6 things I wish people would know before meeting my Asperger’s husband

The Big Bang Theory may show the humorous side to the intense paranoia, struggles with empathy, sensory sensitivities and other key points of the mindset of the Asperger’s person. Yet, beyond a comedic device, the struggle is real for the neurodiverse person and their family members.

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There is a great gaping hole in the awareness of Asperger’s or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in the general population. Since my husband’s diagnosis, he has felt at a loss as to how to explain himself and the stigma of judgement is so strong that he’d rather act ‘normal’ than be open about his struggles.

Despite how much understanding could be reached by educating people on it, the Asperger’s person normally lives in their own private hell – trying to make sense of reality when the majority of people see things differently.

I wish when people meet my husband they would leave their judgements at the door, and try to not view him through their view. Perhaps these points will help.

1. Things you may not notice, do bother him.

Sounds, smells and visuals are at a different intensity for him, so sometimes he can get irritable without warning. Shopping centres are torture for him and anywhere where there are multiple conversations going on at once can be trying.

2. He thinks you’re over-analysing him, and if you say you’re not, he probably won’t believe you.

The world makes sense to him only if everyone else thinks the way he does. He’d prefer to think that everyone else has the same neurodiverse qualities; because that means the world and other people would make sense to him.

3. He has a defence mechanism that can come across as childish.

That old taunt ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ is often used by the Aspie when they feel themselves being threatened. Even with a throwaway comment taken the wrong way (and he takes a lot of things the wrong way), my husband will likely bristle and attack you back.

He’s not trying being a jerk, his mind is just like a supercomputer which has identified you as a threat.

4. He likely doesn’t believe you’re being real with him.

Because he has to ‘act’ so much, studying traits, learning to fit in when it’s so unnatural to him, he naturally assumes other people are the same. My husband often expresses that everyone is an actor. Being overly sceptical has its uses: there’s less chance of being hurt.

5. Being around you is very tiring for him.

This is because he feels he has to be ‘on’ when he’s socialising. Managing social situations comes with great difficulty. Talking to more than one person is exhausting as it takes too long to analyse how to interact with each person. So if he picks up and leaves mid-conversation: it’s not you, it’s him.

There are other things such as how he takes things literally so some humour can be lost on him. It took my husband decades to understand sarcasm and he still needs clarification.

Asperger’s syndrome is not just a punch-line in a sitcom, it’s a real way of thinking for hundreds of thousands of people. However while they are labelled diverse, most would shun that label as their way of thinking is the only way they have ever understood.

My husband has many wonderful qualities, but being with someone who thinks so differently to the typical population has unique challenges. Studies show that about 80 percent of Asperger’s partners with non-Autistic partners divorce. The number could be even higher than that considering de facto and other partnerships.

The ASD mind cannot properly understand the needs of others, when they are concentrating on making sense of this crazy world for themselves. Deemed the Cassandra phenomenon by Professor Tony Attwood, partners of the Asperger’s person are often not believed in regards to challenges with their partner (including sometimes abusive behaviour).

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, Asperger’s men are from another galaxy entirely and the sooner awareness is raised about ASD, the better the chance for the next generation to have fruitful relationships.

It is important for us to realise that there are no differences in Christ – from Romans chapter 10, verse 12 (paraphrased) – there is no difference between Jew and Gentile and Asperger’s, the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him. We are equally created in the image of God, but in a fallen world where some things go awry, people’s humanity is sometimes expressed differently. Jesus died for Aspies as much as for everyone else.




On a December morning after I dropped my 10-year-old son off at school, a Christmas song came on the radio, which triggered a future vision of my Daughter. It was of her in a wedding dress at a church full of family and friends. The church was decorated with holiday colors; red and green.

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She was beaming with love and happiness, as she stood at the top of the aisle ready to take her first step towards a new life.

My eyes suddenly filled with tears as the vision was a huge moment for me. It allowed me to see my Daughter thriving in life. I got to see a future for her, where we were no longer living day by day.

The past 8 years of Daughter’s 16 years of life we have been dealing with her mental health issues and autism. At the age of 8, while in 3rd grade Ellie was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety. At the age of 13 it was recommended that she have a Neuropsychological evaluation. She then received the diagnoses of ADHD – Inattentive Type, Major Depressive Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Along with an eating disorder – Binge Eating. This journey took us to see many different service providers, to Inpatient Hospitalization, Partial Hospitalization and to Inpatient Residential Treatment for 5 months where she celebrated her 14th birthday.

