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PDD, Asperger, and Geek Syndrome?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the with-complex-wetware-go-complex-problems dept.


brainWaves asks "Recently I found out I have some Pervasive Developmental Disorders, especially Asperger disorder or a 'PDD-Not Otherwise Specified' (PDD-NOS). Doing some research on the web pointed me to some Wired pages, like the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ (where I scored 35, average being about 16). At the end of the test, there is a link to a 6 pages article entitled The Geek Syndrome which basically discusses the Asperger Syndrome, relating it to geeks. The article is somewhat old, but in a recent news, autism in California has increased 100%. Do 'geeks' have a higher tendency toward conditions like PDD/Asperger? I saw a lot of me in the Wired article, and was wondering if others on Slashdot have the same problem in their life, or if they have been diagnosed with a PDD?" Note that Asperger Syndrome is not the same as ADHD but methods useful for coping with one may be useful in coping with the other. Also, please don't take an internet test seriously when attempting to diagnose any kind of mental instability. Instead, if you are worried about such results, share them with your family doctor.

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Frist Pist? (-1)

scumbucket (680352) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257416)

I was at the market this morning, shopping for midgets. I like buying midgets because theyâ(TM)re so cheap. At the market you pay by the inch, so a three-foot midget is half the price of a six-foot person. When all theyâ(TM)re doing is housework and cleaning, you donâ(TM)t need the extra three feet. The dealers give me a discount because nobody else wants midgets, and when I buy in bulk they shave a few percent off the top. Itâ(TM)s a good deal.

Now, midgets are not quite as good at some things as regular-height people. Sooner or later, your midget workforce will encounter a job meant for taller men. With a little creative thinking, though, you can maximize your midget potential. Field work seems impossible, until you give them bigger scythes to reach the tall vegetables. Scrubbing the roof? Forget about it... unless you install midget trampolines to let them reach the roof. Getting back down I havenâ(TM)t figured out yet, but thatâ(TM)s OK because midgets are cheap. Playing basketball is tricky. Stacking midgets solves this nicely though: a two-midget high tower can compete with anyone, and a three-midget version, with the right well-balanced midgets, can be a nine-foot-tall rebounding force on the court.

All of this was in the back of my mind as I haggled with the midget dealer. We eventually settled on forty dollars for ten midgets, with two thrown in free if I paid cash. How could I say no to a deal like that? So I paid my money and headed for the car, an even dozen midgets waddling comically after me. With two more midgets than Iâ(TM)d been anticipating, maybe tonight would be midget-boxing night. Or maybe midget-baiting. Or maybe even both; the night was young, and I was ready for excitement.

Took that a while back (3, Interesting)

revmoo (652952) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257459)

My roomates and I took that test in Wired a while back(I have a subscription). They scored between 20-25, I scored a 32.

I think the test can help show autistic people(or those with asperger's syndrome), but I think it shows too many false positives. I'm a relatively social person, I live a pretty normal life, I'm just known as 'the geek' in my circle of friends.

Re:Took that a while back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6257546)

I'm just known as 'the geek' in my circle of friends

You need more that 1 person to form a circle.

Re:Took that a while back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6257858)

You need fewer than one major spelling error to form a humorous reply.

Re:Took that a while back (5, Interesting)

KiwiRed (598427) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259458)

There's an alternate use for the test, that came to light in discussion with others on the autistic spectrum (I have Aspergers myself).

Basically go through the test, and count how many questions you can't answer because they're so ambiguously worded, offer personally inappropriate questions, or lack suitable choices. The higher the total, the more literal, pendatic, or just plain difficult you are. (Hmmm, maybe even autistic!)

For example, Question 2 - I prefer to do things the same way over and over again. What kind of things? There are things i enjoy that i do the same way each time... Others i do differently each time. (Both ways intentionally)

Or Question 9 - I am fascinated by dates. Dates? The dried fruit? Pre-mating social rituals? Or those things on the calendar?

Question 13 - I would rather go to a library than to a party. Um, what if i don't like libraries or parties? (And what kind of library? What time of day - ie, how busy/crowded/noisy is it? What kind of party? Tupperware party? Aromatherapy party? Dinner party?)

Question 16 - I tend to have very strong interests, which I get upset about if I can't pursue. If someone loves, say, Baseball. Or Gridiron and the Superbowl. Or some traditionally non-geeky or social activity... Is that as valid as, say, a fascination with (and encyclopedic knowledge of) doorknobs? (as an example...)

Ok, my post is slightly tongue-in-cheek, but my point is that often autistics use very precise language, and any test that indicates it's designed to detect autistic inclinations (for lack of a better word) should be very precisely (and specifically) worded. And without the cultural bias or preconceptions in this test. (Question 24, for example. I don't like the museum *or* the theatre, but there's not 'None of the above' entry, so that any answer i make will be wrong, and skew my results)

Why am i making such a fuss about this? Why, because i'm autistic myself, and dislike such crass inaccuracies...

What's the opposite of Aspegers? (1)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259702)

I scored a 10. A freakin' TEN! I know I'm a geek. I'm sure of it! But a ten is not something geeks should be getting. I was hoping for a little bit of Aspegers just so I could explain and excuse some of my behavior, but it can't!

Re:What's the opposite of Aspegers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6262765)

You could be delusional.

What I mean by that is, it may very well seem to you that you are empathic, read people, act appropriately, etc.

You may have never had anyone tell you the truth?

Re:Took that a while back (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259915)

I was thinking the exact same thing. I was reading the questions thinking the more autistic you are the the harder it would be to answer some of those things.

I got a 35 and consider myself on the normal side of geek, not really even a very good geek.

I think it is a crappy test. It seems to weight the slightly agree desagree as much as the strongly. But O well.

Re:Took that a while back (1)

robslimo (587196) | more than 10 years ago | (#6262766)

I scored 24.

1 I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own.
Strongly disagree. I can get along royally with damn near anyone, until I have to start working closely with someone on a mentally intensive project.

11 I find social situations easy.
What social situations? Some, yes. Others, no. Being kind of shy, I'm uncomfortable with strangers, but I can be the life of the party with a small group of friends.

17 I enjoy social chitchat.
Strongly agree.

22 I find it hard to make new friends.
Hmm. I hardly ever try to make new friends. Don't really want them. If someone's making an effort to befriend me, I won't run them off. Just don't count on me to keep the friendship active.

38 I am good at social chitchat.
Very. With my friends, family and co-workers, even strangers (but only if the stranger starts the chitchat).

44 I enjoy social occasions.
Um, sure. I guess there are a lot of social situations I might not like, but I don't bother to attend. I feel very uncomfortable when I'm out of my depth... in a group of total strangers or a topical gathering about which I'm unfamiliar and without some familar anchor (wife, close friend, etc).

46 New situations make me anxious.
Way too vague. Like the first time I travelled out to Europe? To Korea? to China? Yes. Maybe I'm being obtuse, but anything (like the above) that I can think of as a 'new situation' causes at least some anxiety in everyone.

47 I enjoy meeting new people.
Very similar to Q22, the test is stacking the statistical deck here. Does it bother me to meet new people? Often a little self-conscious anxiety. I just don't often seek the company of others, so maybe I don't enjoy it.

48 I am a good diplomat.
Yes! OK, I'm shy and don't really care to hang out with people outside my family. But I often understand people and their viewpoints. I can and often do get along very well with people... even though I may not care to. And no, that doesn't just mean I'm two-faced.

I'm pretty sure this quizz could be useful in developing some sort of a phsych profile, but diagnosing AS? Maybe only in extreme cases. I think the questions need to be re-thought.

WTF? (3, Funny)

legLess (127550) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257575)

Note that Asperger Syndrome is not the same as ADHD but methods useful for coping with one may be useful in coping with the other. Also, please don't take an internet test seriously when attempting to diagnose any kind of mental instability. Instead, if you are worried about such results, share them with your family doctor.
Am I hallucinating, or is this a /. editor practicing something resembling responsbile journalism? Jesus, Cliff, get with the program!

Re:WTF? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257936)

Cliff can't last long. He does his job as well as he can, with at least a modicum of professionalism. I don't think he's ever hijacked a website, nor told a user of /. to 'get a life'. He also has some non-editors on his friends list, and has been known to participate in various journals. I'm sure he's the pariah of the /. ruling junta.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6258746)

Yeah. Cliff is cool in my book. Unlike that asshat michael.

Tounge in cheek (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 10 years ago | (#6293409)

Whether you want to believe it or not a good proportion of Slashdot users really DO need to "get a life". This IS just a website after all but the way some folks get so worked up over it you would think they were in some sort of company meeting that was deciding arbitrarily the fate of their employment.

