it's simply a matter of someone acting like a jerk. But I find that I lose whatever sympathy I might have had when the people who have that deficit or their advocates refuse to acknowledge that they have a problem, and instead tout is as some sort of advantage, or, at least, as a mere difference in outlook. Getting all the comments from Aspies (above) has also not inclined me to feel more sympathetic.

Michael Dietsche said...

Yes, if you read many AS writings you will alternate between pity and angry disgust. AS is a disability, and they deserve reasonable accommodation for work and schooling. In addition to their core social deficit they often have satellite brain abnormalities including sensory distortions, sleep disorders, processing difficulties, etc. They also suffer from a lifetime of emotional scars from socialization failures. Their self-proclaimed “honesty” is often just an impolite outburst of yet another one of their misperceptions. It’s sad, but they cannot support normal reciprocal relationships of any kind. They are socially blind and socially undeveloped.

I believe their adult relationships can never approach normal. I once read about a 5-yr old boy who lost his sight, which was later restored in adulthood. Although the images of sight now reached his brain normally, he was never able to process or understand the meaning of the images, recognize faces, etc. His young brain had developed without visual sensory stimulation, so that neural region withered into permanent nonfunctionality. Likewise I think that Aspies grow up never being able to “sense” others, and it forever stunts their ability to interact with others, even if they do develop some insight into their condition. How could a man born blind ever understand “purple”?

Sadly Aspies can never fully understand what they are missing, beyond what a toddler might understand about relationships (which is where their natural social development halted). Some make a heroic effort to fit in, trying to understand social protocol through intellectual analysis (rules) and mimicry – it’s the only useful tool set they have to apply to it (sometimes laughably ineffective). Some give up and withdraw. Other Aspies use maladaptive mechanisms to cope with their deficits, injurious to themselves and/or others, which drive people away. In all cases a normal reciprocal relationship is impossible. Keep enough distance to preserve your own integrity, or keep your eyes open about your one-sided role as caregiver/martyr/doormat to someone incapable of appreciating your self-sacrifice.

If you can find Dr. Aspergers’ original paper you will discover a clear description of your own experiences with Aspies, including the flurry of responses you received to your original post here. I recall a passage about long attempts to talk patients toward some kind of simple insight, fraught with argumentative resistance. You can sense the exasperation beneath the good doctor’s calm exposition.

John Craig said...

Michael --
You've described the syndrome perfectly. And all those ancillary "malfunctions" are indisputable.

The experts all say that Autism's cause is unknown, but I wonder if, given your temporary right brain problems, you haven't stumbled onto at least the "location" of the problem.

Interesting parallel with the boy who was blind for a while, and it makes sense. I can't help but think of another parallel: with sociopaths, who know how to mimic the positive emotions of love and affection and loyalty, but who don't feel them. This correlation is a little unfair to Aspies, who are not evil like sociopaths. But much of their interaction seems to be mimicry. I've noticed Aspies who will laugh along with a joke that everyone else is laughing at, when I know they don't really get it. And it's often a pained, forced laugh; this is something you might not notice if you didn't know the person is an Aspie, but once you know that, it becomes glaringly obvious.

Do me a favor, and if you haven't seen it, take a look at my post from February 26th, 2013: "Are Aspies responsible for their own behavior?" It deals with an issue we've discussed, i.e., now much sympathy Aspies deserve. "Exasperation" (your word) is what I feel too, bu tin all honesty I'm just not sure to what extent I'm supposed to feel it.

Michael Dietsche said...

I will read that post, but I will say that we are all entitled to judge others by their behavior, or at least hold them accountable and protect ourselves from hurtful behavior. Though there may be reasons, even excuses, for behaviors, we are not beholden to endure it. It helps me to deal with an Aspie emotionally as I would with a four year old child, which is appropriate to their natural social skill set. Of course that's complicated by their adult cognitive level and adult physical attractiveness, etc. In the end its just too hard to deal with an adult brat behaving badly, for me anyway. On the point of locating regions of the brain affected by autism, they are making great strides with imaging now and finding malformed areas correlated to AS. A google search of scientific papers will yield much material if you are interested. Temple Grandin displays her brain scan and explains it well in most of her youtube speeches.

John Craig said...

Michael --
I agree with you on the behavior point, in that that's basically what I said in that other post.

I read something by Temple Grandin a while bad, but I"ll take a look at her Youtube stuff.

BTW I corresponded briefly with a girl from eastern Europe who was an Aspie (and whom I met through this post), and she was quite intelligent and reasonable. But one of the things that made her that way was that was quite upfront about her syndrome, and the life experiences she had had as a result of it. The Aspies who are most exasperating are those who either deny that they have it or insist that it is a blessing somehow.