This caused me to only focus on our day to day tasks, whatever is needed to get us through the day.

I remember at one point my Husband said our “Daughter isn’t like the other kids, she struggles at school, she doesn’t listen, she doesn’t care, she doesn’t . . .” I told him, “You are right she isn’t like other kids and we need to realize that and just accept her for “Ellie”.”

I think this is when I stopped looking towards the future and setting goals for college, for life, for success outside of daily life. The reason was to protect myself from feeling disappointment and/or sadness.

She had some dark times. She pushed away her family, her friends, she hated everyone. She talked about hurting herself.

There were times I would come home worried what I might find. Slowly opening her bedroom door, calling her name. Waiting, hoping for a response.

How could I plan a future for this child, when I was just hoping for another day?

I have always told my children they can do and be anything. Thinking I am an amazing positive Mom. With my Daughter I wasn’t truly feeling it in my soul.

She wasn’t saying anything positive about herself, so I would say it for her. If I wasn’t believing it and she wasn’t believing it, of course it wouldn’t come true.

We weren’t manifesting the positive words, because we didn’t radiate the energy of confidence and in turn attract the experiences. I learned your thoughts and energy create your reality.

Fortunately, with my new knowledge, over the past 2 years I have seen a transformation in my Daughter. She is now, not just coping with mental health, she is thriving.

I know see a bright future! This doesn’t mean that she won’t experience bumps along the road, but I feel she is better equipped to handle them. Over the last 2 years we have switched from mainstream medical treatment to a holistic way of treating her mental illness. This has been the spark to change her life!

I ask you . . . what do you envision for your child? Don’t let an illness or any other situation stop YOU from seeing your child live the life they deserve. If we can’t see an abundant future for our child, they can’t see it for themselves!

Here are some suggestions of questions to ask your child, if they are in a good place and ready to answer. Listen with intention and don’t interrupt unless asked for advice or to respond.

• What are your dreams for the future?
• What do you love to do?
• How can I (we) support you?
• Tell me (us) some goals that you have for yourself?

Anything they share with you should be celebrated! Here is an example of when I asked my Daughter one of her dreams for the future . . . she told me she wanted to live and work in the City. I listened and didn’t push any further. I closed my eyes and saw a vision of her in the city with her own apartment, a huge smile on her face. This is a celebration, for a period of time she didn’t leave her room for 30 days because she was so depressed. Now she wants to live and work in the city. I didn’t ask questions about how she’s going to pay for rent, transportation, work, etc. This would have just destroyed the outlook she had towards her future.

Be the spark to ignite change, to see the future for your child! They will feel your shift and be ready to take on their future with the brightest of excitement.


Supreme Court to decide: What level of education do public schools legally owe to students with disabilities?

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday in a dispute over the level of education that public schools must provide to millions of children with disabilities, a case that advocates describe as
the most significant special-education issue to reach the high court in three decades.

The question is whether public schools owe disabled children “some” educational benefit — which courts have determined to mean just-above-trivial progress — or whether students legally deserve something more: a substantial, “meaningful” benefit.

To advocates for children with disabilities, this should not be a difficult decision. Although the Supreme Court upheld the lower standard in 1982, Congress has since amended the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The law — which outlines what states must do in return for receiving federal special-education funds — is meant not just to open the schoolhouse door to disabled children, they argue, but also to make sure that those children get an education that gives them a shot at equal opportunity, independent life and full participation in society.

That means schools must be required to provide students with a real, meaningful education, they argue. “I can’t even believe that this is really a question for the court to wrestle with,” said Gary Mayerson, a civil rights lawyer and board member of Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization.

The case to be heard Wednesday is Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, brought by the family of a boy diagnosed with autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. His conditions complicated his efforts to communicate and socialize, and that left him struggling with phobias and compulsive behaviors.

Endrew F., who goes by Drew, started attending schools in Douglas County — south of Denver — in preschool and began showing an increase in behavioral problems in the second grade, according to court records. He was yelling, crying and dropping to the floor. By fourth grade, the problems had become more frequent and severe; he was kicking walls, banging his head and bolting from the classroom. He went to the bathroom on the floor of a “calming room,” and he was able to escape from the school building and run into the street.

