Help me understand autism (and Asperger Syndrome)

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Hi Escapists, how are you ? :)

So as the thread name suggest I would like to have some help on something.

I have a couple people I know that have what is called autism and some have Asperger syndrome to which I tried to understand what it is...
But I fully admit, I really don't get it.

Has someone who believe firmly in compassion and understanding I would like you to help me a bit on this one. :)

The reason why I'm asking this is because I met one of my childhood friend not too long ago and he said to me that he was diagnose with Asperger syndrome. Everything was okay but ever since I remet him, I can't help but feel like he's a rater... rude.

I remember going to a EB Games and just before leaving the shop I said a little joke (don't remember what it was), right after he ''jokingly'' said to the cashier how his job doesn't contribute to society and how he should rethink his life.

I was shocked, I told him that his behavior was rater rude and the only excuse I got was ''Well I have autism remember ?'' to which I was insulted, like he was shielding his bad behavior by a diagnosis.
Now I know what it feels like to give an excuse because of an illness, I have my fair share of mental illnesses but he said it in a way that felt like it really wasn't his problem.

I know another person who has autism and he's even worse. I talked to him two or three times and he really was a nice guy but his roommates warned me that he was a dangerous guy: he threatened his roommates more than three times with a knives to which the police always came at the right time but never got shit for it because of his autism.

I must say, I'm confused. I heard that autistic people have difficulties with social interaction but from what I've seen, I tend to go to the conclusion that autistic people are rude.

I'm sure there's more to it though, that's why I'm asking you guys because I know there's a lot of people who have the spectrum here.

So yeah :) Autism talk.

tl;dr : I don't get autism, if you're autistic or know someone who is, help me understand what is it like to have autism.

I have asperger's syndrome (diagnosed age 12 by a professional) and I admit to being rude a few times, here's a great example. In high school me and my ROTC classmates had taken to calling breasts "torpedoes" since they're shaped like the warheads on one. I went up to a girl and told her she had torpedoes big enough to sink the bismark. I was slapped so hard my glasses flew across the hall. Let me explain my logic, if a woman tells a man he has big balls it's generally accepted as a compliment so in my mind telling a woman she had big breasts would be the equivalent owing to a female lack of testicles.

On other subjects my opinion is based on my own personal logic so I figure if people can express their opinions then I should be able to express mine, sadly mine aren't always popular because they're not based on emotions. My hatred ot the US military is a great example, everyone else seems too emotional about it and they ignore the atrocities they've committed. I don't share the emotions so I go based on the facts and no doubt if I said on Facebook that I hate the military my entire friend's list would delete me.

If I come across as an asshole give me a chance to explain, I'll always explain my thought process from start to finish. As for the whole threatening thing, we autistic people are prone to meltdowns where we just explode in anger or depression. Some of us are violent (I'm not, I just swear a lot). Everyone with autism needs a coping method like in my case I go somewhere to calm down.

One of the problem's associated with autism is the inability to understand something from someone else's perspective. you think something is heavy, he thinks its light. That individual, on a most basic level, cannot comprehend why you would think an object is light (Weight wise) when from his perspective, it's heavy.

Basically, its one form of lacking empathy.

So, if an autistic person thinks your a useless piece of human trash, he probably thinks that person knows he's a useless piece of human trash. Most autistic, by the time their all grown up, know this (Intellectually) not to be true, even if they instinctively can't. And some autistic people just don't give two shits about it either way.

I guess a better way of explaining it is that autistic people frequently have problems placing themselves in other peoples shoes. So they (Some) don't really understand or care whats rude or not.

I am not a mental health specialist. This is just my understanding of the matter.

EDITED.

Autism is a mental defect you get at birth, or very soon after birth.
I can only really speak for Asperger's syndrome, because that's what I have. Generally speaking, it's more difficult for those with Asperger's syndrome to read other people's expressions, and they (we) have different thought patterns[1], which makes understanding other people more difficult.
Now, Autism varies drastically from case to case. Some people are quiet introverts, others are noisy violent people, so you really can't say "Oh, since he's autistic we need to treat him like this". It's a massive spectrum. Also because of this, I can't help you understand anything beyond the basic stuff that is shared amongst those with autism.
I have hid behind my diagnosis as well. It's not really a legitimate excuse, at least for me, but it does help mitigate the guilt of fucking up socially. I do it because I know I've screwed up, and I just don't want to hear about it. My guess is that your friend did it for the same reason, he just didn't want you to make him feel even worse than he already did about it.

That's all I can think to say about the matter. Everyone is different, including people with autism. We just have more trouble with people because it's difficult to know what is right or wrong to say at given moments. Sometimes people will act perfectly normal and then suddenly say something rude completely out of the blue. The best thing to do is let them know it wasn't the right thing to do but not be a dick about it.

[1] This may come from being socially awkward or the different thought patterns cause social awkwardness, I'm not exactly sure.

Well...autism is a spectrum, you have people who have it to various degrees. Aspergers is something that people with very mild autism have.

