Author Topic: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.  (Read 172 times)

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Offline Goaty

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Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« on: February 20, 2020, 01:35:11 AM »

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The famous autistic quote "Once you've seen one autistic person, you've seen one autistic person" is very appropiate in trying to explain what it is, because autism is a condition where no two people have exactly the same symptoms.
In recent years aspergers has been reclassified as autism as the condition has the same cause. What causes autism? Well. It is basically an issue where one or more connections in the brain have not connected while one was an unborn baby and the brain sometimes compensates by either concentrating its development in other areas or it connects these connections to others instead. This can understandably cause many hidden issues. It is different from epilepsy which is said to be caused by ones brain signals short circuiting.
There are several myths going around. One is that autism is catching. It is not as nearly all autistic people have been autistic since birth. There are a few rare cases of autism caused through accidents due to brain damage, but this is the exception. The fact that many autistic people may be diagnosed and found to be autistic later in life does not mean they have suddenly caught autism. They will have had it since birth. It is a development dissorder. They just never knew that they had it if that makes sense?

Naturally, if ones brain has missing connections (Or even one missing connection), as the brain has so many connections anyway, one can't say how the effect will come out in symptom form. This is why it can be soo difficult to detect and why they need a lengthy assessment to determine if the person is on the autism spectrum or not.

"Everyone is autistic?" No, but most of the population may have an autistic trait to a lesser degree, but this does not make one autistic. (It also shows why it is not an easy condition to understand from an allistic persons point of view.. Allistic means someone who is not on the autistic spectrum. There are also BAPS (Cant remember what BAPS stands for) who are people who have significent issues cause through autistic traits or trait, but do not have enough traits to be classed as autistic).

So how many people have autism? I mean, what percentage of the population has autism? Is it primarily found in the western world? Also, is it predominantly a male condition as it was once thought?
I listened to a professor who specialized in autism speak and he said that if he took a random sample of a large group of people from anywhere in the world and assessed them, he would find that 6% of those who were assessed would be found to be on the spectrum, though in the western world only 2% or less (Depending on how efficient their countries mental health service is operating or how well the countries awareness of the condition is known) of the population has been officially diagnosed (In the UK it is said to be 1%) and also 2.5% of any population were said to have significent issues with their lives due to the condition.

Now are there any obvious signs of autism? Uhmm. A difficult question to answer, though for the more severe cases who are dissabled through the condition (As having missing brain connections can obviously have the potential of having an impact on ones physical body, and often on the TV we see the more extreme cases of this), with others, outwardly it can be difficult to detect, especially from an untrained person. But... There are a few indicators to go by that are more noticeable but not always noticeable. One are autistic meltdowns.
Around 40% of those on the spectrum experience meltdowns and most of us have heard about them, but how many people (Doctors included) have heard about autistic shutdowns in which also effect some 40% of those on the spectrum? Naturally some experience both and some experience neither!
Autistic shutdowns and meltdowns come in different forms from person to person. While I personally do not know if I am on the spectrum or not as I am waiting to be assessed, I do know that I have traits and after most of my life through suffering and not knowing what they were (And neither did doctors as I was never able to explain how I felt or what I was experiencing), I now am certain that I'm experiencing both partial shutdowns and full shutdowns. I am passed my mid 40's and was only last year after a lifetime of being tested for just about every possible cause that matched the symptoms to the point where I had to change doctors surgeries after last doctors assumed I was a hypercondriact...(The receptionist would only let me have an appointment even though for nearly every day of phoning it took eight and a half months to get a more urgent appointment... Why I changed doctors, and the new doctors  in the new doctors surgery are amazing), so you can imagine how frustrating it has been and how many jobs I have had to give up etc when I have eventually hit burnout. (Burnout is an experience where I am not able to work for a long time afterwards, and I have gone without an income to recover as I couldn't cope with trying to get help or know where to turn etc. Not a nice experience, especially if one does not know what is happening!).

Is it possible to know if one is autistic or not? I have mentioned that some people do not experience burnouts or shutdowns, and yet are on the spectrum. Self diagnoses is not easy because general anxiety can cause one to feel in ways that mirror autistic traits (Or highlight them if one has just a couple of traits but not enough to be on the spectrum).
Most autistic people  from time to time experience major anxiety. A few do not. Many are natural introverts but some are not. It is a spectrum... No one autistic person is the same.

