Q and A Tuesday: Aspergers, the autism spectrum and obsessive interests

Three questions from two parents this time on a single topic: The autism spectrum and obsessive interests. These questions were about a child and teen, but this is a topic that can be relevant for any age…so let’s do it. Let’s Q and A this business.

Q: As kids get older is it common for obsessions to sometimes be more socially inappropriate? We have sort of worked this out but it got me thinking about them and what adults with Aspergers might think about finding a balance.

Yes! It is very common for obsessions to sometimes be perceived as more socially inappropriate as the years go by. Not that they are inappropriate, they can just be perceived as such.

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The Elsewhere Condition (ASD, Aspergers and Depression)

This is part 5 of an ongoing series that examines the interplay between Autism Spectrum Disorder, Aspergers and depression. Other posts have offered a breakdown of how to both detect and distinguish co-morbid conditions like depression (part 2 in particular, which focuses on how depression can “hide” behind autistic traits; all other links can be found below). This time around, I wanted to take a different approach and offer impressions that are more subjective in nature.

Part 6 will conclude this series with a look at coping strategies.

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An Experiment Uncontrolled: self-medicating and the autism spectrum

I.

I started drinking alcohol in college. One of my friends, he had a frat guy roommate and these parties would spring up around us on a regular basis. My friend and I, we’d be sitting there at his place watching old VHS bootlegs of Doctor Who. Then we’d hear cars pull in to the driveway. We’d hop up, frantic, immediately switch the television to ESPN, try to mask our nerdiness. Humans would proceed to file in. Frat guys, sorority girls, dozens of them. And that was it for the rest of the night, just drinking, drinking.

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#My Writing Process Blog Hop (Autism Spectrum Books)

There is an autism blog hop going around focused on the process of writing and current projects. The inimitable S. R. Salas was kind enough to tag me and send these questions my way. You can click here to check out her post and responses. She has previously written a terrific book about life and family on the spectrum, and has a 2nd book in the works, so it’s great reading her insights on these topics.

Writing and the autism spectrum: here are the questions, my responses.

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sketching roots: the grandfather situation (autism spectrum stories)

I was encouraged to make“people-sketches” as a way of connecting my thoughts and experiences together. This all came about when I was asked to consider whether any other members of my family are on the autism spectrum; it then developed into a broader thought experiment: words as sense of the world; words as connection to others.  As for the family/spectrum question, “I don’t know” is the honest answer. I’m never comfortable retroactively applying concepts like that. For me, memory resists the intrusion of labels, making “sketches” a preferable alternative.

Memories; no particular order. Thought experiment: in progress.

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How to be an Autism Snake Oil Salesman! (Identifying “cure” frauds)

On the Invisible Strings Facebook page, I’ve poked fun at the numerous studies finding all sorts of different “causes” for autism. (Click here for a recent example.) It’s left-handed moms! No, it’s curly-headed dads! It’s, um…ladybugs? The downside to all of this info-clutter and misinformation: snake oil salesmen have been able to run wild. I’ve seen more phony cures lately than I can count. In all of the confusion and junk science, frauds have lept into the fray to make money off of vulnerable families.

So…I made a little video: “How to be an Autism Snake Oil Salesman.” This includes the 4 traits to look for when identifying medical frauds.

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The Mind and the Mortar (sensory issues and the autism spectrum)

It’s odd that we change. Years pass, memories of different selves accrue. I think the mind can have a difficult time reconciling those different selves with their varied, contradictory shapes.

I remember having a much stronger sensory awareness when I was a kid. My nose would haunt me, for example. I would smell something unpleasant, and a sense of unease would settle over me for days. I’d grow moody about it, troubled. Sometimes, for reasons I didn’t understand at the time, I would lash out at others well after the triggering scent.

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Q and A Tuesday: childhood depression + adult autism spectrum diagnoses

Two very different questions from readers this time. One about a situation involving childhood depression. The other about determining when adults should seek an ASD diagnosis. Thanks to everyone for their questions, it gives all of us a way to discuss and think about these challenging issues; it is much appreciated.

The questions:

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Lost in the Lint Filter (stories from the autism spectrum)

I’ve always had a difficult time calibrating my social needs.

I have social needs…I’ve just never been able to pin down what they are, how they work. What happens is that I tend to isolate a lot, until the loneliness gauge goes deep into the red. Then I throw myself into the world, seeking interactions…at which point I pinball around erratically, guided by the random interference of external forces more than any internal sense of direction.

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