The title of this posting is taken from Dr. Tony Attwood’s discussion on Asperger’s last week. As indicated in a previous posting, I had the opportunity, or shall I say privilege, to spend an entire day hearing Tony speak his thoughts on Autism and more specifically Asperger’s Syndrome. I thought I would share some talking points as they relate to Asperger’s for those of you who were unable to attend. Please note that the term ‘Aspie’ is not derogatory and is instead embraced by many individuals with Asperger’s when describing themselves.
- Aspies use intellect, not intuition. Only logic works when trying to discipline…punishment does not work!
- Handwriting is a huge problem for Aspies, but handwriting is a 19th Century skill. Teach kids to type!
- Aspies may tune out because if it is not one of their key interests, then why learn it?
- Preoccupation with specific topics of interest produces euphoria and enjoyment that Aspies cannot obtain otherwise.
- Girls are able to hide their symptoms so well that diagnosis may be missed or delayed as much as 10 years. Girls will often escape into imagination, fantasy, and fiction and “pretend to be normal.”
- Asperger’s includes all neurotypical characteristics magnified to the most extreme degree.
- There is a compulsion to complete tasks that Aspies experience which makes transitions difficult.
- Aspies generally DON’T learn from mistakes..and they don’t naturally know what else to do when faced with a challenging social situation.
- Anxiety begins to be expressed in the form of avoidant or controlling behaviors as a means of coping with uncomfortable feelings.
- When emotions run high, there are three ways Aspies try to repair them: 1) Aggression/Rage, 2) Isolation, and 3) Avoidance via heightened special interests (e.g., video games).
- Sadness and anxiety are expressed by Aspies in the form of anger, especially in school when Aspies are not allowed to use one of the above three ways of coping/repairing heightened emotions.
- For Aspies, anger is the ‘acceptable’ way to express sadness. It also allows the individual to get the uncomfortable rise in emotional feelings over with by exploding and then feeling better quickly as if nothing ever happened.
- Top three trigger words guaranteed to get a rise out of Aspies: 1) No, 2) Wait, and 3) Change
- An Aspies’ need for affection can fit inside a cup. A neurotypical’s need for affection can fit inside a bucket.
- Aspies generally have an intense dislike for public praise.
- ‘Cats are Autistic Dogs’ is an observation by Attwood meant to illustrate the differences in social abilities/interests of the two animals.
- For More on this Topic, view Part II of this post here.
Dr. Mark Bowers is a Licensed Pediatric Psychologist and Autism/Anxiety expert at the Ann Arbor Center for Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
© 2009 Mark Bowers, Ph.D.