Tag Archives: autism spectrum disorder

introverts, ep. 2

22 Jan

Here’s episode 2 of The Power of Introverts, for those who may be interested. I find a striking similarity between the personality traits for introverts and those for many of us who are aspies.

 

aspie self-esteem

4 Sep

I’ve decided on the topic for my master’s research. I want to see if there’s a difference in self-esteem or positive self-regard between teenagers with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome and their peers.

I’m not sure what my hypothesis is yet though, because there are two conceivable possibilities. The teens with autism have higher self-esteem because they care less about what others think of them and/or they are oblivious to it.  Or, it could be more likely that they have lower self-esteem because they are aware enough to know that they are different and make mistakes in social situations. I don’t know which of these is more likely. When I was a teen with Asperger syndrome I know I had low self-esteem, but that was just me. And then, of course, there’s the possibility that they have the same average level of self-esteem as other teenagers.  After all, being a teenager kind of sucks for everyone.

Anyway, it’s a relief to have a topic. Now I have to work on the specific problem question and then decide what kind of evaluation I will use to measure self-esteem. It should be interesting to see what kind of results I get.

autistics speaking – 6: ouchy ouchy burny burny

26 Oct

Today’s topic: sensory problems.

In this respect, I think I’m pretty lucky.  There are a lot of autistic people who have problems with textures, so they can’t wear certain clothes or eat certain foods.  I worked with a kid who refuses to eat anything unless it’s dry and crunchy, and another kid who only consumes liquids and purées.  I have a few texture issues when it comes to meat, but for the most part I’m fine.

I do, however, have problems with light, sound, and smells.  Mainly, I’m extra sensitive to all of these things.  I have to wear sunglasses outside pretty much all of the time, especially if I’m going to drive.  I have also been known to wear sunglasses inside if it’s too bright.  When it comes to smells, walking into a Bath & Body Works is like torture.  Again, it’s way too much input.  I usually don’t like it if people wear perfume or cologne, and I use unscented products when possible.

The sound issue is a little bit more than just being sensitive.  It’s like sensory overload if I’m in a place with a lot of background noise.  Many autistic people, me included, have trouble differentiating between noises and have a hard time focusing on just one, so talking to someone in a crowded room is really hard.  Some people have tried to explain the sensory overload by saying it’s like being in a room with ten televisions all turned to different stations with the volume all the way up, then trying to listen to someone talking to you.

Also, sometimes autistic people really enjoy unusual forms of sensory input.  Temple Grandin invented her own squeezing machine because deep pressure can be calming for us.  I find this to be true…which is why I think my wet suit is calming.  It kind of give a nice all-around pressure, like a big hug.  Also, as a kid I really liked to rub soft things on my face or lips, which I still do occasionally as well.

What?

I like fuzzy things.

autistics speaking – 7: what was i doing?

25 Oct

I’ve had an idea, and hopefully I won’t be too lazy and I’ll actually do it.  I figured I’d do a post every day until Autistics Speaking on November 1st.  I’ll try to address one aspect of living with autism in each post and hopefully it will be interesting and informative.

Today’s topic is executive functioning.

Executive functioning includes the cognitive processes involved with planning, problem solving, organizing, and multi-tasking.  People with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) usually have impaired executive functioning, at least to a some degree.  This impairment is what can make us seem absent-minded, distracted, or even clueless, sometimes.

For me this impairment manifests in a variety of ways.  I am horrible at multi-tasking.  I need to concentrate on one thing at a time or nothing is going to get done.  Then, if I get distracted it takes me a long time to get focused back on what I was doing and find where I left off, or I forget what I was doing altogether.

It can also be difficult to do things in the same way as everyone else.  I have encountered work situations where I was expected to do something in the exact same way as my co-workers and I couldn’t because I have my own way of organizing tasks and ideas.  Unfortunately for me, this became a problem.

My executive functioning difficulties have caused me quite a bit of distress at certain times in my life because my episodes of  no-common-sense can be extremely embarrassing.  Just last week I ran out of gas on the highway.  It makes me feel like a total idiot.  In fact, operating a motor vehicle can be difficult for a lot of aspies, especially because of the sheer amount of multi-tasking and attention it requires.  It’s like being bombarded with input.  I didn’t get my driver’s licence until I was 22, and I know other aspies that never get theirs.  It takes a lot of practice for us and it has taken me years to feel comfortable driving.  But, apparently the concept of refueling still escapes me occasionally.

But, there is a silver lining.  When your brain doesn’t make connections in the normal way sometimes you stumble upon an idea or a way of doing something that no one has thought of before.  Every once in a while it pays off.  But in the meantime, I’ll have to continue to leave myself notes and reminders and suffer the taunts from my parents for having to bring a gas can to me on the Milroy exit ramp.

autism awareness month

6 Apr

April is National Autism Awareness Month.   Autism groups from around the country are having all sorts of events this month.  In general, I think it’s a good thing.  But, as I have mentioned before, I get a little sensitive about calling autism a disease.  Many other high-functioning autistics would agree with me.  We like to think of it as just a different way of processing information, a different brain structure.

I think we need to be very careful about referring to autism as an epidemic, as if it’s the plague or something.  This implies that we need to be cured.  A lot of us don’t agree with that.  Sure, we need to do more research.  Sure, we need to help people become functional members of society.  But we don’t need to be fixed.  We’ll never be “normal” and that’s okay.  I think we need to focus on promoting neurodiversity too, so that people understand that it’s just another way of being.  I’m talking to you, Autism Speaks.

no more asperger’s

11 Feb

I’m cured.

Just kidding.  A panel from the American Psychiatric Association decided that Asperger’s Syndrome will no longer be a separate classification from autism.  All autistic disorders will be included in the broad classification of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Of course, this is causing some controversy.  You can listen to NPR’s report here.

The proposed diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder in the new DSM-5 are as follows:

Must meet criteria 1, 2, and 3:

1.  Clinically significant, persistent deficits in social communication and interactions, as manifest by all of the following:

a.  Marked deficits in nonverbal and verbal communication used for social interaction:

b.  Lack of social reciprocity;

c.  Failure to develop and maintain peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

2.  Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least TWO of the following:

a.  Stereotyped motor or verbal behaviors, or unusual sensory behaviors

b.  Excessive adherence to routines and ritualized patterns of behavior

c.  Restricted, fixated interests

3.  Symptoms must be present in early childhood (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities)

Some people have issues with this conglomeration because of the huge differences in behavior between someone with very mild autism, like me, and someone at the other end of the spectrum who can’t care for themselves.  Some  aspies don’t want to be called “autistic.”  The problem is that these definitions have always been hazy.  We’re not sure how to define autism.  Most likely, it’s a grouping of several neurological disorders that have some similar symptoms, but we won’t know until we’ve got better diagnostic tools.

The fact is, the reclassification will help some people get services that they didn’t previously qualify for.  It doesn’t take away the “aspie culture” that has been established; it wasn’t meant to force people to change how they identify themselves.  I, for one, will still call myself an aspie.

Must meet criteria 1, 2, and 3:

1.  Clinically significant, persistent deficits in social communication and interactions, as manifest by all of the following:

a.  Marked deficits in nonverbal and verbal communication used for social interaction:

b.  Lack of social reciprocity;

c.  Failure to develop and maintain peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

2.  Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least TWO of the following:

a.  Stereotyped motor or verbal behaviors, or unusual sensory behaviors

b.  Excessive adherence to routines and ritualized patterns of behavior

c.  Restricted, fixated interests

3.  Symptoms must be present in early childhood (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities)

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