His parents said their son made almost no academic or social progress over that period, and they didn’t see a commitment from the district to find a solution. The goals in his Individualized Education Program (IEP) — a legally binding blueprint that laid out the services he would receive and the progress he was expected to make — hardly changed from year to year, according to court records, and there was little written evidence that he was making gains.

Drew’s parents withdrew him from public school at the end of fourth grade, in 2010, and placed him in a private school that specialized in educating children with autism. He made progress immediately, they said, achieving IEP goals in months that he had been working on for years.

It was a relief.

Drew, now 17, continues to attend the private school, his parents said, where he is learning vocational skills and preparing for life after high school.

Under federal law, Drew’s parents were entitled to seek reimbursement for the private school tuition, which approached $70,000 per year. But they had to prove that their son had been denied the “free appropriate public education” to which he had a right under federal special-education law. And to do so, they had to prove that he hadn’t been making adequate progress.

But the Douglas County School District disagreed, arguing that while Drew was not learning as quickly as his parents would have liked, he was making some progress — enough to satisfy the law.

The family lost its case before an administrative law judge in 2012. They lost again in a suit in U.S. District Court and a third time at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

“This is without question a close case,” Judge Timothy Tym­kovich wrote in his opinion for the 10th Circuit. It is clear, he continued, that Drew is thriving at the private school. “But it is not the District’s burden to pay for his placement there when Drew was making some progress under its tutelage. That is all that is required.”

The court’s endorsement of that low bar was a blow to Drew’s parents. “What is the point of the law, if it doesn’t help the child?” said his mother, Jennifer.

In their briefs to the Supreme Court, Drew and his family argued that schools should be obligated to provide children with disabilities with “substantially equal opportunities to achieve academic success, attain self-sufficiency and contribute to society.” They won the support of the Obama administration, whose Justice Department submitted an amicus brief calling on the high court to find a requirement that children have an opportunity to make “significant educational progress.”

More than 100 members of Congress also support Drew and his parents, arguing in an amicus brief that the just-above-trivial standard is “vanishingly low” and runs contrary to Congress’s intent in IDEA.

The Douglas County School District disagrees, arguing that the Supreme Court’s decision in a 1982 case, Board of Education v. Rowley, should stand. In that case, the court rejected the argument that schools owed disabled children an opportunity to maximize their potential. The justices ruled that Congress intended to ensure “some educational benefit” for children with disabilities, the standard that has been explicitly adopted by five Circuit Courts of Appeals.

“This Court answered the question presented 34 years ago,” lawyers for the school district wrote in a brief last month. “That decision was correct.”

(In Rowley, the justice also said that Congress intended to make “access meaningful” for students with disabilities, giving rise to the “meaningful” educational benefit standard that has been adopted by two circuits.)

The district’s supporters include the National School Boards Association and AASA, an association of district superintendents, which both argued that raising expectations of schools could encourage more litigation.

William E. Trachman, the district’s legal counsel, declined through a spokeswoman to discuss the facts of the case given the pending litigation.

“The District complies with every facet of federal law in making sure that students with special needs are not only provided services, but that educational experts and the student’s parents are maximally involved in the process, and that every Individualized Education Plan is personalized, holistic and ambitious,” Trachman said in a statement.



Asperger Syndrome: Why My Autism Makes You So Nervous


It all has to do with wrong-headed philosophies and misplaced expectations.


Autism: ‘hidden pool’ of undiagnosed mothers with condition emerging-term life

Experts report growing phenomenon of women recognising themselves as they research their children’s disorders

Rachel Cotton with her children Deborah (nine) and Michael (seven)

A “hidden pool” of women who have grown up with undiagnosed autism is coming to light as mothers researching their children’s spectrum disorders recognise themselves in their findings.

“There are far more undiagnosed mothers out there than we have ever thought,” said Dr Judith Gould, lead consultant and former director of the Lorna Wing Centre for Autism who developed the first and only female-specific diagnostic tests, and who trains doctors in how to recognise late adult female diagnosis.

“These women are coming to prominence now because there’s more information on autism in girls and women on the internet, so they can research their children and in doing so, diagnose themselves,” said Gould.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, founder of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University and the Class clinic, dedicated to diagnosing adults with autism, agreed: “[Undiagnosed mothers are] definitely a growing phenomenon. Putting a number on it is impossible but I’m sure it’s a big number because women seeking diagnoses of autism were likely to be dismissed until just a few years ago, because autism in females was thought to be very rare.”

