This post has never had the honor of its own day. So for day 197 I am reposting this. This post has brought hundreds of people together, and has been viewed by thousands and thousands of people all over the world. To see hundreds of comments go to this link, where the original post can be found. https://aspergersgirls.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/aspergers-traits-women-females-girls/
1) We are deep philosophical thinkers and writers; gifted in the sense of our level of thinking. Perhaps poets, professors, authors, or avid readers of nonfictional genre. I don’t believe you can have Aspergers without being highly-intelligent by mainstream standards. Perhaps that is part of the issue at hand, the extreme intelligence leading to an over-active mind and high anxiety. We see things at multiple levels, including our own place in the world and our own thinking processes. We analyze our existence, the meaning of life, the meaning of everything continually. We are serious and matter-of-fact. Nothing is taken for granted, simplified, or easy. Everything is complex.
2) We are innocent, naive, and honest. Do we lie? Yes. Do we like to lie? No. Things that are hard for us to understand: manipulation, disloyalty, vindictive behavior, and retaliation. Are we easily fooled and conned, particularly before we grow wiser to the ways of the world? Absolutely, yes. Confusion, feeling misplaced, isolated, overwhelmed, and simply plopped down on the wrong universe, are all parts of the Aspie experience. Can we learn to adapt? Yes. Is it always hard to fit in at some level? Yes. Can we out grow our character traits? No.
3) We are escape artists. We know how to escape. It’s the way we survive this place. We escape through our fixations, obsessions, over-interest in a subject, our imaginings, and even made up reality. We escape and make sense of our world through mental processing, in spoken or written form. We escape in the rhythm of words. We escape in our philosophizing. As children, we had pretend friends or animals, maybe witches or spirit friends, even extraterrestrial buddies. We escaped in our play, imitating what we’d seen on television or in walking life, taking on the role of a teacher, actress in a play, movie star. If we had friends, we were either their instructor or boss, telling them what to do, where to stand, and how to talk, or we were the “baby,” blindly following our friends wherever they went. We saw friends as “pawn” like; similar to a chess game, we moved them into the best position for us. We escaped our own identity by taking on one friend’s identity. We dressed like her, spoke like her, adapted our own self to her (or his) likes and dislikes. We became masters at imitation, without recognizing what we were doing. We escaped through music. Through the repeated lyrics or rhythm of a song–through everything that song stirred in us. We escaped into fantasies, what cold be, projections, dreams, and fairy-tale-endings. We obsessed over collecting objects, maybe stickers, mystical unicorns, or books. We may have escaped through a relationship with a lover. We delve into an alternate state of mind, so we could breathe, maybe momentarily taking on another dialect, personality, or view of the world. Numbers brought ease. Counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging. At parties, if we went, we might have escaped into a closet, the outskirts, outdoors, or at the side of our best friend. We may have escaped through substance abuse, including food, or through hiding in our homes. What did it mean to relax? To rest? To play without structure or goal? Nothing was for fun, everything had to have purpose. When we resurfaced, we became confused. What had we missed? What had we left behind? What would we cling to next?
4) We have comorbid attributes of other syndromes/disorders/conditions. We often have OCD tendencies (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), sensory issues (with sight, sound, texture, smells, taste), generalized anxiety and/or a sense we are always unsafe or in pending danger, particularly in crowded public places. We may have been labeled with seemingly polar extremes: depressed/over-joyed, lazy/over-active, inconsiderate/over-sensitive, lacking awareness/attention to detail, low-focus/high-focus. We may have poor muscle tone, be double-jointed, and lack in our motor-skills. We may hold our pencil “incorrectly.” We may have eating disorders, food obsessions, and struggles with diet. We may have irritable bowel, Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and other immune-challenges. We may have sought out answers to why we seemed to see the world differently than others we knew, only to be told we were attention seekers, paranoid, hypochondriacs, or too focused on diagnoses and labels. Our personhood was challenged on the sole basis that we “knew” we were different but couldn’t prove it to the world and/or our personhood was oppressed as we attempted to be and act like someone we were not. We still question our place in the world, who we are, who we are expected to be, searching for the “rights” and “wrongs;” and then, as we grow and realize there are no true answers, that everything is theory-based and limited, we wonder where to search.
