Has someone told you they think you are on the Aspergers spectrum? Are you are left wondering, ‘Do I have Aspergers?”
Aspergers used to be seen as its own diagnosis. But the popular American diagnostic guide to mental health disorders, the DSM, now classifies it under autism spectrum disorder, and the UK is increasingly following suit.
That said, many health care professionals still use the term Asperger’s/ Aspergers (apostrophe optional), as do many people who identify as being an ‘Aspie’.
Asperger’s can manifest differently in each individual.
But in general, it’s a set of neurodevelopmental differences that start from childhood and mean you will not be like the average person when it comes to communicating, socialising, organising your time and interests, and sensorial responses.
So then what can these differences look like in day-to-day life? Remember, each person is unique, so you might not have all these symptoms. But in general it can be that:
1. You aren’t into non verbal behaviours.
You yourself might not use facial expressions much, or gestures. And you might find it really hard to understand how other people can know what people are thinking or feeling without them saying so, because you don’t notice non verbal behaviours.
2. Eye contact is uncomfortable.
You don’t try to avoid looking at people, it’s just that for you it feels unnatural to do so. And when you do try, people say you over do it. It’s like there is some unwritten rule you don’t know and everyone else does.
3. Social rules are very confusing.
Again, it’s like there are secret rules others just seem to know. You have been told you are rude but you aren’t meaning to be.
4. You talk a lot, or loudly.
People have told you that you talk over them, or talk too long about one thing, or that you don’t give and take in conversations. From your perspective you are just sharing information you find really fascinating. You might also have been told you speak too loudly, or in a strange tone. The times you’ve tried to not talk you’ve been told that it’s rude and you say too little.
5. Emotions and ‘sharing’ seem silly to you.
It seems like everyone else but you is far too emotional and always wanting to share their feelings. Perhaps you wish everyone would calm down. And if someone asks you what you feel, you don’t know. It might seem a really silly idea to you, to think about what you feel.
6. As for the tactile types….
You are not into it at all. Not one for hugs, you might not even like being touched at all, except by a select few people.
7. Other people make things too complicated.
For you, there is right and wrong, and one way to do things. It confounds you when other people seem to not see the right way, but have so many other ideas.
8. You know what you like, and you do it. A lot.
If something interests you then you spend a lot of your time on it, think about it a lot, and talk about it. Why wouldn’t you? Other people say it’s obsessional but it’s just that you know what you like.
9. You hate it when people are not organised.
Things should go a certain way. You do certain things at certain times and you don’t change that. People who change things at the last minute or are not organised are very upsetting to you. They even make you angry.
10. You don’t want new things to happen.
Why does change have to happen when you like things the way they are? It’s very upsetting when people don’t understand that, and try to surprise you, or don’t do things the way they should.
11. There are too many noises, lights, colours, and tastes in the world.
It can seem like other people have something wrong with them as they don’t seem to sense what you do. You, on the other hand, have very well developed senses and don’t miss anything. You just wish sometimes there was a button you could turn things with down with when there is just too much going on around you.
12. You find this article really annoying.
Here’s another thing about having Asperger’s -- you don’t like been told what you are like, or analysed. This very article is annoying you. You just want to get on with things you like doing without all this sort of thing.
Like all things, Asperger’s presents challenges, but also positives.
You might find that because you are on the autism spectrum you have strengths others don’t, like:
The thing about being different is that it can make relating hard. When others don’t understand you and you don’t understand them, it can mean you have difficulties, like at work, or with your family.
A diagnosis means they can understand you better, and then you can learn how to relate to others in ways that make life more productive and can stop you from feeling lonely.
Have questions about Asperger's and want to talk to someone who understands? Book a session with one of our therapists who specialises in developmental disorders now.