The National Autistic Society estimates that there are currently about 700,000 people living with autism in the UK – more than one in every 100 of the population. About 20% of autistic people are thought to have been diagnosed as adults, although no national figures for adult diagnosis are available. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests numbers are rising: Baron-Cohen says that four years ago, 100 cases in Cambridgeshire were referred to his clinic. In the first four months of 2016 alone, it received 400 referrals.

Autism among women and girls has only started to be widely acknowledged in the past two to three years. The men to women ratio is now recognised as being between 3:1 to 2:1, although some experts believe there are just as many females with autism as there are males.

Autistic women are, however, still likely to remain undiagnosed. A survey by the National Autistic Society found that 42% of females have been misdiagnosed, compared with 30% of males, while twice as many women were undiagnosed compared with men (10% compared with 5%).

But experts are warning that these mothers risk having their children forcibly adopted in the fight to get them diagnosed and supported, as social workers misinterpret the parent’s autistic traits as indicating potential harm to the child.

“Their own autism, often undiagnosed, means they put professionals’ backs up and can be accused of causing or fabricating their children’s condition,” said Gould.

Melanie Mahjenta was accused of a rare form of child abuse, fabrication or induced illness (FII), by social services during her fight to get her three-year-old daughter diagnosed with autism.

“Rosie was made a “child in need” because for three and a half years, I kept challenging the doctors who refused to diagnose her,” said Mahjenta. “Looking back, I probably did put people’s backs up because I’m autistic. But I knew how hard life would be for Rosie if I didn’t get her the right support.

“I understand that my autism makes me a difficult person to deal with: I don’t know when to back off when I know I’m right. I can’t look people in the eye, so I come over as being shifty. Autistic people get hyper-focused but they mistook my obsession as a sign I was unstable.

New research written by Baron-Cohen, Alexa Pohl of the Autism Research Centre and Monique Blakemore of Autism Women Matter has found that one in five mothers of an autistic child, regardless of whether the mother had a diagnosis herself, has been assessed by social services. One in six of those mothers reported that their children had been forcibly placed for adoption through a court order.

“These are very worrying statistics,” said Baron-Cohen. “Whether these mothers have a formal diagnosis or not, if a lot of these mothers who have autistic children have undiagnosed autism themselves, they might struggle with communication with professionals and appear confrontational rather than diplomatic. The risk is that social services see this as a difficult mother rather than recognising her communication issues are a part of her own disability.”

Dr Catriona Stewart, founder of the Scottish Women’s Autism Network, who has studied autism for over 10 years, described “a hidden pool of women who have grown up with undiagnosed autism”.

She said: “These women can finally recognise the condition in themselves because they can use the internet to research their children’s condition, then seek a diagnosis for themselves from a world that’s finally ready to acknowledge them.”

Stewart only realised she was autistic when investigating her daughter’s autistic symptoms. When she was considering getting her daughter assessed for autism, she was advised by “a friend who is both a very experienced clinical psychologist within the Child And Adolescent Mental Health Services system and the mother of an Asperger’s boy” that Stewart herself should get a private diagnosis.

Rachel Cotton with her children Deborah (nine) and Michael (seven)
‘My children know it’s natural to feel what they feel’ says Rachel Cotton. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

“She said to not go through the NHS if I could avoid it and that I needed to be warned: because I was the only other adult in my daughter’s life who recognised she had issues, people would see me as being the problem,” said Stewart.

“Some of us working in this field are becoming increasingly aware and increasingly concerned about the numbers of autistic women whose attempts to get help for their children and themselves are greeted with hostility, combativeness and ultimately in some cases, the removal of their children,” she added.

“The assumption is that being autistic for a mother instantly raises concerns as to the welfare of the child,” she said. “But there is no evidence to support that idea. They express the ability to demonstrate empathy, affection, responsibility, love for their children as you would expect any other mother to do. To me, this is a human rights issue.”

Rachel Cotton, 45, only discovered she had autism when researching her daughter’s symptoms five years ago. She believes her condition makes her a better mother.

