What if the official statistics for Aspergers, ASD, ADHD and Dyslexia didn’t even scratch the surface of the REAL numbers?
What if depression, bipolar, anxiety and a whole host of other mental health issues were not just conditions, but symptoms of Autistic Spectrum Disorder?
What if we actually know a lot less about the human brain than we thought?
What if the AVERAGE PERSON is somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum?
This site is about high functioning people on the autistic spectrum, most of whom do not have a diagnosis, and many would never consider that they could be somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum. But the spectrum is very wide and the very mildest forms of ASD means symptoms can be almost unnoticable to most people.
To give you an idea of what types of people I believe are on the autisitc spectrum; if the sitcom Friends had been real, Rachel would be the only leading character NOT on it!
And if you know someone that can be a pain in the ass in a similar way to Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, chances are, they will almost certainly be on the Autistic Spectrum too, because he has many classic symptoms of high functioning Aspergers syndrome.
I know he’s a fictional and over-exaggerated caricature, but c’mon – we all know someone with at least some of his character traits, don’t we? Someone who is high maintenance, who acts like a selfish diva and thinks in childlike ways sometimes, despite being intelligent? All those people I believe have ASD, even if only mildy.
I also believe that:
- Most artists could have ASD
- Most entrepreneurs could have it
- Most writers could have it
- Most composers could have it
- Most criminals could have it
- Most addicts could have it
I believe this is all more than a possibility. And I plan to explain why I believe it, on the blog section of this site.
What if every celebrity that you love is on the autistic spectrum, and every celebrity that you loathe is on it too! – It’s the boring “NTs” (neurotypical) in the middle that you feel indifferent towards!
Connection Between Autism and Bipolar Disorder
In 2005 at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Aspergers Syndrome (High Functioning Autism or general ASD).
At first, I refused to believe the Aspergers part, once it was explained to me that Aspergers was a type of Autism.
“Oh OK, whatever you say. But I’ve seen Rainman – and I ain’t like him”
But I was willing to believe the ADHD part, especially when the psychologist mentioned a symptom I would not have expected to be part of ADHD, and that he could not have known I suffered with; travel sickness.
I had already been told by a psychiatrist that I almost certainly had Bipolar Disorder, and I had been a member of my local Bipolar Organization group for two years. The group met up once a month for the formal meetings, but I had made quite a lot of friends and we met up at social events as well.
Then I found out that my childhood idol had been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, and he wasn’t like Rainman either. He and I had both found out we had Aspergers when we were pretty much middle aged (no doubt because it is so hard to detect). We had both had our difficulties, but to the average person meeting either of us for the first time, we would each seem pretty normal. So I suspected that if me and Gary Numan both have Aspergers, then many other seemingly ordinary people certainly have it.
Slowly I found myself getting more and more interested in high functioning autism. I read lots of books and websites, and I would meet people whose kids were autistic, or they themselves had a condition on the autistic spectrum. I didn’t seek these people out. I would find them by accident, and once they mentioned autism, we would get talking about it.
After a short time, I noticed a pattern emerging. Lots of people who had autistic children often claimed that they wondered if they themselves were “a bit autistic”. They knew that the spectrum was very wide, and that a person could have only mild signs and symptoms. Others would speculate as to whether another family member had a form of ASD, sometimes reluctant to tell the individual in question in case they might be offended.
I also found myself watching every documentary on TV I could about autism, ADHD, Dyslexia and other AS conditions. And I noticed that a lot of the people diagnosed with autism and aspergers, (and not necessarily mild versions of it) had a lot of the same personality traits as many of my friends in the Bipolar group.
Some of the background stories appeared to be identical. An example would be:
- Childhood depression
- Unruly behavior
- Poor social skills
- Huge spending sprees (mania)
- Very creative
- Obsessive (including OCD)
- Various multiple phobias
- Highly ambitious
Then I ended up working with a man who had a lot of the same character traits as me. We both noticed we had many of the same qualities and the same faults. He had a son diagnosed with autism and a daughter who was not, but who was very unruly and difficult. He believed he had depression, possibly bipolar, although did not have a formal diagnosis.
Over the months we learned more and more about ASD and kept comparing notes. I met his children and was struck by the similarities between his kids’ view of the world and my own thoughts as a child.
The son was quite severely autistic and yet he was very clear about his likes and dislikes. It was obvious that he was intelligent from what he found funny, yet he was branded as having “Low functioning autism”. I had been diagnosed as having “High functioning autism”, but I deduced that if you could dress yourself, you were considered “high functioning”.
