1. Welcome to Autism Forums, a friendly forum to discuss Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, High Functioning Autism and related conditions.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Private Member only forums for more serious discussions that you may wish to not have guests or search engines access to.
    • Your very own blog. Write about anything you like on your own individual blog.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon! Please also check us out @ https://www.twitter.com/aspiescentral

Hi There

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Shenandoah, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Karma:
    +122
    Hi All.

    I am a male pushing 50s. I don't have an official diagnosis, but I am fairly certain I have Aspergers. This all came about fairly recently when my son got diagnosed with a mix of things, one of them a spectrum condition too. We suspected that before as well as his teachers and at some point it was made official after a very thorough work up done by a child psychologist.
    This has prompted me to look at myself trough a new lense.
    I have always been something of a misfit, never quite connecting with people. I can see the subtleties of human expression but often don't quite know what to do with them. My emphatic response is really odd, very delayed at best. Relating to people is basically difficult. I understand logically what is expected and play along without feeling much. Later on, perhaps a day or more later it hits me, usually when I am far away from the whole thing. And that's generally the thing...most of my emotions are like this, almost always undecipherable and manifesting in the form of anxiety that just comes up with no explanation.
    I can't maintain eye contact. Looking into person's eyes just feels too much. It almost hurts to do that.

    In the past I have done a 5 year stretch of therapy in regards to my extreme anxiety. The therapist kept asking what I am feeling or thinking in those difficult moments and I always always came up with one answer "I don't know. I don't feel or think anything in particular".
    I have a feeling that he was trying to find a repressed trauma. But he never succeeded during this ample period of time. There have been no events in my past that qualify as excessively traumatic, but I feel that I have been though all the wars in the world. Anyways, that was a complete failure and I stopped seeing the therapist being no better off than when I started. He never as much as suggested Aspergers or anything like that. Just a bunch of generic feel-good-about-yourself bs.

    My anxiety has always been related to two things: social interaction as well as certain configurations of sensory input. For example, a large mall during lunch hour. I literally can't stand all the visuals and noice coming at me from 360 degrees. It's hard to me to drive on multi-lane highways, but I do really well on fast rural roads. The speed of travel is really almost the same as on the freeway and there's no divider with opposing traffic zipping by close at a combined speed, but I have no problems with that as opposed to a 3-5 lane freeway where I experience extreme anxiety. I attribute it to the wider information field on the freeway as opposed to a country road where the sensory input is almost tunnel- like.
    Can't sit at a dinner table with people on the left and right of me trying to have a cross conversation. I have to narrow the sensory field and offload my peripheral vision.

    CBT does not work, neither to any significant degree nor with any lasting effect. I always make a point not to avoid these situations, but it's not improving at all through the years. And now that I have started looking at these things from the perspective of sensory overload as opposed to a learned fear response it's beginning to make more and more sense.

    Beyond what I mentioned above, social interactions are always a confusing puzzle. I have no problems establishing initial contact with people I like, but I am extremely selective. Unless a person has a strong interest in something preferably adjacent to one of my strong hobbies (I do have a couple) I just feel zero desire to talk to them. Can't even learn their names, have no idea what they do or how they are related to the party host, etc. Mind you this is usually not a random crowd, but people I see year after year (friends of friends at birthday parties usually).
    But, ping me on something I am strongly into and I won't shut up. I have to forcefully moderate myself and usually recede into some cozy corner where nobody talks to me (if my wife is with me than it's great because she is also pretty unsocial and we just end up spending time with each other).

    It's very different when I am in a group that shares the common interest. I become very social and interact very well. The problem with such groups however is that people don't aways look to connect beyond a specific area of interest and that plays a joke on me where I over-connect and misread it as a developing friendship when it's more often isn't. And it's not helping that infrequently I do develop lasting connections, so I never know which is which and have no idea how to conduct myself without making people uncomfortable.

    I am very routine-sensitive, form routines easily and stick with things even though they may be difficult like working out. When the schedule gets disrupted I get cranky and uncomfortable even when the resulting day is actually easier than planned (such as having to skip a workout). I just get uneasy and the whole day is crap.

    The idea of having an Aspergers feels liberating. Maybe I can't lighten up the act I have learned to play all my life and just be whatever the heck I actually am. That's not to say I should start being harsh to people (certainly seen this abrasive aspie type). I won't be a jackass no matter how I try, it's just not in me. Doing the right thing and doing right by people I am with is axiomatic to me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
    • Friendly Friendly x 6
    • Like Like x 2
    • Optimistic Optimistic x 1
  2. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    32,275
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2013
    Karma:
    +22,443
    upload_2019-10-16_16-50-42.png
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Karma:
    +122
  4. Isadoorian

    Isadoorian Well Known Chat Member, Welcomer of Newcomers V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    1,555
    Joined:
    May 16, 2018
    Karma:
    +2,507
    Welcome to the Forums! I hope you make new friends and enjoy your stay in the process! :)
     
    • Like Like x 2
  5. clg114

    clg114 Still crazy, after all these years. Staff Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    3,728
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Karma:
    +6,827
    Welcome to Autism Forums!
     
