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October 16, 2007

October 16, 2007

Misdiagnosed

I was only diagnosed with AS this past March or April. However, as a kid I was diagnosed (well, misdiagnosed) with childhood schizophrenia. Nonetheless, at the time, there was no separate autism category. Consequently, kids who displayed autistic traits were diagnosed as having schizophrenia. (Adults with autistic traits were diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder.)

While I won’t mention the specific religion I joined, I will say that I joined a small religion which most people, at least at the time, never heard of. It was, I suspect, my lack of desire to conform, coupled with the constant bullying by my peers, which influenced my decision to join this religion. So, yes, I suppose that AS did play a substantial role. IMO, absolute certainty is an illusion. As a sociologist of religion, I have interviewed people, including those belonging to religions as diverse as the Unification Church and Sunni Islám, who claim to be absolutely certain about the correctness of their views. It is just a mind game.

Aspie-Quiz as a Kid

I just retook the Aspie-Quiz – this time while thinking of myself as a kid. As I suspected:

[Motor 2.1 Below average; Perception 9.3 Above average; Aspie talent 9.3 Above average; Neurotypical talent 1.8 Below average; Social 0.9 Below average; Aspie instinct 9.0 Above average; Aspie communication 8.8 Above average; Neurotypical communication 1.5 Below average; Your Aspie score: 180 of 200; Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 25 of 200] [You are very likely an Aspie]

My Aspie score was significantly higher, and my NT score was significantly lower when taken as if I were a kid.

As a kid, I had trouble reading almost everyone. I would go on and on about my pet subjects oblivious of whether the other person cared. However, I am now 51 years old. Over the years, I have deliberately taught myself how to read people. At this point in my life, I think I am actually better at it than most people, but it did not come easily.

Child Psychiatrist

In the DSM-I and DSM-II, there was no separate autism category. Autism was regarded as a trait of childhood schizophrenia (if you were a child) and of schizoid personality disorder (if you were an adult). I was a child, so I was diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia. My old child psychiatrist (long retired), whom I still phone every now and then (just to see how he is doing), apologized to me years ago for the diagnosis. (He agrees that I have AS.) However, the diagnosis was actually correct – given the categories in use at that time.

Aspie-Quiz

http://www.rdos.net/eng/Aspie-quiz.php

[Motor 3.8 Average; Perception 8.7 Above average; Aspie talent 8.8 Above average; Neurotypical talent 2.3 Below average; Social 2.1 Below average; Aspie instinct 8.0 Above average; Aspie communication 7.6 Above average; Neurotypical communication 3.2 Below average; Your Aspie score: 163 of 200; Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 60 of 200] [You are very likely an Aspie]

Advantages

I have the advantage of being in a field where I am not required to have constant interactions with my peers. Additionally, half of my course load is online (through distance learning). I am also fine in more formal interactions (including with my students). My greater difficulties are with the informal ones. Nonetheless, I have been at this a long time. I am 51 years old and have worked hard to fit in with “NTs.” I was only diagnosed with AS back in April of this year, so this whole subject is quite new to me, too.

Dyscalculia is actually a common AS characteristic (contrary to the common stereotype that all Aspies are math geniuses). I personally received math tutoring in elementary school. Later, however, I ended up teaching social statistics to graduating university seniors (though, technically, statistics is not math).

I am a (tenured) college sociology professor (Ph.D.) with specializations in religious studies (the sociology of religion) and social theory (constructionism and poststructuralism). Currently, my career development largely consists of research, writing papers, and publishing. I was just recently diagnosed with AS after consulting a psychiatrist about an insomnia problem. Due to a roach infestation, the little devils would sometimes join me in bed.

Psychiatrists

The psychiatrist was taking a history on my situation, and I mentioned that, as a child, I was diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia (which my old child psychiatrist later rejected – but without presenting an alternative).

The new psychiatrist said that my problems appeared to a clear case of Asperger’s syndrome. (I had previously heard of the condition and immediately thought of my father but not myself.)

Kanner’s Syndrome

70% of those with Kanner’s syndrome (classical autism) are also intellectually disabled, i.e., mentally retarded. IMO, the main difference between those with Kanner’s syndrome and those with Asperger’s syndrome is the intelligence factor. I think that I appear eccentric. However, in my field (academia/being a professor), eccentricity is tolerated (even appreciated).

Father

My father (who is now 88 years old) is, IMO, an undiagnosed aspie. He used to be very controlling and emotionally abusive (especially toward me). However, I think that is because neither of us had very good social skills. Over the years, my social skills have improved (mostly through working with students), but his have not. I would even say they have gotten worse.

