Many people with ASD have obsessive personality traits. Collectors are obsessive. You might know someone who collects elephants or pigs, for example. They will not be able to resist buying the things they collect, and they will talk about them a lot. This will prompt people to buy them these items as presents, and before you know it, their house is over-run with ornamental and cuddly frogs…
…Frog T-shirts, frog tea-towels, frog pens, frog bags, frog bed linen, frog… yeah you get the idea. No, I don’t collect frogs. I’m currently into rocks; agates and geodes, but I’m only a bit obsessed, and no doubt that will change to something else soon.
Perhaps you know an obsessive fan of a rock star, who follows them all over the country and buys every record they ever release. Every poster, every pin badge, every scarf, T-shirt, book and video on the market; they have to have it.
Then there are the Film Nuts. They know every single word of dialogue of their favorite movies and say them in the authentic voices all the time, driving everyone around them crazy. Unless they only hang out with other people who have the same obsession. Then they are as happy as pigs in poop.
Then there are the geeks who love to dress up as their favorite super heroes, and despite approaching middle age, will find the tiniest excuse to wear costumes. Click The Big Bang Theory video above to watch on YouTube.
Then there’s the Trekkies, Star Wars and Doctor Who fans who love to dress up as their favorite characters and go to the conventions. Or the academics who love to bore everyone with their theories and formulas. (I could use another pic of The Big Bang Theory here too).
The obsessions I’ve mentioned so far can mostly be harmless fun, except when the fanatic spends much more than they can afford on their obsessions. But other obsessions can be much more harmful, such as when people develop an obsession over a person they believe they are in love with.
I believe all stalkers are on the autistic spectrum, and who have crossed the line between acceptable and unnacceptable behavior. They don’t think they are doing anything wrong, but they have delusions and are often depressive or have psychotic disorders. But I also believe all people with mild obsessions are also on the spectrum.
I have known a lot of people with depression who have mild obsessive personalities. I consider myself in that group too. I was the nutter who followed the pop star around the country, but thankfully I didn’t stalk him – much.
Dyslexia, like ADHD, is caused by an under-developed cerebellum, and is an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Many people who have it will also have other AS disorders, and be related to people with ASD. Most people think of Dyslexia as being only a reading disorder, or reading disability. In fact the word Dyslexia is made up of the two words Dys- meaning bad or wrong, and Lex- meaning word.
And it is a reading disorder, but the poor reading is only part of the story. What is less well-known about the reading disability part of dyslexia, is that it is caused by poor eye-tracking. A neurotypical person will be able to read from left to right quite happily, but a dyslexic person’s eyes will not be able to stay fixed on the horizontal line of text. The eye-tracking will jump about, and not only read words out of order, but also read words from the lines above and below the line; sometimes with funny consequences:
I saw a movie poster the other day that read:
“Contains strong language
bloody violence, hard drug
use and sexual threat”
I initially read it as: “Contains bloody strong language…”!
And quite often I read upside-down, meaning that if I see a sign with only two or three lines, I will often read the last line first, and then the sign makes no sense to begin with. I have to proofread long blog posts about 20 times, and keep making amendments. Please forgive any typos, and let me know about them in the comments if possible.
Not just a Reading Disability
The documentary program above, with Kara Tointon (this is 1 of 4 parts), highlights more of the problems dyslexics face; especially with auditory memory, that uses the short term or working memory.
People with Dyslexia will often have signs and symptoms of Dyspraxia and ADHD/ADD too, as it also produces poor working memory. The video above does not mention ADHD, although she clearly has signs of it as well as Dyslexia. But most people view ADHD to mean “retarded”, so the term “Dyslexia” is more acceptable to use in a program like this.
As Dyslexia also produces poor hand-eye co-ordination for a lot of people, (although the whole body is affected) this means the sufferer also has dyspraxia, also known as Clumsy Child Disorder. Dyspraxia is also a condition found in many people with ADHD.
One thing many dyslexic people have trouble with is spelling, because they cannot form visual pictures of words that are required for spelling. I can form these pictures of words easily so I was always relatively good at spelling. But this meant I was not diagnosed with dyslexia until I was 38. I also found the diagnosis hard to believe because of this, until I realized how eye-tracking in Dyslexia works.