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    5,089
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2015
    Karma:
    +11,279
    I've had very similar experiences to what you describe. I'm not surprised a therapist missed you possibly being on the spectrum. Many out there are still quite uninformed about HFA. I am surprised they seemed tone deaf to the fact that if you have an anxiety disorder there doesn't need to be a cause/reason.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Karma:
    +122
    Maybe because I am fairly animated when I converse and do react to non-verbal stuff. The breakdown happens down the line. I guess they expect more text book manifestations...
     
  8. Nitro

    Nitro Admin/Immoral Turpitude Staff Member Admin V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    9,654
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2014
    Karma:
    +16,642
    Hi Shenandoah

    welcome to af.png
     
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Major Tom

    Major Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    1,083
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2017
    Karma:
    +3,031
    Hello and welcome.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  10. ghostie

    ghostie Active Member

    Messages:
    76
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2019
    Karma:
    +158
    Hello Shenandoah and welcome. I had an experience where I was diagnosed recently (I'm 35 at the time of diagnosis) and all of the therapy I'd had over the years never helped because they were focused on trying to fix things about me that weren't broken. Much of your story about how receiving therapy for the wrong diagnosis didn't help you felt very similar to my experience. Also, being diagnosed with Asperger's has helped me in the way you say, it feels liberating. That was my experience too. I used to be an eccentric depressed person and now I realize that most of my depression was caused by me trying to repress my autistic traits which I just played off as "eccentricities."

    I wish you the best on your journey of self discovery!
     
    • Like Like x 4
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  11. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Karma:
    +122
    Thanks you!
    Yeah, being in therapy like that only makes things worse. It just deepens the narrative that you are just not trying hard enough with CBT or catching negative thought patterns or whatever else. How do you catch something that's not really there?? You are forced to speculate and assign a faint trace of a negative thought as a main culprit. Then it goes down on some kind of a worksheet that paints a completely misleading picture. Unstructured talk sessions aren't good either because you have such a deep habit of conforming to the thought process of others you can't even tell how empty the whole session actually is. I did mention a number of times that all I feel is fear, literally nothing but unhinged fear floating in mid-air.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    3,280
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2018
    Karma:
    +8,433
    Hello Shenandoah and welcome.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  13. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    2,320
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2018
    Karma:
    +1,771
    Yes I had similar experience prior to finding out about autistic traits or Aspergers. I think part of the issue as you have pinpointed is that we may need more processing time than is generally available, in life situations or in therapy. I don't know what I think about something or how I feel about it in any useful way until the following day or so.

    Yes I had that same confusion from therapies that I may have underlying issues I haven't yet spoken about, and latterly if using therapy I would point this out, because therapist's have not usually come across or found out about high autistic traits or Aspergers in my experience. I did get useful things from therapy, I had a lot to work on from my weird family so I did make gradual progress, but until I found out for myself about high autistic traits and Aspergers I couldn't put all the pieces together.

    Welcome to this forum, there is plenty here you will likely find of interest both for yourself and your child.

    :leafwind::herb::fallenleaf::mapleleaf::leafwind::herb::fallenleaf::mapleleaf::leafwind::herb::fallenleaf::mapleleaf::seedling:
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Karma:
    +122
    I also have another kid, a daughter who takes after me in a huge way. She appears to have the same emotional disconnect. She is talking about not knowing what she feels and what she is in the exact same terms as me. I am glad that I am able to explain it to her in a way my parents were never able to explain it to me (not blaming them, it was very different times... my mom has autistic traits too, but she does not realize that still).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    1,657
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2017
    Karma:
    +4,627
    Welcome, @Shenandoah. A lot of what you wrote is very familiar to me - diagnosed at 48 (2 years ago), due to seeking counseling for anxiety, very delayed emotional response ("allow 6 - 8 weeks to arrive").

    One of the most liberating parts of the discovery is realizing that you're not the same make/model as everyone else and you can't operate off their manual. You are now free to discover what really works for you.

    This forum is a wonderful place - the moderators work hard to keep it positive and uplifting. I hope you find it as welcoming and helpful as I have.
     
