Adults or Kids with Aspergers act like Neverlanders
Good Morning Friends
Where is Neverland?
I was asked what adults with Asperger's Syndrome are like. Two or three years ago I probably wouldn't have had an answer to this. Once a doctor diagnoses your form of crazy, however, after years of not having a label to slap on your forehead you get to wondering if you are the only one. I had considered uniqueness as a possibility before and in my ability to comprehend my situation I still might be.
In high school I mentioned some of my symptoms in a group of people who knew something of the matter and they mentioned that autism might be possibility rather then some of the other diagnose I had been given by those I thought knew. At the time I didn't know how right my friends were and how wrong my doctors were because I was in NeverLand. When you are in Never Land you don't notice anything other then what you want to and in Asperger's Never Land, you can be oblivious for years without noticing that everyone is growing up and you cant even tell what steps to take forward or backward in progression. You just are wherever you are doing whatever seems necessary.
Once I left Never Never Land (and I will shortly write a hub about that trauma), I found others with the same problem, when we chatted about life we could communicate in ways that might seem bizarre to those listening because symbolic conversations are hard to follow for those who don't think like that. However because it is one of those dubious gifts that come with our condition it is more comfortable to talk that way. We were able to compare reactions to stimuli in general and I was able to observe what they couldn't express and get to know that side of myself better by reflective annalists.
At that time I started to compare it to my observation on how Autistic children react to life and the observations listed in Autism Symptom surveys. Since I have never met a doctor who actually had Asperger's Syndrome let alone Autism I relied a lot more on my observation skills that I have built from a lifetime of trying to act normal even if often I epic failed at it. Over the course of my life more than a few times I have read articles on the subject. (I am now good enough at pretending to fit in now that if you met me on a good day you wouldn't know that my conditions plagued me unless you decided to torture me with the telltale stimuli that even I can't resist reacting to, even if I react in more of a controlled fashion then I have seen others with Asperger's Syndrome be able to handle due to effects of this conditions mixed with Bi Polar Disorder.)
Be that as it may, I was astonished and puzzled to find that the only differences between Asperger's Syndrome and Autism seem to be how the children were being studied and with whom I interacted with, handle the same set of problems. The differences in reactions to the symptoms turn out to be the difference between a social basket case that can work in an adult world but often misbehaves if he or she lacks the discipline (or the ability to do what needs to be done at the time it needs to be done whether it is comfortable or not) to control themselves and Adults who in many cases are so out of touch with what is going around them that they often end up in group homes when there isn't anyone left to take care of them.
When I refer to Adults with Asperger's Syndrome as social basket cases I am labeling the way I often feel at my worst. In other words, Asperger’s adults act like prepubescent children. Why do they act like this? Most of it comes down to a throw back to Freud with a twist. Freud taught about a conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind. He didn't use those precise terms but close enough. For most people within the general Norm (there is that word again), your ability to tap your endorphins and adrenaline is part of your unconscious mind and usually only kick in when specific stimuli or injuries trigger them. They start pumping when your mind is convinced that they are needed or your body knows that is is hurting. They last in your body for as long as your body figures that it needs them for survival purposes. Because of the depth at which these functions work in the mean of the population, you are forced to face stimuli around you that though offensive to your senses still aren't strong enough to trigger these potent fail-safes. In a person with Asperger's Syndrome and even those with Autism these fail-safe chemicals are raised from the unconscious mind to the sub conscious mind.
The net effect of this difference is that the conscious mind is a lot more aware of these tools than it otherwise would be and uses them with greater abandon whenever the threshold of discomfort (which is considerably lower for those with the Autistic Spectrum disorders) raises above minimum tolerance levels. As a result, Autistic and Asperger’s children and adults activate these responses any time they feel threatened in the slightest, awkward, sad, depressed, stressed, angry, frustrated, deprived, envious, or any other time that they really feel like it might help mitigate their suffering. Autistic children generally use these tools at a very early age and are introverted in their responses to their symptoms. The tendencies that they show for self medicating with their own Chemicals happen early enough in their life cycle that it cancels out the urges that most children have to reach out and communicate what is going on and are stunted in their emotional growth and intellectual development because of it. This usually happens before they are even old enough to be reached analytically by adults and so the steps in development that they experience are hard to go back and pick up because the children effected aren't even aware of where they missed out or have the tools necessary to reach out with any level of maturity to help adults approach them where they are at without great difficulty. I have some theories where to go with such cases but that is all they are, theories.