What I did not know until adulthood was how slow a reader I am. In fact when I was at school, sharing a book with the person sitting next to me, I didn’t believe them when they insisted they had read both pages already!
But I have always read a book at the same speed that I speak, and I thought everyone else did too, until I was diagnosed. This explains why I always ran out of time to write everything in exams, although I was confident I knew the subject well. It also explains why I struggled so much at college (where I would have qualified for a free home computer if I’d known I was dyslexic!)
I now don’t believe that depression can just happen, out of the blue. I used to believe it. But then I used to believe that Freud’s theories on parent-related issues were a load of rubbish. I now don’t.
The first psychiatrist I saw in 1997 told me that, when an adult suddenly appears to become depressed, in 90% or cases, it is linked to psychological trauma in childhood. He also said this of Postnatal Depression (aka Postpartum Depression) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
He said many of his patients are adamant that they have never suffered from depression before, but that he nearly always managed to find the root cause in childhood, after interviewing them extensively.
So what if the real figures are 100%? What if childhood depression, (IMO the result of Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is the cause of all periods of depression in adults? And therefore ASD being the initial cause of all adult depression and anxiety, including Postnatal Depression / Postpartum Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
I have danced with depression since I was a very young child. Depression in adulthood didn’t just happen with me. (Be relieved I have spared readers the details of my childhood depression. The post is written, but as yet unpublished, as it ended up being more of a huge rant than anything else, but good therapy).
I have known a lot of people with depression, both diagnosed and undiagnosed, and after hearing many of their backgrounds, my former shrink’s belief seems to hold up. I once worked with a woman who confided in me that she had recently had a breakdown. (Up to that time I thought a nervous breakdown was only when you trash a room or violently attack someone, because fictional character Arthur Fowler had had a breakdown on British soap Eastenders, and he trashed his living room).
When my co-worker told me that her breakdown had involved lots of crying and feeling worthless, I realized I had had many breakdowns, but was able to identify the large breakdowns as feeling suicidal. This woman was very shy and quiet. You don’t just get like that. She would’ve been that way since childhood.
The other day there was a feature in a magazine about people who suddenly became suicidal after the collapse of their marriage/business/bereavement/finances etc. In all the stories told it was assumed by those around them that the people had never had depression at all before in their lives.
Do you think most people with a history of depression want to broadcast it? Most of these people don’t have a formal diagnosis, and as long as that remains the case; they can live in denial and think of themselves as sane and normal. This is why oficial statistics are so far off. We human beings are so good at hiding our true feelings we don’t even know ourselves how bad our unconscious minds are feeling.
I worked with another woman who was convinced that the suicide of her husband of nearly 12 years was due only to his recent financial troubles. She found out months after his death that almost his whole family had suffered from depression, and that his paternal grandfather had committed suicide at almost the same age. So not only could he have been genetically predisposed to suicide, but it is also common for people to follow parents’ and grandparents’ life decisions, because from a young age we are conditioned to believe their behavior is relatively normal. That’s why so many people follow their descendents’ career paths; it’s what they know.
As well as my own personal struggle with depression, I have always watched people, and read people. I sometimes get it wrong, but generally, I know people. I know for example that people who treat others badly cannot possibly be happy – under any circurmstances. They have some form of depression, anxiety and/or deep insecurities.
Most people who are genuinely happy in their own skin, who have self respect, who have never been touched by depression don’t suddenly want to commit suicide, no matter what the trigger is. They can get depressed, sure, when they suffer adversity, like anyone. But being depressed doesn’t mean you have the clinical mental illness; Depression.
If you have Depression, it is most likely a condition you had nearly all your life, and is part of your make-up. That is not to say every day will be unbearable. Far from it. It is a manageable condition with the right information, and the right action. If you can manage it effectively, then it is possible to get to the stage where you only actually feel depressed when you are over-tired.
They say “Shit happens – it’s how we deal with it.”
People who have never suffered with depression are able to deal with it, a whole lot better than people with a history of depression. It is rare that there will be depression without anxiety. And it’s the anxiety that is often present during social situations.
Depression (including suicidal feelings) lies dormant until environmental factors bring it to the surface. Feeling suicidal might be triggered by the breakup of a marriage or by going bankrupt, or by the death of a loved one, but that’s all they are: Triggers.
