Well I strongly agree about your idea that many people who are antisocial or perhaps just a bit on the odd side are falsely diagnosing themselves with Asperger’s Syndrome or diagnosing others, I do not agree with the over simplification you suggest stating “people with Asperger’s” as in all people with Asperger’s do the exact same things.
I am a 20 year old female and I was diagnosed when I was 7 years of age by a child psychologist, Dr. Seymour.
Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder (spectrum meaning a great variety of “symptoms” from person to person) is the Highest Functioning form of Autism. A diagnoses of Asperger’s excludes any mental retardation.
It is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Also hypersensitivity with touching, hearing, tasting and smelling.
Albert Einstein had ASD, and television characters Brennan from Bones and Sheldon from Big Bang Theory also have Asperger’s.
Though not everyone with ASD is a genius, they tend to be extremely bright in classes and situations that interest them and my excel greatly among their peers.
Some things take people with ASD longer to learn though, to which extra help and a new way of learning and patience will help them along.
For example, lets say 10 year old Bobby has Asperger’s. He knows everything about Dinosaurs and can memorize the lines 100% from his favorite movie. He is also very good with math and amazes his teachers and parents with his intelligence, as well as exhaust them when all he CAN talk about are his hobbies! Not all he chooses too, all he can do! However he still can’t tie his shoes, writing is very difficult for him and he has trouble making friends and adjusting to new people. People think he is odd, and he thinks everyone else is odd. He hates being touched and takes every thing he hears very literally. (when his mom asks got a Kleenex he says “sorry we only have tissue”.) He also hates LOUD unexpected noises like fire works. It hurts physically some how. And he can’t eat bananas or avocados because they “feel too mooshy” and he will “tantrum” if tried to force to eat them out of sensory overload causing him to panic.
That is one example of someone with AS. Another person with AS might love fireworks and hate the sound of car motors, love mushy things but hate crunchy things, be able to tie shoes but can’t jump rope, knows everything about his favorite cartoon instead of dinos and is an excellent writer but a poor learner with math. They may be able to NOT take things as literally but are unable to look someone in the eye.
It is a spectrum disorder. Because of this is can be hard to get a proper diagnoses. However I would suggest to all people who assume they have AS to go get evaluated. And to get evaluated by 2 or 3 doctors for more professional opinions. Falsely diagnosing oneself can only lead to issues, especially if there is another psychological problem.
My understanding is that Aspergers comes on at an early age, say age 2-3. In 100% of cases, symptoms will be present from a very early age. Any adult who has previously functioned well, or God forbid very well, cannot possibly have Aspergers.
People’s functioning varies with time. I know people who used to function perfectly but now they can barely leave their houses. So functioning can dramatically collapse in any given individual.
One thing that I noticed was that many people self-diagnosing as Aspies had anxiety disorders. I work with OCD patients, and many of them think that they have Aspergers. I generally do not think that they have it. Aspies do not seem to be very common. I think I met one in my life so far and another couple on the Net.
The problem is that a very large number of people are odd, weird, strange or out of it in some way or another. I run into them all the time. They can’t possibly all have Aspergers. Schizophrenics are obviously pretty odd. I have met some odd OCD’ers. A lot people with anxiety disorders can seem pretty weird. Many very shy people seem out of it and odd. Just being weird doesn’t mean you have Aspergers!
In addition, many introverts to super introverts are identifying as Aspergers. Obviously many introverts have problems in social interactions, but just because you have problems dealing with other humans because you are an introvert does not mean that you have Aspergers!
I read a recent paper that said that Aspergers and introversion are along a continuum, with introversion at one end and Aspergers at the other. I agree with this, and this is where the confusion sets in.
Although I am quite an introverted person and many people think I am pretty damn weird, I certainly do not have Aspergers. For one thing, my social skills are actually excellent, but my brain works in funny ways so that right there turns people off. They see my brain apparently working in a weird way and they just don’t want to have a conversation. But I am a master of social rules and not only that, I understand other people very, very well. I even know what they are thinking most of the time, to the extent that you can do that at all. Of course I know what they are feeling too. I read people very fast and I respond very fast too. I get all the subtle little nuances in conversation, the tricks and hints and whatnot and usually respond to them right away.
Things that I think are odd about Aspergers:
Not wanting to be touched. WTH?
Sensory overload. I don’t really get it, but we introverts have a bit of this. Parties are a bit much for me anymore, but the Aspie sensory overload just seems downright bizarre.
Not wanting to eat something because it’s too mushy or too crunchy? Huh? I eat anything and I don’t care what it feels like in my mouth. Who cares!
Hypersensitivity with hearing, touching, smelling or tasting. Ok that is just weird to me.
Wanting to talk about one thing all the time and not shutting up when you are boring people. I do this too sometimes, but I usually shut up when it seems like people don’t want to hear what I am saying.
Think everyone else is weird. Huh? No way, they are normal.
Takes everything very literally. This makes no sense to me either.
Hates loud unexpected noises like fireworks. Looks like sensory overload to me. I don’t care about fireworks. They are going off around me for the last few days now, and I don’t even care. Someone lit one in the street near the path of my car the other night and it was no big deal, but it was a little weird to drive past the burning, fizzling, crackling thing.
Why would I love one loud sound but hate another. They are all the same to me, just another loud sound. You get used to them sooner or later.
Ten years old and can’t tie your own shoes? Sorry, but you have major, major problems, kid.
Excellent writer but bad at math or great at math but poor at writing. This I can relate to, and I have known many non-Aspies who are like this. Intelligence is variable, and abilities differ even within the individual.
Can’t look someone in the eye. I have been accused of this myself sometimes. A lot of very shy people have problems with eye contact. I have gotten a lot better at this over time, but I still hardly think this is diagnostic because you are going to suck in a lot of introverts. Although I imagine an Aspie might be quite strange about not looking you in the eye to the point where it seems they are just being strange about it as it is so extreme.
As you can see, I obviously do not have Aspergers at all. But believe or not, some folks have insisted that I must have it!
Introversion and Aspergers are not the same thing, but they make both be part of a spectrum.