Asperger Syndrome is considered by many experts to be on the higher functioning spectrum of autism. I’ve lived with Asperger Syndrome for more than 39 years. This article is going to discuss how Asperger Syndrome affects my everyday life. Others who have this condition will experience things differently degree-wise than myself. At the end of this article, internet resources are listed for those who want more information.
To begin with, Asperger Syndrome is also known as Asperger’s Syndrome or AS. People who have this condition are known as Aspies. Two of the big quirks that Aspies and others on the autism spectrum possess are the tendency to really desire a sense of order, especially because they ritualistically follow routines, which can make Aspies come across as very eccentric or weird to the general population. Keep this in mind as you read the rest of this article:
Asperger Syndrome Communication Issues
– Aspies have a tendency to take what people say very literally. When people communicate, what’s often behind the words are emotional codes, but for Aspies, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to understand the emotional cues behind the literal words.
– People with Asperger Syndrome often think others know what they are thinking without having to tell them. When I communicate to others and they don’t get what I say, sometimes I feel very frustrated because it interrupts my sense of order. In other words, when someone doesn’t understand me, it can feel “irritating” because my sense of order is sidetracked when my inner flow or order is interrupted, for being understood keeps the train of order going straight for me in my mind.
– Many Aspies, including myself, have a tendency to talk fast. This is because communicating what’s on our minds and hearts can feel really intense, and so we try to get it out as fast as possible. I used to be really bad about doing this, but now when I find myself talking fast, I begin to slow my voice down. Sometimes though, it takes the listener’s admonition to stop me from speaking so fast.
How Sights, Sounds, and Food Affect Aspies
– Those with Asperger Syndrome can be really sensitive to a variety of sounds and smells. When I hear people coughing and the invasive/cruel sound of motorcycles, it feels as if I am being tortured. My senses feel like they are being overloaded, and I have to muster all my self control to keep from screaming at someone for coughing or flipping off some biker! I can’t even stand hearing myself cough! As for smells, I could joyfully breathe in the scent of new tire rubber every second of the day if that were possible!
– Aspies often wear very well-worn clothing and can’t stand upper garment neck tags or tight collars. Whenever I get a new t-shirt, I have to wash it several times before I feel comfortable wearing it because new fabric and those prickly neck tags really feel irritating on my skin, as if I am wearing gritty sandpaper. As for my neck area, I can’t stand anything snug or tight around it, so no turtleneck sweaters for me!
– Diet is one of the most strange and bizarre aspects of Asperger Syndrome. Aspies may only eat a few kinds of foods day after day after day. Again, this has to do with order and routine. This is true of me. For more than 100 consecutive days last year, my main nightly meal always consisted of mashed potatoes and chili con carne! Currently, I’m on a kick of principally chili con carne, peanut butter and syrup, and Good & Plenty for my nightly meal and snack. If KFC chicken weren’t so expensive, I would eat that everyday! Travel is about the only thing that interrupts my eating routine, but I begin another routine when I get back home. Oftentimes, Aspies don’t feel hungry or thirsty and can react terribly to the sight and smell of certain foods. I can’t stand foods that have a slimy texture to it.
Social Situations and Asperger Syndrome
– People on the autism spectrum of Asperger Syndrome generally would rather spend time by themselves. In new social situations, I can feel overwhelmed at first because a whole bunch of personalities are thrown at me at once, but if I spend enough time with the group, I tend to feel more comfortable. If I am in a group setting, I still like to look at or ponder things on my own even while the whole group is doing something else.
– Aspies have the tendency to be very abrupt, though not meaning to be. People will often take it as being pushy or rude. Again, when we express ourselves sometimes, it’s a sense of intensity that we feel in getting out the words.
– Aspies really take issue with being in cramped situations and navigating among crowds. Getting bumped around can make them feel very irritated. For me, crowds create a mixed feeling. I don’t mind being a stadium of 50,000 people as I love to study crowds, but when I am at the store, it’s really irritating when I’m in a certain aisle and people are near me. I like to shop with a lot of space between me and other customers.