The result for many, of having any ASD, is feeling embarrassment at making mistakes, fast-growing inconfidence, and self-loathing for letting others push them around. These are the seeds of depression and anxiety and they happen when a person is very young.
This is why some people only develop speech impediments several years after learning to talk (as highlighted in the film The King’s Speech). Their confidence in talking to people plummets after repeatedly making mistakes. Most newborns*, whether on the autistic spectrum or not, are usually confident. Inconfident people have had their confidence battered out of them by other people or their own paranoia on their journey through life.
(* Some newborns can be inconfident, and they are often the smaller and less feisty one in a set of multiple births.)
The seeds of depression might not necessarily fully develop into Depression and Anxiety. If the person has a happy home life with no living in fear on a regular basis, they could side-step both completely. They might struggle with certain congnitive processes, but it won’t be a huge problem.
If you have depression, that doesn’t mean you are destined to be depressed every day. I let mine out every now and again for a good bawl. And my emotions are on standby when I listen to great music. I honestly don’t think you can appreciate some music fully if you have never known pain.
Depression, anxiety, frustration and despair is what makes us apppreciate the beautiful things in life. Don’t you find a lot of your favorite movies are made by people who are no strangers to depression?
Favorite art, favorite music, favorite books?
“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”
― Bob Dylan
I feel that if you can survive depression by managing it, you will find that some aspects of it are a blessing. How can you recognise beauty and happiness for what it is, when it is all you have ever known? And how can you learn anything if everything you undertake goes well?
But depression doesn’t just happen. It is part of you. Just make sure you control it, not it control you.
This is another big sign that someone is on the autistic spectrum, even if only mildly. I think there are several reasons that people with ASD will regularly argue with others.
Their lack of perception will prevent them from recognising when and where is not the right time and place to get into an argument.
They have an inability to gauge possible outcomes, or even think of any consequencies at all. AKA Foot-in-Mouth syndrome. Most people who argue a lot do not think first how the other person will react. If they did stop to think, they often would bite their tongue.
People with aspergers in particular can be exceptionally pedantic and will often argue over subjects that seem important to them, but to everyone else appear to be very petty things.
When a heated argument takes place, emotions are high and control is lost. We have all witnessed people who continue arguing about the same subject, repeating themselves and just shouting over the other person. They each have no interest in listening; only shouting. Prolonged arguments of this nature are likely to be between two people with aspergers and/or ADHD.
Both types of people need to be heard and get extremely frustrated and hurt when they are not heard or respected. They will both want to have the last word, and get even more angry when their last comment has not resulted in shutting the other person up. What happens next is embarrassing, as each party sinks further and further into petty anarchy.
Sometimes these arguments need not involve shouting, but you can still sense the aggression and anger through snide comments and petty slanging matches. One example of this where I believe both parties have Asperger Syndrome, was one of the many arguments that took place between actor Anthony Cotton and sportswoman Fatima Whitbread while on the TV show “I’m a Celebrity; Get Me Out of Here” in 2011.
Because they both wanted to take control and had different ideas of the best way to do things, they clashed with each other. Fatima seemed to lack perception more than Anthony, and was hopeless at gauging the mood in the camp, while Anthony got stressed out very easily and let Fatima get to him. Anthony was more insightful but could still not resist having the last word in an argument. As they were both guilty of this, it would seem like an argument was coming to an end, but then one would make a “final” quip; prompting the other to do the same. And on and on it went.
I’ll try and find a better video to demonstrate this. I can’t find a video containing an actual proper argument between Anthony and Fatima at the moment, but from 3:00 – 6:00 in the above video, you can get a sense of how they are both feeling.
I felt sorry for them both, as I knew how difficult it was to be in a situation where you cannot be understood. But being a viewer, it was easy to see how these arguments could have been avoided by not letting the other person get to them, and to let the other person have the last word and just agree with them, to end the confrontation. That, of course, is easier said than done though, and the condensing of 24 hours into 45 minutes cannot truly portray to the viewer how participants are really feeling.
