Why I Think That I Have AS (According To The DSM IV)

Well, since AS and how it applies to me seems to be the only thing that I think about as of late, here’s a post about it! XD I need to try and get this onto paper and organized. Maybe, just maybe… I’ll stop obsessing over it.

This is highly unlikely, but one can try, right?

This is the DSM IV Diagnostic Criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome. The DSM is about to make a revision to any and all of the conditions within it next year, but I figured that this one would be useful for the time being!

299.80 Asperger’s Disorder (or Asperger Syndrome)

  A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least  two of the following:

    (1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors, such as eye-to-eye  gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction

    (2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

    (3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements    with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects    of interest to other people)

    (4) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

  B. Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests,  and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

    (1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus

    (2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or  rituals

    (3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)

    (4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

  C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational,  or other important areas of functioning.

  D. There is no clinically significant general delay in la

nguage (e.g., single  words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).

  E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in  the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other  than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

  F. Criteria are not met for another specific pervasive developmental disorder  or schizophrenia.

Now, I guess I’ll list each trait and how it applies to me. (If the trait does apply to me, that is. ;P)

A. Qualitative impairment in social manifested by at least  two of the following:

    (1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors, such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction

From what I’ve read, this can be in extremes. Many people on the spectrum aren’t naturally adept at reading facial expressions/body language, and as a result, we can have deficits in it. It seems to go either way (extreme or little exhibition of facial expression, exuberant or stilted body language/gesturing, or too much/too little eye contact.)

For me, I am more extreme in my gestures/body language. If I were to be observed from a distance, it would look as though I were putting on a show, as though I was merely being theatrical.

I’ve always come across as theatrical. My facial expressions are often rather extreme, and my body language is highly animated, to say the least. Personally, I blame it on learning body language/facial expression through observing cartoons. I’d mimic everything unconsciously, and only until someone pointed it out would I realize that I was doing it. I also have a tendency to copy close friend’s idiosyncratic movements, partially in an attempt to interact properly. In honesty, I often don’t even realize that I am doing it!

Regarding eye contact, I find that I have a tendency to stare, especially when I am listening/trying to comprehend something. However, I also find that I don’t naturally make eye contact when I am nervous, that I have to force myself. In fact, I sometimes glance over someone if I don’t want to speak to them/feel nervous in their presence.

When I go on walks, I often look at the ground, not only in an effort to avoid conversation, but also because I get distracted by the little things (i.e. the twigs, the cracks in the sidewalk, an ant, etc.), and, unless it’s dark outside, the sunlight hurts my head. I also have a tendency of, when I do make eye contact with people in passing, I don’t realize that I’m supposed to smile at them in return. In fact, I often don’t register the fact that they smiled at me period, and I feel enormously guilty when I finally do realize that they were smiling at me.

When it comes to reading all of these things, I’m not as good at it as I would like. In controlled conditions such as when I am watching television or doing body language quizzes via the internet, I am able to read nonverbal cues relatively well… but when I am in RL, I am less than stellar. I am usually either unsure as to the fact that I am reading it properly, or I register it slowly. Sometimes, I miss it altogether… but that’s only when I’m not paying enough attention.

Really, it’s rather difficult to make good eye contact, not panic, and make sure that you’re being kind and calm and listening correctly while also trying to figure out what someone thinks about you! I don’t know how people do it. ;_; It’s too much for my poor brain.

    (2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

Hm… not sure about this one. I’ve always had a friend or two, but they haven’t always turned out so well. Many of my friendships appear to be rather one-sided, with me planning the events, initiating social outings, etc. I often avoid sleepovers/social outings at other peoples houses simply because I feel so much more comfortable at home.

After interacting for prolonged periods of time, I either become overly blunt, aloof, or anxious, often a combination of both, so I’m really not too comfortable with social interaction as a whole… despite the fact that I DO want friends, and that I get lonely quite often.

I haven’t always been introverted to this extreme, I was very different as a child. I had fewer inhibitions, and I was more talkative. I didn’t really know how to interact with my peers, so I often came across as overzealous or abrupt. Most of my closest friends were badly behaved males who often had ADHD and/or below average intellect, which was strange because I was a very scholastically inclined person (I still am, in fact… more so than ever before!)

From what I remember, I was often the ‘helper’, the dependable one. I always set aside time to talk, to listen, and to help. I often resolved conflicts, and I was the girl who helped all of her friends with complicated schoolwork or learning how to jump rope. If I saw a friend crying, I would comfort them.

I always sensationalized people, and when they weren’t what I expected… I would feel betrayed. Because I was so helpful, and because I literally put aside any and all of my own issues in order to help others, I was often taken for granted. I didn’t talk about my problems to others, I just helped them with their own. If I did talk about myself, I’d usually overshare and they’d use my honesty against me later one.

The best friendships that I’ve ever had have been online. They’ve been reciprocal for the most part, though I still have a tendency to overshare and put others before myself. I am more adept at talking about myself online, and I’m more open about my problems. I love my internet friends, even though even they aren’t perfect friendships. I still overshare, but I am working on it. I’ll get a hang of it eventually!