Then again if most Slashdot users are geeks and most geeks have some form of autism it would really explain their inability to just "let go" of an issue and not argue it into the ground.

Asperger's Syndrome (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6257576)

I just took the test and scored 40 - yes I know that this is only a simple test etc etc however it does not surprise me as every test of that nature I take gives similar results.

I believe that I have "Asperger's" which is a conclusion I came to this year after it was reported on in the press prompting me to carry out my own research - yes I am very aware of the self diagnosis thing, however it was one of those things that just explained everything. My directness (rudeness), my obsession with computers which I have had since childhood (my childhood memories include a lot of "FOR $%@%$'s SAKE WILL YOU STFU ABOUT COMPUTERS!!"). .. and so on. I was always abysmally bad as reading social situations, and as a result was bullied a lot at school.

It's not all bad though - I get some extra abilities like the ability to remember every password and bank account number I've ever had, and once learned, I can play rather complicated Bach pieces (which naturally I can see patterns in..) on my piano from memory. I can also simply listen to any piece of music and play it.

I definitely identify with Aspergers, but I wouldn't want a formal diagnosis in case I end up with any problems as a result. For example, it I get classified as autistic, I believe UK law prevents people with autism from inheriting.

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6257876)

In reading your post, I happened to notice that the 32-byte CRC of your comments is divisible by 31.

I am curious what you thought about that?

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6257999)

Funny as hell!

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (2, Funny)

skinfitz (564041) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258176)

In reading your post, I happened to notice that the 32-byte CRC of your comments is divisible by 31.

That's a joke - right? ;)

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (1)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258970)

Aspergers/autismus people have trouble with humor. I heard of one college math luminary - who was a bit on the far side of the autism spectra - being told a silly joke: "Cats always land on all four, and the toast always lands buttered side down. The way to build perpetum mobile is to tape a buttered toast onto the cat's back and throw it out from a window."

The poor autism guy did not get it and was working for hours trying to figure it out.

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (0)

KiwiRed (598427) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259347)

The stereotypical Autism-Humour difficulty isn't always the case - i have Aspergers myself, and have something of a reputation amongst friends on- and off-line as a quiet comedian. (And a funny, one at that. Well, occasionally...).

In many ways autistics are like NTs (Neuro-typicals - more simply, non-autistics) in that abilities cover a wide range, humour being one of these. There are autistics who have trouble with humour, as well as autistics who have no problem with it. As well as the majority, who are between those extremes.

Autistic adults are more likely to have difficulties with social functioning and/or understanding, and humour which is reliant on social knowledge can often perplex (or just not seem funny).

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (1)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 10 years ago | (#6260148)

My score was 29 on the test. I should score better if I had ability to remember numbers. Anyway, here iare little Asperger jokes:

1)What is iodate?
"iodate is a person yo go out to have dinnor with."

2)Physician is examining an elderly patient, taking his blood presure and asking: "Are you having problems with erection?"
"Not anymore. Now all these women can go and annoy someone else."

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6258975)

That's a joke - right? ;)
You would think so, wouldn't you, Mr. I-make-use-of-descending-lowercase-13%-of-the-time !

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6258760)

Greatest post ever. You sir, are a genius. Funny, yet in a sly subtle way, not like the "blue screen of death" tripe that comes out and is modded "funny" any time there's a MS-related article here. What are you doing posting on slashdot? (Please stay!)

(Now, the idiot who got +3 funny for posting "that's a joke--right ;)" should be shot. Or the mods who thought that was funny. Christ almighty. What in the world was funny about that?)

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (1)

vault13 (673574) | more than 10 years ago | (#6268413)

if we must so analyze such a pun, at the expense of being troll, it is a function of one of the many side - effects of the syndrome. now i know where i get this weird hobby of wanting to know calculator models from... - casio fx 991w ROCKS!

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (1)

Qwaniton (166432) | more than 10 years ago | (#6263450)

Yep, you've got Asperger's all right.

As a fellow Aspie, I can tell these things.

It's kinda like gaydar, but with autism.

Re:Asperger's Syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6271478)

Damnit you gullible fools! There is no such thing as aspergers syndrome! Society has always labeled things that it doesn't agree with as somehow wrong. Blacks used to be considered inferior and they had the studys to prove it! Homosexuality was a fscking mental disorder up untill a few decades ago! People do not like introverts so they label introverts as having a mental problem called aspergers syndrome and you people fall for it! Just because I am introverted does not mean that there is anything wrong with me, no matter what society says!

Stand up for yourselves, my god! You don't have a mental disease you are just introverted! Tell all the shrinks to take their social regulations and shove them up their ass!

Raw scores may not indicate much... (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257599)

I scored a 36, but I'm nothing like autistic. (Geeky, yes, but not
in that way.) Raw scores based on simple questions are inherently
simplistic; the complexities of human character and personality
don't break down that simply. A given answer to one of those
questions can mean different things, depending on why you selected
it. If you really want to know if you have Asperger's, consult a
psychologist or two.

Denial is the first sign (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259159)

Come on bro, a 36 and you can't see the writing on the wall? 80% of those diagnosed with (pick one) scored 32 or higher.

First of all you managed to almost perfectly full justify (right and left sides) your freehand post.
You used perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation.

Not that I should talk. Scored a frigging 40. Definitely scored a 40. I would stick around to discuss it more but there are only 4 minutes until Wapner.

I always suspected I was a little 'touched' ... this is just supporting material.

Re:Denial is the first sign (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 10 years ago | (#6270594)

> Come on bro, a 36 and you can't see the writing on the wall?
> 80% of those diagnosed with (pick one) scored 32 or higher.

The converse is not necessarily true, however.

I'm geeky, in the sense of being different from a lot of other
people, but I'm geeky in very _different ways_ from someone with
Asperger's. I do have one major trait in common with them,
though: focus. I'm very focused, way more than average, pretty
much the diametric opposite of ADD. This manifests itself in
a lot of ways and played a significant role in a number of my
answers on the test. But AS is about more than just focus.

> First of all you managed to almost perfectly full justify
> (right and left sides) your freehand post.

That's because I've been communicating mostly via email since
1997. (Or, I might have been editing my reply in Emacs that
day and hit M-q -- I don't recall whether that was the case or
not in this instance.) This relates primarily to my being an
ochlophobe, which is a different affliction from Asperger's.

> You used perfect spelling, grammar and punctuation.

My parents treated me like a human being when I was a kid.
Instead of "Goo goo Gaa gaa" I got "Hey, Nathan, would you like
to help Daddy study his Greek? Do you remember what the letter
on this flashcard is called? Pick up your toy vehicles, and
then after I finish studying, I'll read you the next chapter
from _Voyage of the Dawn Treader_ before bed, okay?" That,
and then they sent me to private school through sixth grade.
(Not boarding school or summers, just regular private school.)

> Not that I should talk. Scored a frigging 40.

Even at 40, you're not a sure thing for Asperger's. You (or
people who know you) may know things about yourself that lead
you to believe you do have it, but merely scoring a 40 is not
in itself enough reason to believe that. (To suspect it, to
wonder, perhaps.) Of course, if you are concerned about it,
you could consult a psychologist.

Also 40 is significantly more worrisome than 36 -- not because
4 points are a big deal just anywhere on the scale, but because
unless I have missed my guess 40 is vanishingly close to the top
of the scale, which means a score of 40 may actually be more,
rather like the difference between 790 and 800 on an SAT section.
The 790 is probably about 790 (plus or minus some tollerance
value), but the 800 may represent a value that the scale can't
measure. (OTOH, the 800 (or the 40) may also be just that.
The only way to establish the difference would be to use a
measurement with a scale that goes further.)

Yeah, right. (2, Insightful)

pmz (462998) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257635)

Instead, if you are worried about such results, share them with your family doctor.

Family doctors are generalists and are not qualified to answer specific psychiatric questions or, really, specific questions of most any kind.

I'd trust a doctor to provide misdiagnoses at least as frequently as correct ones. Doctors also have financial conflicts of interest that lessen their ability to provide honest opinions. Sometimes, especially at nursing homes, doctors will kill off less profitable patients, just because.

Now, I certainly do go for an annual physical, to the dentist, etc., but this article and the one about ADD, recently, just reinforce--irreponsibly--the notion that there are diseases where there usually aren't ones, that people should see doctors unnecessarily, and that people should consider prescription drugs needlessly.

People genuinely affected by this PDD and ADD stuff, in truth, are very few and far between. Most of you, believe it or not, are normal, plus or minus a little.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257875)

Sounds like you need to find a better family doctor. Christ, what kind of quacks are you dealing with? No, they aren't psychiatric specialists. But they are probably more in tune with the local docs, and can suggest a good one for you to work with. Also, in the case of some other things that might be misdiagnosed as psychiatric in nature, the generalist can rule out and/or treat other diseases that will adversely affect treatment by a shrink.