Basically, people with autism have minds that work in somewhat different ways to people that don't. Generally, social skills are noticeably affected.

Given that society is more or less set up on the assumption that people don't have autism, people that do have problems.

I have an autistic spectrum disorder which noone wants to give a more specific diagnosis to, so it's a "not otherwise specified" job.

I'm incredibly "high functioning" on the autistic spectrum though, and that actually means I have few noticeable symptoms. I don't seem to suffer from the stereotypical "mind-blindness", for example, in fact I'm actually quite good at guessing what other people are thinking because I don't tend to take anything on instinct, I guess you could say I think about other people quite intellectually and methodically and often that seems to work really well.

Growing up I definitely wasn't so good though and I often found people very threatening or assumed they had hostile intent simply because I couldn't understand what they wanted. I also developed depression quite young, which often stems from autism and in my case was linked to a kind of obsessive repetition of certain thought patterns which resulted in very negative conclusions. I used to take things very literally in the past, as well, and got easily upset or offended. I suspect that as I've got older I've learned to use my brain to compensate for areas in which I'm weak, which is probably why I'm quite asymptomatic now.

The other thing I find is that I have certain cognitive abilities which I suspect are much better than most people and others which are worse. I can wheel out whole encyclopedias of random stuff I learned or was interested in when I was eight, but I have some difficulty with managing time and remembering to do basic tasks.

I also now work with people who have very severe autism, so severe in fact that they wouldn't be able to post on this forum, so I like to think I have an overview (if slightly biased towards the extremes) of the whole autistic spectrum. One thing I can say from this is that autism can mean just about anything. High functioning autists like myself tend to put ourselves forward as representatives of autism in general and to assume that our symptoms, experiences and needs are the same as other autistic people or even other autistic people with a similar diagnosis when actually they're often really not. For example, the kind of control I seem to have over my symptoms seems to be very rare, even among high functioning autists, so while I could give a lot of advice on that basis there's no guarantee any of it would help you understand your friend.

My feeling, though, is that most people shouldn't really use autism as an excuse. It is an excuse on some levels, like any learning difficulty, but expecting it to function as such in general society is not fair. Unless you're so autistic that you can't go out without a carer, noone is going to take autism as an excuse and as unfair as it might seem at first, noone has to. I don't buy the neurodiversity line that expecting autists to exhibit any form of normal behavior is abusive, particularly since many autistic people aspire to live as close to a normal life as possible. There is no way to force an autistic person to stop being autistic, but there are ways of learning how to act better in social situations by using your autistic mind to think through them and unless you're willing to completely renounce the idea of living a normalish life alongside neurotypical people, I think it's kind of silly not to try.

I've met extremely autistic people who are actually very pleasant to talk to, because they've been drilled by the care system to be meticulously polite, and they're often extremely good at being attentive to what other people are saying. Overall, I (personally) think that you should feel bad when someone points out to you that you've been rude, because that feeling gives you the resolve to try not to do it again. The only people who should really be exempt are those who have no capacity to learn from their actions.

I'd be careful about saying that to your friends, but at the same time it's often something people who haven't been through the social care system miss out on. People get diagnosed with autism, end up receiving very little care or formal support and thus simply assume that it's some immutable thing they can't control. To a certain extent they're always right, but there are often little things you can do to help make yourself more pleasant to be around or avoid the worst of it.

I don't think autism has to mean rude. I think it always entails having a slightly weird way of interacting or organizing social relationships, but that doesn't have to break down into outright rudeness. To a certain extent it depends on the person, but it also depends on their attitude and how they manage themselves, the same as any mental condition.

You might find this an interesting read. A faculty member at Colorado State has autism and this translates very well in working with animals.

For example, "Today, at least half of all cattle in the United States and Canada, as well as many in other countries, are handled in humane slaughter systems designed by Grandin. Her animal welfare guidelines have become the gold standard in the $80 billion meat-packing industry."

http://www.colostate.edu/features/temple-grandin.aspx

Autism and Aspergers syndrome are usually very different from person to person, in my experience. I myself have Asperger and I often feel that other aspies are very different from myself. Autism is another subject to me, as such I'll refrain from talking about that.

As far as I've noticed, Aspergers is worst when combined with another disorder. My cousin has AS, as well as OCD and depressions, wich makes her issues VERY difficult. Several people I've met who have been outright difficult to deal with (rudeness, agression etc) usually have something more than just Aspergers.

As Xan Krieger mentioned, we are sometimes prone to breakdowns. I get mine when I'm stressed or scared, usually in situations "normal" people would just shrug. For example, my mom was worried for my safety after a stranger told me I shouldn't have a dog and I just broke down and screamed in anger and fear because my dog is the most precious thing to me and the fear of having people report me for taking bad care/responsibility for her was so strong that it overwhelmed me. In some, this can make us have violent outbursts, others just cry uncontrollably, none of us like it.