Anonymous said...

I thought you might be interested in this website, which is called 'Families of Adults Affected by Asperger's Syndrome' and has a whole load of case histories of individual Aspies: http://faaas.org/research-materials/case-histories/

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you. I read several of the essays and they were quite enlightening. I actually got the impression that some of those husbands may have been further along the spectrum than just having Aspergers though.

Still, I recommend them to anyone who has to deal with an Aspie on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

"Always too busy to buy me a birthday card – if he does, he gives it to me still in the bag from the shop, cellophane intact, no message, no signature – 'well that way you can use it again – can’t you?'"

^ This. Also the one about the guy making jokes at a funeral, and the one with the guy holding his own baby in the same position for 15 minutes despite it crying in his arms.

Would you say these are stereotypical Aspie behaviours?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Actually I'd say those are extreme behaviors even by Aspie standards. Most Aspies know better than to do those things, which is why I said that it seemed to me that some of the guys described are further along the spectrum than just Aspergers Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

I realise Aspergers has now been deleted from the DSM, but how did doctors draw the line between that and classic autism? I used to think the only difference between AS and classic autism was the average/high IQ in AS and low IQ in classic autism. I didn't think the difference could be determined by empathy levels alone (then again, even doctors admit that psychiatry is hardly an exact science).

John Craig said...

Anon --
Honestly, I don't know the answer to your question. When I call the behaviors you described as extreme, I'm just basing that on the people I've known with Aspergers, all of whose behavior was a bit off, but not THAT far off. They all knew how to hold a baby, would sign birthday cards, and if anything would actually be LESS likely to make jokes at a funeral than some non-Aspie people I've known. The Aspies I've known actually have paid more attention to the formal social niceties as taught by Emily Post, since they need more of a framework for social interaction, since the usual give and take of friendly banter is beyond them.

Anonymous said...

I am deeply curious why one would take the time to blog about a disorder that affects such a small number of people.

John Craig said...

Anon --
The blog isn't about Aspergers; I've written maybe four or five posts on the subject (out of over 1600 posts overall). This particular post has gotten more responses than any other in the blog, mostly because people with Aspergers resent being described the way they are.

Aspergers is rare, but not THAT rare. Some form of autism is thought to affect as many as 1 in 100 people, and Aspergers is generally considered the most common form of autism. My own guess is that there are a fair number of cases which go undiagnosed; I' pretty sure I've seen a few of these.

As to why I wrote this post in the first place, the most honest answer I can give you is, to vent. I've found Aspies frustrating, and in some cases, infuriating, to deal with. And I don't think my experience with them has been unique, either, as some of the comments show.

Anonymous said...

What's the difference between an Aspie and an NT who has poor social skills? Or are they the same?

John Craig said...

Anon --
A neurotypical with poor social skills is probably just dumb, or perhaps for some reason doesn't care that much about getting along with others. An Aspie has autism, which means that no matter how smart he is -- and he can be very smart at some things -- he is unable to read other people, especially their nonverbal cues.

Adrianna said...

I have posted on here on more than one occasion about a particular individual who seems to think that the rest of the world should put up with her BS. What pisses me off even more is that she has the f**king gall to want to act like she didn't just have a meltdown about the smallest stupidest thing, and then afterwards wants to talk to you about whatever mundane shit is going on in her warped head. She makes me so sick. I have to walk around on egg shells all day because of her ever increasing need to add more and more rules to her ever increasing rule book. And then she has the nerve to behave as if you and she are friends, as if she didn't not just 5 minutes ago blast you into kingdom come for some stupid trivial shit she perceived you did on purpose or whatever!! I'm sorry, all of us are responsible for our actions. So they should be held accountable too. If any of us go into a rage we are told we have to control our impulses. Not these people. It's like they have no gauge or something. I would be the happiest person alive if she resigned. Ugh!

John Craig said...

Adrianna (GT?) --
I assume the individual you're talking about has Aspergers, otherwise you wouldn't be on this thread.

But yet, I've known people like that too, and I understand your frustration.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that aspies also suffer from bipolar or schizoid personality disorder as a comorbid set of symptoms?

John Craig said...

Anon --
I suppose it's possible, but I've never seen it.

Anonymous said...

