Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

An Unfortunate and Lengthy Adventure in Misdiagnosis

The other aspies

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It’s hard to find statistics on how many people have asperger’s diagnoses. According to the BBC (and please feel free to ignore the horrible and depressing descriptions of autism and asperger’s that they use), the number of people ranges between 0.01% (one in a thousand) to 3.6% (one in twenty eight). A lot of sites quote the 1:10 female to male statistic, other sites quote 1:6.

Most of the aspies I’ve met online are female aspies who have self-diagnosed in adulthood. The male aspies I’ve met seem to be more extreme, probably because the male brain is less suited to social skills in the first place. I personally think that most of the genes may occur in a 1:1 ratio, but that being female acts to mask some of the more extreme differences of asperger’s. The only gene I know of that is sex linked is monoamine oxidase. Males only have one copy, so if they get an inefficient version they become more vulnerable to amines. A female has two copies of the gene, so statistically they have more protection against amines.

In my family, there is a definite trend for eccentric women as well as eccentric men – both grandmothers in particular! I had a particularly crotchety and unsociable great aunt, Aunt Kath, on my father’s side who my mother really disliked (my mother dislikes most of the aspies in the family). Aunt Kath, I’m told, liked me but disliked all the other grandchildren. Perhaps I was less alien to her.

I’ve been thinking about when I was at secondary school. The school had well over a thousand pupils – perhaps 180-200 in each year. In my year there were four girls I considered ‘like me’. They were like me for slightly different reasons than each other. One was very quiet and studious and tagged along with the privileged girls. She went on to get a masters degree – I think the only person from my year to do so that I know of apart from me. The other two were my friends. I didn’t meet them until I was about fifteen – I was a loner for most of my time at secondary school. There was a neurotypical girl (we’ll call her R.) who seemed to collect eccentrics and went to unusual measures to be my friend. Her two other friends were M. and A.

M. was so quiet that she never spoke of her own accord, and when you addressed her directly her response would be monosyllabic. I don’t recall her having a problem with eye contact. I don’t recall her appearing shy or embarrassed, but she always seemed to have a funny Mona Lisa smile on her face that made me think she was probably enjoying a secret joke at everyone else’s expense. In hindsight, I think she was probably just very embarrassed, but also quite amused by our other friend, A. who was very noisy.

A. reminded me of my sister a bit because she was noisy. She was very opinionated and talkative, and definitely had a case of ‘little professor syndrome’. She would lecture you on any subject under the sun given half a chance. I used to describe her personality as a mixture of C-3PO and Mary Poppins. She held some very eccentric ideas about the world and I once had an argument with her because she thought that radio waves could be blown around by the wind. Whilst I was maths blind, she was extremely good at maths and physics, and went on to study as an engineer at university. She had two other sisters, one who was totally NT and the other was older and a bit wild. A. also had middle-child syndrome. She was my best friend for several years until we went our separate ways to university. She often took things very literally, and she seemed blind to the fact that R. was always mocking her. No one ever ‘got’ her jokes, and she complained that people were always misinterpreting her.

So that’s four girls in my year of 200 pupils who had the potential to score very highly – or one in fifty. I have no idea how many boys would score highly. I don’t remember much about the boys at secondary school. I don’t remember their names, and I didn’t interact with them. Seriously.

The first boys I met who were in any way ‘like me’ were on my masters degree. I think most of the people on my masters degree were quite eccentric and had social interaction issues in one way or another. I expect people on a masters course make up a very small, select segment of society. I guess most of the neurotypicals had been weeded out by that stage! Several of them seemed to be incapable of talking about anything but sex. Others didn’t talk much at all, or were very, very sensitive. One was a (really lovely) schizophrenic – who would not have had her creative talent if not for her schizophrenia. I’m big on neurodiversity.

I happen to think there’s an undiagnosed syndrome in existence – let’s call it auteur syndrome for want of a better name. It’s not neurotypical, and it comes with creative talent, whether it be writing, acting, painting, music, or something else. It might manifest as a kind of creative asperger’s syndrome, or it might manifest like my maternal cousins and my sister – as popularity and sociability combined with creative flare. It seems to go hand in hand with obsessions, bipolar disorder and ADHD. People like this get very frustrated in ordinary office jobs and have to do something a bit unusual with their lives – like being chefs, actresses, comedians or rock stars. I think it must be a dopamine thing. Aspies often have people like this in their family – brothers or sisters or cousins.

When I first started meeting computer programmers through temping work after university I was surprised to discover how much I had in common with them in terms of personality. I should have guessed then I suppose! My other half, a programmer, was the first person I met who I felt was really like me. He scores high-normal, and there are only five IQ points between us. I use him as a social crutch. He’s also the smarter one. Just.


Written by alienrobotgirl

29 September, 2007 at 5:16 pm

Posted in Asperger's Syndrome

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One Response

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  1. Both my parents are eccentric, and i am waiting to meet someone as eccentric as me!!Great blog!


    29 September, 2007 at 7:33 pm

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