The best advice I can give to interacting with aspies and autists is really to just be a good person with them. Learn what upsets them, learn how to deal with that, become a person that is comfortable for them. I'm not saying you should coddle them, not at all, just that if you are an ass to an aspie we react (and feel) about 10 times worse than a "normal" person.

Also, don't lie. Please, I cannot stand liers and neither could any aspies I've talked to. All aspies I've met like animals (I really mean all, but I haven't met all aspies in the world), and when asked why they like animals that first answer has always been "they don't lie to you". You know the quote "we teach our kids to speak and walk then we expect them to sit still and be quiet"? I usually add "we are taught to be honest and then we are told not to speak the truth."
"No, you do not look good in that shirt" met with comments about tactlessness.
"No, I do not like the food you made" met with comments about rudeness.
"White" lies have been a big challenge for me, if a person asks me about anything I WILL answer them, I will not lie.

One common thing people think about us is that we have trouble with empathy, I'd like to point out that the studies that showed this where preformed on very young children (sorry, I have no link, all I can say is that the psychiatrist who told me this has dedicated her life to studying autism and it's spectrum), and most aspies had no more difficulties with empathy than others at the age of 7 or so. I'll try to find a source if asked.

I'm not sure if anything here helps or if I just made you more confused, but I hope that it helped a little bit at least.

kiwi_poo:
Now, Autism varies drastically from case to case. Some people are quiet introverts, others are noisy violent people, so you really can't say "Oh, since he's autistic we need to treat him like this".

That's what struck me about the story - I have (properly diagnosed, thankyou) Aspergers and am far more on the introversion end of the spectrum. I'm rarely rude to people, intentionally anyway, because it's a struggle to talk to people half the time. Even if I could I'm aware enough that blatantly insulting people is rude.

So, OP, despite having the same problem (roughly), I can't understand your friends' actions any better than you can. People with autism still have distinct personalities.

maidenm:
Also, don't lie. Please, I cannot stand liers and neither could any aspies I've talked to. All aspies I've met like animals (I really mean all, but I haven't met all aspies in the world), and when asked why they like animals that first answer has always been "they don't lie to you".

Personally, it isn't the fact of the lie that bothers me, because everyone lies. What's annoying is that unless it's really obvious, I can't read the person well enough to know they're lying to me. The fact that people are lying to me upsets me far less than not being able to tell does.

Yo. Person with autism here.

My brother and I were both born with autism, and he was hit a bit harder than I was.

According to my parents, when I was little, there was a period in my life where I did not talk at all. I was also obsessed with routines and structure. If I felt we weren't going to make it to someplace on time or if something changes in our daily routine, I would get freaked out.

For example, I would have a bunch of dinosaur toys all lined up facing a certain direction. If anyone moves a toy out of line, I would get upset.

My social skills were also pretty bad. I would act out a lot in public, and I would find myself being very rude to people and interrupting them. And I have also used my autism as an excuse for my behavior before, and when I look back on that, I feel ashamed.

I'm a lot better about this kind of thing now, but unfortunately, my brother still has problems.

For example, recently he was told that we were going somewhere at 5:00. My dad then decided we would go earlier than that and as a result, when we were leaving, my brother, who was in the middle of playing a game got anxious and upset that we weren't leaving at the time he was told. I told him that he could pause the game and play it when we got back, but he still acted up. He's very obsessed with structure and routine in his life and if something happens that upsets that structure, he reacts negatively.

He also doesn't seem to have much of a filter. He would often interrupt conversations with questions unrelated to the subject, say inappropriate things, or talk in a movie theater. It can be pretty frustrating.

So yeah, that's my experience with autism.

All you have to understand about autism is that it makes you House.

I don't care what "disease" they have. If they are an asshole, I will treat them like an asshole. If they are nice, I will treat them nice.

Diagnosed with autism myself (bit later then most people would be, only knowing it for a year now). And I have to say, there are so many forms of autism that you most likely won't meet 2 people with the same form. I for instance can't read emotions and sometimes the world is like a puzzle with a piece missing, certain objects won't pop up untill someone guides me to it. And if more then one person talks to me at a single time I can panic and try to find a more save haven.

Edit, I also have to add that it takes a long while before I can trust people and there are only a few people I truelly allow to touch me (other's aren't allowed to since it doesn't exactly comfort me).

it really can vary a lot from person to person. i had a friends brother who was very autistic and had much trouble communicating in a way that others would understand. at one point he had other friends at a centre for people with similar conditions but they had to move because they lived in a council house and needed more space. ever since then he will ask you how many friends you can fit into a room, often saying you could get thousands into any given room, and talk about having them all over to have a party. thats about the limit of what he will say to you. just going over and over those 2 points. he then will escape into his drumming he has got a full drum kit in his room and will play the thing day and night at random, he is really good but he only does random beats always jumping from one thing to another. touching anything of his, drumkit mainly, was totally out and physical contact was not on the cards either.