Another thing ASD sufferers who are argumentative are often guilty of, is failing to recognise that their opinions are just that; opinions – and not fact. Culprits will typically talk down to the other person in a tone that suggests they themselves are right all the time, and they don’t appear to question that they could be wrong.
Sometimes they are not as arrogant as they appear. They might be fully aware that their opinions are not facts, but sadly the way they communicate will often still make them appear that way.
When a person with Aspergers argues with a neurotypical person, the aspie will almost always win the argument or at least have the last word, because their nature predicts they will get their own way, more often than not. The other person will back down out if sheer exasperation, for a bit of peace. But two aspies would probably fight to the death if they could.
People who are known for arguing most often fall into the category “Unable to Handle Stress” as well. While we all handle stress differently, those on the autistic spectrum get a lot more anxious than others. Even when they themselves think they are having a civilized discussion or debate, others will often see them as being confrontational and not letting go of a subject that could easily be dropped. It is linked to fragile egoes too, because the argumentative party will not be able to allow the other guy to win. The fact they see the conversation as a battleground in itself, is due to the fact that they are over-emotional but instead of being tearful, they get angry.
All the arguments, confrontations and outbursts I have found myself in (*Notice that? “found myself in”; not “started” – as if I was the innocent party!*) have always, without fail, been when I have been behind on my sleep. This is why I try to stick to a strict routine, because although everyone functions better when they are not tired, it is essential for people on the autistic spectrum to have a regular, healthy sleep pattern, simply to function as normally as possible. So many of us are unaware or forget how important this is.
Panic attacks are common with people on the Autistic Spectrum who have anxiety. They can affect people differently. People can have very obvious signs, such as palpitations, hyperventilating, or skin reactions. Others have increased heart rate and breathing.
I tend to have rapid breathing, and there never seems to be enough oxygen in the air. I had a panic attack a while back, though it was mild compared to the ones I had as a teenager. I panicked last year when I could not see a thing in the local cinema. The film had not started yet, and the house lights should have been on, as people were still entering the theater. But the lights were not on, and I could not see anything. I was walking into people (with a tub of ice cream in my hand) because everything was pitch black.
This made me feel very unsafe and claustrophobic. I said to my friend “Get me out of here” and she thought I was joking until I started pushing to get out. I went to look for the manager to ask him to put the house lights on, and he claimed they don’t need to be on, even though the film had not started. I argued with him and as he was standing in the doorway to the theater, I instinctively tried to push him into the theater saying “Go on! See if YOU can see where you are going!”
He then threatened to throw me out if I didn’t behave myself. I didn’t realize until on the way home, but my friend told me I had also been swearing, and that was when she knew I was serious.
As well as panic, I suppose this would be a classic Outburst situation, but when analyzing the incident later, I realized I was also very tired and irritable before we even got in the cinema. In the UK, we drive on the left and have Right Hand Drive cars. My friend has a left hand drive car and every time she wandered between lanes without indicating, it would be me, in the passenger seat, that the other drivers looked at in disgust! So as well as feeling very unsafe in the car, I would have drivers judging me as well. No wonder my nerves were in tatters.
So my friend wasn’t the safest driver in the world, but it wasn’t her fault that I was behind on my sleep too; a recipe for irritability and outburst behavior. I later had it confirmed the house lights should have been on, and the manager might have put them on, if I had asked him politely. But as he saw me as hostile, he was defensive and possibly lied to save face.
Luckily nowadays, these incidents are very few and far between, but they used to be very common when I was a kid. It’s easy to say that I should learn from this and not repeat my actions, but when you are scared, these feeling comes out of the blue. You can never predict what is going to spook you. The only way to minimize the chances of it happening, is to get enough sleep – and insist on driving!
Because obsession is part of a lot of ASD lives, some people on the autistic spectrum seem to go crazy when they fall for someone; they become an emotional wreck, and make themselves really ill.
Unrequited love is a common thing for people with High Functioning Autism. In extreme cases, some will develop stalker-like behavior, which is unhealthy for anyone.
“My version of falling in love is borderline psychotic. Should be avoided at all costs. Get obsessed. Can’t fall in love and function at the same time. All-consuming. Tunnel vision. Euphoric.”
– Graham Norton
Many find the stress is too hard to bear, and they end up giving up relationships and dating altogether. It’s just easier to stay single.