In writing this, a certain incident comes to mind in which I lost a friend. I was eight years of age, and there was an eleven-year-old boy that would come over and play. My mom babysat him, I think. Well, his mother wasn’t the best. She was rather neglectful, and a bit emotionally abusive. This is why my mother took him under her wing. We went out hiking nearly every day, and he’d always play with me.

On one of our hikes, I remember him complaining about his mother to us, talking about an instance in which she threw one of his favorite toys into a river in a fit of rage. I remember him asking why she did these things, and I remember answering bluntly, “She doesn’t love you.”

At this point in time, I didn’t realize that this was a cruel thing to say. My mother reprimanded me and I apologized, but he stopped hanging out with us soon after that, moved away, and never spoke to us again. A few months later, our apartment got egged, and my mom has strong suspicions that it was him.

I’m not sure if I was always this blunt, but if I was… I definitely understand why I didn’t have too many long-lasting friendships.

    (3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)

I’m usually open to trying new things. Most new activities don’t really hold my attention too well, but I do try. I’ve been told that I brag a bit, so I don’t really think that this trait fits. I desperately want people to share my interests with me, but no one really seems to want to. XD Oh, well!

    (4) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

I’ve always been one to be overly eager regarding social things, but if I don’t realize that someone has smiled at me, I will not smile back. I process it too slowly. >.<

Regarding emotional reciprocity, I definitely show it. Or, I try to, at least. Sometimes, if I can’t empathize, I fake it. I often don’t know the right things to say when someone is upset, but I do try. I just fail. XD

I’ve been known to laugh at the physical pain of others, which offends a lot of people, but I can’t help it. I don’t know why I laugh/smile, but either way… I really can’t control myself. One of my theories is that, because I’ve never been one to react much to pain myself, I find it absurd when people start to cry over it. Another theory is that my laughter is, in and of itself, a way of showing empathy for them. Strange, I know, but I do feel fear/worry over them… and sometimes even embarrassment!

B. Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests,  and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

    (1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted    patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus

Oh dear, this is definitely an issue for me. It has been my entire life.

I believe that my first obsession was dolls. Not collecting them, no, but playing with them and making up storylines. This is a bit unusual for people on the Autism Spectrum, but the way in which I played them wasn’t normal. I would play the same storylines a number of times, with a few variations, until I made a new one. Each storyline had a certain set of names, and each character had a certain set of characteristics. I’d play for hours and hours and hours alone, and I’d block everything out. While I wanted other children to play with me, they never did what I wanted to, which I found to be very frustrating. I tried to be open, but it was very difficult for me.

There were other obsessions, yes. Swimming, and reading, television, anime, anatomy, science, gymnastics, and now the humanities have also been obsessions, fading in and out over time.

A timeline of sorts:

Age 3+- Dolls, storylines, fantasy, imaginative play

Age 7-11- Anatomy

Age 8-11- swimming, reading of fictional stories

Age 4-16+- Television, medical shows, anime, procedural drama (on and off over time)

Age 13-16+- gymnastics, reading/writing, anime, television, the humanities, science

Age 11-13- booktapes

Current Age: 16- the humanities (specifically reading, writing, and psychology.)

Most of these special interests are very focus, difficult to divert, and they take up my life. XD They always have, and I suppose that they always will, especially considering how interconnected they are. 😛

(2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

Erm, not too sure about this one. For one, my routines are not ‘nonfunctional’. In fact, they are very functional, in the fact that I need them in order to function. XD

But seriously, I have my routines. I can break off of them with little problem, but I do have my routines. I never realized this, but it makes some sense. I do the same thing every day naturally. I don’t need a schedule or anything, it’s just what I do.

I think that it’s different from the typical AS routine. I don’t have set times or a schedule, but when I do… I want to follow it. I’ve always avoided sleepovers, at other people’s houses for the reason, I suppose (which is strange, because I always wanted to go on sleepovers, but I often felt homesick). On the contrary, I find it difficult to stay on a routine… even though I function better on one. I often do things in the spur of the moment, in order to keep my courage up.

I do get pretty upset when I’m late to gymnastics or miss a show on TV, though…

(3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping  or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)

Well, I’ve always been one to wreak havoc on my jaw. I chew on things, I grit my teeth, etc. I was always the kid with holes chewed in her clothes. I always fidget with whatever is in reach. I recently started both rocking and toe walking, but I used to walk on my heals as a child. It seems that I’m always on my toes nowadays, partially because of gymnastics. I started rocking because I’d always rock my brother to sleep, and it felt very soothing.

I have also been known to shred random bits of paper when I’m bored. XD I find it calming.

When I am happy, I jump, do cartwheels, spin, and do other such thing, which seems to be abnormal to others. For me, it’s truly an urge.

There are others, but they don’t come to mind at the moment~

(4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

My mother says that I never seemed to have this issue, but I DO find myself fascinated by knobs, wheels, and other such small things. I wouldn’t call it a persistent preoccupation, but it is definitely something that I’ve noticed about myself.

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational,  or other important areas of functioning.

Yep. Specifically social and occupational.

D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single  words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).

I spoke a bit late (I was two), but I did use single words by that point. I caught up quickly, and my speech was rather advanced by the time I was three.

E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in  the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other  than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

No delay other than both fine and gross motor.

F. Criteria are not met for another specific pervasive developmental disorder  or schizophrenia.

Nope, no other criteria has been met! XP

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