then another time i didnt not know this person as well we were doing some cooking together about 10 of us in a big kitchen for a big group of people. so it was mass chopping stuff up. he was ok with that but was slow and would get distracted unless his mother would point him back to what he was supposed to be doing. by the end he was still on his task while the rest of us had done several others. he got a bit distressed when we had to take some of the things that he was supposed to chop and do them for him and started trying to race us. thankfully we didnt have to do many so he calmed down. at one point he was talking about his love for meat and big steaks and such, wile living in a vegan community, so not exactly the most diplomatic view to be talking about in a very loud voice. at one point i held his hand and while he did not like it he accepted it and did not get overly upset.

then i have a friend with aspergers (not sure if official or self diagnosed) now this guy you could mistake for just being a bit socially awkward but sometimes you look at him at a party or gathering and see a sort of blank expression on his fase as if he is trying to work out what is going on. he spent much of his school life in the library not having many friends but has branched out a bit more later in life.

i dont think any one singular definition can ever hope to explain the conditions but generally a lack of ability to understand what others are thinking and being unable to place themselfs into others shoes to work out the correct responce to any given social situation.
i can empathise with them being rather dyslexic (as maybe the spelling and grammer have given away) i can somtimes find myself with a trouble expressing and articulating my thoughts, even the most eloquent of sentences never quite feels as compleate as it does in my head. so its very much there for the grace of god go i sort of thing. if i have these problems i can only imagin what these guys have to go through and the colourfull world that is locked away from the world by lack of an ability to accuratly say what is on their mind.

SonicWaffle:

maidenm:
Also, don't lie. Please, I cannot stand liers and neither could any aspies I've talked to. All aspies I've met like animals (I really mean all, but I haven't met all aspies in the world), and when asked why they like animals that first answer has always been "they don't lie to you".

Personally, it isn't the fact of the lie that bothers me, because everyone lies. What's annoying is that unless it's really obvious, I can't read the person well enough to know they're lying to me. The fact that people are lying to me upsets me far less than not being able to tell does.

Pretty much the same for me, but I also hate how people are so inconsistent (ie. tell you to be honest and then get mad for being so) but the annoyance with it lies heavily in not being able to tell that it's lying, like you said. It makes me feel stupid, and sometimes makes people treat me like I'm stupid. That everyone lies have just made me more suspicious over the years and have, at times, given me issues with trust and such.

As for me, I have difficulty reading other people's faces and expressions, so I generally can't pick up on something unless it is conveyed in words and have difficulty detecting sarcasm. I can be too direct for some people's tastes, but nothing like a lot of the examples other people have posted (I used to be more like that as a child, but I learned to control myself and to substitute rules for instinctive comprehension). I have a great deal of difficulty expressing my emotions, which probably contributes somewhat to my periods of depression, and also leads a lot of people to behave as if I don't have feelings at all, or to project their expectations of what I should be feeling onto me when I feel nothing of the sort.

I like to schedule things and plan them out in advance (although I do not actually require a regular schedule, just some breathing room to prepare myself for things), and am generally displeased by surprises of any variety.

I find contact with other people draining, and am generally nervous around others unless I know them very well. I don't make friends easily, and am very bad at 'networking' with people.

I tend to get obsessive with both my work (translation) and my hobbies (especially reading), and will sometimes focus on one to the exclusion of everything else.

Being diagnosed with autism as a small child (although I was not actually informed of the diagnosis until the age of 21), resulted in my suffering about a decade of abuse at the hands of my local school system, which thought that confusion, requests for more specific instructions, and a need to occasionally go stand alone in the hall for a while were problems best solved by medication for conditions I don't have (which gave me mood swings, uncontrolled weight-gain, and started my issues with depression) and frequent physical and emotional abuse from a staff who were consistently shielded from receiving any consequences for their actions.

On the whole, I wish that society would be more accepting, or at least aware, of non-neurotypical standards of communication. If I have to spend every day working hard to pretend to be like you in exchange for, on average, doing measurably superior work for less pay, and a significantly increased risk of suffering serious ill-treatment, then you ought to have at least some awareness that I exist.

I'd also like it if people in gaming communities would stop throwing the name of my condition around as an insult. I know there are a bunch of assholes who try to use it as an excuse to never learn manners, but it's still hurtful and deserves to be criticized as much as all the other slurs people throw around in this community.

Speaking as someone diagnosed (by a doctor) with Asperger's Syndrome (back when nobody knew what it was), I guess autism can be described as a different way of seeing the world. Which is nice... but it makes socializing a bit awkward.

I don't really understand it this well but from what I understand it is a syndrome that makes you less perceptive to other peoples emotions, body language and expressions which can cause a disconnect in social interactions.

Other than that I am pretty clueless as well.

As someone who is autistic, I was told that it is the different mapping of the brain than is usual for humans. So it differs form person to person so yah.

Well, I'm dignosed with Asperger's (and OCD, and they overlap a bit), but like several other posters have said before, everyone is an individual.

The issues I have are mainly with recognising faces and facial expressions. I like cartoons and comics more than live-action because it makes it easier to tell people apart and know what emotion they're expressing.