Most of the things you focus on here are not really symptoms of Asperger's syndrome in the same way as, for example, inability to read other people's facial expressions is a definite symptom. You have listed obnoxious personality traits that are common among aspies, but an aspie can definitely learn not to act in these ways, whereas they can not learn to read other people's facial expressions. Behaviours that can be avoided should not be excused. Things like not being able to accept one's faults are NOT hard-wired into their brains. It is best to explicitly point these things out to them. Asperger's syndrome is a disability, not a personality disorder. Labelling the obnoxious traits of some aspies as part of the disability is bad for two reasons: 1 it gives people (aspies or non aspies) an excuse for their obnoxious behaviour 2 it is damaging and insulting to people who genuinely suffer from Asperger's syndrome or Autism.

I would also like to point out that your replies to the comments here are absolutely pathetic. Either the person criticises your article, in which case your say: "you must have aspergers syndrome", or they say something negative about aspies, in which case you say something like "you seem like a very insightful, wise person - a voice of sanity among these insane aspies. It must be so hard for you to have to deal with the constant abuse from your aspie friend/brother/husband etc". Other people have pointed this out, and you have not responed, basically because you cannot, because it is completely true. If someone says something stupid that suggests they do not understand the disorder, you do not respond and correct them if their post is generally derogatory towards aspies.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Actually, you make a lot of good points in your first paragraph. I somewhat agreed with you about that in the post I linked at the bottom of this one, "Are Aspies responsible for their own behavior?" The thing is, many of those behaviors are so common to them that they might as well be hard-wired, for instance, the inability to take criticism, which I've read about as well as having observed firsthand. (I'm not quite sure how that is related to being unable to read facial expressions, but they do seem to go hand in hand.)

And you're right about the consistent nature of my reposes. The thing is, most of the people who lashed out at me obviously DO have Aspergers; you can pretty much tell from their emails. I'm not going to accuse you of having Aspergers because you don't sound as if you do; you sound rational, as well as intelligent. As far as all the people who've had to put up with irrational Aspies, well, I do sympathize with them. I've had my own dealings with them and have found them extremely difficult to abide.

I'm actually amazed at the number of responses this post has engendered. It must have gotten linked somewhere. I've written over 1600 posts on this blog, and there's only one other post which has gotten over 100 comments (on that one, like this one, close to half of them are my responses). I write far more about sociopaths than I do about Aspies, in fact I don't think I've written more than 5 posts about Aspergers, compared to something like 150 to 200 on sociopaths, yet somehow people keep finding this post.

John Craig said...

PS -- The reason I've stopped responding to all the comments is because it takes too much time, and I am for the most part, as you have pointed out, just repeating myself anyway.

Daniel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Craig said...

Daniel --
Thank you. I think I understood your point. When I was saying that I wasn't quite sure why an inability to read facial expressions would so often go hand in hand with an inability to take criticism, I wasn't referring to your comment so much as the general phenomenon. I just don't see why those two traits would cluster. (As opposed to say, the way that a lack of conscience and a lack of loyalty and dishonesty go together in sociopaths, which makes perfect sense.)

I should also clarify something I said: another reason that it's apparent that so many of the commenters have Aspergers is because of their rage. Someone who didn't have it would most likely react by thinking, hmm, that guy seems to find them quite annoying, then they might agree or disagree with me, but they would not be likely to react with the fury that so many of these commenters have. I've been around Aspies enough to recognize that sort of reaction.

And apart from the fact that you spoke of Aspies in the third person, it was also apparent that you weren't one because even though you disagreed with me -- and used the word "pathetic" to describe my responses -- it was apparent from the overall tone of your comment that you weren't consumed with rage the same way. Plus your first paragraph showed balance, another trait I've found to be lacking in Aspies.

Anyway, thanks for YOUR sane reply.

Red Riding said...

Hey Craig, you saying Aspies are pretty much self-centered jerks who can't handle conflict and we automatically assume they are right is waaaaaaaay off. I'm an Aspie. And after reading your...."Article" I only have 2 responses. "Nice" and "Honest". You can read the response you want or you can read both. I can promise you you're not going to like the latter response.
Nice: This was a very well written article. It's SOOOOOOOOOO TRUE!!! :DDDDDDDDD
Honest: You sir, have not done enough research on Asperger's to write much less act like you are an expert in the field when it comes to those afflicted with Asperger's. You obviously either went to very biased websites that focused on the negative side of Asperger's or you drew up your own conclusion based on the "four friends" you claimed to have had with Asperger's. Four people who may have Asperger's is not enough to make an assumption. Asperger's is on the Autistic Spectrum for a REASON. There is no "defined" way of behavior of how an Aspie acts. We are not all self-centered ass holes. There are a VARIETY of ways an Aspie can be. However, according to your article, you clearly did not do enough research to know that some Aspies typically don't hold someone's gazes for a long amount of time. Therefore, social cues that lie in body language are missed. To compensate, some Aspies will watch TV and observe how the actors will interact and will mimic the actor's movements. Theoretically, they have "solved" the "body language problem" while for Neuro-Typical (AKA Normal) people, the Aspie still looks weird, maybe some-what "robotic" as you put it. Also, are the "Four Friends" you claimed to have Asperger's really have Asperger's? Were any of them professionally diagnosed? Asperger's is not always easily detected unless the Syndrome is severe enough. More often than not, many Trolls over the Internet claim to have Asperger's when in reality, they use the syndrome to justify their antagonistic behavior. As such, when, say, school try to isolate children with Asperger's, the schools typically run the risk of mixing ACTUAL Aspies with misbehaving brats who want an "act like a jerk" free card. The main difference on whether or not someone actually has Asperger's is whether or not they were Professionally Diagnosed. Self- Diagnoses are common and are quite inadequate. So these "Friends" you claim to know so well and have Aspergers, did you assume or did they tell you right off the bat as soon as they insulted you? And If they DID tell you, was the diagnoses professional or not?