I agree with your assessment that those who truly have ADD and/or PDD are not common.

Re:Yeah, right. (2, Insightful)

Mr. Piddle (567882) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259195)

Sounds like you need to find a better family doctor. Christ, what kind of quacks are you dealing with?

I don't think the grandparent post was referring to personal experience so much as the frequency of people diagnosed with depression, ADD, etc., when there are truly better reasons for the patient's search for some diagnosis--any diagnosis--that might dissolve their own insecurity about why they don't fully live up to whatever imagined idealism they have.

It takes practically no effort to get an anti-depressant prescription from a doctor. The same is also true of weight-loss drugs, high blood pressure drugs, sleeping pills, pain medication, you name it. I've seen generally healthy people who have a cabinet full of prescriptions, most of which are for kinda-sorta-my butt hurts prescribed remedies.

One reason is that the true cost of prescriptions is almost invisible to any patient with comprehensive health insurance. Even patients that don't have insurance can get hand-outs from the local health department or samples from doctors. Drugs are like candy to these people. All they need to do is hold out their hand and say "gimmie." Why should the doctor refuse? It's all part of the circle of money surrounding the pharmaceutical industry. And, most doctors simply place faith in the FDA process, thinking the odds are low that unnecessary prescriptions are going to be dangerous.

Re:Yeah, right. (3, Informative)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259293)

Sounds interesting. Also sounds like you're speaking from ignorance (the correct definition, meaning you just don't know or have incomplete knowledge. No offense intended). The bulk of excessive medications lies not with physicians, but rather, with adamant patients. First is the problem that most people can't accept that if they sit on their ass, eat improperly, don't excercise, etc, they aren't going to be 100% every minute of every day. They want every little inconvenience taken care of with a 'magic pill'. It was much easier to take FenPhen than to diet and excercise. Second, the changes to allow pharmaceutical advertising to the lay public was a bad thing. I'm not sure I need to explain that. The final problem is when the media print every BS study printed, be it in the New England Journal, or Bob and Frank's uber-elite medical college journal and poetry annual.

What this leads to is a group of patients who, far from just saying 'gimmie', practically demand the medication. If a doc counsels against it, or suggests something natural (diet, excercise, etc.) the patient gets pissed and goes somewhere else. (And files a complaint with the insurance company, state regulatory boards, malpractice atty. etc.)

Doctors, as a group, don't get much money or other largesse from pharmaceutical companies. It was possible, in the past, to do okay, but if your physician was getting anything in reimbursements or gifts from pharmaceutical companies that would make a significant change in his normal salary, he probably was/is a quack.

Seriously, I've been in and around medicine and physicians for 30 years. I've known hundreds of doctors. Been exposed to dozens of hospitals. When I hear comments like this, I think to myself 'show me the proof'.

You've got part of the problem figured out ('gimme') But that is only one sign of top to bottom problems with health care and health care delivery in the US. (As an aside, socialized medicine is not the answer, as many of the problems I see are not solved in European countries and Canada. If I haven't deleted it, I had a ~ten page writing on the broad topic of problems with the medical industry in the US that I never quite finished.)

Oh, and to be a little bit on point, I think the first comment I replied to was referring to an individual experience. Perhaps I read too quickly?

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

Mr. Piddle (567882) | more than 10 years ago | (#6262994)

You've got part of the problem figured out ('gimme') But that is only one sign of top to bottom problems with health care and health care delivery in the US.

Fair enough. Perhaps the main pervasive problem is one of financial conflicts of interest, where there is lots of money to be made in treating patients as much as possible and avoiding curing them when the disease isn't terminal. This would be the path to maximum revenue potential, but not necessarily the path to greatest general health for the patients.

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 10 years ago | (#6275064)

> Also sounds like you're speaking from ignorance (the correct definition, meaning you just don't know or have incomplete knowledge. No offense intended). The bulk of excessive medications lies not with physicians, but rather, with adamant patients.

Ironic; apart from semiregular checkups, I've tended to avoid doctors for part of this reason - unless there's something wrong with me, I'm likely to misdiagnose and ask for something I don't need, and I'm worried that the doc will acquiesce.

I miss my old GP. I'd walk in (typically after two weeks of having a cold), say "OK, I've had it with this one, if it was viral, shouldn't it have been gone by now?", and he'd say "holy crap, you waited this long?", and wing some amoxicillin my way, with instructions to come back if I didn't see improvement in a week. (He could prescribe like that because he knew damn well I wouldn't come in demanding antibiotics at the first sniffle!)

Course, his profit margin off me wasn't that great. Probably why I've never found a comparable replacement.

I think I need a business card for whenever I move and need a new GP. Something like this. "Hi. I'm a fundamentalist materialist who believes in germ theory and the validity of the scientific method. I'm here because I need a GP. Mention 'toxins', 'purification', 'chelation', and I'll leave quietly and find someone else. If you're reading this and I'm in a hospital, and one of your nurses tries to do 'theraputic touch' in any form other than a handjob, I'll call security and demand that I be moved to a hospital, not a duck farm. Basically, if it quacks, I want it roasted with orange sauce. Can we do business?"

Re:Yeah, right. (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 10 years ago | (#6301190)

Modern medicine has yet to define what pain (or the general cause of) is.

The FDA is bankrolled by pharmaceutical companies.

Think about that before you pass judgment on other solutions. They neither know what in fact they are treating, nor do they care.

Well, it's official now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6257684)

You and the other Slashdot twits are all a bunch of whacked out nut jobs.

For God's sake just, don't breed! Oh wait, I forgot where I was. Nevermind.

Two things (4, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257690)

1) These conditions (autism, Asperger's, ADD) are extremely slippery in non-extreme cases. They're poorly understood and the sweeping statements about their pathology and prevalence are far less clear-cut than they're made out to be. Like in the Wired article you linked, the idea that they increase in autism is due to increased diagnosis is always dismissed, but there's never an explanation of why it's not possible.

2) Not to dismiss anyone's problems, but to offer perspective -- paying attention is HARD. Getting along with other people is HARD. Understanding people is HARD. Having relationships is HARD. They're hard for all of us and require a lot of work. Calling yourself a "geek" doesn't let you off the hook.

(Oh, and I got a 20 on the test. If being able to remember phone numbers and birthdays is a disease, I'm the picture of health.)

Re:Two things (1)

leviramsey (248057) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258034)

Well, in the case of Asperger's, it's only been defined in the US literature since DSM-IV, which, IIRC, came out in 1989. So with Asperger's, it's a case of only in the last decade or so have any psychiatrists and so forth known about it to make a diagnosis.

It's kind of like saying that the number of systems running Mandrake 9.0 has increased dramatically over the past 12 months...

Re:Two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6271488)

Fuck the DSM-IV and all the manuals that came before it! The DSM used to label homosexuality as a mental disorder. Psychology is no diferent than witchcraft!

A few thoughts (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 10 years ago | (#6262132)

First, I'm diagnosed Aspergers, so I've done some studying on the subject.

First, don't take a diagnosis as being necessarily correct. Self-diagnosis is rarely accurate and autistic-related conditions are so poorly-understood that most psychs are not equipt to diagnose it properly, either.

In other words, validate any diagnosis, before trusting to it. Go to your local bookshop and check the DSM-IV - the manual psychs use for diagnosis - and verify that you meet the criteria. DON'T DO THIS FIRST! It's almost impossible for a person to not find themselves in the manual, somewhere. Remember that the DSM uses technical terms, so if you're even vaguely unsure how a term is intended to be used, check with your psych.

Second, even if you do meet all the criteria, there is an enormous overlap between different conditions, and there is also a risk of certain personality types creating the illusion of meeting a specific diagnosis. There is no easy way to tell these possibilities apart. Psychs generally do this by experimenting on you - trying different treatments, noting the reaction, and then re-moulding the diagnosis to fit the treatment that works.

IMHO, this is a hack-and-slash method, and not one I trust much. So far, though, no cause for Aspergers is known and no neurological tests exist. Given that a possible side-effect for a number of the treatments is "death", I really do strongly recommend making sure your psych knows exactly what they're doing, and that you don't isolate the first time you try these remedies.

Third, here is a short list of typical traits exhibited by Asperger people. I've tried to avoid the over-generalizing I've seen elsewhere, but this is NOT to be taken as a diagnostic tool, but rather as a quick reality-check if you and your psych disagree on a diagnosis.