Now we come to masking and why men are usually easier to spot signs of autism compared to women, and also why even men often slip through the net.
What is masking? Picture a highly intelligent person who has no social abilities. They just don't know how to mix. They often lack the ability to pick up body language or understand hints (Many autistic people struggle with this), so somehow they want to connect with others their own age, but somehow can't seem to connect. They may also stim when nurvous (Stimming is an involuntary and automatic body movement done when nurvous or when concentrating... Stimming can also be purpously done to calm the nurves or prevent meltdowns or shutdowns, and can also be expressed through joy. It could come in many forms from subtle to obviously noticeable, like flapping of the hands when excited to clicking a pen repeatedly when concentrating or bouncing a foot up and down or rapping ones fingers on  a desk etc (I used to do the last two automatically when in school and was sometimes told off for it!)
Now picture the same person wanting to find ways to fit in. It is common for such an individual to spend ages watching and observing their classmates. They will learn to immitate their ways and try to hide their stimms. They may then learn ways to connect in other ways. They are all purposly developed masks. In other words they are inwardly one character, but outwardly another.
It is common for most women to be naturally rather sociable anyway as it is more important to them to fit in. So women who are on the autistic spectrum are far more likely to mask thwir autistic traits even if they don't know anything about autism. And for men? Well.. Some mask too, especially those with higher  then average I.Q. levels.
So autism is not always within plain site to see. It is why it is sometimes described as a hidden condition. And I have not discussed many of the difficulties associated with being autistic. I have hardly scratched the surface! But though many can suffer greatly due to the condition and may lack some skills that others take for granted, it is not always a negative thing to be autistic. There are sometimes positives too.
Remember when I mentioned earlier on in this post about when the brain develops it can compensate for the missing connections by developing new ones in other areas? Well. It is fairly common for many autistic individuals to specialize in these areas and they can really go deep in their favourite specialist subject. They could be narrow minded, but when you start talking about their special interest or tallent, look out. You may not even have scratched the surface in the depth of knowledge that they have! (It is why they may want to talk about certain subjects and go into great depth, but try general smalltalk? They can be lost!)

And while I have not talked about many suffering from hypersensitivities which can trigger shutdowns or meltdowns (I can shutdown with smells like bleach used in hospitals so I try to avoid hospitals etc, and it is annoying when hospital staff see me shut down and assume it is a faint), I will mention something more about shutdowns (And as generally shutdowns and meltdowns can be similar in that the causes are similar but the outward results are different... Bear this in mind... As shutdowns are described as inward meltdowns).
Suttdowns, be they partial or full, are basically caused by the individual having a brain overload and the brain not coping so it shuts down either part of the bodies systems or most of them! (Think of an old computer not coping with an overload of information). Meltdowns are a stress build up with no where for the stress to go so one ends up with an outward explosive force! Shutdowns can also be due to too much stress (The most common cause) or the individualmis hypersensitive to a certain thing and the certain thing can trigger the brain to shut down as it can't cope with too much information. It is common for autistic people to be overly aware of their surroundings (Some are the opposite!), and it is also common for an autistic persons mind to be always thinking.... Hence why they can absorb an overload of information, especially if hypersensitive.

Another thought to consider. Autistic peoples minds can think in different ways to allistic people. It is why in school maths exams (Which I would either get high marks or low marks and I did not understand what I did different from one exam to the next exam) I would answer the mathematical questions using my brain and write them down, and then go back to do the workings out later. To me workings out I could not do because my mind didn't work that way.
To explain further, my outer mind could work in normal numbers but any deep thought would transfer to my deep thinking inner mind which works in picture form... And if I used this part of my mind, I would be working in dots like dots on a domino or a dice, and I would be needing to transfer my deep inner equasions into base 10 from the various bases I had calculated the equasions in dot forms if that makes sense?
I must be doing something right as the last exam I had 100%!


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Theo

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Re: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2020, 10:06:20 PM »
Such a long post from one who surely knows all about aspergers/autism.
Surely it deserves a better reply than mine.

Offline Goaty

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Re: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2020, 11:47:37 PM »
I do not know a lot. I knew nothing about it last May and have only learned about it through asking questions, initially to find out following a hunch that there was some sort of connection between meltdowns and the experience that I know to be called shutdowns. Just prior to this there was something which seemed to point in that direction via a youtube channel called "Ask an autistic" where I watched all her short films in a matter of just  couple of days.
I then started asking and asking and asking many questions and reading and reading posts for many many months on a site called Wrong Planet. I find that if I can "Latch onto" a subject I will keep on and on with that subject until I find out all I need to know. I find that most subjects I don't do this and if I try to research is is tough for me to do any research... But if I can latch onto a subject... Well. I may spend years cross examining the subject from many different angles to obtain all the depth I can to it, before I am satisfied. It could take years.
It is a bit like hobbies. I have always been into trains from the days when I was a toddler onwards. Since a child I also was into bicycles which I still am. I also as a child liked cars from a young age. I kind of dropped cars when I was in my teens because I realized I was not allowed to drive them and even when I could I watched others learn to drive and there was no way I could afford to take lessons for another three years. I think I was about the age of 20? I can't remember. But it was why bicycles for me took over.
But anyway. Trains and bikes. All jobs I have ever done bar one have involved either one or the other of these two subjects, and the one I did which was different was loosely related to both subjects.