Mother

My mother, whom my sister believes was also a codependent, would get upset when I did not agree with her (which was frequent). It was as if she defined her worth based on whether people shared her views on issues.

Codependency Tests

Although codependency (codependence) is not an “official” diagnostic category (DSM-IV-TR), I have been reflecting on the relationship between this condition, as it is described on various websites, and Asperger’s syndrome. As best I can tell, they are almost polar opposites of one another. However, I would like to know what others think. I took two codependency tests:

http://www.okcupid.com/tests/take?testid=4586846629366070282
and
http://www.journeyofrecovery.org/st-codependence.htm

Although neither test is scientific, I still found it interesting that I scored in the absolute lowest categories in both tests. In other words, at least as far as these two tests are concerned, I am not measurably codependent at all. My guess is that most people with AS would have similar results.

Descriptions

On the one hand, I was exhilarated when my psychiatrist diagnosed me with AS. I actually did not expect a diagnosis. (I was seeing him because an infestation of roaches, some crawling onto me while I was in bed, was keeping me up.) When I began doing some reading into AS, many of the descriptions fit. My child psychiatrist had told me decades ago that his earlier diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia was incorrect. However, I then had no explanation for social awkwardness, etc. On the other hand, to borrow a phrase, a person’s life is not a lab
el. While labels may help at times to put our situations into perspective, they cannot resolve our inner struggles. That takes work.

I am becoming very comfortable with placing myself into the Asperger and Autistic social constructions. From my perspective, as a poststructuralist, constructions are language games. In other words, they are not “real” and reflect hierarchical power relationships. Nonetheless, they can be useful tools for reflection, and I often find it beneficial to place myself into various, even contradictory, constructions or narratives.

Videos

After watching two fascinating videos by this young lady (25 years old) with AS, I found I really identify with her experiences;

http://www.vimeo.com/176753
and
http://www.vimeo.com/168592

She said that she has had to practice how to respond to people in various situations. These behaviors did not come “naturally.”

Labels

Humans are neurodiverse. Neurotypical and Asperger’s Syndrome are just two of the names we humans ascribe to that diverstiy. Ultimately, however, all such labels reflect our human constructions.

New Information

I just discovered some new information. In both the DSM-I (1952) and the DSM-II (1968), autism was only included under childhood schizophrenia and schizoid personality disorder. It was not until the DSM-III (1980) that the two were distinguished. Consequently, I *was*, in effect, actually diagnosed with autism by my child psychiatrist.

I was diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia (as a child), given psychotropic drugs and electroshock (ECT) therapy. For years, I wondered what was wrong with me, why I was still socially awkward, but why I was, career-wise, doing quite well. Then, because of an insomnia problem earlier this year, I found myself seeing a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with AS and comorbid OCD. It has been the most liberating experience of my life. Suddenly, my life makes sense. I just wish it did not take until I was 51 years old.

Constructing My Own Narratives

To be honest, I would rather construct my own narratives (at least centered around the AS type) than to let someone else do it for me. IMO, we can learn from the thoughts of others, but I personally try to keep them in perspective.

Uncaring

As a child (and on to adulthood), I was continually being told by others, especially my mother, that I was selfish and didn’t care for anyone except myself. I suppose I came to believe it. I only wish I had been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome a bit earlier and that my child psychiatrist did not change my diagnosis from autism to childhood schizophrenia.

Understanding

I have AS with comorbid OCD (The AS, I believe, helped me reason my way out of my OCD.) The OCD was not only comorbid with the primary condition of AS, the AS aggravated it. Because I had limited social skills, I could not reach outside of myself for help with my obsessions and compulsions.

Conditional Priority

From my readings, OCD is more commonly found in cases of Asperger’s than vice-versa. 25% of those with AS are then diagnosed with OCD.

A Bit Dismayed

I was a bit dismayed today after reading that Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Disorders will not likely include AS and other conditions on the autism spectrum. That is probably the opposite of what many here would think. However, perhaps due to being an aspie (diagnosed), I had come to conceptualize all of my problems as lying within that spectrum (including OCD). In other words, I felt comfort in that unifying category. Now, it seems, as though the chances of it becoming a part of the new fifth edition of the DSM are rather slim.

My Family

Our neurodiversities present us with sets of predispositions. There is, however, a complex set of interactions between neurology and socialization which remains largely unclear to neurologists and psychiatrists. I have Asperger’s and OCD (both diagnosed). However, as a child I was grossly misdiagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized for a short time (at 11 years old) and given a battery of ECTs (electroconvulsive treatments). Sadly, my situation was not at all uncommon for the time (1960s).

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