  • Recognition of facial expressions and body-language is difficult to impossible. This one seems to be fairly universal, and most "therapies" that exist for Asperger people concentrate on this.
  • A classic symptom of the entire "autistic spectrum" (and one of the reasons it's considered a spectrum) is a phenominal level of sensory data and especially visual data. (I don't know why visual in particular, but it's the one that gets repeatedly documented in case studies.) Autistic people don't like crowds, not because they don't like people (they often do), but because they become super-saturated with data and reflexivly retreat to a more tolerable level. For a better description of this specific symptom, I recommend the book "Somebody, Somewhere". It's the second in a series, but ignore the ones before and after.
  • Asperger people think "visually". They picture things in their mind, and respond to those pictures. (Again, note the emphasis on visual data, even if this is in the mind.) If they cannot picture things, or if the picture is self-conflicting, an Aspergers person will typically not respond well.
  • Asperger people will tend to resemble bipolar people, with two exceptions. First, the mood swings won't fit any of the bipolar patterns. Bipolar people will have (roughly) oscillating moods. The median can be anywhere, so don't assume that a person isn't bipolar if they never show mania, or never show depression. The key is that oscillation. Asperger people will (often) also have larger mood-swings than normal, but these won't (necessarily) be periodic. They can be completely random, and that's one clue as to whether it's an autistic or bipolar phenomina.
  • Asperger people are often pattern-oriented. Anything that disrupts routine will produce a feeling of panic. (The routine can be "change", but that change will typically be at a constant rate, or have some constant component. The problem is not change, per se, but the "failure" of -some- constant, at -some- level.) On the other hand, anything that involves patterned thinking (eg: programming in a re-usable style, cooking/baking/brewing, architecture, etc) are all absolute bliss to an Asperger, and they will typically concentrate on those areas. Asperger people will often be involved in these types of activity for both work and recreation, avoiding anything that requires frequent rapid shifting from one mind state to another.
  • Autistic people in general (and, again, this is part of why it's viewed as a spectrum) will have a phenominal, but very selective, memory. Many people file or throw away tech manuals. Some because they don't think they need them, others because they can't understand them. Asperger and Higher Functioning Austistic people may well do the same, but if they do, it's usually because they could write a better manual in their sleep.
  • Finally, Autistic people are generally either hoarders or keep places phenominally clean. So, in the above case, they may well have boxes of dusty, unread manuals for products they don't even have any more.
    • Hoarding things is one way of minimizing change. Plenty of people hoard, though, and it's not all for the same reason. Autistic people may even periodically clear out the junk that's accumulated. The key is "periodic". The odds are, there's a constant element. The way to tell autistic hoarding from other kinds is whether the person becomes seriously stressed if the constant is removed.
    • Keeping things meticulous is another way to minimize change. If everything is clean, tidy, in its place, perfect and organized, then the illusion of changelessness can be achieved. Again, not all people who are fanatical cleaners are autistic, and again the key is in how they clean. Spontaneous, random acts of cleaning are not typical of an autistic person. If it's truly obsessive, it's much more likely somewhere in the realm of OCD. If it's more a case of "hey, this needs doing", then it's just being a regular person. Mechanical, methodical, patterned behaviour is much more typical of autistic people, and is where the name originates.

In short, autistic people often have problems interpreting variable sensory data (usually visual), but are often much better than average interpreting constant sensory data. They have problems with variable conditions, but are often much better able to utilize constant conditions.

The autistic spectrum can then be defined as being a measure of the level of "constant-ness" a person needs to function.

Low-functioning autism requires a very high degree of constant-ness. Almost no variability is possible. Their lack of ability to function is in part because the world is too "noisy" - too much change, all the time - and because functioning is itself adding to that change.

The more variability you can cope with, the more "functional" the autistic person is deemed to be. This goes through various labels, but ends up with "Aspergers", where the person is actually able to exploit the properties of their condition to function and to live.

Not everyone who likes consistancy is autistic, and some people actually have phobias of change which are totally unrelated to this condition.

Also, not everyone who has a perfect ear for music, or a perfect eye for detail, is autistic, and there are plenty of artists in all fields who have achieved legendary status without being the least bit autistic.

This is why these are not diagnostic tools. But because these types of characteristic are so common with autism, they can be used to check that someone else's diagnosis is correct.

If you're diagnosed as autistic, aspergers or anything related, but create or enjoy a lot of variability then there's a good chance the diagnosis is incorrect, and it should be re-examined. "A lot" is defined by where you're placed in the spectrum. For an LFA, "a lot" can be someone walking across the room. For Asperger people, you might not even be close to "a lot" in the middle of a rampaging mob of a hundred thousand rioting social workers. All you know is that there's an upper limit, and once you hit that, your reaction will be disproportionate, sudden and reflexive.

However, if your upper limit is sufficiently high that most normal change just doesn't faze you at all, then for all intents and purposes, you are not on the autistic spectrum.

This is NOT an exact science, there ARE going to be exceptions, but over-diagnosis is just as much of a problem as under-diagnosis. If, when you go through the check-list above, you simply don't see you, then question the psych. Determine with them if they made a mistake, or if maybe you are one of those exceptions.

If the psych won't talk, or won't reconsider, then change psych. Sure, you can always find someone who'll give you the answer you want, but the idea here has nothing to do with finding one who'll agree with you. The idea is to find one who'll back their conclusions with more than a "cos I say so", and who is willing to actually show they know what they're talking about.

The tests above, then, are as much to test the psych as to test you. If the psych will neither accept nor talk to you about any of the facets I listed, then you might as well be diagnosed by i-ching, for all the good it'll do you. There's nothing useful in a term, if the term isn't backed by a reason and a reasoned response. If you've anything less, then just invent your own words and call yourself those, instead. They'll mean as much, medically, and at least then you can pick words you like.

Re:A few thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6295689)

YOu know, you just described me, Frightened me actually, I've Got ADHD, no question there, but the whole compulsive hoarding thing. I have a psycho-physical need to store/acquire stuff. Patterns rule my life, etc.

Just the other day, I went out, because I hadn't bought anything semi-useless lately.

Re:Two things (1)

robslimo (587196) | more than 10 years ago | (#6262935)

If being able to remember phone numbers and birthdays is a disease, I'm the picture of health.

Interesting that I don't know how to characterize my memory. I forget some of the most obvious things all the time and I generally don't remember phone numbers or birthdates... unless I try to.

I think I have some mild form of porn^H^H^H^Hphotographic memory; if I visualize a phone number for a moment (and sometimes also attach a mnemonic association to a pattern in the numbers) I can recall it months or years later.

Re:Two things (1)

glgraca (105308) | more than 10 years ago | (#6267418)

I couldn't agree more and would like to add that most people considered 'normal' have a very hard time interacting with geeks and will frequently avoid them.

People just seem afraid of what's different.

I know a few Physics and Maths professors with whom it is very difficult to keep a conversation (usually because they take a looong time to develop their ideas). I make an effort to listen
because I know I can expect interesting ideas from them.

If children were simply taught to make the best
out of interacting with different personalities, maybe we wouldn't view many of these traits as 'disorders'.

Residual Asperger's Syndrome (1)

cryptogryphon (547264) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257938)

It is worth remembering that there is a significant body of opinion that if you have successfully made it to adulthood, hold down a job and are married (or at least capable of long-term relationships) then you can't really be said to have AS but Residual Asperger's Syndrome as an Adult.

If you are married and self-diagnose or suspect; get a diagnosis and if necessary, get counselling - it could save your marriage.

Re:Residual Asperger's Syndrome (1)

Qwaniton (166432) | more than 10 years ago | (#6263437)

There is no such thing as Asperger's Syndrome "residue". Asperger's Syndrome does not go away. Asperger's Syndrome is a part of the way your brain is constructed. Asperger's Syndrome is who you are.

An Aspie and Asperger's Syndrome are inseperable. There is no such thing as a cure for autism, and what the parents who want to "cure" it really want are to have children who are normal. The parents really just wish they had different kids. Bastards.

Re:Residual Asperger's Syndrome (1)

ebh (116526) | more than 10 years ago | (#6274114)

I think the residual part refers to the compensation that happens on its own over decades of adulthood. You don't apparently exhibit some particular AS trait (like the inability to make small talk) any more, but the trait was there before you learned your way through it.

By way of analogy, my right eye pretty much doesn't work, so I have essentially no natural depth perception. But I can still drive a car, catch a ball, hit a badminton bird, etc., because my brain taught itself depth perception by mechanisms other than stereoscopic vision, not because my right eye started working again.

My son has an AS diagnosis. Among other things, he gets social skills training, because basic social skills (like saying "hello") have to be taught to him by rote the same way we had to be taught by rote that the fork goes on the left. Undiagnosed adults with AS had to learn that stuff the hard way.

Finally, I recommend going to a neurologist as well as a psychologist for ASD diagnoses. For my son, sensory integration problems and motor delays were part and parcel of his diagnosis (the "pervasive" part of PDD).