Anonymous said...

Fuck off you dickwad

And no, whether I have Aspergers or not, is not relevant.

Anonymous said...

You generalize far too much, and border (some would say you crossed it) on offensive in the way that you describe some behaviors which are undoubtedly less common and less pronounced than you suggest (it's hard to avoid that when you use the words "all", "always", and "never"). You say Aspies "never" or "can't" admit personal fault or apologize, or "always" ignore facts that they don't like. Everyone does stupid things, and people with Asperger's naturally have particular ways in which they're more likely to screw up. However, most learn how to handle that fairly well. I personally know a good dozen exceptions to any of the negative traits you mention, and I suspect you're generalizing based on a limited set of unfortunate personal experiences. Also, Alan from the hangover is a really bad example of a person with Asperger's. He's basically a stock "idiot" comedy character, and if he's supposed to be a high-functioning autistic, then he's an exaggerated outlier and not representative of the average person with Asperger's. He could be mentally retarded for all we know, or practically anything else that makes one appear "off" or oblivious. The vast majority of Aspies blend in far better than that. You mention that Aspies never acknowledge facts that conflict with their opinion, but many are very objective, analytical, logical thinkers who consider all sides of a problem carefully before making a choice. "Rigid" just means that they strongly favor a particular pattern of thought and behavior, not necessarily a particular conclusion or belief. As for all the angry Aspies piling in here, remember this. When a lot of people get upset with you, it's always a good idea to consider that they might be justified. I know plenty of Aspies who are consistently more thoughtful, sensitive and tactful than you've been here and elsewhere, and they have to work at it. You seem irritated that some aspies won't admit any fault or conflicting viewpoint. I hope you avoid making the same mistake.

John Craig said...

Anon --
You make a lot of good points. And you're right, I should avoid adverbs like "always" and never."

But Exhibit A for my case are the many responses I've gotten to this post, most of which show Aspies as they are.

Also, the idea of a blog called "Just Not Said" is not to be sensitive and tactful. It's to tell the truth.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this blog.
I think, one very good point about your comment is that the points you made about Aspies are based on their actions and how their actions have affected other people.

Despite having Aspergers, certain actions are still hurtful/offensive and should be told off (hopefully much earlier in their age), this is not to offend any Aspies but hopefully to help everyone to accomodate one another. NTs have personality issues too and we also have to learn things in a hard way most of the time.

And yes the post can come across as offensive and I am sure there are some really nice Aspies out there so I guess you can make a point by saying this is talking about Aspies who wouldn't take responsibilities of their actions?

And if any Aspies are offended, I testify I personally loved/still love an Aspie but I just want to point out certain issues are clearly true.

Anonymous said...

i suspect that YOU have Aspergers yourself John & you wrote this article to try & prove to the world how (normal) you are > i could be wrong but i have reasons for my suspicion & i won't state why because i know that no matter what i say you will probably find a way to condescendingly turn it against me,

if i'm right then there's no need to be ashamed of being autistic & being who you are honestly though as i am autistic myself

if i'm wrong then all i will say is i'm sorry that you've had such negative experience with autistic people but i will just say that maybe if you formed a positive friendship with one autistic person you won't have such a negative perception of the condition itself

with that being said i am offering the chance for you to be my friend > i'm not gonna look back here probably because i'm aware of the possibility that you will just be a dick back to me & i don't have the time patience & energy to argue with you but you can hit me up on facebook if you would like to > my URL is www.facebook.com/wheniseeyouiseescarsthatarematching > send me a friend request if you want to & i will accept

this is all i need to say & i hope everyone who sees this comment & all your loved ones have the most wonderful joyous winter yall are able to as well

Anonymous said...

hey this is the dude who posted his facebook URL & accused you of possibly being autistic back > my name is Brian Parker btw & when i 1'st read this article & the comments i let my emotions get the best of me & i was a little personally offended but be rest assured that i read the entire blog & ALL the comments & even though it took hours i feel it was worth my time because i learned a lot of insight regarding all sorts of peoples personal perceptions

i have been thinking about everything you said in your blog & your comments throughout the day John & 1'st things 1'st i feel you deserve clarification on why i suspect you could POSSIBLY be HFA yourself & in denial of it > their are 3 reasons..