If a person has Asperger Syndrome they will be intolerant of lots of very specific things, and this will often cause friction within a relationship. People with autistic spectrum disorder will also often have poor self esteem issues, which lead to things such as depression, paranoia, jealousy and irrational behavior.
Selfishness is often apparent in people with Aspergers and other AS disorders, and this will cause resentment in the other partner. Depending on how they deal with it, will determine if the selfish person will get worse by taking their partner for granted, and the problem spiraling out of control. Or will they put their foot down and nip selfish behavior in the bud?
Some people with High Functioning autism like to be the center of attention and are incapable of listening to others. Instead they will talk over others. This greatly hinders their ability to get on with others, and form friendships.
Some, without being aware of it, are very negative and constantly looking for things to dislike about the people around them. They live in such fear of others that they actually anticipate not getting on with people, so they search for “things wrong with them” as an excuse to leave the negative situation, whether it be a brief get-together in a bar with colleagues, or an actual relationship.
There are many people who are estranged from their parents or siblings. The issues surrounding ASD to start with, caused the rift in the beginning, but the continuing fear and insecurity associated with their estranged families makes reconciliation unlikely. Also, the common inability to forgive, in an ASD sufferer, will often ensure that the rift stays permanent.
Many people on the Autistic Spectrum have a past littered with broken friendships and relationships, due to these many social problems.
The bonds between autistic children and pets can be very strong. This is believed to be because sensory issues are common among autistic kids, and stroking an animal’s fur provides sensory stimulation and has a calming effect. Animals also easily hold their attention. This is why dogs and horses are often used in specially designed Sensory Integration activities for children with autism.
People with High Functioning ASD can also benefit from being around animals in a similar way, because many of them appear to show affection for animals a lot more than neurotypical people do. Often people will claim that “animals are better than people”. This is a strong sign that they might have historically had long-term social and communication issues, consistent with autistic spectrum disorder.
I have always loved animals, especially dogs, ever since I had one as a pet when I was a young child. I know what it is like to live in fear every day, so whenever I see a frightened animal, I just want to take care of it. I have managed to reduce my own rescue dog’s anxiety issues by playing with her every day, petting her and talking to her a lot. And in turn she is constantly good for me because I can never feel unhappy when I am around her.
One of my friends didn’t believe I was on the autistic spectrum when I first told her in 2005. I had not known her long but when she saw how I was with her dog, she said I was like a child when I was around him.
To me it felt very natural to spend a long time stroking and talking to the dog in a friendly manner. I would be sat on the floor with the dog, while all the “grownups” were sitting on sofas chatting. I could tell some of them thought I was a bit weird. I didn’t care.
All my favorite people throughout history have been animal lovers, and I think it is weird not to make a big fuss of pets and talk to them. How can you not? They are just so full of love!
Many believe Karl Pilkington has Asperger Syndrome, and I definitely think so too. In fact he appears to have so many symptoms of Aspergers, that I believe he is a “text book case” for high functioning Aspergers.
For those who don’t know, Karl was a radio producer on a show Ricky Gervais worked on. Ricky found Karl’s unique view of the world to be entertaining and he often ended up in hysterics after Karl had said something that Karl didn’t even know was funny. This article and interview should explain Karl quite well. But it’s better to watch him on The Ricky Gervais Show on YouTube.
So let’s look at the evidence of Karl having Aspergers:
Thinks at the same speed as talking (ADHD)
Likes to be alone
Intolerant of certain things
Likes routine/Hates change
Talks common sense (even if he’s not too good at expressing the topic clearly)
Loves learning new and interesting facts
Is creative (DIY mostly)
Lack of confidence
Takes things literally (such as metaphors)
Worries a lot
I can’t think of all the symptoms he has off the top of my head, so I’ll keep adding them to the list above, as and when I’m reminded of them.
In the interview linked to above, Karl says on the subject of becoming more famous;
“I don’t think it’ll happen. I don’t have the confidence Ricky has. I’m always worried about stuff.”
Even though he frequently states that Karl is an idiot, Ricky himself has admitted on The Ricky Gervais Show in 2011 that Karl does have plenty of common sense (I can’t yet identify which episode). He actually stopped taking the piss for a few seconds and even sounded sincere when he said it!