Don't take it too seriously. (4, Informative)

Hallow (2706) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257965)

I scored a 40, which would be consistent with my Myers-Briggs personality type - INTP [typelogic.com](introverted, intuitive, thinking, perceiving). It would seem this "tool", if you could even call it that, is biased against particular personality types. I certainly wouldn't consider my personality type to be a disorder. ;) You might actually find more relevance in taking the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Inventory).

Re:Don't take it too seriously. (2, Interesting)

drivers (45076) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258947)

I'm an INTP too. It's like 2% of the population yet I bet 25% of sites like slashdot and k5 are INTPs. So, out of curiosity, do you start new challenging "hobbies" all the time and get into them just far enough to realize that you could do it if you wanted to and... oh, here's another interesting subject... I'll become that master of that instead...

Re:Don't take it too seriously. (1)

dlakelan (43245) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259499)

I'm not the original person you were replying to but I'm INTP as well. and yes I do.

Though lately I'm trying hard to alter that behavior slightly, mainly by picking a few things as longer term activities.

It's a rough urge to fight though.

Re:Don't take it too seriously. (INTP) (2, Insightful)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259547)

What do you mean just enough to know I could finish it if I wanted to? I will finish that project I started 3 years ago, someday, unless I die first. First though I have this new project that is more important...

Seriously, yes. It is a big problem, I know several open source programs I have the smarts to contribute to, and they have the need. I just don't have the motivation to get far enough along with any of them to do make a contribution. I once got so far as to not crash when I compiled my stuff into the kernel. (never used it though, so I don't know if it would have worked. Eventially someone else did the same thing, but finished the job)

JOAT (1)

Boglin (517490) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259737)

Yet another INTP here. I, of course, am the same way, except I never expect mastery of what I start. I've always wanted to be a Jack of all Trades, so I'd be a master of none. Besides, mastery seems boring; if I'm truly the master, then everything left is trivial. No fun in that

Re:JOAT (1)

that _evil _gleek (598545) | more than 10 years ago | (#6284397)

Also, INTP here *grin*... does that make 5 on all slashdot???
Also Jack of all Trades....
"Striving for Mastering" is not same as Mastery." Its not being satisified with the "first glance" simple, dumbed down, rounded down take on something.. Just about anyone else learns by over-simplifying ( which seems faster ) then learning all the special cases and conditions, and gotchas, by messing it up...aka "school of hard-knocks" If your like me to don't dumb it down... you struggle w/it until you "grok" it.
And as a side-effect, you've probably noticed by now that your "probablies" are better
than the other guys "damn sures." When I say "I know I'm right" it means I have the proof ready... any other type likely means "I feel really confident." IMO INTP's just
seem like "jacks of all trades" to others because we are so precise about just how sure
about something" and are aways aware of HOW we KNOW what we know ... and how well we know it... to anyone else it seems like "lack of confidence" and for any other
type it probably is. But not for us, since not only do we, seemly, recognize contradictions across time and space, but also :Unknown Unkowns" as well. ...
Anyway this "jack" has trumped as few masters from time to times. We just have more breadth.. because we learn broader... like breadth first first depth first traversal..
In the course of finding what started looking for.. I visited more nodes... so I walk away
being aware of more.... Ends up being in cache later...

Re:JOAT (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 10 years ago | (#6295761)

INT here, and I think you will find that the proof positive is distinct from the P/J distinction.

For example, before I got married, my father warned my wife about me... about that very thing, he said "He is always right" not in a judgemental, or you can't talk to him sense but exactly as you put it. INT's won't take a stand until it is carved in granite, and sometimes you know I'll have bad info, and go off on a tangent, but until I get contrary evidence... like a wall.

Re:Don't take it too seriously. (2, Interesting)

Hallow (2706) | more than 10 years ago | (#6262897)

Over the years I've done that, yes. But as I've gotten older I've been following things through more an more.

I've been doing home winemaking for almost a year now. I've done freshwater aquria for about 5 years.

Causality (3, Insightful)

genomancer (588755) | more than 10 years ago | (#6257975)

Do 'geeks' have a higher tendency toward conditions like PDD/Asperger?

FWIW, that's totally backwards. The question is if people with slightly different ways of thinking tend towards becoming geeks because of aptitude, etc. (Looking at it the other way might be an interesting sociological experiment w/r to diganosis, but it's certainly not the main question).

Sorry if that's nitpicking, but people getting hypothesis backwards like this is way too common in pop-science.


My experience... (3, Informative)

singularity (2031) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258005)

I work with a few students diagnosed as suffering from Asperger's Syndrome.

If you suffered from it, more than likely you would know it by now. The symptoms are not as obvious as autism, but they are not far off. The students I have dealt with were all diagnosed in early to mid childhood.

I have seen Asperger's described as a "workable form of autism." I would agree that is pretty close to the mark. Note that the people that suffer from this have to work to do a lot of tasks you and I probably see as normal.

Note also that most DSM diagnoses require the patient to have lifestyle problems as a result of certain mental problems. "Depression" is not DSM diagnosable until you start getting into problems where you do not do previously pleasurable activites and so on. If you feel sad but do not let it get in the way, it is not diagnosible. What that means is that a condition that does not manifest itself as hinderance from a "normal lifestyle" is not valid reasoning for a diagnosis.

This is a long way of saying that if you are living a relaticely healthy life right now, you are not going to be diagnosed as sufferring from "Asperger's Syndrome". I find that people that seek things out like that most of the time do it to brag about, or use an excuse for other problems (laziness, not wanting to socialize, etc.) If you were having actual socialization problems on the level of Asperger's, you would have seeked out professional help a long time ago.

Re:My experience... (4, Informative)

grunthos (574421) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258541)

If you suffered from it, more than likely you would know it by now. ... The students I have dealt with were all diagnosed in early to mid childhood.

Not necessarily. My daughter is 17 and only got diagnosed 2 years ago. We always knew she was different, but didn't really know why. It didn't become a problem until high school age as the pressure (academic and social) increased. We struggled through quite a bit getting the proper diagnosis and care for her. There can be many intermingled things that muddy the diagnosis.

Asperger's has a set of components including sensory integration dysfunction, language processing issues, rigid thinking patterns and social issues, the extent of which vary in each person. It also can come along with other disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADD/ADHD, and clinical depression. Sorting through these and figuring out which thing is contributing to which symptom can take a long time to sort out.

And it can all be dependent on adequate availability of child and youth mental health resources in your area. In many parts of the country, there is a shortage of teen-specific mental health help, which really can have much different needs than either younger children or adults. Heck, it's tough enough being a teenager without Aspergers or OCD or ADHD.

Once you have a good diagnosis, you can then know what kind of coping skills will help. The coping skills for ADHD and OCD and sensory integration disfunction are not all the same.

Interestingly, once a family member has been accurately diagnosed with Asperger's, you start to recognize small pieces of the constituent parts in other family members.

Re:My experience... (1)

ebh (116526) | more than 10 years ago | (#6274204)

I want to get a T-shirt that says, "Asperger's is hereditary -- you get it from your kids."

I know many adults who got AS diagnoses when they had themselves evaluated after their kids were diagnosed.

Re:My experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6259162)

I have one child diagnosed with mild autism.

The specialist we brought in to work with him suggested that I might also have the same problem, based on observing me. This is not a formal diagnosis, but I accept it, as it does seem to explain much of what I see around me... and also much of what I see in my father.

This particular specialist feels that Asperger's Syndrome is actually mild autism, controlled by intellect -- having learned how people behave, and having learned how to mimic them or at least get along with them successfully.

I'm not sure I agree -- why would there be diagnoses of Asperger's Syndrome in three-year-old children then? But your mileage may vary.

Re:My experience... (1)

tailorite (683369) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259626)

While some of what you say is accurate, the age of diagnosis is not necessarily. There are plenty of people who genuinely have Asperger's or autism who went undiagnosed or misdiagnosed in childhood and/or adolescence because of ignorance.

There are also people who would never seek professional diagnosis because, while they have difficulty with a lot of things, they don't see that difficulty. Often people around them are the ones who diagnose them.

As for me, despite a fairly typical "HFA" (not AS, technically, as there were speech and cognitive delays) pattern of functioning, I was not diagnosed until adolescence. As a child, all sorts of things were said about me, but autism was simply not one of them. This is true for a lot of people.

When it comes to anyone with the set of characteristics currently defined as AS, there's no way that if they were born before 1977 or so they would have been diagnosed anywhere before adolescence, because AS wasn't a diagnosis until the late '80s. A lot of people on the autism spectrum who learn to talk are simply seen as problem children, or childhood (or adult) schizophrenics (despite lack of hallucinations or delusions), or hyperactive, or gifted with social adjustment problems, or some other label that doesn't address what's really going on.