A. from everything you described about autism it seemed as though you were speaking from personal experience mainly because 99% of it was very well written & describes common traits in many autistic people just from a condescending view point

B. you seem to be very fascinated with the Hangover movie & with sociopaths & as you already know being overly obsessed with certain things is a classic common autistic trait > i randomly talk about the Simpsons quite a bit for instance

C. i used to be very ashamed of my condition & i would try my damnedest to hide it at all costs & 11 years ago i probably would have gone to great lengths to write a blog like you did to hide it if possible

i no longer have the same mindset i once did > i now embrace being autistic because i know it only helps me be who i am, i don't use my autism as an excuse to act like a prick though & if it ever seems like i am you can know its in no way intentional

if you are autistic John then because of how i was in my past i understand & empathize with why your trying so hard to hide it but i am just going to let you know that i personally feel much happier & more liberated now that i've (came out of the closet) with my autism (LMFAO)

regardless though the main reason i came back & am commenting again regardless of what i said earlier is because as i said i've been thinking about everything i read all day & i run an autism support group on facebook & i have met a LOT of autistic people online & MOST OF THEM i get along with very well & have very strong powerful friendships with however their also is that very small handful of autistic people that i flat out CAN NOT STAND

^^^^there's even one of them that if i ever see him in person it will be difficult to NOT beat the living fuck out of him > i won't get into why i feel that way but i will just say what that backstabbing PRICK put me through is simply unbearable but its over-with & life goes on > i do not blame autism on his behavior or the behaviors of the other autistic people i'm not fond of though > i blame the fact that they simply have bitch made personalities

^^ with that being said the way i see it is every individual human being is responsible for his or her own actions REGARDLESS of what type of neurological condition he or she might have > even if your not autistic John i wanna make it clear that i am NOT another person here to condemn you for explicitly sharing how you feel about the 4 autistic people you've had personal hardships with > AS A MATTER OF FACT as hypocritical as this may sound to some i actually respect you for having the courage to do so

Anonymous said...


i refrained from commenting earlier because as i said i let my emotions get the best of me & i didn't wanna accidentally say something off putting that would give you another reason to have contempt for autistic people > now that i'm in a more serene clerical state of mind i'm able to give you police & respectful feedback

to you John & all of the people who commented talking about autistic people you've had personal issues with > i am sorry to know about the hardships yall have gone through with those certain people but please be rest assured that not ALL of us autistic people are assholes > when you've met one autistic person you've met ONE autistic person PERIOD > i can only hope that in due time all of you are able to develop a personal relationship with another autistic person that you have an easier time connecting with & it changes your perception of the condition

to all the autistic people and.or loved ones of autistic people who are offended by everything John & his supporters are saying > please don't condemn them for their opinions > they are only human like all of us & they have sadly just had the wrong types of negative relationships with the wrong people but damage is NEVER beyond repair so there's ALWAYS hope for a better tomorrow

the final thing i will say before i end this insanely long ass comment is that contrary to what you said i'm autistic & i don't have an issue with constructive criticism & i in fact often times find it very refreshing & stimulating > its only when people take it as far as condemning me if i refuse to conform to their way of thinking that i will have an issue with it

that's all i need to say & anyone who wants to is much more than welcome to add me on facebook > if your respectful to me i will show you the same respect in return, that's all i need to say & i wish you all a very nice weekend this weekend as well

Anonymous said...

What you're doing is sick you psychopathic fuck. It's clear as day that you have some major issues and have made this post with the intention of fucking with the heads of all these innocent, genuine, empathetic people; 3 qualities you will NEVER possess.

The fact you've made fake comments on your own post under the guise of anonymity and the way you suck your own dick so blatantly in those phony correspondences is absolutely pathetic and downright laughworthy.

I would comment on how clever you've been in your approach but that would just be more narcissistic supply for your messed up existence to feed off of.

Wishing you a most-prompt departure from this planet you have no right to be an inhabitant of
-
Someone far cleverer than you

Anonymous said...