Asperger’s cases are easier in some ways in that they are extroverted in their symptoms. It isn't easy though to relate or meet them where they are at. The major obstacle to communication with an Asperger's sufferer is, they don't express themselves the way most children their age do. They communicate most often in symbolic phrases and similes. They see things and hold on to icons or names or quotes and they patch them together as though the finished product means something and they broadcast it to anyone who might be listening. They are suffering the same way a person with Autism does but their extroverted way of dealing with it in the long run keeps them from shutting down if they can at all help it and they use symbolic speech to relieve some of the need to shut down inside. They don't pick up on social cues, however, because they are so focused on broad casting and being understood by others that they have a hard time effectively listening or seeing life through anyone's perspective other than theirs. It is like having a radio that only sends out static but hasn't an antenna for reception in the normal sense.
It is a very old axiom that states that you can't hear with your mouth open. Asperger’s children and adults fall victim to this problem and they are innocent enough about it that they don't usually know how to fix it or understand why they should have to because to have Asperger’s is to walk through a world like it was an electronics department in some location like Circuit City, where every gadget is always on and blaring whatever as loud and as garishly as possible. Most Asperger’s sufferers spend ninety percent of their time shouting for someone to turn down the volume and turn down the lights etc.. Most people around them, however, can't see the problem with the sensory output and figure that they shouldn't have to alter their enjoyment of life to fit the needs of an Asperger’s sufferer even if they understood what the sufferer is trying to say. As I mentioned before, the sufferer is usually broadcasting his or her discomfort in a pointlessly cryptic manner as far as a normal person would view it.
The net effect for the children is that they are slow in their development because their communication flaws and perception problems get in their way and make the process of learning a laborious process if they are willing to brave life that far and work for progress which is the first hurtle. The life of constantly slogging through a muddy bog and fighting for every step while experiencing constant sensory overload isn't for everyone.
The second hurdle is that there is way too much codependency in parenting these days and those with the Asperger’s quirk end up with a lot of experience with it and they don't usually know themselves well enough to shrug it off and struggle anyhow. It doesn't help that most doctors talk about Asperger’s as though it was some form of retardation. I suppose a person can have both problems but I defy any doctor who has no first hand knowledge of this subject to be able to prove that one is the other.
Lastly, the hurdle that kicks most children with Asperger’s Syndrome in the butt to the point that: I have met few who have overcome puberty. For most normal children puberty sucks. That’s life. That’s how it is supposed to be. The mixed up emotions, the growth spurts, the growing need to define one's self and make your bones in your family in preparation for the real world....etc. It is a vast, confusing mess and no one likes it but every choice and move people make at that point ends up shaping them one painful step at a time. The things that help most teens get through it is being able to talk to someone about it and get meaningful feedback that they are able to assimilate. Some choose the school of hard knocks which is cool and valid even if it makes everything worse. Even so, most people have the skills to learn from that path as well. Most people's pain tolerances, emotionally, physically, and otherwise are set so that responses to discomfort do not result in getting personally high off of your own body and becoming inebriated to the point of unresponsiveness or at least incoherence.
True, some people do a lot of drugs and drinking during those times but they actually have to expend some effort that way and when puberty ends if they haven't killed themselves the school of hard knocks takes over and a majority still makes it out ok. When the dealer is your own body... and you don't need currency just a steady stream of confusion and chaos,,, and even when the school of hard knocks come around the dealer is more liberal than ever and you never run out... When you can't talk to anyone because most people lose patience with your communication style before you actually get to the point... when you end up the butt of every awkward joke because kids are cruel........
Most Asperger’s children skip the horrors of puberty and so never grow up in any way that matters. This isn't a hopeless situation but it is a serious one. Perhaps if you were paying attention you will see that there are things you can do to help someone with Asperger’s become a functioning adult capable of self sustainability. I am living proof that it is possible.