“My condition enables me to help my children develop a joyful version of autism rather than the negative one that leads to adult depression and alcoholism,” she said. “Because I have autism, my children know it’s natural to feel what they feel. My children can ask me if my brain does this and that, and I can explain my brain does but other people’s don’t.”

A spokesperson from Cafcass, the body which represents children in family court cases, said the decision to take a child into care, including adoption, requires a local authority to prove to the court that a child is suffering, or is at risk of suffering, significant harm.

“Such decisions are not made lightly,” she said. “They are informed by assessments carried out by local authority children’s services and Cafcass, drawing on work with the child, parents and any professionals involved with the child. This helps determine how the child can be kept safe and what is in their best interests.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Children are referred to social services only where there is concern for their welfare and there are clear guidelines in place to help professionals identify families who may be in need of support.

“Assessment should build upon the history of every individual case, responding to the impact of any previous services and analysing what further action might be needed,” she added.




Teen applies for college, then learns he’s been a “missing person” for the last 13 years


When he was just 5-years-old, Julian Hernandez was taken away from his mother in Alabama. Back in 2002, his mother reported him missing, but the search ended up in vain. She suspected that his father, Bobby Hernandez, took him as part of a noncustodial parental abduction, but he vanished as well.

It was apparent that Hernandez abducted his son during a custody dispute, but because he went under the radar (meaning he drained all previous bank accounts and leaving no traces), it was impossible to find him.

Source: Youtube Screenshot

It took 13 years for the police department to finally find a lead on little Julian Hernandez.

The incredible story unraveled when the 18-year-old boy was applying to college.

While trying to apply to college, Julian found out that his social security number did not match his name. Confused, Julian went to his counselor for help. She ran a background check on Hernandez and discovered that he was listed as a missing person by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Source: Youtube Screenshot

Local authorities were then notified and an investigation was done.

After months of investigation, it was confirmed that Julian Hernandez has been found.

The father, Bobby Hernandez, has since been charged with tampering with records. Officials say he will be extradited back to Alabama to face additional charges, which may include interfering with custody, a felony that carries imprisonment of up to 10 years.


Since finally locating Julian, his mother has been notified, and she is overwhelmed with happiness.

The family released a statement saying, “Our family was overjoyed this week to locate Julian and learn that he is safe. We want to thank everyone for their prayers and support during Julian’s disappearance.”

Such a scary experience for any mother to go through. For over a decade, her son was missing, but eventually he was found. This story should serve as a reminder to others who are searching for missing children to never give up hope. We should always be patient and hope for the best.

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Please Don’t Question If My Daughter Really Has Autism-Term Life

I’ve seen the looks.

I’ve heard the whispers.

Nobody actually says it to my face, but I see them wonder. “Are you sure she has autism?”

People have a narrow view of autism. They seem to think they would be able to spot a child with autism a mile away. They envision a nonverbal child lining up his cars. They envision a child who can recite statistics about Mars.

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But that isn’t the reality of my child. That isn’t the experience in my house.

My child will greet you. She will say hello and make eye contact. She can be quite social and has no trouble answering your question of, “How are you today?” with a response of “fine.”

But she may not be feeling “fine.” It takes effort to muster up that response. She would likely much rather be in her room with her headphones on and her heavy blankets. When you are asking her how she is, her brain may be latching onto sounds and it can take effort to quiet them in her head. The feeling of the seam on her sock may start to send an overwhelming sensation pulsing up her body, causing her skin to itch and tingle. The lights in the room may seem too bright, making her head pound. But while all of that is going on in her body, she manages to look you in the eye and muster the words “I’m fine.”

So how does she do it?

Autism in girls like my daughter can look quite unique. She has distinct instincts, so she learns to model and copy. But children with autism can have difficulty transferring information from one situation to another. She comes to learn her friend Jane thinks it’s funny when she says a certain phrase, and she may expect everyone to think it’s funny. So when Suzy starts to get upset by the same thing, the world becomes a confusing place.

The strain and stress of holding it together can become a huge weight to bear. It can become too much to contain. It needs a release. It needs an outlet. This can be where aggressive, demanding or oppositional behaviors come out or at least that’s how it appears to the outside eye. The reality is that underneath is likely confusion and isolation and anxiety.

Autism is a spectrum. It is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis. While the spectrum includes some general traits, those traits do not present themselves the same way in all individuals. So people will wonder and whisper and question our diagnosis.