I hate myself so much. I want to die, but it might upset my family. I don't deserve to live. I'm a monster. I hate myself. I'm a bad person.

Anonymous said...

Always cherish the knowledge that you are a good human being. Don't ever take it for granted. It's one one the most precious things you can have.

John Craig said...

Anon --
I don't know whether you're serious or not, but if you are an Aspie, you're not a monster. As I just responded to your comment in the post on "Are Aspies responsible for their own behavior,", and as I pointed out in this post, Aspies are not evil, like sociopaths.

They are often simply babes in the woods, albeit frequently annoying ones. The real monsters are sociopaths, and it doesn't bother them in the least that they are monsters -- as befits a true monster.

Anonymous said...

(I'm sorry for posting those comments. I was in a dark place when I posted them and, when I look at them now, they seem really disturbing. I wouldn't be bothered if you deleted them.)

Thank you for the responses. I know you aren't saying we're monsters. There were other things that were bothering me at the time that I posted here, mainly the support group websites. You make a lot of valid points about us. I've been on wrong planet and a lot of the people there seem really full of themselves, and I don't know about other aspies, but I know I personally can't take criticism. I was upset because I have a fear that I'm a bad person. I'm not sure if there's a name for it. I'm afraid that if I ever see a therapist they'll diagnose me with NPD or something. When I posted the comments I had convinced myself that Aspergers was just as bad as NPD. I feel okay now though. Sorry for the comments. I should have just written them in a journal.

Again, Thank you for the responses. You don't need to post this, I just wanted you to see it. Your blog didn't make me freak out, other things did. I'm doing fine now.

Btw, I dislike sociopaths too. It's so weird that they're being romanticized, isn't it? It seems like in the media it's always some macho looking guy getting away with crimes and murders and stuff. Of course, in real life, it's usually just some slimeball that abuses his wife and always tries to screw people over...but I guess it's not as easy to make books and movies off of that.

John Craig said...

Anon --
Thank you for that. I can tell just from your comments, not just this one but even the ones preceding it, that you don't have NPD. Narcissists never admit they're wrong, and they tend not to feel bad about themselves the way you did. In fact, they don't even worry about having narcissistic personality disorder, which you were worrying about.

What I said in the post above is that what Aspies have in common with narcissists is that both groups can't take criticism; but that's basically all they have in common.

My experience has been that most Aspies are, underneath it all, pretty decent people, even though I find most of them annoying to be around.

Yes, it is ridiculous the way movies romanticize sociopaths. They always make con men out to be wonderful guys with hearts of gold, which they never are. And when you think about it, even James Bond would have had to have been a sociopath to lead that lifestyle, never get fazed even when killing people, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, i hope someone will respond. I am a self diagnosed female aspie with an aspie dad. We two never really had a good relationship, and i think it's due to the fact, that we are two entirely different types of aspies. I always said, if i have aspergers, he has it for sure, and he is - from my own perspective - a million times worse. He would constantly deny what he said a second before, and if i try to point out his logical mistakes, i'm the retarded. i also think it's very important to admit if i have been wrong about something, because i'm not worth less, if i say, hey, i've been wrong. I would never ever hurt someone intentionally. I think my dad is more the agressive, arrogant type, i'm miss always-in-doubt-about-myself. Now, to what we both have in common.
Meltdowns: I try to control them, sometimes i'm successful with it, sometimes not, he doesn't even try.
Inappropiate communication: We both have monologues about our special interests, but if someone says, we should talk about something else, i try to keep up with others, he ignores it or gets mad. Now try to imagine our aspie dad - aspie daughter duo communicating. A total disaster.
Mind-blindness: We both have it, i always try to remind myself, that most people don't have bad intentions. He constantly thinks people try to hurt him or cause him harm, and tends to get angry for - it seems - no reason.
Motoric skills: I have very poor fine motoric skills, honestly, preschool children can draw much better than me, and i also have a poor body-image. My dad's fine motoric skills however, are very good.
Personal hygene: Tend to neglect myself at home, but if i have to go to the store, to the doctor, etc. i try to appear well groomed. My dad basically doesn't give a f***. Why do i have to tell a 58 year old man, that we don't put on our winter clothes if it's nice and warm outside?
I don't really know the reason for all these differences, maybe it's because i'm a women, and he's a man, maybe i'm my social anxiety is much more severe than his, but i think it's interesting to see how different we are despite the fact, that we share the same condition.

John Craig said...

Anon --
That was interesting, thank you, a very good illustration that all Aspies are not alike. You seem to have a lot of self-awareness, which seems to be the key to overcoming a lot of the behavior patterns which Aspies seem to fall into. Your Dad obviously has less, and is therefore more difficult.