5) We learn that to fit in we have to “fake” it. Through trial and error we lost friends. We over-shared, spilling out intimate details to strangers; we raised our hand too much in class, or didn’t raise our hand at all; we had little impulse control with our speaking, monopolizing conversations and bringing the subject back to ourselves. We aren’t narcissistic and controlling–we know we are not, but we come across that way. We bring the subject back to ourselves because that is how we make sense of our world, that is how we believe we connect. We use our grasp of the world as our foundation, our way of making sense of another. We share our feelings and understandings in order to reach out. We don’t mean to sound ego-centered or over zealous. It’s all we know. We can’t change how we see the world. But we do change what we say. We hold a lot inside. A lot of what we see going on about us, a lot of what our bodies feel, what our minds conjecture. We hold so much inside, as we attempt to communicate correctly. We push back the conversational difficulties we experience, e.g., the concepts of acceptable and accurate eye contact, tone of voice, proximity of body, stance, posture–push it all back, and try to focus on what someone is saying with all the do’s and don’ts hammering in our mind. We come out of a conversation exhausted, questioning if we “acted” the socially acceptable way, wondering if we have offended, contradicted, hurt, or embarrassed others or ourselves. We learn that people aren’t as open or trusting as we are. That others hold back and filter their thoughts. We learn that our brains are different. We learn to survive means we must pretend.
6) We seek refuge at home or at a safe place. The days we know we don’t have to be anywhere, talk to anyone, answer any calls, or leave the house, are the days we take a deep breath and relax. If one person will be visiting, we perceive the visit as a threat; knowing logically the threat isn’t real, doesn’t relieve a drop of the anxiety. We have feelings of dread about even one event on the calendar. Even something as simple as a self-imposed obligation, such as leaving the house to walk the dog, can cause extreme anxiety. It’s more than going out into society; it’s all the steps that are involved in leaving–all the rules, routines, and norms. Choices can be overwhelming: what to wear, to shower or not, what to eat, what time to be back, how to organize time, how to act outside the house….all these thoughts can pop up. Sensory processing can go into overload; the shirt might be scratchy, the bra pokey, the shoes too tight. Even the steps to getting ready can seem boggled with choices–should I brush my teeth or shower first, should I finish that email, should I call her back now or when I return, should I go at all? Maybe staying home feels better, but by adulthood we know it is socially “healthier” to get out of the house, to interact, to take in fresh air, to exercise, to share. But going out doesn’t feel healthy to us, because it doesn’t feel safe. For those of us that have tried CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy), we try to tell ourselves all the “right” words, to convince ourselves our thought patterns are simply wired incorrectly, to reassure ourself we are safe…the problem then becomes this other layer of rules we should apply, that of the cognitive-behavior set of rules. So even the supposed therapeutic self-talk becomes yet another set of hoops to jump through before stepping foot out of the house. To curl up on the couch with a clean pet, a cotton blanket, a warm cup of tea, and a movie or good book may become our refuge. At least for the moment, we can stop the thoughts associated with having to make decisions and having to face the world. A simple task has simple rules.
7) We are sensitive. We are sensitive when we sleep, maybe needing a certain mattress, pillow, and earplugs, and particularly comfortable clothing. Some need long-sleaves, some short. Temperature needs to be just so. No air blowing from the heater vent, no traffic noise, no noise period. We are sensitive even in our dream state, perhaps having intense and colorful dreams, anxiety-ridden dreams, or maybe precognitive dreams. Our sensitivity might expand to being highly-intuitive of others’ feelings, which is a paradox, considering the limitations of our social communication skills. We seek out information in written or verbally spoken form, sometimes over-thinking something someone said and reliving the ways we ought to have responded. We take criticism to heart, not necessarily longing for perfection, but for the opportunity to be understood and accepted. It seems we have inferiority complexes, but with careful analysis, we don’t feel inferior, but rather unseen, unheard, and misunderstood. Definitely misunderstood. At one point or another, we question if in fact we are genetic hybrids, mutations, aliens, or displaced spirits–as we simply feel like we’ve landed on the wrong planet. We are highly susceptible to outsiders’ view points and opinions. If someone tells us this or that, we may adapt our view of life to this or that, continually in search of the “right” and “correct” way. We may jump from one religious realm to another, in search of the “right” path or may run away from aspects of religion because of all the questions that arise in theorizing. As we grow older, we understand more of how our minds work, which makes living sometimes even more difficult; because now we can step outside ourselves and see what we are doing, know how we our feeling, yet still recognize our limitations. We work hard and produce a lot in a small amount of time. When others question our works, we may become hurt, as our work we perceive as an extension of ourselves. Isn’t everything an extension of ourselves–at least our perception and illusion of reality? Sometimes we stop sharing our work in hopes of avoiding opinions, criticism, and judgment. We dislike words and events that hurt others and hurt animals. We may have collected insects, saved a fallen bird, or rescued pets. We have a huge compassion for suffering, as we have experienced deep levels of suffering. We are very sensitive to substances, such as foods, caffeine, alcohol, medications, environmental toxins, and perfumes; a little amount of one substance can have extreme effects on our emotional and/or physical state.