I find that autism is a fascinating subject in itself. It is one of those subjects that I want to find out more and more about, but for me, it all started with the lifelong hunt to find out why I kept getting what I now know to be shutdowns... And I don't know if I am classed as autistic or not, but at least I have worked out what has been going on with my body and mind. (I never thought that the issues my body was hving was actually my mind not coping! I seem to not always be fully in touch with feelings somehow? Not sure exactly how that works but it is only recently I found out a feeling which I have had all my life was anxiety. Oh, I felt it daily, especially in mornings before I needed to go to somewhere like school or work... But I never knew it had a name!)


Your reply is much appreciated. Thanks.

Offline Winnie

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Re: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2020, 10:13:48 PM »
Hi @Goaty,

Thank you for your posts, I have read both, and found them very informative.  My Grandson has Asperger syndrome.  He is twentythree, and unfortunately now has further mental health problems, which are associated.  He is a dear young man, and has a passion for researching warfare, especially the first and second world wars. 

God bless you, Goaty.
In Christ Jesus
Chris

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Offline Goaty

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Re: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2020, 01:11:34 AM »
Hi Winnie. It would be interesting to look at the family line as the condition is usually found to follow down family lines. In itself, autism (Aspergers syndrome is now classed as autism (High functioning autism from what I understand)) does not neccessarily mean the person with it will have any issues and could have areas wheer they really excell compared to an allistic person (Allistic means someone who is not classed as being on the autistic spectrum). However, in practice it is not that for someone on the spectrum to not have issues, even if they are useen.
My heart goes out to the ones who are undiagnosed who may be going through unseen struggles and not have a clue why they are different, or why they may not be coping or may be failing at certain things when others around them seem to be doing fine.
My heart also goss out to those who are classed as BAPS. The condition of shareing many autism traits but not having enough traits to be classed as being on thw spectrum.
Of course, I know that those who have already found to be on the spectrum have struggles and some have great difficulties. (And I certainly am not wanting to belittle the struggles they have...)  but imagine someone who has gone through all their life with various struggles and has never been able to find out why or where they fit in in life? Imagine what such a person has been going through? At least those who have been assessed and found that they are autistic will start to piece together their lives and start to understand why they are different and why they have had struggles.

And why is it that some have gone way into their adult lives and it is not until they hit some big crises in their lives (Which could have largely been avoided if they had known they were on the spectrum)  that (And this can be a chance hit or miss) someone somewhere has said something, or some health professional has picked up on something that has lead them to realize they need to be assessed.

And something I want to say here. Actually two things. One is that autistic people are normal everyday people who just happen to have one or two missing conncetions in their brain to make them think in different ways. They are not an alien species who must be avoided! (I have heard about a church in England (C of E) who's vicar went to try and help a young gentleman who had strughles. For a year or two he, and the church welcomed him and prayed for him and while he still had struggles he felt welcomed and appreciated. He was then assessed and found to be autistic. Once the church got to hear about it, tey would not lwt him in the church, stopped all communication and blocked him from using the church website which was used since this virus took place... He tried to approach two or three other C of E churches and found that they refused to have anything to do with him there. He is puzzled as the only thing that changed was when he told his vicar he was found to be autistic. He has repeatedly asked why they have suddenly turned against him and he has even tried to contact the bishop as he wanted to know what he had done wrong and they just closed ranks and won't talk.
  Now if the church treats people like this, think how the world treats people? And this leads me to the next big issue that I often hear that those with autism suffer with. They know that allistic people will not be on the same wavelength as they are and they expect this, but the big issue they have is when allistic people don't accept this and keep trying to make them act and be like they are when they can't, or if they can, the only way they can is through masking. Masking feels like lieing. One does not want to mask, but one has to if one is going to avoid being bullied and made to feel rejected. (And most undiagnosed autistic people, and even the diagnosed ones recieved just as much bullying by teachers or works management teams as they did from their fellow pupils or workmates... And this is caused because the thinking of many allistic person is not able to adjust their thoughts to comprehend that this individual may not be able to think like their other pupils or workmates).
One of the worst things autistic people hear if they dare tell anyone else they are autistic are either "Well, everyone is a little autistic" or worse then that is  "You can't be autistic because...." The people who say this are saying it out of ignorance as they don't know a lot about autism, but it makes the one with autism feel belittled and rejected. It makes them feel like they are telling lies and they have no way to defend themselves.
Of course the ones who hear the news want to know more. They want to try to understand. Even if it is someone they have known for years and never realized...
You see many autistic people are soo good at masking their traits that most of you will never know the mental struggles they may have gone through, and here is something some of you may not know. Many autistic people may not be in touch with their feelings, or they may be in touch with their feelings (Sometimes hyper in touch) but they may not be able to express them, so you may not see this by looking at their faces. Some who may not be in touch with their feelings (And this is more likely to be only in one area and not necessarily all their feelings) have learned how to create facial expressions to match the situation through years of studying other people. So what may look to you like a person who has all their facial expressions working as you expect them to and may one day upset you when they are caught offguard and may smile or laugh at the wrong moment (Has happened to me!)...It could just be that they are masking, and as they have automatically learned to mask from a young age, even they may be unaware that they are doing it.
So one of the mental stresses that an autistic person often faces is that they can upset other people who they like without knowing it in quite a variety of ways due to how the autism plays out in their lives, and they then get internally depressed and upset as they do not know what they have done, or they may not have been capeable of avoiding it.

