Blossoming & Thriving as an Aspie woman!
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a complex developmental and neurological condition that typically appears during the first 3 years of life. This disorder is characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, and repetitive behaviors. https://www.autismspeaks.org/news/news-item/cdc-update-autism-shows-gap-between-early-concerns-and-evaluation. It is classified as a disorder because the challenges in these areas makes it difficult for the child or adult to cope in a society with rules and expectations. Some children are non-verbal and that makes it more difficult for the parents and caregivers. From the perspective of the person with ASD, social norms are confusing and conflicting in many ways and the sensory overload is very stressful and causes anxiety. The technological advances today have given a voice to these children and adults to communicate more effectively.
History of Autism
According to the American Psychological Association, the term autism was first coined by Swiss psychiatrist, Paul Eugen Bleuler in 1908. It comes from root word “autos” which means “Self”, combined with Greek suffix “ismos” which means “action or state of being”. Absorbed in oneself or withdrawn within oneself. In the 1940s upon further research, Hans Asperger found a set of children different from the ones studied by Leo Kanner, who exhibited a slightly different pattern. The pattern included "a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversation, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements." Asperger called children with AS "little professors" because of their ability to talk about their favorite subject in great detail. This was then called Aspergers Syndrome in 1960s. DSM-IV in 2013 was revised to include Asperger's Syndrome under the same umbrella.
About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder. (CDC, 2014). Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 59 births. (CDC, 2018) versus 1 in 2500 about 40 years ago. Comparing boys versus girls it is estimated to be 1 in 42 in boys versus 1 in 189 in girls. However, Dr. Tony Attwood, a clinical psychologist has done a lot of work with Autism/Asperger’s syndrome and claims from his experience that the ratio of boys to girls is not 4:1 but more like 2:1. Girls fall under the invisible end of the spectrum because they fly under the radar for diagnosis and have learned to cope on their own by several techniques. They tend to camouflage themselves in any group to fit in. With this increase in diagnosis there is also an increase in awareness for accommodating those with special needs and this gives an opportunity for caregivers to show more patience and compassion.
There is a lot of speculation about the causes such as genetics, advanced age of the mother, exposure to certain drugs or chemicals during pregnancy or vaccines but there is no significant evidence to support these claims.
Characteristics of Austim
The characteristics are very similar in both Autism and Aspergers syndrome with a few significant differences which puts Aspergers on the high functioning end as shown in the picture below.
In this blog website, as a late diagnosed woman on the spectrum, I wish to share some of my own experiences since childhood, challenges faced and overcome and possibility of understanding what it means to be on the spectrum and approach it with a positive attitude. Not necessarily to change anything, but to have the skills to thrive in a predominantly neurotypical world. Knowing the differences makes a huge difference in how we function in this world. My first few blogs will be sharing my own journey. In the future I hope to share more insights into our mind's workings and how to use it to its full potential. Acceptance of the differences is a key to co-existence among all in society. My take on this subject as a person with Aspergers is not treating it like a disorder, but a difference to be embraced for growth to take place. Neurotypical wiring exhibits a mentality of conformity, whereas Autistic wiring leans toward independent thinking. Both have their place depending on what one chooses to prioritize in one's life. So if someone is focused on a passion, social needs are minimum.