Debunking 6 Myths

"1. Myth: Children with AS will grow out of it eventually.

Fact: Like ADHD, there’s a prevalent myth that Asperger Syndrome is strictly a childhood disorder that disappears after young adulthood. But AS is a lifelong condition. It does get better with treatment but never goes away.

2. Myth: Adults with AS don’t get married.

Fact: Even mental health professionals subscribe to this myth. An article in USA Today stated:

Forming close friendships and dating run counter to Asperger’s adults’ goals, colleague [Katherine Tsatsanis of the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic] says; [Ami Klin, head of the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic] says he has never known a parent with Asperger’s.

Bryna Siegel, director of the Autism Clinic at the University of California-San Francisco, concurs that an Asperger’s parent would be rare, and she knows of just one short-lived marriage.

The reality is that some adults do get married and have families — Gaus has worked with many of them — and some have never had a romantic relationship. According to Gaus, there’s a lot of variability in how Asperger’s manifests. (“There is a lot of room for variability in the DSM criteria.”)

“There isn’t one profile that I could describe because personality affects how the person presents.

” Some people with AS are super shy, while other are “chatterboxes.” Comorbidity is another reason adults may look different. Gaus often sees clients with both Asperger’s and anxiety issues or mood disorders. It’s hard to know what the person was like before they started struggling with the co-occurring disorder.

3. Myth: Adults with AS have social phobia.

Fact: While adults with Asperger’s do struggle with anxiety, they don’t have social phobia. Gaus said that people with social phobia have the social skills to interact and communicate with others but they’re afraid to use those skills. In other words, they’re “socially skilled but have a distorted belief that the outcome [of their interactions] will be poor.”

For people with Asperger’s, however, avoiding interactions is more about self-preservation, she said. They’re well aware that they’re unable to read cues or know the appropriate thing to say. They’ve also made mistakes in the past and experienced rejection, she added.

4. Myth: Adults with AS are aloof and uninterested in others.

Fact: “Most people I meet are very interested in wanting to have people in their lives,” Gaus said. Some even feel desperate that they haven’t been able to connect with others, she said. But oftentimes, their social skill deficits convey the message that they just don’t care.

That’s because people with Asperger’s easily miss cues, don’t know when to stop talking about themselves and may not realize that others have different thoughts and feelings, she said. Or “they simply don’t have a repertoire of responses.”

Gaus gave the example of a co-worker telling someone with Asperger’s that their cat died and the person just walks away. Of course, this makes it seem like the person is incredibly insensitive. But they do care; they just may not know what to say, she said.

5. Myth: They don’t make any eye contact.

Fact: Gaus recounted how a psychiatrist once questioned whether a patient had Asperger’s because he looked in his eyes. “Many actually do make eye contact, but it just might be in a fleeting or unusual way,” she said.

6. Myth: They lack empathy.

Fact: “Empathy is a complicated concept,” Gaus said. Some researchers have divided empathy into four components: two called “cognitive empathy” and two called “emotional empathy.” People with Asperger’s struggle with cognitive empathy but have no problem with emotional empathy, she said.

Take the above example: The person with Asperger’s isn’t able to intellectually infer that the co-worker who lost their cat might be sad, especially in the moment. They might realize this hours later at home. “But when they do know the person is sad, they are able to feel that sadness without any difficulty, perhaps even more intensely than typical people,” she said. In other words, “they have difficult expressing empathy in a conventional way.” It’s a problem of communication, not empathy, she said."

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This last part about empathy is very true. I sometimes lack the cognitive tools to realise someone is upset, but once I do realise they are, I feel their pain very deeply.

DancingFox DancingFox
31-35, F
5 Responses Feb 13, 2013

This is a wonderful post...thank you for sharing and informing!

I think autism awareness is important, so people can understand autism better and accept and welcome people with autism.

Don't worry everyone, you are all fine. You are just trying to relate to a bunch of (barely out of caves) primates. Don't feel bad because they cannot relate to you. It is merely your primate brain releasing chemicals that make you feel that way. When we behave like good monkeys (follow our genetic programming) our brains release cocktails of chemicals that make us feel well. When we don't the opposite occurs.
You just need to dumb-it-down so they will accept you.
If you could be bothered...

It's difficult to type a comprehensive response.. but hopefully you can see my point.

Have you ever considered that the Asperger "pigeon hole" is for people that have little to no experience at being human? (humans love their pigeon holes)
If this was only your first or second time round on this rock, it may be that you simply haven't had enough exposure yet... or that your last few lives were spent with entirely different cultures from where you find yourself now. For example - If you were an Australian native for your last life eye contact would seem very unnatural indeed.

Imagine another species meeting humans for the first time. -
The human approaches you confidently.
They thrust a grasping limb out at you whilst bearing their teeth.
Obviously they mean to capture and bite you...
If it was me (as the alien) I would probably shoot first and ask questions later..

I mean visual clues are pretty vague with primates at best. Fascinating that homo sapiens have lasted this long with such ignorance and poor communication.

Anyway, I found that maintaining an awareness of peoples energy is a good way to keep up with the effect I am having on a moment by moment basis. More accurate too. Humans tend to wear a different mask for any given situation. Keeping up is just too exhausting and irritating..
and I used to be a college lecturer.. lol. Now that was anxiety charged.

thank you for this great post

Thank you, Thank you...
The last one is a myth I hate. I also disslike how I can't express what I want. I can feel something and want to express it so much, but I just can't. It gets harder when people tell me I don't care, but I really do.