I won’t carry around my assessment papers to prove to the skeptics that my daughter has autism. I shouldn’t have to. There should be less judging and more acceptance. There should be less questioning. So please don’t question if my daughter really has autism. Trust that she does. Trust that she is working hard to find her place in a world that can often be difficult to understand.



What It’s Like To Live With Asperger’s Syndrome; neuropsychologist views

When I was diagnosed after my testing, my neuropsychologist said I had textbook Asperger’s. She pointed out the following traits as examples.


  • Extreme social awkwardness.  I take things literally & at face value unless I consciously focus on observing for signs of subtext. For example, yesterday my dog’s vet asked if my blue hair was natural. Without thinking I responded no, but my dark roots were… of course, 1 nanosecond later I realized he HAD to have been joking- cue the wave of embarrassment!! I avoid unstructured social situations whenever possible and have serious difficulty making friends or relating to people in person. I do not spontaneously share my interests with my coworkers and prefer to be left alone to my own devices as much as possible while working. I also sometimes have trouble with auditory processing and hear English sentences as mere sounds; movies are best watched with subtitles for this reason.
  • A love of knowledge, facts, lists (hehe), & objective data.  I’ve collected binders of information since I was a child, and I recall once spending my hard-earned class points on an enormous complete, unabridged English dictionary in 3rd grade. I would read encyclopedias and product labels for fun, especially when my parents grounded me from reading books as punishment for my frequent rebellion.
  • Narrow, obsessive interests.  For me this is genetics, animals and their behavior/psychology, human sexuality, speed & efficiency/time management, and matters of social justice. If I contract a disease or medical condition, I pore over all of the credible information I can possibly find on it. And before I purchased one of my first house bunnies, a mini lop named Pixie, I read 7 or 8 books and a plethora of websites on raising house rabbits to ensure I could give her the best life possible. I can also spend several hours on a single task I find interesting without a break; some Aspies are known to get so highly absorbed in their projects they need to be reminded to eat!
  • Enjoyment of routine.  I take the exact same route to and from work, and clock in/out at the exact same time. (If traffic delays me a minute or two, I feel far more stressed than is logical.) I also plan ahead my workday and break up time into chunks assigned to completing certain tasks. If my time allotment is intruded upon by a chatty stranger, I have to stifle very strong feelings of anger and annoyance.
  • Penchant for self-soothing, repetitive behavior.  This one’s one of weirdest quirks, but I have satin-lined baby blankets from my childhood that I physically manipulate to calm myself down. This could include scratching the satin, tying knots in its strings and rubbing them against my fingers or upper lip, or spraying it with good smells and covering my face with it. I also jiggle my right foot constantly and have mild restless legs syndrome at night.
  • Over-sensitivity If someone suddenly yells loudly right behind me, as is wont to happen at a pep rally for example, it literally feels like someone jabbed a needle of sound into my eardrum. It HURTS, and I have to suppress a disturbingly violent urge to retaliate to the perceived attack. On some days when I feel especially drained, voices are so stimulating and exhausting to process that even the sound of fiancé’s voice irks me. (To prevent damaging our relationship, I warn him to leave me alone in advance when I start feeling like this. Zoloft helps somewhat.)
  • Sensory cross-wiring.  Some ASD people experience forms of synesthesia, so they might read numbers as colors, “see” music, or have words provoke entirely unrelated mental images. I have a mild degree of this. I enjoy repeating certain words I read outloud quietly to myself because I can almost “taste” them and like the way they feel in my mouth. In childhood, a friend once caught me softly repeating the word “cake” and when I couldn’t explain myself I felt very embarrassed. I also involuntarily associate certain words with images completely unrelated to their meaning. I theorize this is due to the fact that autistic brains have more neural connections (and often in inappropriate places) than neurotypical folks.
  • Generalized lack of coordination & strange posture/gaits.  I have very little proprioception, so I have a hard time telling where my body is in 3D space. Learning dance moves is extremely hard, which is a shame because I find dancing beautiful and a great stress outlet. My fiancé has had a difficult time teaching me correct postural form at the gym too. I also speed-walk everywhere I go while keeping my eyes tunnel-visioned directly towards my goal, a mannerism I know baffles my coworkers. (The doctors sure do appreciate my speed, though!)
  • Extreme stubbornness and insistence on routine.  I’m not comfortable eating in public, and I employ various rituals at meals to ensure a maximally satisfying culinary experience. I can be illogically inflexible sometimes since control and routine make me feel safe, but since I am lower on the spectrum, I am self-aware of this and can consciously work to combat it after the initial rush of “NO!!” feelings subside. I am also very, very strong-willed and persistent once I decide something is worth my time, with an obsessive, single-minded focus on my goal.