Also I wish people would just be honest.
I don't like it when people say things that aren't true, to be nice or something.
I can't tell if they're serious or saying something just because it's what you should do.

'I have Aspergers.' isn't an excuse for being a jerk.
It can explain why he didn't think he was being a jerk, though.

maidenm:
All aspies I've met like animals (I really mean all, but I haven't met all aspies in the world), and when asked why they like animals that first answer has always been "they don't lie to you".

I love animals.
Although, I think a big reason for why I do get along with them well is that the power-dynamic is very simple. If there is a problem with the animal, you know it's your fault.
If your dog acts up and destroys your property, it's your fault, and your responsibility.

With humans, who knows? I find it easy to interact with people who have well-defined roles in the interaction, for example if I'm dealing with someone whose job it is to do something for me (like a waiter), I know how I'm supposed to act and what I'm expected to do.

Without that framework, it's difficult.

Autism is literally just a medical term for "ok I dont understand him/her why arent they like the rest of us?". The whole autisim diagnosis is just a huge "pool up things we dont get and call it a disease". Ive been told before when I was a child I had Asperger syndrome too. All it was is that Im a very logical thinker and alot of what people do is stupid and illogical, so I dont tend to socialize with them much, as a result I dont have much experience with sugar coating or B/Sing for the sake of being social. Its not some disease that makes it impossible for me to be social or something its just an active choice influenced by my choice to take life more logically than others. Where others see "going out getting hammered/having a good time" I see "idiots wasting braincells and making 'friends' who will never be there for them". So I guess in my case I just got an extra does of reality.rx and it makes it hard for me to socialize with those that are deficient in vitamin reality.

In short: Autism is a remarkably lazy categorization of those who dont act like the "norm". And as such some individuals in the medical community treat it like its a disease to be different and try to diagnose it like one. As appose to understanding why this is or understanding how it is different people act differently for different reasons they label it as "autistic" and brand you as mentally diseased because they dont get it.

But if "lack of empathy" or "not being able to see other peoples perspective" is a part of autism, is there any relation (on a biological/neurological level) to sociopathy?

Is anyone here with enough knowledge in medicine / neurology to answer that?

Your friend may or may not be autistic, but that doesn't matter because he's just a jerk. I'm actually high-functioning autistic myself (the diagnosis for Asperger's Syndrome no longer officially exists as a separate thing), but I never see it as an excuse for when I fuck up in a social situation. When I do something rude, I have to realize the mistake and then not do it again. It can be a challenge, but anyone who doesn't even try to improve is just a dick.
It's like when I look at Sheldon from "The Big Bang Theory." Yes, he's probably autistic. But he's also a gigantic douchenozzle and the main reason that I can't stand the show.

Yeah, autism varies wildly, and no two people with it are the same (all that it really is is abnormal brain chemistry), but whatever form it takes, it's never an excuse for not being a good person. End of story.

Adeptus Aspartem:
But if "lack of empathy" or "not being able to see other peoples perspective" is a part of autism, is there any relation (on a biological/neurological level) to sociopathy?

Is anyone here with enough knowledge in medicine / neurology to answer that?

Autism =/= Lack of empathy.
While it's true that some have trouble empathizing with others, many autistics actually have an unusually strong sense of empathy, myself included. The problem is often failing to recognize the things that belie a person's feelings, the things that to a neurotypical would seem obvious (i.e., body language, tone of voice, etc.). Rather than instinctively picking up on these things, autistics often have to deliberately train themselves to see them and then consciously look for them. It can be difficult, to say the least.

EDIT: Edited for clarity.

Adeptus Aspartem:
But if "lack of empathy" or "not being able to see other peoples perspective" is a part of autism, is there any relation (on a biological/neurological level) to sociopathy?

Is anyone here with enough knowledge in medicine / neurology to answer that?

I wouldn't say autism means you don't have empathy. Rather that you can't figure out how other people feel.
Like, you don't want to hurt people, but can't tell if you are hurting them.
If you lacked empathy, you wouldn't care.

On a neurological level, autism is kinda an umbrella term for a number of things.

I have Aspergers myself, though it's very high functioning so I only have a few odd symptoms. Everything is very black-and-white with me, I don't easily understand/accept grey areas in logic or reasoning. I also admit I can be a bit rude at times, but I don't mean to. It's also harder to read other people's emotions and facial expressions, as others have said.

Also, that guy is an idiot, using it as an excuse to be a prick. I know when I was very young and diagnosed, I tried that BS, but my parents quickly snapped me into line and I realized it's not some excuse. As I grew older, I understood that a lot better.

It's not all just disabilities though, I have a very VERY strong imagination and creativity that many people in my life have never even heard of. I also am very good at staying concentrated on something once I get going. Also, I am very schedule and structure based. I like it, I like routines. I work the same shifts at work with maybe a 1 hour variable at the end cause that's what works best for me. I also like to plan things out in a timely manner when I can.

