Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Asperger's, Part II: The Negative Side

Of course, all of the great things listed in Part I of this post come with some negatives attached to them. Once again, everybody manifests in different ways, and mine are different from many other people's. Since I love classifying information, I have worked out 3 different areas where my characteristics manifest themselves: communicative, neurological, and emotional. So here they are.
  1. Communicative: This is actually the part that I worked on long and hard and now I mostly have it figured out to the degree where many people see me as "extremely sociable," "cheerful," "bubbly," and even "the life of the party." I can be all of these things, although after I make the effort to be this way, I have to rest for a long time and spend a lot of time alone.
  • I'm good at planned communications. When I have a scheduled meeting, I can prepare for them psychologically, and then it's mostly fine.
  • I'm very good at communications that are hierarchical. When I am with my students, are roles are strictly defined, and there is no confusion about whose turn it is to speak or things like that.
  • Unscheduled contacts, however, are very difficult for me. When I try to leave my house and hear that my neighbors are also going out, I hide and wait until they leave. I find it hard to have to respond when people stop me abruptly and ask something, or even greet me. 
      2. Neurological: This is the most challenging part for me because there isn't much that I can do to control it.
  • I have good days and bad days. On bad days, I find it very hard to speak in any of my 3 languages. Sentences come out all garbled, and the words are somehow all wrong. If I have to teach on that day, I always give the students a writing assignment or make them talk among themselves. On bad days, I'm even more accidents prone than normally. I have to make an effort not to walk into things, drop them, trip, or fall. My vision gets a little blurry and my hearing worsens.
  • I have a huge problem judging distances. So driving is out of the question.
  • I find it very hard to keep my balance even when I'm walking (especially on bad days). So biking is also out of the question. 
      3. Emotional: According to the common myth about us, we are unemotional and detached. This is so completely and utterly untrue. I have lots of emotions. They are just a little different and I express them differently.
  • I have trouble calling people by their first name, even in e-mails. I haven't called my boyfriend by his first name even once in our entire relationship (thankfully, he doesn't mind). I can't explain why this happens, it just does. I didn't even know that this was characteristic of Asperger's until very recently. My parents have always bugged me about this to no end. And now it turns out that this is just one of my symptoms.
  • It takes me a lot longer than other people to get attached to human beings (as opposed to objects) and it takes me a lot shorter to get unattached. This is especially difficult for a woman with Asperger's. Everybody expects women to be emotional and when you are not demonstrative with your feelings, people think that it somehow detracts from your femininity. I've been told so many times that I act "just like a man." Which, of course, is very annoying.
P.S. I am very grateful for the great response I got from my readers and other bloggers about this series of posts. I will be continuing them because I have a lot more to say on the subject.


Lindsay said...

That's interesting about the balance issue --- I have terrible trouble with my balance, too, but had always attributed that to my having had lots of really bad ear infections as a toddler.

(Those are also the reason I have tinnitus and cannot detect some very high frequencies of sound.)

I'm just like you about a lot of these other things, too: I have lots of problems with coordination, motor planning and accurately perceiving distance and where things are in space. I also share the thing about names --- don't like them, for whatever reason. I *never* address anyone by name. Sometimes I've had other words I don't like to say --- in the past I haven't liked to utter the pronoun "I". Which makes all personal discourse a bit awkward; I think I used a lot of sentence fragments during that period.

Anonymous said...

Aaaah,very useful,do not want to describe mine~~~just variations. But yes,I ommit "I" in all my languages etc.
probably all those ~~conditions?--are not the illness till we are productive/successful;fullfilled life.
For me more strange that as early as I might remember myself,may be since age 3-4y.o., I had had "laws"--not to eat in someone presence;not to touch anything on someone property--I mean inner laws that was existing as a tabu in my mind always.
Somehow later,now,I feel my life was suffering from all that nightmar; I really not happy,really.it was so wasting time,all those inner laws.One still exist--my goodness!--not to use a restroom at any of friends apartments etc etc.
Its all annoying for me.By tremendous efforts I can break it for while, but it takes too much of energy. Hmmm, is it worth of doubtful

Chris said...

I am suspected for Aspergers but have never gotten diagnosed...
that said, I never knew that problems with using people's first names are part of it! I often avoid saying people's names, just gesturing to explain who I want to talk to. I also often get people's names "wrong" in that I use their full name as opposed to their nickname which bothers many people...

I also changed my first name when I was 18 (for language reasons, it was unpronouncable in English). It did not bother me at all. I feel no attachment to my name, though other people's reactions indicate I should. Maybe that's part of a similar problem.