Understanding Asperger's Syndrome - Personal experiences

Uploaded by smallwondertv on 10.01.2012

My name is Karen and I have Aspergers which is also called high functioning Autism, it's
really a mild form of Autism. And the way it effects me on a daily basis is I am really
sensitive to loud noises, lights, a lot of movement will overwhelm me, so crowds, big
crowds are very overwhelming to me. a lot of social interaction like compared to normal
people, I can't be in those situations for too long, I just get emotionally, kind of
like stopped up. The main challenges with Aspergers have to do with interacting with
people. And basically as a kid, before I was diagnosed I just thought I was incredibly
shy, but it turns out that I was not picking up what they call social cues that normal
people pick up on because their brains are different. So in terms of interacting with
other kids, I just did not quite understand what they were saying or if there were a lot
of interactions going on at once, I probably was overwhelmed. So now that I know I have
Aspergers, I know that I am different from typical people in that sense. Normal typicals
might really thrive off a lot of social interactions with people where as I might get confused
and overwhelmed more easily. On the other hand, I really enjoy one on one interactions
and its much easier for me to focus if it's just one on one interaction. Life can be very
lonely because I think subconsciously, people with Aspergers tend to, basically fail, or
not do well and feel bad about themselves when they interact with other people. And
looking back on my life I realized I kind of closed more and more in on myself because
I wasn't having a lot of social success. And even though I was getting great grades in
school and I was the smartest girl in class but I was the nerdy quiet type and so I had
problems keeping friends, making friends and for me I like things to be explicit and stated.
For example: I am your friend, I like you. People don't say that, maybe you say that
in kindergarten, but adults don't really say that and if that is not said, I might not
know and I might have a lot of anxiety over, are we friends? Does that person like me?
More so than normal typical's because normal typicals are picking up on things like Oh
she is calling me and she smiles when she sees me. I might not see that, I might not
understand she's calling me because she likes me. I just might not get it and so I think
people with Aspergers, at least I do, tend to feel so insecure about the whole friendship
thing, the whole relationship thing. You know whose move is it now, am I supposed to call
you or do I wait until you call and what does it mean when you said "let's go to lunch"
does it really mean you want to go to lunch or you just said that to be polite. That is
another thing, some people say things to be polite and it's very hard for people to get
a feel for Oh they are just saying that to be polite or yea, they said they want to go
to lunch so let's go. Then later you find out wait they really didn't mean that? And
then you feel really hurt. I had a therapist that had me work on trying to look at people's
body language and what are they trying to tell me with their body language. And I believe
that it's too much data coming in for me, that I can't, if they are talking to me I
am listening to what they are saying, it's hard for me to look at their body language
at the same time as processing the words. So I think that I rely more on the words that
they say, that is why if someone says let's go to lunch, and maybe their body language
is saying I really don't want to go to lunch with you, I am just saying that to be polite,
but I missed that whole message. So I have tried to get better at reading body language,
but I just think that for me, especially if I am nervous I, it's very hard for me to interpret
body language and I rely more on the words, and believe pretty much what people say as
the truth. Figures of speech are again, processed quite literally for people with Aspergers.
I think that over time I figured out that when people say "oh that is a whole new can
of worms" they don't really mean there's can of worms and. In my mind I see that I think
ew why are they talking about worms, but I think over time, I learned naturally that's
just a figure of speech. For example couple weeks ago a friend of mine, we were sitting
at a table, she said " I am going to put something on the table" and I was waiting for her to
put something on the table, but she meant "I am going to purpose something". People
with Aspergers do tend to be highly sensitive in a lot of ways. I think we generally have
a lot of empathy for other people and it's a myth that people with Aspergers don't have
empathy. I think that if someone tells me a story about someone that's hurting, I mean
have so much empathy, I can feel in my body or can relate so much that I might be so saddened
that I am quiet, so it seems like I am being cold or aloof. But really inside I am thinking
oh my gosh I feel so sorry for that person. And I know for me I have a delay, I don't
have a delay so much anymore but when I am very emotional I have a speech delay where
it is hard for me to talk so anyway. I think that people with Aspergers has a lot of empathy
for other people, which is a gift because we have a lot of compassion for other people.
Also being very sensitive to sound, I think that people with Aspergers are incredible
musicians, or can be. And the way we process sounds, maybe we can hear things that other
people just don't hear. And we can express ourselves through music rather than words.
In a unique way. For a parent with a child with Aspergers I would say be clear about
what is happening now and what is happening in the future. For example "We are going to
the grocery now, we are getting groceries, and oh you are helping me get the groceries".
Your kid might ask a lot of questions like " what are we going to do next? what are we
going to do next? Or how are you going to pay the cashier," I think that there is a
lot of anxiety about what is going to happen and what is going on I think I would say to
just interpret that as kid asking for explanation and comfort. I know it can be annoying but
I think the more comforted the child is the more they are going to trust the parent and
to know that the parent does know what is going on. I had a lot of anxiety about going
into first grade because , this was back when you didn't learn to read till you were in
the first grade wasn't like now when you learn at 3 or something. I learned that we were
going to learn how to read, and I had a lot of anxiety, my mom told me, over that I was
like "I don't know how to read, I don't know how to read, she said they were going to teach
you. But I did not really, part was I think my parents fault,but they also did not know
I was Autistic, I had so much anxiety thinking that I had to already know something before
it was taught to me. And so I think the thing that was missing was the idea that people
were going help me, people were going to be connecting with me, people were going to be
assisting me and that I don't have to know anything from the start. So I think the point
there is idea of people helping, assisting because I think we do feel isolated a lot
and like they have to do everything on their own. I know that is one of the traits that
they are unaware when they need help because sometimes they feel like they are in their
own little world and no body is there, no body is gonna help them, no body understands
them and that is not true, but I think it is important to reach into Autistic people's
worlds and make it very clear that you are in their world and that their not alone, because
if you really feel that isolated it's really a horrible feeling. Autistic people tend to
have different ideas about personal space, sometimes we stand too close to people,I know
for myself that if I like somebody, I want to hug them, according to social protocol
it might be too soon to hug somebody that you feel warm about, but you kind of don't
know that person in that way. So sometimes people Aspergers might need training on who
are you going to hug, who you are going to stand close to, who you are going to stand
apart from and I know that I tend to be more physically affectionate that maybe normal
people, and sometimes that is misinterpreted. I think of it as I am just trying to express my warmth
for somebody, but it might not be appropriate at certain times. Another thing about personal
space is if am standing near somebody and I am nervous, might just look down at the
floor and talk the whole time at the floor, because I am too nervous to look at them.
My dad, he definitely has Aspergers, he has a hard time with eye contact. I think it's
because we get overwhelmed by the personal connection. For me, like I said, physical
touch is a way of connecting but looking someone in the eye's is almost too much. So Aspergers
do look to the side or look away, even though they feel like they are really connecting
with that person, but they, seems like they are talking over here, but it's weird, because
they probably feel like they are connected to you but they just can't look at you at
least for too long. Because it's like Oh my gosh, there is a person there and it's like,
I don't know, it's hard to describe. There is so much information coming and I have to
concentrate on what I need to say. It's too much. Like AHHHH. Okay another thing that
really helped me a lot as a child was learning to play piano, because I wasn't that good
at expressing myself verbally and I had so much emotion in me and I did not know where
to put it. So once I started learning to play piano, I realized that there was a whole other
way of communicating through music. I think that is really important for kids to be at
least exposed to expressing themselves through sounds. Like any kind of musical instrument,
because if they feel like they can't verbalize they can't explain it they can express so
much through music, that's really important.