EDIT:  I’ve thought of a few more stereotypical personality traits, although not all of them apply to every aspie of course :]

  • Indifference toward authority.  My teachers both loved and hated me since I was simultaneously studious and subversive. I relished correcting errors with (cringeworthy) characteristic Aspie bluntness, fulfilled in the knowledge I was objectively improving the accuracy of our notes; the trifling detail of the speaker’s status was irrelevant to the pursuit of objective truth, obviously the greater issue at hand! If I judged the status quo deserving of correction, I used to boldly say so immediately no matter who my audience. (I did eventually learn to discern when self-preservation mandated holding my tongue.) My authoritarian father frequently grounded me from reading and electronics for “insolence” and “disrespect,” so I dabbled in light hacking to disable his imposed time-limiting/monitoring software. I developed a strong rebellious streak, especially against perceived tyranny or abuse of power, which leads me to →
  • A strong sense of justice, penchant for honesty, and unwavering loyalty. I’ve stood up for the “underdog” since the first day of kindergarten recess and am easily incensed by needless pain at the hands of others. After multiple liberal arts and social justice classes in college, I became passionately socially liberal, at odds with my Fundamentalist Christian family (but what else is new?)! The way this Aspie sees it, I could have just as easily have been born in anyone else’s place on this planet, so doesn’t it just make sense to at least attempt to understand others whilst advocating for their fair treatment as much as my own? I abhor the “might makes right” mentality as particularly odious and have even gone so far as to remove such subscribers from my life if possible. (I’m sure you can estimate my level of antipathy for such brash, bullying types as Trump!)
  • Tendency for anxiety.  I have social phobia during most face-to-face interactions with anyone not in my inner circle. (I will say Zoloft makes it noticeably easier to cope, but I still do not seek new interactions out often.) And due to the aforementioned hyper-sensitivities combined with this social anxiety, many Aspies live their public lives perpetually uncomfortable due to the combination of unpleasant stimuli, interpersonal fears, and the expectation to “act normal.” Unfortunately, this can influence some people on the spectrum to “snap” at others or develop a reputation for getting easily frustrated; I was particularly notorious for this during childhood, but learned coping skills with age and education.
  • A deep love for animals.  From my earliest memory, I have held an intense fascination with our fellow multicellular lifeforms. I became known as the “animal expert” among classmates, and even today randomly resort to reciting zoological facts during conversational lulls. It’s been suggested Aspies prefer the company of animals because they are easier to understand, and it’s certainly possible. There are few things more fulfilling in my life than understanding an animal’s mind, bringing it joy, and witnessing the manifestation of their reciprocated love in their native “language!”
  • Constant mental preoccupation and over-analysis of recent ideas and actions . My thoughts are numerous, abstract, and lightening-quick since they don’t have to be in words/“spoken internally” as some NTs prefer, so while I am verbally consulting a coworker I may also be flipping between actively monitoring my body language/expressions to ensure they fall within the expected range, extracting lessons from a previously committed faux pas, and listening to a song on repeat in the “background”, so to speak. As such I am often told I tend to “live in my head,” and it’s true the majority of my energy is directed internally. Being 100% present in the physical world takes willful effort, although I now know when it’s most appropriate to try hardest. For me, this preoccupation arises from a compulsive desire to understand as much about my interests as possible— ranging all the way from myopic details to the broader perspective— so I am constantly chewing on some interesting idea or another and analyzing it from new angles. I have heard it said many Aspies demonstrate advanced mental maturity despite relative emotional immaturity, and this habit seems a possible contributor.

Of course, people with Asperger’s technically fall along the Autism Spectrum*, so the degree with which ASD people exhibit these symptoms is highly varied! Many have learned coping mechanisms with age as well that mask or alleviate the severity of their internal discomfort, such that some people can’t even tell they’re on the spectrum.