8) We are ourselves and we aren’t ourselves. Between imitating others and copying the ways of the world, and trying to be honest, and having no choice but to be “real,” we find ourselves trapped between pretending to be normal and showing all our cards. It’s a difficult state. Sometimes we don’t realize when we are imitating someone else or taking on their interests, or when we are suppressing our true wishes in order to avoid ridicule. We have an odd sense of self. We know we are an individual with unique traits and attributes, with uniques feelings, desires, passions, goals, and interests, but at the same time we recognize we so desperately want to fit in that we might have adapted or conformed many aspects about ourselves. Some of us might reject societal norms and expectations all together, embracing their oddities and individuality, only to find themselves extremely isolated. There is an in between place where an aspie girl can be herself and fit in, but finding that place and staying in that place takes a lot of work and processing. Some of us have a hard time recognizing facial features and memorize people by their clothes, tone of voice and hairstyle. Some of us have a hard time understanding what we physically look like. We might switch our preference in hairstyles, clothes, interests, and hobbies frequently, as we attempt to manage to keep up with our changing sense of self and our place. We can gain the ability to love ourselves, accept ourselves, and be happy with our lives, but this usually takes much inner-work and self-analysis. Part of self-acceptance comes with the recognition that everyone is unique, everyone has challenges, and everyone is struggling to find this invented norm. When we recognize there are no rules, and no guide map to life, we may be able to breathe easier, and finally explore what makes us happy.
9) Feelings and other people’s actions are confusing. Others’ feelings and our own feelings are confusing to the extent there are no set rules to feelings. We think logically, and even though we are (despite what others think) sensitive, compassionate, intuitive, and understanding, many emotions remain illogical and unpredictable. We may expect that by acting a certain way we can achieve a certain result, but in dealing with emotions, we find the intended results don’t manifest. We speak frankly and literally. In our youth, jokes go over our heads; we are the last to laugh, if we laugh at all, and sometimes ourselves the subject of the joke. We are confused when others make fun of us, ostracize us, decide they don’t want to be our friend, shun us, belittle us, trick us, and especially betray us. We may have trouble identifying feelings unless they are extremes. We might have trouble with the emotion of hate and dislike. We may hold grudges and feel pain from a situation years later, but at the same time find it easier to forgive than hold a grudge. We might feel sorry for someone who has persecuted or hurt us. Personal feelings of anger, outrage, deep love, fear, giddiness, and anticipation seem to be easier to identify than emotions of joy, satisfaction, calmness, and serenity. Sometimes situations, conversations, or events are perceived as black or white, one way or another, and the middle spectrum is overlooked or misunderstood. A small fight might signal the end of a relationship and collapse of one’s world, where a small compliment might boost us into a state of bliss.