One big thing is my empathy. I am EXTREMELY empathetic and caring, and my heart is gigantic, as many have said. It's nice, I like the balance, seeing as the pros (some I still have not listed) outweigh the cons

Autism and its disorder spectrum are not a license to be an ass. Every time someone lets someone "off the hook" for something like that they are saying that behavior is okay. It is not. People with AS or other ASDs can (and should) learn to compensate for the social skills which don't come as naturally to them. Those of us that are considered "normal" should be understanding of their difficulties but should help them understand what is inappropriate and why instead of giving them a pass because "they can't help it".

Lieju:

Adeptus Aspartem:
But if "lack of empathy" or "not being able to see other peoples perspective" is a part of autism, is there any relation (on a biological/neurological level) to sociopathy?

Is anyone here with enough knowledge in medicine / neurology to answer that?

I wouldn't say autism means you don't have empathy. Rather that you can't figure out how other people feel.
Like, you don't want to hurt people, but can't tell if you are hurting them.
If you lacked empathy, you wouldn't care.

On a neurological level, autism is kinda an umbrella term for a number of things.

Unfortinutely Autisim in its current definition is faaar to broad to even be able to say that much. Particualry Asperger syndrome individuals on some cases are more capable of understanding emotions and empathy that the "standard" individual. The thing to know is that society as a whole has a large populace of people who do things that any reason focused person would be avoiding (IE drinking toxic substances/alcohol, smoking health harming products, following animalistic instincts to breed at every oportunity Basicly all 7 of the deadly sins that are tied to bodily supidity) But society as a whole seems to be so accepting of it almost labeling it as normal or cool. You can see how backwards it is when the people with more mental clarity are labeled as "weird/diseased" when the common image of "normality" is that of sin and self abuse.

As a person with Asperger's, I often care far more about simple logic that I can see than what people think. Usually I find it hard to sympathise with what people think unless it's something they think about me.
I reject things I find illogical. Like I often don't take compliments well because I don't feel I've done anything to deserve them.

I'm introverted. I like being sociable, but only with small groups of people, and feel I'm best spending my time with someone when one on one, because I can really get to know them.

I only have interest in a few things, and nothing else. Other people have a problem understanding this. Like I would probably only be interested in a romantic partner, or indeed simply friendship if we shared these common interests. Other people might say that being too similar can be bad, and I agree but only in the personality sense, since I really wouldn't care to interact with someone who didn't share interests.

Many times I make a mistake socially, mainly because I said something that easily got taken to mean something else, and I didn't register the possible other meaning.

I seem to only think much of my mistakes and not of my accomplishments, mostly because I feel that I don't really have any accomplishments.

I often feel like when I'm being nice, I'm being nice out of an understanding of morals, rather than a conscious desire to be good.

When I feel useless in a situation or want to avoid something awkward, I get really awkward and stop saying anything.
When I have trouble with a person passing me on a path I will simply stop moving so that I don't have to make the decision.

I'm very bad at arbitrary decisions, and often only work well from necessity.
I'm smart, but not great academically because I'm simply not good at remembering lots of facts at once. And that's because I'm bad at studying. With other school activities, there is a point you're finish, and you feel satisfaction. I get no satisfaction from studying since there is no clear criteria. No point to stop. The point to stop is a complete subjective of "you've learned it". When have I learnt something? Because of this, I'm much better at being taught than learning. I'll probably do bad in university because a lot of your learning is by yourself with no direction. I need someone to tell me I've done something worthwhile.

I'm all too keen to accept failure. When there's the chance of it happening I just give up, because the absolute is more comfortable than not knowing. That's why in exams I never freak out.

When writing english papers, others may tell me afterwards that they have written 4 pages. In comparison I will have written maybe one side of one page, because all I see is getting to the point. There is no padding.
I'm far better at objective subjects. Maths was always what I did best. Because it's all objective rules.

My vocabulary and spelling was always much higher than the people around me, and I was mocked for it because they thought I was always up on a high horse, trying to look sophisticated, when really, I just better at picking up terms, and I enjoyed using knowledge.
I'm also quite a grammar nazi, and hate it when people tell how it doesn't matter, because I see it as a bunch of people deliberately breaking rules and I'm trying to help them to get it right, to be more in line with the rules. People often hate me for this, because I care more about truth or rules than what they think.

I'll sometimes spend an hour walking around my house without talking, just thinking to myself about a subject.
My train of thought is far more natural than my speech or writing. If I have to stop my train of thought to write it down I just lose it.

Often when given a project, I'll be able to know whether or not I can do it right way. If it requires creativity, I'll either have an idea straight away, or not at all.

When people ask me for an opinion, I'll be honest, and because that often involves having no great feeling towards it, I'll often just give a humming noise of acknowledgement, because I couldn't even be bothered to open my mouth in response. So sometimes I feign enthusiasm, just to make people happier.

I find that I am more socially developed than other Apserger's I might, because I can tell if they have Asperger's just by meeting them. They often don't understand context. They will parrot a joke just to try to get a laugh, even when it just seems random to do so.

