Do I Have Aspergers?
There has been a lot of discussion in the news media recently about Aspergers Syndrome. This has prompted many people who identify with at least some of the symptoms to ask, “Do I have Aspergers?” While a self-diagnosis is certainly no substitute for a formal professional analysis, it can be helpful to look for certain symptoms that are common to those who have Aspergers Syndrome, several of which are listed below. However, it should be noted before you read through the list below that some people with Aspergers Syndrome do not have all of the symptoms below nor does it mean you have Aspergers Syndrome if you do have some of the symptoms. Here are some of the common symptoms:
1. Difficulties with social skills and interpersonal communication
2. Having an obsessive interest in esoteric subjects
3. Difficulty looking people straight in the eye or does so awkwardly
4. May prefer a rigid routine or have precise ways of doing things like eating certain foods on certain days
5. May exhibit self-stimming: repetitive self soothing behavior like bouncing one’s foot or knee or rocking with this having a calming effect
6. Tendency to have long-winded one-sided conversations and not notice that the other person wants to change the subject
7. Lower than normal empathy or no empathy
8. Has trouble reading facial expressions and body language
9. Unusual and/or awkward body movements and walking gait
10. May be uncoordinated and/or clumsy
11. May speak in a monotone and/or an unusual voice and/or speak at an unusual volume.
12. Extreme sensitivity to noise
13. Extreme sensitivity to light
14. Particular about textures in food
When asking yourself, “Do I have Aspergers,” it is important to understand the difference between having some of the symptoms typically associated with Aspergers and actually having these symptoms to the extent that they rise to the level of a clinical diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome. This is condition that falls on a spectrum and some people just share a few symptoms and they are mild enough that they do not significantly impact their life while others may have many of the symptoms and they may be so severe they significantly impact their life. Others may fall somewhere in the middle of this and may be considered to have borderline Aspergers.
When someone asks a psychologist or a psychiatrist, “Do I have Aspergers?” the doctor will typically evaluate the person using the criteria that has been established by the professional mental health community. These criteria are published in a manual called the, “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” now in its fifth edition and abbreviated as the DSM.
One should always keep in mind that one doctor’s interpretation of the criteria for Aspergers Syndrome in the DSM will differ at least a little and sometimes a lot from another doctor’s interpretation. Therefore, it is quite common for some people to be diagnosed as not having Aspergers by one doctor and having Aspergers by another doctor. This is especially true for those with borderline or mild Aspergers which seem to be the majority of cases.
Some adults who have Aspergers may have never asked, “Do I have Aspergers?” until their child or another young relative is diagnosed with it. This usually happens because a teacher or school counsellor noticed unusual behavior in the child. As adults start to research Aspergers in an effort to help the child, they may begin to notice that they have some of the same symptoms. It is typically a relief to finally understand why they are a bit different.