10) We have difficulty with executive functioning. The way we process the world is different. Tasks that others take for granted, can cause us extreme hardship. Learning to drive a car, to tuck in the sheets of a bed, to even round the corner of a hallway, can be troublesome. Our spacial awareness and depth-awareness seems off. Some will never drive on a freeway, never parallel park, and/or never drive. Others will panic following directions while driving. New places offer their own set of challenges. Elevators, turning on and off faucets, unlocking doors, finding our car in a parking lot, (even our keys in our purse), and managing computers, electronic devices, or anything that requires a reasonable amount of steps, dexterity, or know-how can rouse in us a sense of panic. While we might be grand organizers, as organizing brings us a sense of comfort, the thought of repairing, fixing, or locating something causes distress. Doing the bills, cleaning the house, sorting through school papers, scheduling appointments, keeping track of times on the calendar, and preparing for a party can cause anxiety. Tasks may be avoided. Cleaning may seem insurmountable. Where to begin? How long should I do something? Is this the right way? Are all questions that might come to mind. Sometimes we step outside of ourselves and imagine a stranger entering our home, and question what they would do if they were in our shoes. We reach out to others’ rules of what is right, even in isolation, even to do the simplest of things. Sometimes we reorganize in an attempt to make things right or to make things easier. Only life doesn’t seem to get easier. Some of us are affected in the way we calculate numbers or in reading. We may have dyslexia or other learning disabilities. We may solve problems and sort out situations much differently than most others. We like to categorize in our mind and find patterns, and when ideas don’t fit, we don’t know where to put them. Putting on shoes, zipping or buttoning clothes, carrying or packing groceries, all of these actions can pose trouble. We might leave the house with mismatched socks, our shirt buttoned incorrectly, and our sweater inside out. We find the simple act of going grocery shopping hard: getting dressed, making a list, leaving the house, driving to the store, and choosing objects on the shelves is overwhelming.
This list is based on workshops, videos, literature, personal accounts, and my own experience. Females with Asperger’s Syndrome present themselves very differently than males. This is not an all-encompassing list. It’s not a criteria. It’s limiting and bias-based, as it’s only my view. It is my current truth. I don’t claim to be an expert or professional….but I do know an awful lot about the subject. I hold a Masters Degree in Education, have Aspergers, one of my sons has Aspergers, and I have several graduate-level classes in counseling psychology…I guess I am sort of an expert, after all. ~ Sam Craft
26 thoughts on “Day 197: Ten Traits”
So much to take in, I will have to read this blog again tomorrow morning when I rise, as I now head for my bed, this will need more in depth read to fully understand it… Yeah, I’ve got an early morning read…
thanks bulldog. 🙂
Have read these through before — amazing how I match up very well here, and never knew these were the traits that define Aspergers. Fascinating Sam…xxooo Sending Love to you dear one ~ ps: love Van Morrison ~ and your smiling face today: )
I love Van Morrison very much. Lovely to see you sea sister. HUGS. 🙂
You already know I score 10 out of 10 on your Aspie list, but I just read it out to Mr Locoman and he agrees we are very, very alike. Love you Basna. xxx 🙂 ❤
Love your photo, love the sunshine in the trees, love your smile too.
Listening to your tune now. 🙂 ))))))
Glad to hear he agrees. hehehe 🙂
Great! I am adding this to my special post list page on my site.
You are too sweet Scott. Thanks so much. 🙂 Sam
Well, it looks good there!
Courage Sam = You are xo
Beauty inside and out, you are! hugs sweet Cat. 🙂
Hugs Sweet Sam !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Keep on Rockin it my sweet xoxoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoox Happy Sunday xx
Happy Sunday. Hugs and love and lots of sunshine and light to you. :)))
and sent like a boomerang right back at ya xoxo
Brown Eyed Girl! Stay happy like this song…
staying happy. One of my favorite songs. :))
ok…since I know tons of this fits me, I could be tempted to think I’m aspie, but….I hate being categorized or boxed..the confines of it…ick. Claustrophobic at the idea of a categorizing of who I am….so I guess I am not 🙂 This was very enlightening though. Thank you for sharing with us. Hope you’re well Sam.
boxes….nope! Can’t box me in! But sure helped me to connect with a bunch of other like-minded souls I adore. Hugs to you. 🙂 Sam
WoW~! Except for a very few of these traits, I recognize, match up and Live a lot of what you have written~ I have never been diagnosed with Aspergers, but have been with Bi Polar and Severe Anxiety Disorder and also OCD’s~ As a child it was ADD~ I actually did medicate myself, off and on for these symptoms until my 30’s~ Do you take a medication for Aspergers~? Reading this just makes me feel a bit more comfortable about this Divine expression called Satprem and gives me the sense that I am not alone in this world, wondering who I am, why I am here and what the F*&$ this reality is all about~ Thanks for your honesty and for sharing yourself so eloquently~ Blessings of Love to you and yours~ 🙂
Wow! I am beginning to see how alike so many of us are. Some of us are just deep, deep souls. That’s what I’m thinking Aspergers is.