I can talk in detail about masking, as I have masked in various ways from an early age. (Even if I am not on the autistic spectrum as I am yet to be assessed, I do mask and am quite an expert at it!)
Now it is only recently I realized that what I was doing had a name. Masking. One can call some aspects of it acting. I used to assume that everyone did it, but it really puzzled me because I often used to think to myself how much better other people or kids were at doing it then I was. Little did I realize that they were not masking!
I found that in a job, I would need to look for a new job when I could no longer keep up the masking. My work history (Depending on the job) was usually two years and I would change job or resign. The longest I worked in one job was nine years and that was because the nature of the job and the ever changing shift patterns, I rarely worked with the same people that often, but in other ways because of the changine shift patterns and the constant anxiety, I eventually ended up having my first burnout not long before I handed in my notice.
Masking feels like... Well. It was very often that I thought "If only they knew the real me!", and yet even I could not fathom out who the real me was as I have been masking for soo long! (When I have hit burnout the masking comes off and I feel like I am naked as everyone seems to be stareing at me, so I avoid being in public places... Being unmasked I seem to revert to a mental age of around 5 or 6 as this was the age I was when I first started to mask. I was in a right mess during and after the last burnout but that's another story).

Anyway. I can write more again. I keep going off on soo many tangents that I have forgotton what I was replying to! (I know why I go off on tangents as I have worked that one out. To avoid "Mind blank" where my mind keeps changing tangents because if I tried to speak directly to answer the question I would hit a mind blank situation, and I am soo used to diverting off on tangents that I do it as I write and as I speak, and rarely do I answer the thing, or get to the point I wanted to reach or make if that makes sense?)
I also am not sure how to end this post. Haha!
Ooh. One thing I remember. It is common for autism to come down family lines. Also, an autistic person will have been autistic since birth with the rare exception of someone who has had brain damage from a car crash where a few brain con ections have been damaged. You can't catch autism. Don't worry. You are quite safe! Hehe!
Thanks for the reply Winnie. Sorry for the long answer. I usually write long answers and then shorten them many times to end up with a single paragraph, but I am a little tired so I have posted the whole lot!

Offline Winnie

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Re: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2020, 09:18:49 AM »
Hello Goaty,

I do thank you very much for this response.  You are very good at communicating this, probably because you identify with the various facets of it so well, having lived so long with it without being aware of what it was. 

My grandson had a psychotic episode in his last year at school and sought to take his own life, which led to him being hospitalised and medicated. What resulted was that he developed a condition called schizo-effective disorder, and because of the medication given to him he has also developed a condition called dystonia.  He has to have strong medication now to control both conditions, and this is so sad. 

What has impressed me when I have met someone with Asperger syndrome is a sense of innocence.  Andrew would sit for hours playing with his toy soldiers, and reminded me of a child of my own generation, rather than his own.  He has so dearly wanted friendship with those of his own age, but it is hard to find.

You mention the family connection, and it has become clear that it is in my family, for my brother and sister also have grandchildren with Asperger syndrome.  It seems that Asperger syndrome comes very often with another condition attached, like CAD for example.

Thank you again, Goaty
With love in Christ Jesus
Chris


Offline Christianna

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Re: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2020, 05:36:34 AM »
Hello Goaty,
Very insightful and thank you for sharing. I have friends who I get on well with, who have autism, and enjoy their company, spontaneously. I don't think of the condition at all and just love being with them.
That's very bad when a church stigmatizes someone, and as you described. I've seen that and the very people described themselves to have great love in the Lord. That of course is assessed by Him.


Offline Winnie

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Re: Autism/Aspergers. A Lesser Understood Condition.
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2020, 04:06:00 PM »
https://youtu.be/StKfxLA2BKk

I thought you may like this Goaty.

Found it today.

Chris


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