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?