My guess is that when you've suggested to your father that he has Aspergers Syndrome, he gets angry and denies it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he would deny it for sure. I think it's important for an aspie to be aware that he/she is different, and try to work towards a better communication with NTs, and be open to new experiences. All my friends are NTs, and i had to work on myself, to improve my friendship with them, and they had to accept my "weirdness". So i guess i could say, me and my friends, we met somewhere halfway, but it was worth the effort. My positive experiences also helped me dealing with my social anxiety. I think it's not a bad thing to be an aspie, but it's a bad thing if an aspie doesn't even try, because he's getting more and more depressed each times he's being rejected by someone, AND he doesn't even know why. The only way to break out of the rejection-depression cicle is to become self-aware somehow.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he would deny it for sure. I think it's important for an aspie to be aware that he/she is different, and try to work towards a better communication with NTs, and be open to new experiences. All my friends are NTs, and i had to work on myself, to improve my friendship with them, and they had to accept my "weirdness". So i guess i could say, me and my friends, we met somewhere halfway, but it was worth the effort. My positive experiences also helped me dealing with my social anxiety. I think it's not a bad thing to be an aspie, but it's a bad thing if an aspie doesn't even try, because he's getting more and more depressed each times he's being rejected by someone, AND he doesn't even know why. The only way to break out of the rejection-depression cicle is to become self-aware somehow.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he would deny it for sure. I think it's important for an aspie to be aware that he is different, and try to work towards a better communication with NTs, and be open to new experiences. All my friends are NTs, and i had to work on myself, to improve my friendship with them, and they had to accept my "weirdness". So i guess i could say, me and my friends, we met somewhere halfway, but it was worth the effort. My positive experiences also helped me dealing with my social anxiety. I think it's not a bad thing to be an aspie, but it's a bad thing if an aspie doesn't even try, because he's getting more and more depressed each times he's being rejected by someone, AND he doesn't even know why. The only way to break out of the rejection-depression circle is to become self-aware somehow.

John Craig said...

Anon --
You have a lot of common sense, disproving -- somewhat -- what I said in the post. But you seem to be an exception; the norm is the majority of people who have responded above.

I take it from your use of the for "would" that you've never broached the subject with your father.

Congratulations on your self-awareness. You must have gotten some of that from your mother, whom I will guess is a wise and patient person.

Anonymous said...

Dear John, thank you very much for the nice words. I honestly believe in good solutions, which are satisfying for everyone, in this case bringing aspies and NTs together.
The truth is, i was very dismissive with my dad even as a toddler. He and my mother had horrible fights when i was a child, and i saw how evil he can get, if he is really in his element. So that could have been one thing, that made me empathize more with people. But i also read somewhere, that some aspies, especially female ones, have a sympathy for people, who suffer injustice. My dad was also very lazy. He would do nothing, literally nothing the whole day, just sit around, and "thinking", my poor mom had to do the household, work in the garden, go to the store, etc. and he wasn't even thankful. It made me feel like i'm worth nothing, because i'm a woman. Thats another issue, because i have agressive tendencies too, and after for ex. a meltdown, i feel so guilty and depressed, that i would just like to crawl under my bed, and never come out. Obviously i can't do that. I really need to learn how to manage my emotions better, i think i will adress this issue with my therapist. On one hand, i don't want to completely lose myself and become an NT, on the other hand, i need to learn to communicate better. I think it would be best to learn how to be an aspie in a positive way. I really don't want to boast, but my friends always tell me, how much they like my weird humor. That could be one thing to keep. And i really believe, that every aspie can find something, he could keep from all his traits, and of course things he needs to manage better.
Oh, and yes, my dad used to see the same therapist i do now, but for him she is just another moron, who doesn't know what she is doing. It's funny, because i had just a few sessions with her, and i can tell by now, that she is good, and she can help me. He is obviously so dismissive, that he can't be helped.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and something i nearly forgot about. (I'm the aspie girls with the aspie dad.) For me this whole aspie thing is like a scale. On the one end there's the delusional behaviour, like you described it, and on the other end the somewhat effective interaction with NTs. Depending on my mood i can tend to be on the negative or the positive end of this scale. The big question is, how can i reach towards the positive end of the scale when i'm in a really bad mood, or when i'm depressed?

John Craig said...

Anon --
Well, your father does sound like a difficult man. You, on the other hand, have taken realistic stock of the situation and are dealing with it in a constructive way, which is actually quite rare for either an Aspie or an NT.

As far as your question about how to be positive when you're in a bad mood, I don't have the answer. That's difficult for anybody; I've certainly never figured it out myself.

John Craig said...

