Welcome to Debra's Asperger's Syndrome page

After reading this page take a look a the rest of the site. You can even link to buy my book about my travels with Bearsac.
Travels With My Teddy Bear
(travelogues of a woman with Asperger's syndrome with her teddy bear)
 

(Debra's own description of Asperger's syndrome {in part})

In 2005, five months after diagnosing myself as an Aspergian at 38 years old, I was officially diagnosed. An Aspergian (or Aspie for short) is someone labeled as having Asperger's syndrome and is proud of it. Asperger's syndrome is on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum.

This means that my brain is wired differently to a NeuroTypical (NT) person. (A person whose brain is wired in a way that the medical world considers to be 'normal' or typical [the majority of people]).

Aspergians brains tend to function better with logic, ability to acquire and store a large knowledge on things that interest them, observing things in finer detail, make decisions without emotional clouding or peer/social pressure, and be comfortable alone for long periods of time. Aspergians are disproportionately (not all) intellectually gifted but are generally considered to have a higher intellectual capacity that the NT, but often face barriers in the education system as it does not cater for the way we need to learn.

I highlight these strengths first as Asperger's is portrayed mostly as something 'wrong' with people. Whatever the reason for it, Asperger's is mostly a different way of understanding and perceiving things physically and emotionally because the brain wiring is different to the typical. It can be a problem though, mostly because the world caters for the typical brained person. However, there are areas we can find difficult or challenging even if not part of the environment or peoples' attitudes to us.

The parts of the brain that control social interactions tend to be less developed and this means Aspergians often have difficulties with social interaction and social imagination in the 'typical' way. This can be learnt manually, as it has with me. I am a reasonably social person and as an intelligent adult have taught myself manually lots of the social rules and cues. I store the manually learnt information, most likely, in the manual parts the brian. This sometimes deliberate attempt to learn social rules and behavior, matched with my logic and ability not to cloud my judgment with emotion, has meant I can often work things out even better than neurotypicals and deal with the trials of life better than most or at least not get so emotional about them. However, frustration is an emotion I may feel more deeply.

Because we can often be more than averagely articulate some Aspies may be better able, than neuro-typicals, to articulately describe social conventions, emotions and expected intentions of others. Yet, we may not be so able to act on this ‘manually thought about’ knowledge in the way neuro-typicals (to whom emotions and convention are more intuitive) do.

The traits of Asperger's are not always a hindrance to Aspies to function in society in the way that doctors and society asssume but the attitudes and other barriers errected by society can be more so.

People with Asperger's syndrome are 'neurodifferent' rather than 'neurotypical'. Also neurodifferent are people that are said to have dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, ODD, Tourette's syndrome, autism.

There is currently no 'cure' for Autism/Asperger's. Some people on the Autistic spectrum 'don't' want to be cured anyway as they see that they are just 'different' and not 'ill' and don't want to lose the qualities of being on the spectrum. However, some 'do' want to be cured.
Even if the attitudial barriers of ignorant people, institutions and other barriers were removed some people on the spectrum would still feel disabled by their conditions. Some of those would rather still be on the spectrum despite this and others would still prefer to find a cure. Some people on the spectrum are against 'anyone' wanting to be cured as they feel that it gives a bad image of Autism/Asperger's. But is this really fair to those people who are very affected by their condition even if the barriers are not the disabling element to be told they should not want to be cured just because of the bad impression the suggestion of a cure gives? Individuals should be equally respected in having their own opinion on 'their' life and not be made to feel guilty if it goes against the ethos. Surely change is the duty of 'society' rather than either those that 'want' or 'do not want' a cure.

I have sensory overload issues and am oversensitive to some sounds, smells, tactile and some visual stimuli. I find multitasking challenging if using more than one sense when concentrating or stressed. This can be typical for lots of Aspies.

I do consider my sensory overloads to be impairments but not all my AS traits I have, some traits I see as strengths or purely differences.

Like lots of Aspies I have difficulty recognising faces (more than the average difficulty NT people say they have). I often don't realise I have met the person several times before and it often occurs to me who people are only after they say something, make a gesture or a facial expression I associate with the person before I recognise them, even if I don't know the meaning of the expression. I have asked people how so-and-so is as I know they are connected to that person only to find out they are the person I'm asking about! I learnt to fake recognition some years ago, but sometimes now, if time permits and I get the feeling they won't be insulted will come out and say to a person, sorry but I just don't recognise you or remember your name.

I tend to have to say hello to everyone I pass in the street in my area as I am not sure if I am supposed to know them and don't want to seem as though I am ignoring them.