I love listening to what Karl has to say because, like me, he is a lateral thinker and can observe things that other people miss. But unlike many comedians, for example, who deliberately make a living out of their unique take on the world, Karl is the reluctant entertainer. Although I sometimes get mad at Ricky for interrupting Karl or for turning an interesting discussion into sexual inuendo, I have to feel grateful to him for recognising how entertaining Karl is.
He knew that Karl would never make the decision to put himself on TV – even if he had the resources to. Karl admits he can be quite lazy and will fill his days with what seem to others to be mundane and boring activities. So he sticks to doing what he is familiar with because he does not like change. Not liking change and preferring to have the same routine every day is classic Aspergers behavior.
In every episode this is confirmed to me more and more. I always wish I had recorded each episiode, so I can analyse everything he says and talk about them here. But luckily people have uploaded various shows to YouTube, so it’s easy to go over them and embed them onto this site to show examples.
I end up watching them at least twice because I view them with two minds. One for sheer entertainment; the other to analyse Karl’s brain. Ricky named the show The Ricky Gervais Show, but once he invited Karl to participate, Karl soon became the star of the show, and now many feel there would be no show without him.
Many of the YouTube comments are from people who hate how Ricky always interrupts Karl and calls him an idiot. Others say that the people who criticize Ricky don’t understand the premise of the show.
I think they do understand, but Ricky seems to be ignoring the fact that the show has become something slightly different to what he intended. He just wanted to be silly and have a laugh, but he did not plan for Karl actually talking sense a lot of the time. It is obvious that he invited him on the show to provide his nutty anecdotes and bizarre opinions that Ricky and Steve find ridiculous.
Some people actually thought Karl was too funny to be for real, and thought that Ricky Gervais had “made him up”.
I knew straight away that Karl was for real, because I think like he does in many ways, and I keep a diary like he does. By that I mean I write it in a similar way to how he writes his diary. At the time of writing my diary, I won’t find it funny at all. I could be moaning about something that annoyed me that day and be feeling angry or embarrassed. But when I read it back months or years later, I can be howling laughing at what a plonker I was, or the way I phrased something, as they’re so random and not what you expect. I personally find Karl’s diary entries the most funny, and the best parts of the show, for the same reason.
Although Karl is a lateral thinker and often a deep thinker, he is not a fluent or articulate speaker. He will have an idea or read something fascinating and try to relay this to Ricky and Steve on the show, but as he is inarticulate, he is not able to do the story much justice. I feel for him when this happens too, because Ricky and Steve interrupt him to make jokes and he quite often is not able to finish what he was saying. That happens to me all the time too. It’s frustrating because it makes you wish you could sound clever, because you know you are clever inside your head!
I also think Karl has ADHD like me too. And I believe it is this that is responsible for him not remembering certain words or phrases, when describing something. I find myself shouting at the TV in an attempt to give him the phrase he’s looking for! But the same thing happens to me all the time too. I will forget the most obvious words that I otherwise use regularly. Just the other day I could not think of the word “articulate” – ironically!
So the Aspergers makes Karl have the random and funny thoughts in the first place, but the ADHD makes communicating his thoughts ineffective, but sometimes the lack of communication makes everything even funnier.
It’s a shame that some people form an opinion about him after listening to him speak for only a few minutes as a result of channel hopping, then they just think he’s an idiot, which is the idea Ricky is trying to promote. But Karl is not an idiot, and while he has me in hysterics, I also feel his pain at not being able to get his point across.
I loved how in this video Karl has noticed that old people’s noses and ears carry on growing. Because a lot of makeup people who worked in TV and film in the past failed to notice this, and “old person” makeup always used to look fake because the ears and noses were the same size as young people’s. They seem to have figured it out lately though. (although people who have had nose jobs look silly when they get old, as they have old faces with tiny teenage noses).
In some ways I think Karl is more of an aspie than me, because he can take things more literally or lack perception sometimes, but in other ways I think that I have aspergers more than Karl. For example, he can do relationships and I can’t.
