Asperger’s Syndrome in 5 words:
A subcategory of human behavior.
Before we dive into this statement, I would like to present you a second statement I have recently thought a lot about that we will have a look at first that states the following:
“Autistic behavior is Human behavior.” — Paul
Paul is the content creator behind the Asperger’s from the Inside YouTube channel where he makes informative videos about ASD and shares his strategies and insight. His statement above is something that he talks about every now and then, like in the About section of his Patreon page, and it is only recently that I have come to understand the message behind it:
Your body and mind respond and act differently to the various experiences the world has for you if you are autistic because the experiences are not always the same as they are for the average person — the responses themselves may therefore not have to be what is all that different — they are still human responses.
Some senses may give a higher input than what is considered “normal” from for example smell, sound, touch, temperature, light and taste. These can also be tuned down so they give a smaller input than expected. To learn more about this you may look up the two terms: hypo- and hypersensitivity.
Because of the different ways one may experience these sensory inputs, it is only natural the responses they produce will be different! Autistic behavior is still human behavior — because they are natural responses to the experience and sensory inputs the individual is exposed to.
These may seem inappropriate at times, but this is simply because while the objective experience may look the same, the responses are not produced from the same subjective experience — because our brains are wired differently.
This was a thorough explanation of Paul’s statement, but it was necessary for the second part of this story: the reason why you may summarize Asperger’s Syndrome in five words by describing it as being “a subcategory of human behavior”.
Having an official diagnosis after realizing this was a very comfortable experience. Before I was diagnosed, I did for a long time read and learn about what it was like having Asperger’s Syndrome, but I would not allow myself to apply the knowledge I had to better the challenges in my everyday. The confirmation that having ASD turned out to the case, made me in a way accept that it was okay to have empathy for myself and find and utilize the good solutions that are available out there. Looking at Asperger’s Syndrome as a subcategory of human behavior was a good way to appreciate this difference.
The reason why “A subcategory of human behavior” is important,
is because it groups together a number of challenges that individuals experience in a similar way — and gives you a head start to finding the answer to how to solve the challenges. I have a long list of examples of various ways this has helped me, which are likely to be featured in length in its own story later, but I would like to come with some specific examples at the end of this story, too.
Knowing you have Asperger’s can give a hint and a direction on where to go if you have difficulty finding a solution to a challenge or a problem that you have in your everyday.
I would argue this is not exclusively for those who have checked enough boxes to fall under the category of being “autistic”, but that this way of thinking can help anyone. At the very basic level: something is experienced — if found challenging, you may seek out a solution. Where do you start looking?
I am in the belief that everyone would have use of understanding the autistic mind, not only to better understand those on the autism spectrum around us, but also to increase our knowledge about how oneself may respond to the things the future has coming our way.
Examples of how this way of thinking has helped me:
1 When I am surrounded by a lot of sounds, such as in a school environment with a lot of people talking at once, I find this hard on my body. It leads to me feeling unwell — and the feeling of being unwell will be the source of many negative thoughts — thoughts that I would not have otherwise had, unless I was put in such an uncomfortable setting…that I will later feel guilty about.
Now that I am aware it is the sensory input of sound that is the root-cause of those negative thoughts, I can have empathy for myself and understand why when this is happening, and can better deal with the experience. While it is happening and afterwards.
2Everyone is in need of comfort and we prefer comfort in different ways. I find comfort in predictability and therefore certain things that are repeated can have a comforting effect. A specific example to this can be that if I find a song I really like, it is not unusual for me to loop the song for a couple days, weeks or even months without losing interest in it. Examples of songs like these can be Sunburn by Warryio, Legendary by Welshly Arms and Unstoppable by The Score. I tend to listen to songs that are upbeat and have inspiring lyrics, and when I first make an association between the song and those good feelings it usually stays like that for a long time.
Tl;dr I am not a crazy person because I like looping my songs a couple hundred times — it is a way for me to get comfort.
3 I have always been interested in Pokémon and still am at age 20. It is not unusual for adults to also enjoy this franchise and its video games, too, as the video games have some rather sophisticated mechanics hiding beneath the surface that can grab your interest. The intensity of this interest, however, may be unusual. I do not play many other games besides Pokémon and have made close to 1000 Pokémon themed videos on YouTube. It is common for those who have ASD to have a few chosen interests that they get really invested in — and sometimes even become the best in the world at. Being narrow and passionate about one’s hobbies is okay, too.
I have also read a couple books that I found helpful and interesting:
- The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood.
- Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Understanding Life Experiences from Early Childhood to Old Age by Sarah Hendrix.
- Love, Sex and Long-Term Relationships: What People with Asperger Syndrome Really Really Want by Sarah Hendrix.
Disclaimer: none of the links in this story are affiliate links — I earn no money from my recommendations. I like the mentioned YouTube channels and would like for others to potentially find good use of them, too.