One evening I was watching a new TV documentary about autistic children, and one of the kids on the show also appeared to be just like myself as a child. But he also seemed just like some people in my Bipolar group.
He was twelve years old, and these were some of his symptoms:
- Hated the world and everyone in it
- Very creative
- Poor communication
- Has frequent outbursts
- Always in trouble
- Felt totally misunderstood
It was heartbreaking to see him in tears so much. I felt that I knew what he was going through, after years of the same feelings during my childhood.
Except no-one knew I had ASD as a child. I was just regarded as deliberately difficult. I tried my best to fit in, but it always seemed to backfire, and I would even get into trouble when I was totally innocent, because I had earned a bad reputation. Studying the online Autism forums, I found that these injustices are not uncommon either. On the forums I also read about more and more people who mentioned both autism and bipolar in the same families. In fact an awful lot of mental health conditions were mentioned; the usual suspects that always cropped up in the Bipolar group.
I joined a few Bipolar/Depression forums, and some general Mental Health forums and found the same pattern. Several people mentioned relatives that had diagnoses of Autism or ASD (including ADHD, Dyslexia, Tourettes, etc). Some even had a dual diagnosis like I had.
I have met several teachers of autistic children and they all believe that there are a lot more high functioning autistic people than the statistics would have us believe. Some have also noticed the similarities between bipolar and ASD, and two have told me they know of several families that have both bipolar and autistic members.
There are a number of parents online who have also made the connection, although very little evidence from doctors so far. One doctor said “You’re probably on to something the rest of us general clinicians haven’t recognized yet”, in response to a lady’s email, who had similar suspicions to myself.
I keep looking though. It would be interesting if proper trials could be done. But I get the feeling most clinicians who specialize will be in either one camp or the other, and it might be difficult for them to put forward a case for funding such trials. I have discovered first hand that medical and scientific research isn’t always impartial, and that some people will shy away from contradicting the theories of their life’s work.
There are some reported cases online of dual bipolar/autism diagnoses, but they may be rare because once a family has one diagnosis, they might simply settle for that and not feel it necessary to get a second opinion.
Another reason for the lack of evidence could be due to the fact that the studies appear to have been for bipolar and severe autism, rather than High Functioning (and often difficult to detect) autism. From an online search it seems that such few studies have so far been inconclusive.
In an ideal world I would like to see Autism specialists and, separately, Bipolar specialists spend considerable time with the same high functioning patients (each with a diagnosis of one conditon or the other). Except the doctors themselves would not know what conditions the patients have been formerly diagnosed with. I suspect that just observing the patients and witnessing their difficulties would result in the Autism specialists diagnosing them with autism and the Bipolar specialists diagnosing them with biploar.
If I had a lot of money I would make a TV program around this concept. After all, both scenarios happened to me, and I am far from the only person who believes there is a connection.
In the above show from 19:00 – 25:00 you can see how difficult it is for Ben, a 12 year old diagnosed with autism, to interract with others. (Ben is the 12 year old boy I talked about above, and gave the second lot of bullet points).
I watched the whole series of “Young, Autistic and Stagestruck” and this kid is almost exactly the same as many people I know who have been diagnosed with Bipolar, including myself as a child. Ben is probably one of the best examples of why I believe that Bipolar Disorder and depression are the same conditions as High Functioning ASD.
I have also known a guy since I was a child, who told me a few years back that he had been diagnosed with “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. It was when I heard this, that I was convinced that the whole mental health industry was full of bullshit. The guy is exactly the same as me! Every person with a mental health condition is narcissistic, and every narcissistic person has a mental health condition.
He’s exactly the same as thousands of people I’ve met; most of whom never got a diagnosis for anything; some of whom were told they have Bipolar and some who were told they have OCD, or Depression or Anxiety or Addictive Personality Disorder, etc etc… I know for a fact that what you get diagnosed with is determined by your doctor’s field of specialization.
I know there are hundreds of mental health conditions, but almost everyone I met over the years at the Bipolar Organization also has several other mental health conditions, all with individual, fancy names. But what if they are ALL simply different forms of Autistic Spectrum Disorder?
OK, I use the term “exactly the same” loosely because we are, of course, individually unique, but the symptoms have far too many similarities for them to be known as all these different names. I’m not saying the work that the specialists of each of these conditions has done, is not valid. It is very valid, but could the conditions not just be different character traits within a much bigger conditon; ASD?