Please do not take offense if I appear not to recognise you or have muddled you up with someone else.

'Having' Asperger's mildly or being high functioning can create challenges itself as people do not realise why you appear as weird, naive, self-absorbed, rude, indifferent, unfriendly, overfriendly to them as you seem, as they miss out on the signs that you might have Asperger's as you appear intelligent or very intelligent and the bit they find weird does not match up to that in their minds.

If Asperger's is more obvious then people can understand and maybe make allowances for your seemly odd ways and maybe do not take offense so easily.

People are reasonbly good once I have explained to them about AS. If I have not said anything then it is easy for people to be offended by me. If people don't know I have AS and then it can be pretty strange or scary for them to see me when I react to sensory overload or being overcrowded. I might sniff at Bearsac's fur, put my hands over my ears and lalalalalaala, shout 'shut up' to inanimate objects that are making a noise, lose co-ordination of thought, speech or movement or simply withdraw.
Therefore I find it a good idea, for thier sake, to tell people. There are still a lot of ignorant (by attitude) people out there though and I often wonder if their attitude is hiding a denial that they suspect they might be on the spectrum too or, at least, a denial of something they feel insecure about in themselves.

Aspergians often have repetitive behavior or an unusual hobby or interest, to which they devote a lot of time. (The medical world and some of society sometimes call these interests 'obsessions') Bearsac is one such hobby and is one I made up and have never tired of.

People may say the whole Bearsac thing is part of my Asperger's condition and that I would not do it if I didn't have AS. I feel I still would do it whatever, as I am free-willed as part of my character. Some of the the repetitive behavior with him may well be a small part, and sniffing at him and kissing him calms me down and grounds me, but what is more a part of Asperger's is the fact that I do not worry or care what people think about me and the way I come across with Bearsac. I can do what I enjoy because I enjoy it and don't care that some people think it odd. The part of the brain that worries about what other people think does not always work in the same way with people with AS as it does with NTs, who seem to be concerned more about what other people think about them than they care for their need for self-expression and to do what they want or not what they don't.

Another thing with Asperger's syndrome is that Aspies tend not to automatically see hierarchy (or assumed hierarchy). So sometimes people take offense that I do the Bearsac thing with them as they see it as though I don't see my place beneath them in their assumed hierarchy nor hold them high in enough regard to worry about looking foolish to them. They would be partly right in thinking that. I don't care what they think enough to worry if I look foolish to them, and I don't care what they think about me, but that doesn't mean that I have no regard for them at all, I have regard for all humans, it's just that I have confidence in myself as I am to be myself and not change because of what people think, unless I deem it necessary.
Neither does it mean I don't see them as equal, I see everyone as equal and don't look up to, nor down on, anyone.

But what happens is some people expect other people to look up to them and then feel offended if they do not. I suppose they see lack of concern about how one looks to them as not looking up to them and they stupidly take offense. Some people, because they mistake that I am naive, assume I am in awe of them (even people far younger than me). When they realise I am not in awe they wrongly feel insulted as though it is wrong for me not to feel myself below them!
So when these type of people see me making a teddy bear talk they see me as having low social worth, assume hierarchy over me and take offense that I don't look up to them because I'm not worried about looking foolish to them. Well, those of guilty party, GET A LIFE!

I often think without words or pictures, (it's more like simply perceiving somehow). Forming words in my head just slows down thought process. I don't think mostly in pictures in the wide way a lot of people on the austic spectrum do, but I do sometimes think in flashes of pictures, just maybe only a little more than NTs might sometimes do; it's hard to know. I used to think other people don't think, I know now, they do. However, I still feel people don't think as much as I do, well, at least I think NTs don't think as much as I do. For me to translate my unworded thoughts into words, in order to communicate them, can be sometimes be hard for me, and I often get misunderstood as I have not translated my thoughts to speech successfully. The processing between my fast mind and spoken communication gets muddled up or is too slow a process to translate effectively, partly, I feel, because I have bad immediate and short-term memory.

Being perceived as 'different' in a way NTs cannot accept, Aspies tend to get bullied or left out more than NTs at school, work and in society in general. This continues into adulthood, often even with adults being bullied by children and teenagers. When this happens (as it has with me including when I have had stones thrown at me) and we go to the police or report it it to other relevant authorities it is often not taken seiorusly as they see it as simple peer bullying (which they don't recognise at assult) and not assualt as they would if done unto neurotypical adults. Adults are not the peers of children and teenagers even if they do have a 'typical' developmental delay as is said with Autism/Asperger's.