There is no medication except for the comorbid conditions. So someone might take anti-deppressant or anti-anxiety med.
Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m glad this connection was beneficial.
Glad to know you, Divine Satprem!
Hi, cant belileve how much I connected with all the characteristics above (yes all of them). I feel it but cannot put it into words. When it comes to thought and emotion I have never been able to verbalise. I have also realised when you only experience a narrow band of emotions how are you supposed to understand something you have never felt or experienced. My husband is the opposite (feels all emotions to the max and is very intuitive when it comes to empathy) and does his best to explain when I ask. After having children I have experienced empathy but only with them (I can even look my own kids in the eye).
I have never been diagnosed but came across aspergers a couple of years ago. After reading you list above I am reasonably convinced that I am on the spectrum. I guess the biggest problem I have is trying to find ME. Who am I? I have realised I have spent all my life imitating others or being the person I think I am supposed to be. Doing what others expect of me and no questioning it. But, what do I like to do? What are my interests? What is my true personality? These are the questions that I cannot find the answer to. I still struggle with “The Meaning of Life” but I’m not suicidal (anymore). I was in and out of mental institutions when i was younger, never a real diagnosis just lots of medication. Havent taken psyc meds in over 15 years, I self medicate with marijuana. I slows my thoughts and allows me to be semi normal.
Thanks for your insight It has made me realise I’m “normal” or at least an aspie normal.
Thank you dear one for your comment and insights. I understand about calming the thoughts. I find I have empathy for others if I have experienced a similar pain; if I have not, it is more difficult to understand what the person feels. I intellectually care, but in order to care at a deep emotional level I have had to experience it myself. And the part of finding you! Oh, I so get that. I found that recently I took on the hobbies of a friend…..again….I think for the first time in my life I am dressing like I want to, though, and listening to music I like…I am still discovering who I am, and still catch myself copying others. I constantly feel as if I am on stage, even when I am alone. Such an odd feeling.
Yes….you are normal…a beautiful normal in my opinion.
Best of luck to you,
And for me the meaning of life is my search for authenticity, sharing of thoughts and love, and serving others.
You are on stage even when you are along. I have never thought of it this way but that describes it better than you could imagine. When I am alone I wonder, what am i supposed to do now? Usually I resort to a whole lot of procrastination then do something someone else is relying on me for. I often find myself rehersing conversations in my head with people I am to interact with over the next few days.
I was reading some of the other comments regarding your traits, and find them all very refreshing, there are other people that think like me. I too feel you have been in my head and pryed out some secrets I would never have been able to put into words. Thanks.
Yep…I do the rehearsing thing, too. And wondering what I should do when I am alone….. Hard to ever relax. So glad you can read and see you are not alone. Hugs, Sam 🙂
Thanks Sam! The ten traits are it mostly. I really am not alone. It makes sense now.
Wow. Here I am, an old lady, and have never considered Asperger’s! However, I found myself crying while reading this. It ALL applies to my life from childhood to the present. As an adult I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar and major depression. But, I wasn’t depressed as a child, just confused, alienated, socially awkward, etc., and it followed into adulthood. I’m really not much different now than I was as a child. I’ve just learned how to fake social skills. I’m wondering if my dx for BP may have been wrong and the depression a result of feeling and thinking (for so many years) “Everyone else knows how to do it. Everyone knows something I don’t know”.
One thing you wrote that I can relate with so much is, “We don’t feel inferior, we feel unseen”. The family “joke” is that I am surprised if anyone is even thinking about, talking about, angry with, happy with, or even aware of me – ever- at all. I’ve never known how to put that into words.
Even if I don’t have Asp. I’m still crying because this sums my life up in a nutshell.
Thank you for writing this beautiful and honest post.
Shalom, B. Levi