Have a look at the video above. All the children and young adults have been diagnosed with autism, yet most people watching, will know someone (diagnosed with something different or not diagnosed at all), similar to someone on the show. Look at Claire, the 20 year old, who seems to be the least symptomatic of all of them. C’mon – we all know people a LOT more messed up than her. If she has it, nearly all of us do!
And there’s Ben again. We all know someone like Ben, who has problems with most social interractions, anger issues, sense of humor, mood swings, creativity, inibility to forgive, etc. I’m astounded this video has so few views on YouTube. If everyone on the planet were forced to watch this TV show, a LOT of people would be coming forward saying “I think I am autistic” or “I think my child is autistic” and obtain a formal diagnoses.
Just look at all the comments on this page. So many people are desperate to see the show again because they now think they have autism or aspergers. I will try to upload the series in small parts on YouTube. One of the episodes has a sign language person on it, as I only realized after watching it, how important it was, and had to wait up until the wee hours to catch it again.
Let me know what you think.
Are you on the Austistic Spectrum? – Or someone you know?
16 comments on About
I had this thought too after my brother had two unofficial diagnoses of both. I never got into trouble like him but I still had depression and anxiety like you describe. both my children are dyslexic and have behavioral problems but my wife and I are not dyslexic. They ‘re currently being assessed for ADHD.
Thanks Ben, let us know how the children get on. From the research I have found, there is a huge overlap in both Dyslexia and ADHD. In fact when I was diagnosed, the psychologist referred to the two as synonymous with each other. Winford Dore, the founder of the DORE program also writes about them being pretty much the same thing.
It’s fascinating because you hardly ever hear of them together in the wild, yet more than 85% of the symptoms are the same. Dyslexia is not just about reading and writing. Signs include short term memory, clumsiness, lateral thinking, an inability to communicate effectively and a tendency to interrupt others amongst many more.
I agree with you. Like you, I suspected also borderline personality disorder as something a high functioning “female” aspie could have. I asked a question on Yahoo Answers: Female Aspie. Can BPD and Asperger coexist? and backed it up with my own reasoning and understanding of my own experiences. BPD is simply a offshoot of behaviour trying to fit into a society which never wanted to understand how we are unique, how we think differently, and how we lack the communicative skills to convey what we need and desire, which is real intimacy, trust, and friendship. We executed it poorly by trying to act as real sexy, but it doesn’t work if we don’t know ourselves who we truly are. We’ll always be plagued by a sense of guilt because we lied unintentionally all our lives, never knowing what was our true selves. Sure I could have got everything all wrong, but I believe what you’re saying and what I’m saying are onto something similar. I can’t say for sure if no one else agrees.
Thanks a lot Jared, that link is very helpful! I have blogged about it here.
This is really interesting – and something similar to what I’ve been thinking for many years. I’ve taught children with ASD since 1996 and I’m an EarlyBird Plus trainer (a course for parents of children with an ASD diagnosis). I was also married to someone who’s sister and nephew were diagnosed with ASD – and he and his brother are also probably on the spectrum too. I have a diagnosis of ADHD and I am highly sensitive. I see it slightly differently though. I think the overarching feature is the high sensitivity and all the other diagnoses are interrelated under the high sensitivity umbrella. I’ve listened to so many people with a diagnosis of one or the other and to me the common theme is the high sensitivity (emotional and sensory). I also believe that we are all on the spectrum and that we all have something – how many people are a ‘perfect’ physical specimen? In the same way why is the common mainstream understanding to think of most people (those without any mental health diagnosis) as ‘perfect’ metal health specimens? I think we are all on a spectrum of difference – from sociopaths right through to empaths – we all have certain traits that make up humankind – it would be so much more helpful to stop thinking of people with or without mental health DISORDERS and instead think of us as all somewhere on a spectrum of differing mental health needs. I hope this makes sense – I’m trying to write and get my 2 year old to eat his dinner!
Thanks for your comment Justine,
I always thought that all the symptoms of ASD fell under the umbrella of “nervousness”, but you could be right; it could be “sensitivity” instead. Or Sensitivity could be the bigger umbrella.
I was diagnosed with a possible autism spectrum disorder, not of Asperger’s but autism alone, autism alone is just autism alone with out the variations attach to this disorder like ADHD which I do not have. So if I don’t have ADHD I can’t have Bipolar Disorder. I asked my autism psychologists if it was Borderline Personality Disorder or Bipolar or both and she said “no”. She and others psychologists looked at my school report which I had gave to them and they said “they looked at my report from the teachers and we guess that it was autism” the psychologists at Forde House Marsh Barton in Exeter.