A lot of people tell me I must be mentally ill. Asperger's is not a mental Illness. When I was diagnosed with Asperger's the diagnostic team agreed that I had no mental health or psychological issues after asking questions aimed at assessing if someone has mental health issues as a matter of routine. Yes, Bearsac did speak to them.
To the people that attempt to dis me in this way (rather feebly I might add) I like to say I have been certified sane, how about you?!

Being less naturally socially adept in a way that typical society considers "normal" has been a barrier in my past and can still give me some difficulties now. However, I feel society still needs to evolve its view of diversity to a more positive general consensus, to push back the barriers it erects for people that have neologically different brains. These barriers are perpetuated by the medical world by their view of Asperger's as being a 'disorder' and something a person needs to be mended of or cured of. Also barriers are those created by the negatively informing media to a majority society of NTs that have difficulty thinking for themselves outside the social constraints of our society at its current level of evolution.

I feel now that my realisation that I'm an Aspie has given me a skeleton key to many doors of opportunity; I just have to find time to open them all and release the potential I was unaware I possessed.

 

If you are interested in your company, organisation or service receiving Asperger's syndrome Awareness Training or Disabilty Awareness training then please email me for details. I work within the disability movement.

Debra

bearsac@bearsac.com

 

To whom it is relevant

You laugh at me because I'm different. I laugh at you because
you're all the same

 

People often ask me why I do the Bearsac thing. I couldn't be bothered to do a separate page for this bit so have added it below.

Why I do the Bearsac thing:

- I enjoy it and don't see why I should not do it because of what people of no consequence think about it

- It is a hobby I have created and make and change the rules to

- it is an 'art' "Art is a simulation of feelings, expressions, and ideas, which is used as a tool to provoke, inspire, and create those feelings, expresions, and ideas in an audience" (wikipedia).

- I enjoy the variation of reactions as I am interested in human behavior

- It stimulates me when I am bored and calms me if stressed

- Talking in his voice helps override sounds bothering me and as I do not have to think about what to say as Bearsac repeats the same things, this means there is no, or little, concentration needed and therefore limited processing of incoming and outgoing information. (I have an information processing difficulty - use of the senses is 'information processing'.

- I started writing a fictional book based on Bearsac a few years ago (since forgotten). The website started as a publicity tool for that book. Bearsac talking is a publicity tool for the website.
- I have now written a book about my travels with Bearsac and the barriers of travel to my having Asperger's. It should be available to buy in 2009. Using Bearsac to talk about himself, his website and the book is publicity.

- I like to challenge the status quo of society and its stupid conventions.

- I have developed an Aspie compulsion to do it for all the above mentioned reasons.

 

People's incorrect notions of why I do it
(and my side of their assumptions):

- She cannot communicate without him.
(I can communicate without him and better than many neuro-typical people)

- She has no friends.
(My friends understand my love and need for solitude)

- She is shy.
(I am the opposite, maybe too in your face though)

- She is emotionally insecure and he is a crutch.
(I have insecurities from time to time like ALL people but maybe less than average)

- She is mentally ill.
(The Psychologists and Psychiatrists that diagnosed me with AS don't think that to be the case)

- She is seeking attention.
(Not true, attention can be claustrophobic for me but I do think it funny and cool when I overhear conversations about Bearsac or me)

- She maybe cannot have children.
(I have never tried to get pregnant so wouldn't know and do not want them)

- She has maybe lost a child.
(I have not lost a child and if I had how could it be replaced by a teddy bear! Gee, people are crazy aren't they!)

- She hasn't got/cannot get a boyfriend unless he is obsessed with teddy bears like she is.
(A long-term boyfriend for 13 years hates Bearsac)

- She has nothing better to do as she doesn't have a job.
(Beasac simply entertains me as he escorts me to the plush office where potted palm trees with trunks like yams stand proud on the terrace outside my window and lights come on when I walk under them on route to my desk as a Project Manager (not the office in a video you might have seen; that is an old office). He even escorts me to The Houses of Parliament when I have to attend consultations or lobbies there for work. Tom Clarke MP bought my book and Lord Rix [Brian Rix] seems rather fond of Bearsac

Those people that sctrach beneath the surface find there's more to me than Bearsac.

 

(a more genralised description of Asperger's adapted from internet sources)

The term "Asperger's syndrome" was coined by Lorna Wing in a 1981 medical paper; she named it after Hans Asperger, an Austrian psychiatrist and pediatrician whose work was not internationally recognised until the 1990s.