– People with Asperger Syndrome can laugh at something when around others, even when the group hasn’t seen or heard anything that would be considered “collectively funny”. This is because the Aspie has thoughts of something funny or notices something funny when the rest of the crowd isn’t aware of anything “funny” going on; in essence, the Aspie is at least partly in his or her own world even while among others, sometimes becoming oblivious to what the group is doing.
How Asperger Syndrome Affects Learning and Work
– People with Asperger Syndrome like to stay occupied, especially with only a few pastimes and interests, which can be quite challenging because when interacting with others, Aspies can go off on tangents discussing their favorite things to the point of boring others to death. It can also create problems with keeping a job unless the the job just happens to be in the field that the Aspie has a passion for! For me, while I had been very dependable in the jobs I was employed in (from retail to airline work), I got very bored and burned out quickly, and within a couple of years, I usually quit each job. Only when I decided to devote more time to writing in 2004, have I been more challenged and less bored.
– Aspies often need to learn in more visual ways. This really rings true for me because when people start talking about a lot of different aspects of an issue without using “show” language or incorporating drawings, I take their barrage of words as very overwhelming, and basically shut out what is being said. The same applies when I am in a new place and don’t know my way around: my sense of direction is bad unless I can picture it in my mind or diagram it…I’m not a typical male either: I do ask for directions often!
-When communicating, I use a lot of idioms when I speak because it helps to create pictures in my mind so I can relate to the concept of what I am trying to say.
– Aspies can be very creative in the arts. For me, I’ve had an interest in writing since I was a kid, and I love to express myself via the written word. It seems that people understand me much better or connect with me easier when I write because my writing is straightforward and friendly in style for the most part. I’m often told that I come across way different in person than by what first impression was formed with someone initially via my writing, given they hadn’t met me before in person.
– Those with Asperger Syndrome often feel really stressed out when their routines are interrupted. Routine gives the Aspie a sense of connection and order, and sometimes this flows over to where the Aspie expects others to follow the same sets of routines and rules, becoming frustrated when it doesn’t happen. When I was in grade school, one of my teachers commented on my report card that I got frustrated when people didn’t think or do things the way I thought and did.
– Many people in my age group and who are older go their whole lives without being diagnosed as an Aspie or misdiagnosed altogether. I was 33 when I was diagnosed, thanks only to my mentor who knew about this condition. More children are being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome today. Since the mid-1990’s, more research via the work of professionals like Tony Attwood have brought Asperger Syndrome to the forefront.
How I Manage My Condition of Asperger Syndrome
When things aren’t as orderly as I think they should be or when people aren’t acting the way I want them to act, I realize that deep within me is this quiet place that says things are the way the are, and that I will survive. Meditating to that quiet spot within me keeps my Asperger Syndrome-related stress in check. When I need to travel for a writing assignment, my first day of the trip really takes a lot out of me because my daily routines have suddenly been interrupted. So I look within myself and find that quiet spot that says I’ll survive, and eventually return back to normalcy.
-Communication Books and Tapes
I’ve read many books and listened to many tapes on effective communication. I have even participated in an interpersonal communication class. Bad communication isn’t just an Aspie problem, it’s a problem that plagues all of mankind, and everyone needs to strive to communicate better!
-Visualizing Empathy for Other People.
Often, it’s hard for me to “feel” empathy, so I have to picture having empathy and then act accordingly to show people that I am concerned about how they think and feel.
Do You or Your Loved One(s) Have Asperger Syndrome?
If you think you or your loved one(s) have Asperger Syndrome, consult a professional who has experience dealing with autism-spectrum conditions, including Asperger Syndrome. The sources below will a good place to start in getting more information and leads on Asperger Syndrome.
Here’s my Associated Content article about how Asperger Syndrome affected my love for travel, but how I learned to overcome:
Check below for more web resources on Asperger Syndrome.