    • Like Like x 4
  16. Peter Morrison

    Peter Morrison Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    578
    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2018
    Karma:
    +1,768
    Hi Shenandoah, Welcome! From the descriptions of your conditions, you are clearly one of us. I have highway driving anxiety as well. I used to love driving, and I was a safe, defensive driver. I had witnessed a highway accident once that I managed to avoid as I saw it about to happen. Soon thereafter, I started getting panic attacks when I drove on a highway. It's irrational, but it's happening anyway. Then, I developed panic attacks if I used a chair-lift at a ski slope. I also became claustrophobic in certain places - restaurants, stores, crowded elevators. What these things have in common is a need for an "escape route". Once, I almost jumped off a chair-lift because the panic was so strong. It kind of defeats the purpose of needing to feel safe. I don't have any personal trauma to justify feelings of panic or distrust, so I believe the car accident triggered something in me. My issue with driving now simply means that I can avoid a panic attack as long as I can get off the road immediately if an attack comes on. Just knowing I can exit the road immediately will thwart an attack. Once I have had a panic attack, the rest of the day is ruined for me, so now I avoid aggravating an attack by avoiding the conditions that could cause one. That's not healthy, but neither is a panic attack at 65 mph. Of all of my faults and afflictions, panic attacks are the worst. I used to love roller coasters too. That's all gone.

    I also can't handle shopping mall noises and commotion, but I also get frustrated at Home Depot when the PA system tells the plumbing department that they have a call on line 4. It's too loud, and it catapults my ADD. Whatever thoughts I had about a 3 3/8" screw are gone.

    My recent realization that my suspicion about my ASD, and an evaluation for ASD, are real, have caused me to start monitoring myself in various situations to try and understand the extent to which I can tolerate the intolerable. Small doses of uncomfortable are something I can manage, but I know I will not last very long. I have also felt that I had trouble with chit-chat. I can't talk about nonsense. Get me on a topic I like, and I'll go on for hours. I put that in the "special interests" category. If I can't participate, I will go silent. On the social skills scale, most NTs seem to enjoy hearing about each plant, flower, and tree in the yard with details about the season they bloom, how much water they need, and how much sunshine or shade they receive. I like plants and trees - I just don't want to hear their life stories. For the sake of being polite, I can feign interest and even ask some questions. The information never stays in my head because I am genuinely not interested. I think our need for "special interests" is very strong. I am watching my behavior to see if I can regulate my natural reactions better. What is sad is that I used to help my mother with her garden. She was a horticulturalist. I just never took the same interest in plants as other people do. I try to create interest, but it just isn't there.

    I am prone to ADD, but I haven't identified all the triggers. Having an orderly, systematic way of functioning on a daily basis works well for me, but I will allow myself to fall off the path too easily. Like you, if I didn't go to the gym first thing in the morning, I felt robbed of an important step in my positive routine. You survive it, but your mood never gets above dull average. Having a place for everything and everything in its place is a necessity. If the transitions aren't smooth, it can put everything off balance. I am dealing with depression and anxiety, and I'm not sure why I have moments of clarity and reasonable happiness. I just know that chaos breeds chaos, and it is important to avoid the upset that comes with aggravation. I'm using Mindfulness now. Effective, but not a cure.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  17. Shenandoah

    Shenandoah Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2019
    Karma:
    +122
    Same here, I used to love driving. Drove all around the continental USA solo about 16-17 years ago. 2 or 3 oil changes while on the road.
    But, gradually the fear crept in. I have not witnessed any serious accidents. It just crept in year by year (like other bothersome issues). I manage here and there to do it with an occasional early exit. Drove from Toronto to Leeland, MI and back this summer. Wasn't easy, but I came to accept the challenge. Still don't quite get it while I do so much better on a non-divided fast roads. If you ever been to Leeland that area of Michigan you would know the kind of roads I am talking about. They are really fast undivided highways with an extra passing lane added every few miles. A pile up on a such road would be pretty deadly since you can get into a head on collision at the combined speed. I enjoyed these and hated the interstate.

    Dang, yes! Same here. I used to be a semi-decent downhill skier 15 years ago, but the fear of heights crept in even before the highway fear. Last summer we went to an amusement park on Toronto Islands. They have a kind of a ski-lift thing that loops around the area, an attraction. I felt much like you say, it was utterly horrible. Similar, but less severe experience a couple years ago on a small ferris wheel. I was with my daughter both times and she fared far far better than me.

    Yes, it does help I agree. I am doing better now than a couple years ago, primarily to the ideas introduced with mindfulness. One has to be careful though. A couple of years ago I jumped into a misguided meditation practice, the type where you try to stop the thoughts. That sent me on a horrible spiral of anxiety and feeling of horror. Took me a while to get out of that. Apparently up until recently there were no credible research into meditaiton/mindfulness practises and with some persistence one can find several disturbing stories of worsening mental conditions at, or following, visits to meditation retreats.
    So, I don't do anything forceful like that anymore or anything structured for that matter. Just a general outlook on things.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Streetwise

    Streetwise very cautious contributor V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    6,926
    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2016
    Karma:
    +6,410
    Your quote made me think about the psychiatric nurse that said if you get a diagnosis of autism come back to me we could get you more time I was amazed that the NHS (public healthcare in the UK )might ever think about giving somebody that ,I thought all they did was cut everything they possibly could, didn’t go back wasn’t well enough.