There are also many autistic people living healthy lives, although not as many as there should be. Depression and other mental health problems are not consequences of autism, but consequences of the intersection of autism and a pretty harsh world.

The people I have known who are autistic and grew up in loving environments are reasonably well-adjusted, but disabled, just like a paraplegic doesn't have to live an "unhealthy life" just because they can't walk. There are certain things they can't do, but they're reasonably happy and healthy in the right environment. They may talk or not talk, have trouble moving off narrow topics, have trouble with self-care, move in unusual fashions, and have immense trouble either reading or giving out social cues, but none of these things on their own bar someone from health or happiness.

I am not one of these people. I did not have a great environment to grow up in, and I was diagnosed (I'd never heard of autism before) in the teenage severely depressed stage many autistic people go through. But they exist.

It is true that most autistic people do not lead average lives, but there is a difference between average lives and healthy or happy lives. Autistic people leading happy lives are few and far between because of the non-autistic world's hostility to us, but autism in itself does not necessarily cause any more unhappiness than normality does (obviously sensory issues can cause unpleasantness). A lot of happiness depends on temperament and environment as much as anything else, and people who are happy, even if they have trouble functioning and everyone around them thinks they're completely crazy, are less likely to seek professional help. So are people who are oblivious to their own social difficulties.

Re:My experience... (1)

Qwaniton (166432) | more than 10 years ago | (#6263408)

If you suffered from it, more than likely you would know it by now.

Wrong. Very, very wrong. I was thrown through many incorrect diagnoses before I was dxed Asperger's. People with Asperger's are obviously different, but many and many of them are never diagnosed. Many adults with Asperger's do not know they have it.

This is a long way of saying that if you are living a relaticely healthy life right now, you are not going to be diagnosed as sufferring from "Asperger's Syndrome".

Untrue. Many adults living a perfectly healthy life are still abnormal, and are "suffering" from AS.

If you were having actual socialization problems on the level of Asperger's, you would have seeked out professional help a long time ago.

Once again, wrong.

I also take issue with your repeated allegation that people "suffer" from AS. Personally, I am proud of my AS, and I do not want to be normal.

The Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical [autistics.org] is a good website mocking the tone used by people like you. I encourage all autistics, Aspies, and people who think they might be autistic to take a look at it.

Re:My experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6295802)

Perhaps I'll go get diagnosed at some point... I always thought that it was just because sheeple are stupid, and I don't like stupid that I didn't get allong well outside VERY small social groups...

Re:My experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6291409)

My experience vibes with this poster's. I taught for a while (in a very unstructured environment which required lots of social interaction on behalf of the students.)

I worked with one student who had Asperger's, and, yes -- this was something that you knew about after a few hours (at most.) Repetitive head-banging, something s/he clicked into every now and then without much warning, was a good clue in.

We had a lot of students who came in with diagnoses of various kinds, and most of them were a result of parents pushing for some kind of label to put on a kid they had screwed up all on their own.

The kids who really needed special care (meaning: we needed to ask the school psych about using special teaching techniques) we knew to ask about before ever seeing a file. Actually, because of privacy reasons, we never *saw* a literal file and got information only if we asked -- though we did have a number of talented kids tell us that they'd be diagnosed with this or that condition.

Anyway, listen up people: stop giving yourselves diagnoses from the DSM or online tests no matter how "scientific." Psychology is a body of technical knowledge, much like your beloved turing machines or Linux kernels, or whatever. In the psych world, you are a lUser. The best you can do is say "this [part of my life] isn't working," and go call a sysadmin.

Some good reading about the topic (4, Interesting)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258015)

I personally find A Portrait of J. Random Hacker [catb.org] by Eric Raymond, especially the part entitled Weaknesses of the Hacker Personality [catb.org], very interesting. A Portrait of the Hacker as a Young Man [oreilly.com], from Free as in Freedom [oreilly.com] by Sam Williams is also certainly worth suggesting. Most of people don't know that, but Richard Stallman [stallman.org], the author of GNU [gnu.org], considers himself afflicted, to some degree, by autism, which makes it difficult for him to interact with people. I can honestly say I understand him.

Re:Some good reading about the topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6258707)

I'm guessing you are the same guy as Anne Marie, right?

I find Richard Stallman afflicted, too (1)

GCP (122438) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258785)

...so I guess he and I don't disagree about everything. ;-)

(Don't take this post too seriously, those of you who consider Stallman your messiah. I'm definitely not a fan of his and can personally attest to his difficulty interacting with people, but I do consider some of his opinions to be insightful.)

Read His Book.. (1)

QueenOfSwords (179856) | more than 10 years ago | (#6264796)

And I agree with the psuedo-diagnosis on RMS. But then again I got that vibe from Linus's autobiography too :) .
I consider those with these traits or syndromes who are doing well in their spheres as both fortunate and gifted.
I have close family who are *much* more afflicted, but I'm not really on the spectrum myself (except as a geek and introvert).

I have a few tips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6277815)

...on that whole social interaction thing.

1. Lose the Mensa Babe screen name.
2. Keep in mind that IQ has no value. Your intelligence is a tool. Get a new screen name based on something you've built.
3. Get out of MENSA. There are much better ways to spend that money than on membership dues.

Apologies for the flame. That screen name just bugs me, regardless of the quality of the post. Yes, it's partially based on jealously. No, not because I don't belong to MENSA; I qualify, but I can't let myself join. I'm jealous because I want to be able to tell the world, "I'm smarter than you!" but I have personal rules against that kind of thing.

So... I post AC and act like the asshole I long to be. At least I left a typo in this post for you to smirk at.

Just took the test... (1)

InsaneCreator (209742) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258026)

...and I scored 40. I've never been diagnosed with asperger's, but I've been suspecting to have it, ever sice I read about it on everything2.org - it was just like reading about myself. After all the thing that matter is not what the doctor says you have, it's what you have to live with.

In the last few years I managed to learn how to read people's emotions, but I still have troubles with some of them, though - anger, for example. Not being able to "read" people, having strong interests, etc. are some of the things that made highschool a living hell, but that also forced me to learn a lot about people. I've become quite good at recognising whe someone isn't telling the truth, to name just one thing.

Nowdays I don't consider asperger's to be a bad thing, heck - I don't even know if I really have it, but I probbably wouldn't want to be what is considered to be "normal" by most of the people. But then, my worldview is also quite a bit dibberent than that of most people.

(btw. I'm 21)

Re:Just took the test... (1)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259030)

I have allway had severe trouble with angering my bosses, colleagues and advisors. I could not see why was all this happening, why my single-minded determination to do something would make them ballistic. I did not want to upset them, just get them out of my way.

You can learn by experience. I would say the best approach in dealing with people is to be completely sicere and natural. If they don't like you, it is at least easier on you since you do not have to pretend. Small talk and polite flattery - screw those types who need it.

[If you put a guy on hold for an hour, he will not bug you with those dumb support questions again].

Re:Just took the test... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6260601)

I scored a 40 as well...which comes as no surprise to me, since I was diagnosed as autistic 17 years ago, during my senior year of high school (and after I'd spent a week in a psychiatric hospital). The "experts" predicted I'd have to spend the rest of my life in an institution, that I wouldn't be able to drive a car, get a degree, or hold a job. (I know; I saw their reports.)

Fortunately, I was able to work with a good therapist while going to college for my CS degree; she was a lecturer at the university I went to, and she used some of her students as assistants as well. She also helped me get a part-time job as a database programmer and, eventually, network administrator; I only left that job when they laid me off after I'd been out of school a year, and I went across town (by then, I'd taken some driving lessons, got my license, and bought a car) and got my first real software engineering job. Since then, I've even gotten married (to a woman who's patient and understanding of my foibles) and moved to another state.

And yet, I know this "thing" will always be with me; it's still a hindrance in some aspects of life, but it's probably part of what's turned me into the ace developer I am today. So, would I give it up? Would I be "neurotypical" if I could? That's a tough question...

I haven't seen that therapist in many years; she may have left the area. And she was a notorious computerphobe when I knew her (though that may have changed by now), so it may not be possible to locate her via the Internet. Still, I owe her a good deal of thanks; without her assistance in those early years, I might very well have wound up institutionalized after all. So, whereever you are, "Doc," thanks.

(Posted anonymously because I don't want to scare off potential employers...)

Re:Just took the test... (1)

robslimo (587196) | more than 10 years ago | (#6263002)

You're the 3rd or 4th person whose posts I've seen indicating a score of 36 or more. You achieve that score, you've got to be fairly "anti-social" according to that quiz. For the record, I answered fairly anti-socially per the quizz too.

