For as long as I can remember, my family and friends have pointed out certain little things about me that were just a tad “off.” Nothing too major, just little things about my personality and behavior that stuck with them. Since our journey of receiving a diagnosis for Kaitlyn began last October, I have been reading up and educating myself on autism and Asperger’s.
The more I read about the characteristics of Asperger’s, the more almost every word on the page or screen sounded somewhat like me. Not one to stop at first glance, I decided to try to learn more. That is when I came across an autism/Asperger’s test online (here). I have not and will not fool myself into believing that the results of that test are a definitive diagnosis, but it is important to note that 80% of those that took the test and scored a 32 or more were on the autism spectrum or had Asperger’s. I figured I would give the test a shot though, just to see. I took it in a way where I went with my first answer, knowing that it would be the most honest answer; I thought that if I took too much time to really get in-depth about each question, I would start to over-analyze what I thought the answer should be. I scored a 36 on the test. Amber took the test and scored a 4. My mom scored somewhere near what Amber did. My dad scored in the 20s-30s I think. And my brother scored close to what I did. Again, none of us are taking the results as proof of anything, but the results were a little telling.
As a child, I was rather shy (like Kaitlyn), and really had no desire to be around too many people. (I am still like that today.) I was prone to meltdowns for no reason at all, and from what I gather, they were pretty bad (again, something that may still rear its head with me). I can surely become fixated on one topic and absolutely bore people to tears with information about it (read here for examples) or I can take information to the extreme in order to prove a point.
I am not known to have much of a filter, as my employees tell me almost daily. I tend to say the first thing that pops into my head with little regard for other people’s feelings (just happened recently by mistake when my response to a question was taken in a way that I did not intend and caused a little bit of a disagreement).
I am loyal, almost to a fault. I have had the same best friend since I was about 12 or so, and I tend to keep a rather close circle of friends that I trust. I prefer not to be in crowds at all, and really have no use for socializing with people just for the sake of socializing, but I have little trouble in interacting with friends and family. I am picky eater and tend to choose what I eat by texture and smell (I have no use for salad at all) and will eat pretty much the same thing almost every day if I could (pizza, pasta, etc.).
To say that I am somewhat structured or set in a routine would be an understatement. A few months ago my friend Ryan posted a question on his Facebook asking what time people woke up every day, left for work, etc. I did not comment on that, but it would have been 100% accurate for me to have said I wake up at 5:43 every day, start getting dressed at 6:55, and would leave the house at 7:33 to take Kaitlyn to school (this has changed with summer camp, and we now leave at 7:38). I have a certain way to go up and down the stairs at my house, and I check the door locks a certain number of times before going to bed every night….maybe that is partly OCD, but you never know.
I have not taken the time to call to schedule an appointment to see if I should be evaluated to determine if I am on the autism spectrum or have Asperger’s. I might not even ever do it. But then again, I just might. In her book Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin theorizes that there may be a genetic passing of autism/Asperger’s from parents to their children (1). A study in The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders by G.R. Delong and J.T. Dwyer indicated that over two-thirds of families with a high-functioning autistic child had a first or second degree relative with autistic traits (2). Similarly, it has been found that parents of autistic children, especially the fathers, had a tendency to pursue a special interest single mindedly, and they were likely to have poor social skills (3). I have already noted my preference to pursue certain things single mindedly and my preference to avoid social situations wherever possible, and also the scores of both my dad and brother on the autism test. All of that is making me lean toward being evaluated, if for no other reason than to answer some things about me that just don’t seem to add up.
(1),(2),(3): Grandin, Temple. Thinking In Pictures pg. 205-206.