In the 1940s, Hans Asperger studied a group of young boys who seemed different from most children. These boys had social and communication difficulties similar to those of children with autism. However, they had average or above average intelligence and possessed good language skills. Dr. Asperger called this condition "autistic psychopathy." This condition was widely ignored until Dr. Asperger's writings were translated and published in English during the 1980s or 90s.
Today, autistic psychopathy is called "Asperger's syndrome." A lot of people proud of having Aspergers refer to themselves as Aspies or Aspergians.

*"disorder"
Aspies tend not to like terms like "disorder" This is a term used by the medical world. Aspies see their brains as different and not disordered.

* A neuro-typical (or NT) person is one whose neurological (brain) development and state are typical, conforming to what most people would perceive as "normal".
"normal" is a term disliked by Aspies and replaced by neuro-typica
l

 


The major characteristics of Asperger's syndrome are:


impairment in social interaction and communication

repetitive or obsessive behaviors

preoccupation with particular subjects or interests

unusual uneven skills ability

good (sometimes superior) grammar and vocabulary compared to 'classic' autistics

normal cognitive development compared to 'classic' autistics

average, or more usually, above average intelligence or very high intelligence

The DSM1V (1994) diagnose Asperger's syndrome when all the typical signs of Autism are present, but the person is thought to have normal language development and average or above average IQ*

* Doctors tend to diagnose autism if IQ is below average and/or there was a speech delay, and diagnose Asperger's if average or above IQ, no speech delay and high functioning.
However, some autistics have above average IQ even if it appears that they have low intelligence and do not communicate verbally or are not high functioning. Also some Aspies learn to speak earlier and more pedantically than average but tend to maybe speak less by choice.

 

Famous people considered to be Aspies:

Past:
Mozart
Beethoven
Einstein
Newton
Alexander Graham Bell
Thomas Edison
Jane Austen
Vincent van Gogh

Benjamin Franklin
Teddy Roosevelt
William Howard Taft (27th USA President)

Catherine the Great
Peter the Great
Wilhem II
Louis IV

Socrates
Virginia Woolf (author)
Isaac Asimov (actor, authour)
Goethe (writer)
James May (TopGear) Edit 7th Feb 2011 Having met James Tonight for the 2nd time we really don't think he has AS but many people do and OCD
......many more

Current times:
Bill Gates (Microshite)
Woody Allen
Gary Numan
(Numan, Numan, Numan!)
Tony Benn
Bob Dylan
Steven Spielberg
Keanu Reeves

Daryl Hannah (actress)
Dan Aykroyd
Matthew Laborteaux (actor)
Vernon Lomax Smith (economist)
Hikari Oe (composer)
Peter Tork
(The Monkees)
Satoshi Tajiri (creator of Pokemon)
Temple Grandin (cow lady)
Tom Hanks
......many more

 

The preceding informations have been shortened or adapted from sources on the internet
To find out more about Aspergers see these sites

http://www.key4learning.com/aspergerssyndrome.htm

http://www.nerdshit.com/archive/2005/01/04/some_autistics_/

http://home.att.net/~ascaris1/Advocacy.html

http://home.att.net/%7Eascaris1/index.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3766697.stm

http://www.aspergia.com/passport/

http://money.guardian.co.uk/workweekly/story/0,,1950703,00.html

http://www.aspergers-r-us.com/

Explanation of Aspie girls not being diagnosed
http://autismaspergerssyndrome.suite101.com/article.cfm/girls_with_aspergers_syndrome

 

or search on Asperer's syndrome on a search engine

 

for an Aspie view on Neuro-typicals (NTs) see this link but don't take offence!

http://home.att.net/%7Eascaris1/neurotypicality.html

 

Videos about Autism or Asperger's

What is Asperger's Syndrome
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmOSMc2Sepg&feature=relate
d

Asperger Syndrome - Clay Marzo: Just Add Water
narrated by Dr. Tony Attwood
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKRIRZEV4B4&feature=related

Young Aspie Woman responding to a video by Aspie teenager
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEFPK5HVfdg&feature=related

The video she was responding to
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvpqmMfW8hk&feature=related

Teenager girl with Asperger's - showing more females than realised might have AS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpCpu7lcZvU&feature=related

Young woman talking about sensory overload
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygWdA244v6I&feature=related

 

How's Teddy
Teddy introducing feelings in a pocket-sized flashcards.
Might suit children on Autistic spetrum.

 

 



 

   

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