So why are we being so social here at /.? Is this just a topic of specific interest or is it more because this is a discussion environment over which we control the information flow (ie not much 2 way, real-time interaction)?

Re:Just took the test... (1)

Qwaniton (166432) | more than 10 years ago | (#6263342)

First, I'm a 16 year old Aspie.

I'm not that social in real life, but I've found myself to be VERY social on the Internet. The same thing goes for the telephone.

I've always found it hard to talk to my peers in the real world, but I've found a great abstraction method that takes away the face-to-face elements of conversation that greatly reduces my nervousness and shyness: the telephone. When I talk on the phone with someone my age (especially a girl), it's always MUCH easier to converse, and thus I have much better conversations on the phone. However, once I have gotten to be good friends, face-to-face conversation comes easy, and is fun.

I suppose the Internet is some sort of abstraction mechanism which brings out Aspies from their shells.

But one more thing must be mentioned. Social deficits when talking to neurotypicals never occur when talking to other Aspies. We Aspies can carry on a huge conversation like normal people when we're with our own kind. And yes, we have a good time. For some reason, Aspies talk to Aspies like neurotypicals talk to neurotypicals. The only reason my friends and I went to social skills group for years was the friendship thing.

And if this post doesn't seem lucid, it's because I drank a particularly strong cup of coffee last night at 11:45 and woke up with a foggy head and a headache.

Re:Just took the test... (1)

InsaneCreator (209742) | more than 10 years ago | (#6264574)

The internet strips away all the tiny clues usually present in a conversation. I believe this is the reason why many "normal" people get extremely confused when trying to chat on IRC.
Also, emoticons help a lot - it's pretty hard to misunderstand them. :)

Re:Just took the test... (2, Interesting)

Qwaniton (166432) | more than 10 years ago | (#6263379)

As the author of one of the writeups in the Asperger's syndrome node at E2 (look at my email and guess which one), I scored a 42.

Going through school was hell, and forced me to learn about how normal people actually work. Like you have, I know when someone's lying through their teeth. Not being able to naturally (dontcha love split infinitives?) "read" people, I learned that skill the hard way, through much trial and error, against my own will.

I've had strong interests. My special interests right now are computers and roads (roadgeeking: take a look at Gribble Nation [gribblenation.com] some time). My first "obsession" was vacuum cleaners. I had to go to the janitor store every Sunday to look in the window at the vacuum cleaners. My fourth birthday cake had a Hoover on it. My next special interest was dead-ends. My dad and grandpa drove me all over town hunting out all the dead-ends. This gave way, naturally, to roadgeeking. When my grandpa got a computer (Pentium MMX 166) in April '97, when I was in fifth grade, I quickly learned everything about that machine, and became a computer nerd.

In my eyes, Asperger's is definitely not a bad thing. In fact, I'm proud I have Asperger's, and I don't want to be normal. You might be interested in this website:

The Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical [autistics.org], a satirical parody of how Asperger's Syndrome is looked down upon by the neurologically typical.

Re:Just took the test... (1)

InsaneCreator (209742) | more than 10 years ago | (#6264614)

Thanks for the link - it really made my day. :)

It's nice to see that other Aspies percieve "normal" people the same way I do. And no, I would not want to become one of them, even if I could. After all, with some practice and determination, I can still fake being like them, but I doubt they can ever be like me. There is just one problem - I can't stand pretending. :(

Loked at the test (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258055)

One thing I noticed about the test was that it had a lot of social interaction questions on it. I would suspect someone with strong antisocial tendencies, and few other markers for autism et al, would show up as positive. That could include a fair number of geeks.

Re:Loked at the test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6271525)

Yup. I am always meeting geeks who claim in their blogs or wherever that they have A.S. when in reality they are just introverted/shy/antisocial/etc. A.S. is a fad disease and it is pathetic how many introverted people let themselves be labeled "mentally impared" by the psychiatric community because of it.

Not to state the obvious (3, Insightful)

John M Ford (653329) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258066)


"Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher." != "If you score 32 or higher, you are eighty percent likely to be autistic."

Just a thought before you run out and take the test.


Re:Not to state the obvious (1)

stephenjpauls (684571) | more than 10 years ago | (#6296069)

As I have someone with autism in my life, and I have spent 100+ hours reading, researching, and talking to teachers and doctors I would say that this test is more for fun than to even start to indicate autism in a person. The first note that I would like to make is that to be autistic you MUST have specific traits before the age of three. One of the large parts of autism that they donâ(TM)t really talk about at all here is sensory issues, which are the cause of many of the traits that you see in this test. There are many other things with both autism and related disorders that arenâ(TM)t even touched in this test. Please donâ(TM)t take it seriously⦠if you truly do worry about having autism try to find an autism specialist in your area as 90+% doctors are not equipped to properly diagnose autism, it is a very complex disorder that still is not completely defined.

Autism spectrum (1)

xluap (652530) | more than 10 years ago | (#6258647)

According to my psychologist i am "contact disturbed". However, autistic persons can communicate perfectly with each other. I scored 32 points on the test.

Autism is a spectrum ranging from very slight autistic to severely autistic.There are different diagnoses: pdd, asperger, high functioning autism. The same person might get a different diagnosis from another psychiatrist, so it could be better to say someone "is on the autistic spectrum".

Welcome to the Pathology du Jour! (4, Informative)

occamboy (583175) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259151)

I've done a lot of research on the whole spectrum autism area recently. (By way of background, I've worked in the medical field for some years - I've authored papers, run clinical trials, and so forth).

Here's a short synopsis of what I've found, through reading journal articles and books, and interviewing psychologists:

Autism is a real disease, terrible and sad. However, it is wildly overdiagnosed in youngsters.

Aspergers syndrome is probably also a real disease, related in some ways to autism. It is also wildly overdiagnosed in youngsters. It also seems to get pinned on nerds. But people with real Asperger's aren't simply nerds - they have profound and obvious problems.

There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that there is an autism spectrum (beyond the narrow spectrum of those that truly have a serious, serious disease). The best evidence indicates that the "autism spectrum" is simply a speculation by a few psychologists that people who are shy and introspective are somehow related to people who have a profound problem.

PDD-NOS is an interesting diagnosis developed by the folks that are pushing the idea of a wide spectrum of autism. The diagnosis is very arbitrary - yes there are criteria, but these are very subjective. Applied to young children, it has little if any no prognostic value.

Finally, there does not seem to exist even one controlled scientific study that demonstrates that the outcomes of any of these conditions can be changed - even if they do exist. All treatments are purely speculative.

Commentary time - I know I'll get modded down, but this might actually be useful for someone:

What's interesting is that for all of the loud chatter from the spectrum autism crowd, they totally avoid doing scientific studies. They do studies, but never controlled ones, which are the basis of science and medicine.

As far as I can tell, autism and its "spectrum" have become the "next big thing" in psychology, following in the footsteps of lobotomies, electroconvulsive therapy, repressed memories, and ADHD. Like its predecessors, the "autism spectrum" has no basis in science, and will likely, over time, go the way of other medical diagnoses and procedures that are based on speculation rather than science.

Question (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259237)

Is Asperger's something you can 'work through' and learn to control it, recognize it when it is affecting your social interaction, and work to become a socially viable entity, or is being able to grow more socially viable an attribute that one could point to as proof that he is not affected by Asperger's?

And personally I prefer the term 'photographic memory for the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch, coupled with the ability to remember numbers and other quantitative values pretty much forever.' Like how my phone number in 1979 was 487-7693, you know, stuff like that.

(Anything) Syndrome is such an ugly name.

Neurotypical emulation (2, Insightful)

Qwaniton (166432) | more than 10 years ago | (#6259876)

Asperger's is definitely something you can work through. However, it isn't about "controlling Asperger's." What it is is simple:

Pretending to be neurotypical.

The thing about Asperger's is that quite a lot of us, never truly understanding them neurotypical (Aspie-speak for 'normal'), learn how to bullshit our way through everyday life by emulating neurotypicals. Many young and impressionable Aspies have taken or are currently in social skills classes. I had for about 8 years. The benefits of social skills classes are, well, social skills, and more importantly (*cough*) a bunch of Aspie friends. I have a ton of friends also with Asperger's Syndrome thanks to social skills group. However, I left social skills group this year because I didn't have enough time for it since I became involved in the school plays.

Which brings me to the next thing. Yep, I'm an actor. An autistic actor. No matter how much you think that totally is not at all possible and totally completely oh-mi-god impossible, quite a few Aspies out there are in plays. Granted, I'm not that great of an actor....but.... still. My acting is kinda solid, not that vivid, but I'm better than some of the other chums there, who are neurotypical. So yep, I've been a husband over the years, kind of a deadbeat, but I still acted my part. However, I was also Professor Willard in Our Town.

