'Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength' ~ Charles H. Spurgeon
In my constant quest to find out what the hell is wrong with me, I've stumbled onto a significant find. I first learned of Asperger's Syndrome while in Second Life, a virtual reality environment that is free on the internet. Come to find out, one of the more popular employee's of Second Life, Torley Linden, has it. When I heard of this, I checked it out on the internet, where I found many similarities between my personal experiences and issues, and the symptoms of this condition.
It is my strongly held belief that many, if not most, homeless people have this condition. I urge everyone who works with the homeless to familiarize yourselves with the symptoms of Aspergers, and follow through with support that will properly address it.
You can read about Asperger's at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome
From that website, I will list here the particular issues I have in common with this condition. The following paragraph has been enlightening as well as disheartening. It's good to know what my issue is, it is very disappointing to know that a cure is not possible. I've been depressed the past few weeks after reading this. Acceptance is slow in coming.
The exact cause is unknown, although research supports the likelihood of a genetic basis; brain imaging techniques have not identified a clear common pathology. There is no single treatment, and the effectiveness of particular interventions is supported by only limited data. Intervention is aimed at improving symptoms and function. The mainstay of management is behavioral therapy, focusing on specific deficits to address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness. Most individuals improve over time, but difficulties with communication, social adjustment and independent living continue into adulthood. Some researchers and people with Asperger's have advocated a shift in attitudes toward the view that it is a difference, rather than a disability that must be treated or cured.
Do I have problems with communication? YES
Do I have problems with social adjustment? YES
Do I have problems with independent living? YES
And anyone who has known me for a length of time will agree. Evidence of this is plentiful.
There are other symptoms as well. I don't have every single symptom, but then no one with Asperger's does. It's all a matter of degree. Physical clumsiness is a characteristic. Although I don't bump into walls as I walk, I have always had a problem with physical coordination. A couple attempts at Little League baseball proved that. I didn't pursue physical activities much afterwards.
Under the heading the "characteristics" is this paragraph:
A pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger syndrome is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom. It is characterized by qualitative impairment in social interaction, by stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests, and by no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language. Intense preoccupation with a narrow subject, one-sided verbosity, restricted prosody, and physical clumsiness are typical of the condition, but are not required for diagnosis.
Yes, I do have a qualitative impairment in social interaction. I do have restricted patterns of behavior that are characterized over focusing on a narrow subject. I find myself involved in a single thing to the exclusion to all, or most other things, even to the point of forgetting to take care of other important issues. When I was young I was often accused by my parents of purposely avoiding certain responsibilities. My father had even hit me with a 2x4 piece of wood, thinking that such punishment would improve my memory regarding school homework. It didn't help. Still, I constantly lived with the threat of my father, as he was often fond of saying, "all he needs is a swift kick in the ass." Needless to say, my parents lack of understanding of my problems only complicated my issues. Instead of seeking help for me, they heaped on the guilt and disapproval. For this I attempted suicide several times and often wished I was dead. I also made attempts at running away from home.
Under the heading of "Social Interaction" is this paragraph:
The lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect of Asperger syndrome. Individuals with AS experience difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others (for example, showing others objects of interest), a lack of social or emotional reciprocity, and impaired nonverbal behaviors in areas such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, and gesture.YES YES YES and YES. Of all the symptoms, this is the one I have the biggest problems with.
Failure to develop friendships!!! YES Despite knowing many people I have very few "friends" and even those friendships are very "thin." I spend nearly all of my time alone. I have a very difficult time communicating with people, not that I don't want to, it's just I don't know how, and have very limited abilities to do so. Anyone who has spent any time trying to get to know me can verify this. I have done better with this in the past few years, as I have focused a lot of attention on engaging people and developing this skill. Results are still very limited.
I just found this test online http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html My score was 35. 80 percent of people who took the test, who also had Autism or Asperger's, scored 32 or above.
Click here and scroll down to find a list of other blogs by people with Aspergers http://www.embracethebitchwithin.com/home/