My usual face is one lacking in emotion, which people often took as depression or grumpiness or unsociability, and so avoided me. Because I was fine often being alone at school, just thinking to myself, this lended to others the idea that I thought I was better than them.

It's not hard to incite emotion in me. I can go quickly from nothing to joking around, but inbetween I do not really carry any emotion. I would hate it when others told me to smile, as if that made whatever they thought I was going through better. It would actually take me from nothing to annoyed. It annoyed me that they wanted to me to smile, just because they didn't like my sullen face. As if their view was more important than whatever sadness they thought I had.

I am often quite trusting, and people would use this to play jokes on me. Some things I am still not sure if they were true or not.

I think the people you mention are using what they have as an excuse. Although it could be possible what you're seeing as rude is them not caring and only being concerned with what they see as truth. We can bee seen as rude because we do not care for social norms that we see no logic in. I do not mention it too much, and might feel weird about it, because then people start thinking that any shortcoming I have is a result of it, and I don't like that. I makes me seem more like a sufferer, than a person with flaws. I hate it when people say I suffer from my 'disability'. The only reason it's a disability is because the world is not set up for me.

EDIT: I'm also quite open with people. When playing truth or dare I always pick truth, because I don't want to take a risk, and I enjoy people learning about me, and am not embarrassed about much. Some people would simply refuse to answer certain questions. I just answer them because I don't care.

I have a bad time getting rid of anything because everything is memories, and I don't cope well with permanent loss.

I also don't cope well with illness, and have a fear of vomiting because I'm scared of lack of control.

Iīm not an expert on autism or Asperger syndrome, but i had a guy in my class that said he had Asperger/autism, dont remember wich it was, and when we were on a field trip to a mosque to learn more about the muslim faith, we were around 19 years old. And i havent been to any before and we only got one in the town where i live in sweden.

So i was genuily intrested to learn about it, and my classmate askīs me if itīs okay for him to ask about something he read that Muhammed was a paedophile. Because somewhere apperently itīs suggested he slept with a young girl that was like 12 and he was 30ish. Knowing he sometimes could be rude he did sometime ask me and a friend if it was okay before making his statements, and i told him very sternly that it was NOT okay to ask that. I told him that it would be one of the WORST thingīs he could say.

Tho sure enough, when the question time started after the tour he asked after awhile that very question, tho the people who lead the tour didenīt take offence. They joked it off after he asked the question, tho they sure were taken off guard by the question.

So my experience with him was many similar situationīs like that. Sometimeīs he listened when we told him not to make taboo/rude statementīs/questions after he asked us if it was okay. But sometimeīs he didenīt. He was very hard to get, but i think he was realy intrested in social reactions and etc, he told us he was planning to be a psychologist. So i think sometimeīs he asked or said rude/taboo/wierd stuff even tho he knew he shouldenīt just to se the reactionīs from people to kinda learn how people work/react.

I have a friend of a friend who has Asperger but he is just like any normal guy just that he sometimeīs has a hard time following if we are kidding or not in some conversationīs. So my experience goes from extreme to mild and i only met two people who has Asperger or autism.

You're getting some great responses. My brother is also autistic, high functioning possibly Asperger's. You should be very careful because you're going down a slippery slope of ignorance; these two people don't sound like they have autism at all but doctors comforting their parents with a convenient diagnosis. Like ADD (not ADHD thought that too sometimes) it can be mis/overdiagnosed in kids who have serious problems, but not biological ones. It's convenient for parents who don't want to deal with a problem they either caused or don't know how to handle with good parenting. I suggest you research it on your own, even Wikipedia should suffice. Ask your parents, ask a doctor where you can get good information, etc.

It's not good to treat people too nice because of a diagnosis but you do have to be sensitive to their issues; they can't do certain things the same way you or I can nor can they perceive them in the same way either. Like I said these two people I highly doubt actually have autism. You would have realized it when you first met them as it tends to be fairly obvious unless it's a certain part of the spectrum. Kids are often diagnosed in their first few years in this day and age though not always. Autism =/= rude

I work with two brothers who have Aspergers, both in different degrees.

The youngest is care-free, obsessed with video games (which is good because so am I), a strong liberal, and is taken to making noises, yelling things, making bad jokes (he joined a twitter feed that I think is named 'bad jokes'), Schmups, and Kung Pow Enter the Fist.

Though when Steam announced Trading cards and limits to friends, he raged for a solid hour. Yelling, slamming things to the point where if I wasn't there, he'd hurt himself.

The eldest has a lot of problems. He growls to himself, speaks to himself under his breath. He spasms and his hands are normally curled up into crawls. He will yell if upset, and sees the world only in a very conservative light. There's nothing wrong with being a conservative, but he will always believe anything said by someone who names himself a conservative.

I.e. if a person at my work says he's a conservative, he can tell the eldest that Obama was found to be an alien, and the eldest will search the internet for proof.