I still went away thinking and thinking when I come to the autism group meetings and thinking when I am leaving the place that do I know that it is possible that I could have Bipolar Disorder as it was saying the words in my mind that I must have it as I can’t see how they had diagnosed me in having autism?
In the past weeks I notice that I want to buy items but I can’t as I have no money on me to buy it, but I go around the shop looking at all the items and imagining all of those new cloths that I could have if I had the money on me and the clothes that I was looking at was £100 each. Talking about glamorous shopping sprees with this Bipolar Disorder this is ridicules looking at the cloths like this I know that I do it but can’t control it as it was a habit. Even Bipolar or not I always remove myself from this situation.
Creative mind was the other thought that I have had when I enjoy everything that is creative and also having creative dreams that was imaginable in my mind as well such as lucid dreams.
Rational thoughts as well like I am doing something at one minutes and then jumped and yes lets do this job and so on and my mind is not staying on one thought of a times a symptom of mania or hypomania. I got ideas and use my ideas to express difficult situations and found myself putting in my own words such as for example “I feel good and I know that I should do that but leave it today and do it tomorrow, a lady told me to do that and she looks very cross at me should I told her off even if she was an older lady or herself has this disorder herself as well, or is she getting to me and trying to make me look very bad in front of customers?” that’s my own views going through my mine day by day.
I sometimes hear voices that are not down the hall way and a young girl screamed in my ears could this bedroom at night be haunted and I have not got Bipolar in the first place.
Hi Richard, Sorry I did not reply to this at the time. I approved the comment, most likely meaning to reply to it, but forgot. Thanks for your comment anyway.
I am said to have Personality disorder Not Otherwise Specified but I also see myself as moderate to high functioning autistic with savant abilities. I am known Canada wide for my rapid date calculating ability. I have an ability to tell the day of the week for any date between the years of 1900 and 2020 without any asistive devices and be 99 percent correct to a digital calendar and I do it faster than Google. I have photographic visual memory and can read text at any angle and understand what I am reading.
I have known for quite sometime that i was gifted and having PD-NOS people with this diagnosis are quite smart but have maladaptive behaviours. But I am also medically diagnosed with Klinefelters Syndrome XXXY which is a rare version of Klinefelters Syndrome the normal XXY diagnosis only diagnosed in males. KS is the most common genetic chromosomal disorder that is lifelong and that disorder overlaps the behaviours of autism. The KS XXXY diagnoses is rarer than the average variation XXY and the XXXY version comes with it lower IQ, behavioural and cognitive problems, autistic traits amongst other medical and psychiatric complications.
But going back to my mental health and autistic relationship. I see myself as 30 percent affected by Personality Disorder and 50 percent of autism more of the lower societal functioning I am seen as because I carry big green dragons and a T Rex around as comfort. I do live on my own but with daily support from mental health support staff. I am seen as a simple man. I do not party, I am not in a relationship, I dont drive, I dont have a cell phone and I dont travel by myself.
But the most part of my group of disabilities I see myself as gifted with savant syndrome. I love my savant syndrome. I love doing calendar counting, memorizing factual pieces of what neurotypical people would call useless information. I memorize things I am interested in like my obsessions. I have been noted for my amazing ability to ramble off all of Via Rail Canada’s train schedules in order from beginning to end and to know where each train should be given their schedule in my time zone. I have other gifts as well but I dont want to fill up this blog with my gifts as that is jot the purpose of this blog.
Thanks for your comment Ross. I love that you see your autism as a positive thing. Hope you don’t mind but as you said you’re known Canada-wide I did a search and found you! I love your photos. Your dragon is very cool! You are very welcome to list all your other gifts on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to try and help people who have autistic or ASD symptoms. I think hearing about your gifts would definitely help others.
Hi Thank you for posting my comment. Can I ask you how you found me online I guess it was? I know it was probly on Google but can you tell me where you saw my dragon and myself? Was it on my Youtube Channel?
Hi Ross, I found your Facebook page via a Google search. I can’t find you on YouTube.
Thanks for sharing your experience of the Autistic Spectrum.
Hi. I don’t have any kind of diagnosis, but I’m the oldest of four, and, while only the second-youngest is diagnosed with high-functioning Asperger’s, I suspect all of my brothers and I may be affected in some way, with the root of it being my mother for our immediate family. The problem is, I don’t trust how people diagnose a problem like ASD based off of behavior when it is a problem with brain functions. Perhaps you can educate me as to why people seem to be okay with accepting diagnoses for a brain state based off of behavioral studies since you’re more educated on the subject than I am?
Thanks for your comment. But what organ is responsible for behavior if not the brain?
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