PS -- A sense of humor -- weird or not -- is a huge asset. I know one person I'm fairly sure has Aspergers who has a fantastic sense of humor. (He's the only one I can think of, however, most of the Aspies I know have very little sense of humor.)

Anonymous said...

I consider my dad as somewhat of a hopeless case.
I think that an aspies need to gather information and obsesssive behaviour can also be turned into something positive. Maybe this obsessiveness has to do something with a strong willpower, which is also beneficial in certain situations. A major problem, that needs to be solved is the second guessing. I always have to check myself on being delusional, and that sucks. My mind is like a highway of thoughts, and sometimes in conversations i say something, think about is a little more and then i might say the very opposite about the same thing. It must be confusing, and i admit, i must appear somewhat insane doing it. And my language skills. Verbalisation is hard, my ideas just rushing in my mind, it's like a movie that never ends. Sometimes i express myself better in german or english than my native language, or i might mix the three languages (that's called code-switching). It's hard to verbalise properly, so i might not be able to express exactly what i mean, and people misunderstand me. It's ridiculous that sometimes i express myself better in english or german than my native language. It took some time to realize that it's not the other person who doesn't understand me, it's me not express myself properly. I'm better in communicating with others than let's say 3 years ago, but i want to improve further. It's pretty hard, because aspies have to learn what comes to NTs naturally, like when to initiate or stop a conversation or how much to speak. And this terrible anxiety! About two weeks ago i had to go to a big meeting with a lot of people i didn't know. I was so nervous, my dad came with me and he almost had to drag me in the building, if i listened to my feelings, i just went home, but luckily i didn't. I'm just so afraid, that other people will notice, that i'm different and judge me, or i will do something embarrasing or clumsy, or ... huh. I'm really confident my therapist will be able to help me.

John Craig said...

Anon --
What is your native language? (I had assumed English.)

Keep plugging away, you've done a good job so far of overcoming your natural obstacles. And don't think that social anxiety is confined to Aspies, the fear of public speaking is actually the number one fear in the world. And self-contrdiction is not limited to Aspies either, we're all guilty of it from time to time.

The fact that you're seeing a therapist with an open mind and positive attitude and an honesty about facing up to your problems says to me that your future is bright.

Anonymous said...

Actually it's social phobia, that's what i was diagnosed by my therapist. My mother always pushed me to go out (i mean outside my room) and see people, go to school events, to the club, etc. So i can't say my parents didn't supported me, but this problem won't be solved overnight. My native language is hungarian. My first foreign language was german, a few yers later i had improved german and beginners english in school. I will do the proficiency level language exam someday in both languages.
It's a funny story, hungarians are considered the "weird" people, the "aliens" and being weird among the weirdos is like wow, if other nations weirdos and nerds have their heads up in the clouds, i must have mine in the frickin stratosphere :D

John Craig said...

Anon --
The mere fact that you consider the possibility that you're "weird," whatever that means, puts you way ahead of most of the Aspies who have commented on this post.

I'm a swimming fan, so am well aware of the Magyars. (And well aware that there is far more to Hungary than swimming.) I hadn't known that they were considered "weird" by other Europeans though.

In any case, thanks for your comments, and keep up the effort.

Anonymous said...

Dear John, thank you very much for the nice conversation and the encouraging words.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I had to stop reading. What an insensitive tone !

John Craig said...

Anon --
I am impressed by your sensitivity.

Anonymous said...

John,
I believe I have had two abusive bosses in a row that have Asperger's. Thank you for validating the idea that people who have it are not always creative sweet people. These two were bullies who happen to also have Asperger’s. The first boss gave me PTSD, I am sure. I was the only person who would speak to her after a few months, as she liked me and thought everyone else was stupid . I was subject to at least one full-blown tantrum where she stood at the front entrance of the office screaming about how I was participating in non-existent conspiracies against her while staring off to my right. It was awful. From what I hear she can’t get another job because she is so hard to work with. I am still recovering, it really shook me up. The last one took pride in his exhaustive knowledge about one particular branch of science. I happen to have an advanced degree in said science (he doesn't) and caught him making errors multiple times. He was not pleasant about it.
As for the so-called Aspies who are giving you a hard time, what makes them so difficult is what seems to be arrogance, but isn’t – the unwillingness to concede that perhaps they are wrong, not the rest of the world. The line between their denial and outright bullying is thin. But, as shown in the above comments, we "NT" people should never voice frustration or a real dislike for their personalities. Not all people are good or nice, and if they happen to have Asperger’s on top of not being good or nice, they can be a real nightmare to deal with. Thank you for your post and providing a place to vent!
-m

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