The Eldest is very, very angry. And violent. There was one time his mother said 'stop acting like a little bitch' when she was frustrated. The entire session was about him yelling how he was going to kill her and how she had no right. He used that anger to power through his work out. I eventually did everything I could just to tire him out. I gave him a great work out, but I usually like to keep something in people's tanks for the rest of this day. Not him. Not that day. I had him on the treadmill when his mother came, to which I informed her to his anger. She took it in stride. I guess it's something she's already seen.

I guess from my experience, I see Aspergers fiercely intelligent minds with just a slight inability to deal with or care about society at large. They'll have their interest, but at best they feel more secure alone, dealing with the masses as they see fit rather than how we say they should deal with us.

Adeptus Aspartem:
But if "lack of empathy" or "not being able to see other peoples perspective" is a part of autism, is there any relation (on a biological/neurological level) to sociopathy?

Is anyone here with enough knowledge in medicine / neurology to answer that?

I'll preface this by saying I've no knowledge of medicine and little knowledge of neurology, so do take this with some salt.

Asperger's Syndrome was first known as Autistic Psychopathy, so they are definitely alike in some ways ( sociopathy and psychopathy are often used as synonyms, whether they actually are is another discussion though ).

From what I understand though is that in the underlying causes they're about as different as can be, even though the symptoms can be alike.

It's not that people with Autism lack empathy, everything I've read on the subject and have been told by my Psychiatrist after being diagnosed with AS myself strongly suggests we don't. What we lack is the ability to filter information and empathy provides us with a LOT of information.

A normal person's brain filters through this and right away starts ignoring what's deemed as irrelevant and focus on what probably is, mistakes are still made of course with all the resulting misunderstandings but overall it works out pretty well and most importantly, it works very fast.

With autism things aren't ignored that easily. All that information gets stuck, it's either never or much later reduced to something we can handle and base our reactions on. And in a social context where there's generally constant interaction information simply pours in faster than we can handle and any important information can easily get lost.

As opposed to sociopathy where there's simply a lack of empathy.

The end result can be much the same in certain situations, neither capable of recognizing another person's emotions. But the cause is very different. The sociopathic person is looking at a blank sheet of paper whilst the autistic person is looking at a piece of paper with so many words that they overlap each other and he can't read any.

Pyrokinesis:
Autism is literally just a medical term for "ok I dont understand him/her why arent they like the rest of us?". The whole autisim diagnosis is just a huge "pool up things we dont get and call it a disease". Ive been told before when I was a child I had Asperger syndrome too. All it was is that Im a very logical thinker and alot of what people do is stupid and illogical, so I dont tend to socialize with them much, as a result I dont have much experience with sugar coating or B/Sing for the sake of being social. Its not some disease that makes it impossible for me to be social or something its just an active choice influenced by my choice to take life more logically than others. Where others see "going out getting hammered/having a good time" I see "idiots wasting braincells and making 'friends' who will never be there for them". So I guess in my case I just got an extra does of reality.rx and it makes it hard for me to socialize with those that are deficient in vitamin reality.

In short: Autism is a remarkably lazy categorization of those who dont act like the "norm". And as such some individuals in the medical community treat it like its a disease to be different and try to diagnose it like one. As appose to understanding why this is or understanding how it is different people act differently for different reasons they label it as "autistic" and brand you as mentally diseased because they dont get it.

It sounds like you were misdiagnosed by lazy doctors and are taking it out on science. Autism is well documented and very clear; my brother most certainly has autism. Just because we don't completely understand it doesn't mean it's a lazy categorization, it's far from it actually. I am very much like your description here yet I was never diagnosed with autism; they just diagnosed me with being a smart kid and more of an introvert (compliments not actual diagnosis). That's it. I did get checked due to genetic theories I might have it because of my brother but in the end I was ruled as not. I've done years of research on autism. My brother and (I didn't mention this earlier) half sister are both autistic and they have clear neurlogical differences; you can actually see some of it in their brain chemistry. My Mom is also a neurologist. By attacking the diagnosis you are attacking years of good science. I'm sorry you were misdiagnosed but don't let your personal experiences cloud your judgment. If you want I'll explain what it REALLY is.

ObsidianJones:
I guess from my experience, I see Aspergers fiercely intelligent minds with just a slight inability to deal with or care about society at large. They'll have their interest, but at best they feel more secure alone, dealing with the masses as they see fit rather than how we say they should deal with us.

As much as I despise the Autism generalization and stupidly broad the term is to catch 22 anything that isnt deemed as "normal" by society, id have to say this is the most profoundly accurate statement for what Asperger syndrome is typically associated with. Sad matter of life is intelligence and sorrow are almost directly related. To know and understand more just tends to make you depressed by comparison when you see mass levels of stupidity around you. Imagine if you will being yourself but surrounded by a civilization of monkeys who pass time by hitting themselves in the head with hammers and greet each other with convoluted song and dance for hours on end. Obviously this is exaggerated to express the point of what I see when people say its normal to drink alcohol/smoke cigarettes and talk about their great uncles grandpas niece whom you have never met and lives on the other side of the nation for the sake of conversation.

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