Neurotypicals may also experience a sprinkling of these personality traits without necessarily qualifying for spectrum placement. I believe it is the intensity with which you express the aforementioned qualities that is most definitive, and I recommend consulting a licensed professional neuropsychologist for testing and possible diagnosis if you think you may qualify.

*Please note the original difference between Asperger’s and Autism was that Autism is associated with language delay and potential mental retardation while high functioning Asperger’s usually isn’t. Quite the opposite; many Aspies are recognized as “gifted/talented” in school and tend to (although not always) score highly on IQ & standardized tests. A large percentage of Aspies are verbosely loquacious while others such as myself voracious readers, and unlike those with severe Autism, the basic desire for human connection remains despite a considerable handicap in expressing it.



These Earbuds Give You Superhuman Hearing — And Could Treat Autism & PTSD

Sometimes, products are good for a whole lot more than it seems at first.

When I first tried the Doppler Labs Here Active Listening earbuds, they were presented to me as a way to make live music more interesting. The tiny, wireless earbuds essentially suck up the sounds of the outside world and manipulate them before allowing them to pass through to users’ eardrums. An accompanying app allows users to add fun effects to sounds, with filters going by names such as “Psychadelic,” “8-Track”, and “Carnegie Hall.”

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That’s all fun enough, but after playing with Here Active Listenings a bit, I soon realized that these things were potentially far more interesting than they first seemed, with applications that go far beyond making concerts trippier. The key here is that these earbuds have the ability to turn the volume of the outside world up or down. This allows them to act as either a spy-gadget type device that endows users with super-powered hearing, or a discreet noise-cancelling earpiece for dimming dins.

More impressively, they give users the ability to specifically tune which frequencies they actually hear, with the app allowing users to turn some frequencies up and others down. For most people, this is a kinda neat trick, but if you have an Auditory Processing Disorder (or APD), where certain types of sounds might come off as either uncomfortably loud or impossible-to-hear quiet, this is a game-changer that I believe could have a real impact on real lives.

Lets put it this way: If you have an APD, the sounds of the outside world that most people are able to shrug off can be downright overwhelming to the point where leaving a very quiet space is physically and emotionally painful. If you’ve ever seen an autistic kid (autism comes with a very high instance of APD) out in public with giant noise-blocking headphones on, this is what they are fighting against. The Here Active Listenings are portable, discreet, and offer control over what sounds are filtered out, potentially allowing people with APDs to compensate for whatever frequencies their specific condition happens to mute or amplify. 



seventeen Words My Autism Son Can Say…..

his is a post by Kimberlee Rutan McCafferty, mother to two sons on the autism spectrum and an Autism Family Partner at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Kim is also the author of a blog about her two children with autism, 

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“Come here Justin,” I say quietly. And as always, my towel-clad boy obeys, happily sliding into my lap for his post-bath cuddle.  We have a routine for our bed-time ritual that we adhere to religiously, and I can tell my son enjoys the familiarity, smiling at each step in our path to bed.  Tonight however I’ve decided to deviate just slightly from our norm, as I want to try something different within our usual arsenal of me saying the coveted nineteen words he’s so recently acquired, then waiting eagerly for his response.

Tonight I simply hold up the word list, and wait.

He looks at my mouth curiously, waiting for those hard-won words to spill forth, but for once I just point at the list. Justin regards my outstretched finger for a good thirty seconds, then I swear I see a slight grin slide across his face as I listen in amazement.








Ten years ago we were told if he didn’t speak by the age of seven he probably never would.

We heard his first coherent utterances at ten.

He takes a deep breath and shifts slightly on my lap, then forges on.







Ten years ago we were told there was a good chance he’d never read.

We watched him master his first sight words at three.

Justin seems to gear himself up for his finale, not the slightest bit daunted by the fact he’s facing new words he’s just learned this week.

“Bed” (a favorite)






I can feel his focus shift as his eyes slide away from the paper I’m clutching. As I balance my boy I sense the display of his newfound skill is over, and I see him eyeing his toothbrush as he scoots off my lap.  It’s a momentous moment this, one I want to savor as I think of all the “can’ts” and “nevers” I was told or read about a decade ago, many that sent me hurtling toward despair.  Justin may never have conversational language, may never even use a technological device to solicit more than his basic wants and needs.

But no matter what, he has this.  He can read to his mama out loud.

And I have a reminder to always push him to be his best self.