Oh yeah, and did I mention that Aspies tend to go off on tangents?

Re:Welcome to the Pathology du Jour! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6259845)

dude, what are you a scientologist?
and no, you are not a doctor, they had to write well enough to at least get into a med school

New Slashdot psychpathology section? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6261339)

What's the deal with all the Slashdottians posting questions about psychology? Unusually introspective, I suppose.

I am a clinical psychologist, and I have two things to say about your comments.

First, I completely agree that PDD--especially Asperger's--has become the pathology du jour (Aspergers and Autism, along with things like Rett's syndrome are generally all considered forms of PDD. PDD NOS is just a label that gets used for "PDD that's not Aspergers or Autism"). I see plenty of kids that get referred to our clinic on a daily basis, mostly by family physicians, sometimes by psychiatrists, with concerns or diagnoses of "Asperger's," just because the kids are socially awkward or introverted. About 75% of the time the kids aren't Asperger's or PDD at all. It's rather frustrating, and I suspect it has to do something with increased attention to Asperger's among medical specialists, and loosening interpretations of diagnostic criteria (note I say "loosening interpretations of", not "different"). It's getting really absurd.

Having said that, I have to disagree with your claim that there is therefore no such thing as an "Autism spectrum." Once you've worked with these individuals, you become convinced there is something very distinctive about them--a certain roboticness, lacking understanding of social cues, odd, mechanical repetitive play and interests, things like echolalia, and so forth. It's like someone took the socioemotional modules out of their brain entirely. For those of you who haven't had contact with them, imagine an android that is very intelligent but lacks subtle social and emotional understanding, and you have a good idea. Not to sound derogatory at all--that's just what they're often like.

The reason why the idea of an autism spectrum gets used is because diagnoses of Autism and Asperger's often don't capture what's really going on. Kids lie on a continuum--some kids have more traits of PDD, and some kids fewer traits. Really, Asperger's and Autistic individuals are very similar, and basically differ in their language ability. So it's much more efficient to discuss an "Autism continuum", and a "language continuum", and so forth, than discuss "Autism", "Aspergers", and "PDD NOS" as separate things. PDD NOS complicates matters more, because there you have all sorts of kids who differ wildly in their autistic characteristics.

I'm a little suspicious that the original poster really has PDD or Asperger's. It's possible, I'm sure, but I've seen so many individuals being diagnosed with Aspergers inappropriately lately, it's questionable in my mind. Especially if it was by a family physician. Especially if they're writing well-articulated posts to Slashdot asking for other individuals' opinions on the matter.

I'd really recommend going to a good assessment clinic before getting too comfortable with an Asperger's diagnosis. Find a well-respected neuropsychology clinic. You could also go to a psychiatrist, but I tend to recommend them for drug therapy, not complex diagnostic questions. What ever you do, find a second opinion.

Re:New Slashdot psychpathology section? (1)

occamboy (583175) | more than 10 years ago | (#6263483)

There are several problems with the concept of an "autism spectrum":

1. I've not found one bit of scientific evidence that it exists. There are certainly tests that could be done to tend to prove or disprove its existance. For some odd reason, these have not been done, to my knowledge. It is conjecture, and it's very dangerous (though sadly common) to base medicine on conjecture - it tends to cause injury and death. When it comes to medicine, the vast majority of "reasonable hypotheses" are found to be incorrect when exposed to the light of science. Look at hormone replacement therapy as one of the many recent examples - it made sense in theory, but in retrospect, after outcomes were actually tested, it turns out to have mainly injured, killed, and cost a fortune.

2. the "spectrum" tends to confer some degree of illness on whoever the "diagnosis" is applied to. This is why we now have a bunch of otherwise-perfectly-fine nerds running around worrying about their new "illness". Just because someone is less sociable than, say, a used-car salesperson, they do not necessarily possess some degree of disease. Nerds may not be social butterflies, but they are typically honest and good people - this is not an illness of any sort in my book. Most are just a little shy, something that can easily be cured by approaching it as shyness, rather than as some facet of autism.

3. There are, to my knowledge, no treatments that have been shown to change outcome. (Again, we see the psychology community's staunch aversion to testing hypotheses by testing outcomes.) However, there are definitely speculative treatments that are pushed by people with very, very important titles - treatments that have neither been shown to be safe or effective.

This is not to say that if a person has a specific problem, they should not seek treatment via a proven intervention. However, speculating that a syndrome exists, and treating it with speculative interventions - this is very bad and dangerous.

Please stop spreading misinformation. (1)

Trixter (9555) | more than 10 years ago | (#6288587)

I would mod you down if I were able. If you had really read up on the subject you would know that Autism is not a "disease" -- it is not communicable, etc.

And your comments along the lines of "there is no scientific evidence that autism is a spectrum" are also baseless. My son has been diagnosed as high-functioning autistic (which is obvious if you talk to him) and he has genetically inherited traits from both me and my wife that demonstrate a scale. I am easily distracted, have the ability to intensly concentrate to the point of shutting out the world, love all things computers, etc. -- you could say I have many traits of Asperger's. My wife constantly wants change in our household, has bursts of energy followed by crashes, talks very fast -- you could say she has many traits of ADD or ADHD. All three of us are on a scale that has many points of different or malformed neurological behavior.

I know that my family alone is not a clinical trial. But I have personally met many other families that share the same background (parents are technical or slightly-autistic, child is more pronounced).

Re:Please stop spreading misinformation. (1)

occamboy (583175) | more than 10 years ago | (#6291317)

From www.m-w.com: disease: a condition of the living animal or plant body or of one of its parts that impairs normal functioning

A disease can be communicable, but it doesn't have to be. Actually, to truly capture the meaning, examine the word: dis-ease. Not at ease.

Just because a person has traits that are similar to those found in a certain well-documented disease or syndrome does not mean that this person has some low-grade form of the disease. For example, nerds (and musicians) and their children do seem to often have certain traits that are shared by people with autism and/or Aspergers - talking late, and some of the traits that you mention. However, my best guess, buttressed by a little science (way more science than is normally found in the field of psychology), is that this is an issue that is distinct from autism and Asperger's - in fact, it tends to be common in extremely bright people, including top physicists (Einstein, Feynman, and others), mathematicians, engineers, musicians, and others (Thomas Edison...).

If one has a son (or daughter) that is "different" , and suspected of autism, I'd do two things:

1. Administer the m-chat test. It's the *only* test ever shown to be predictive of outcome in toddlers, vis-a-vis autism and similar. All other tests and diagnosis are speculative.

2. Purchase "Late-Talking Children", and "The Einstein Syndrome", both by Thomas Sowell. Excellent books.

My heart goes out to you. Good luck!

Woohoo, 32... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6259711)

so what?

I have AS (1)

aplank (678451) | more than 10 years ago | (#6260937)

I have asperger's Syndrome. I read the wired article a while ago. I think that this geek link is very valid. Of all the people with AS that I know, most of them are geeks in some way because of the nature of the disease. I wrote an article about it when I was 15 and it is posted on a website:


See also Schizoid Personality Disorder (1)

Rev. Null (127972) | more than 10 years ago | (#6261969)

Some who may see themselves in a description of Asperger Syndrome may also want to take a look at the so-called schizoid personality disorder.

Here's a link: [Link] [pipeline.com]

There is some controversy about this. Many are inclined to speak of a "schizoid personality type" which encompasses many of the tendencies of the "disorder", but doesn't have the unhealthy connotations. Some refer to the INTP Myers-Briggs type as "Schizoid". My advice is to read it, and think about how it compares to your personality, but don't immediately diagnose yourself as having a personality disorder. If you are unsatisfied with your life, then talk to someone else.

Article in German (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 10 years ago | (#6264155)

Here [heise.de]. Citing a paper in the New Scientist that says autistic infants have less mercury in hair samples than "normal" children.

Going with or against the symptoms? (1)

totierne (56891) | more than 10 years ago | (#6274832)

What are peoples top coping strategies in life,
do you play to your strengths or fight to be average?

For example:
If you only work one to one, should you seek one to one opportunities or practice working in groups?

Smart ass answer: do both.
Ignore me, I'm bipolar.

Indicates cap on [geek] intelligence? (1)

datingdesignpatterns (684535) | more than 10 years ago | (#6295311)

I guess this possibly indicates that we can't go too far up the geek/science intelligence tree without toppling over and falling out and hurting your head. It would be nice to just keep going up and up in geek intelligence but apparently that doesn't happen. ~ ~ I wonder what happens when two realllllly word oriented people breed, or when two of any other really intense type breed. You'd think there'd be some sort of result of any kind of concentration like that. ~ ~ I won't be contributing since I got a boring 14 on the test. ;>
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