For my post today I’m going to give you a brief definition of what Asperger’s Syndrome is and how it affects me broken down into sections to be easier to understand. I hope this is helpful and feel free to let me know how Asperger’s affects you.
What is Asperger syndrome?
Like other autism profiles, people with Asperger syndrome, see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you have Asperger syndrome, you have it for life – it is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel that Asperger syndrome is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some people with Asperger syndrome also have mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels and types of support.
People with Asperger syndrome are of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.
How do people with Asperger syndrome see the world?
Some people with Asperger syndrome say the world feels overwhelming and this can cause them considerable anxiety.
In particular, understanding and relating to other people, and taking part in everyday family, school, work and social life, can be harder. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, yet can also struggle to build rapport with people with Asperger syndrome. People with Asperger syndrome may wonder why they are ‘different’ and feel their social differences mean people don’t understand them.
Autistic people, including those with Asperger syndrome, often do not ‘look’ disabled. Some parents of autistic children say that other people simply think their child is naughty, while adults find that they are misunderstood.
How I see the world
To me the world is overwhelming and causes me anxiety.
I don’t understand and relate to people very well and have long periods of solitude, which I enjoy. I avoid most social occasions and even some family ones. I find work can be challenging but i try to stick to solitary jobs. I have spent years, the last 20 years or so doing long distance driving jobs as it gives me a great deal of time on my own, and I don’t have to interact with many people.
Autistic people, including those with Asperger syndrome, have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice. Many have a very literal understanding of language, and think people always mean exactly what they say. They may find it difficult to use or understand:
tone of voice
jokes and sarcasm
People with Asperger syndrome usually have good language skills, but they may still find it hard to understand the expectations of others within conversations, perhaps repeating what the other person has just said (this is called echolalia) or talking at length about their own interests.
It often helps to speak in a clear, consistent way and to give people time to process what has been said to them.
My social communication
I do not understand facial expressions, I find it very difficult to know if someone is bored with the conversation and just keep talking. I tend to turn conversations to subjects that i want to talk about.
I tend to talk at people not to them.
I don’t understand different tones of voice. I think people should say exactly what they mean because that’s how I take it, and I get confused when people don’t do what they said they would.
I don’t get sarcasm at all, people use sarcasm with me when I’m talking and I answer them and carry on talking, like what they said was a normal question.
People with Asperger syndrome often have difficulty ‘reading’ other people – recognising or understanding others’ feelings and intentions – and expressing their own emotions. This can make it very hard for them to navigate the social world. They may:
appear to be insensitive
seek out time alone when overloaded by other people
not seek comfort from other people
appear to behave ‘strangely’ or in a way thought to be socially inappropriate.
They may find it hard to form friendships. Some may want to interact with other people and make friends, but may be unsure how to go about it.
My social interaction
I don’t understand feelings and I feel no empathy, I don’t feel guilt, in fact most feelings I don’t feel or understand. I very rarely get angry and when loved ones have died didn’t cry or get upset. For me everything is black and white so if someone was ill and died, they died because they were ill. I knew they were going to die so there is no surprise, thus i don’t get upset it was what would happen and that’s what did happen.
Because of this people find it difficult to interact with me which has led to me being more solitary. There are some social behaviours I can mimic but only for short periods and find social interaction very draining. This also makes it difficult for me to understand others feelings so I come across as being insensitive or cold and makes it difficult to form friendships.
RESTRICTED AND REPETITIVE PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOURS, ACTIVITIES OR INTERESTS
Repetitive behaviour and routines
The world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to people with Asperger syndrome, who often prefer to have a daily routine so that they know what is going to happen every day. They may want to always travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same food for breakfast.
The use of rules can also be important. It may be difficult for someone to take a different approach to something once they have been taught the ‘right’ way to do it. They may not be comfortable with the idea of change, but may be able to cope better if they can prepare for changes in advance.
My repetitive behaviour and routines
I like to do things in a certain way and in a certain order, I tend to do most daily activities in the same way and in the same order all the time if not necessarily the same time. I eat the same food for breakfast and dinner and only have variations on lunch, I always drink the same drinks and always have drinks at a certain time. I like every part of my day and week to be planned and need notice if there are going to be changes. I like my routines and if they are changed or interrupted because I’m out for the day so have do things differently, I need time to recharge after such days.
People with Asperger syndrome may also experience over or under sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain. For example, they may find certain background sounds, which other people ignore or block out, unbearably loud or distracting. This can cause anxiety or even physical pain. Or they may be fascinated by lights or spinning objects.
My sensory sensitivity
I have a few sensitivities, sound is my worse one. I find background noise like the drone of people talking in busy places very stressful and can only stand it for so long. I can’t cope with babies crying, kids screaming, people arguing or certain tones that are too high or low in pitch, and these things actually cause me pain. It feels like I’m being electrocuted in the head. I have sensitivities to cold, always needing to dress warmer than most people. Food if I don’t like to eat it, I don’t like to smell it. I need my clothes to be soft, all of them, every item I wear including shoes, so I tend to favour trainers.
The degree of my insensitivity varies, some are mildly problematic and some are so bad they cause me pain. Some can be resolved, for instance if noises are too loud or I can’t block sounds, then I tend to wear headphones and listen to music so that the music is all I can hear. But others can’t be resolved so I limit the time in which I undertake those activities.
I hope this has helped, and again please feel free to let me know how Aspergers affects you.