He has a long-term girlfriend Suzanne, who he talks about a lot on the show (she is shown illustrated but you never see her face, which is cool, as she can stay relatively anonymous). I can’t do relationships, and cannot live with anyone or let anyone close, as I am intolerant and set in my ways. I had lots of partners when I was young, but they dumped me or I dumped them, and it was usually because of me.
But from what Karl has said about Suzanne, she sounds dyspraxic to me! Apparently she is heavy-handed and bangs and clatters about. Clumsiness is classic ADHD and dyspraxia. I have this too, but if Suzanne is on the autistic spectrum as well as Karl, she might be able to tolerate living with him more than other people can and this could be the secret of their longevity.
I know a couple where the guy has Aspergers and the girl has ADHD, and they have been together for ages too. And I have known couples where one is Aspergers with ADHD and the other is ADHD only. Those combos are ok – it’s when you have two aspies together that you get fireworks!
In the above video at 4:25 Stephen reads out a section of Karl’s diary where Karl wonders if other people think in their own accent, as he himself does. I understood this immediately when I first heard the podcast years ago, and was surprised to hear Stephen ask, “What’s this? What are you talking about?” Pardon Stephen? You mean you DON’T think in words?!!
When things happen fast, I don’t think in words particularly, but if I’m just strolling through the park and think something looks weird, I will actually say in my head “That looks weird” and I’ll imagine my voice saying it, just like Karl describes in the video. But Ricky and Stephen seem to think that you’re not supposed to think in words. This prompted me to ask people about this myself.
The people I have spoken to say the same as me; that they think sometimes quickly without words, such as when you get a whole idea in just a split second, and sometimes they think in realtime dialogue. But they were all strong contenders for having ADHD! So I suspect thinking in actual words could be a symptom of ADHD. Or is it that we ALL think in words sometimes, but that people with ADHD are the only ones honest enough to admit it?!
People with ADHD/dyslexia usually cannot read faster than they speak, unless scanning classified ads for example, where they’re only picking out key words. Let me know in the comments what you think – or rather, HOW you think!
Do you think in your own accent like me and Karl?
I don’t mind commenters disagreeing with me, but I’m sick of people saying the same thing; eg: “You shouldn’t label people” etc. They clearly haven’t read the other comments. One person even admitted not having read the whole article!
I have already explained in the comments here why ASD cannot possibly be a label; because it is so diverse. And the people who insist it is a label still view ASD as a negative thing. ASD is a gift more than it is a disorder. It should be called ASG! It’s the people who think of it as a negative, who are doing the labeling.
It also seems obvious that people are commenting here without reading the Home/About page, so do not know what this site is about. If people have a hard time believing Karl Pilkington has High Functioning Aspergers (a more obvious case), then they are at the wrong site, because I believe at least half of everyone is on the AS spectrum.
I have talked to lots of people with first hand experience of living with, or working with High Functioning Aspies, who on the whole think that Karl has aspergers. The people who refute the theory seem to be those who, for example, know ONE person with aspergers, and because that person is nothing like Karl, Karl can’t possibly have aspergers!
Someone tells me that Karl’s own parents think he has Aspergers! I am still looking into that.
Being regularly argumentative is a big sign that a person could have high functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and Aspergers in particular.
I think it comes from a need to be heard and taken seriously, as well as often having to have the last word. The latter being of course to do with ego and insecurity.
Also as pragmatic pedants, we often cannot let slide a remark that someone makes that we disagree on, or think unfair. Sadly, many people with aspergers fail to foresee the probable consequencies of tackling an argument and causing a confrontation. As most people with ASD are unable to handle stress very well, confrontations are usually the last thing they want, and yet they continually forget this fact and end up right in the middle of an argument far too frequently.
We all know someone who is excessively argumentative. Every school classroom has someone – or several. Every workplace has at least one. And as full-blown (low functioning) autism is on the increase, so too is high-functioning autism and ASD. And the only way to prevent it would be for humans to stop reproducing!
If you are an argumentative person, there are certainly ways you can manage these tendencies, and keep them to a minimum. I plan to cover some of these techniques later on in this blog. You cannot totally get rid of the thing in your brain that makes you argumentative (what I believe to be ASD + all the difficulty that ASD brings over many years growing up), but rest assured, it can be managed and even mostly eliminated by recognising your triggers and changing your overall outlook on life for the better. This of course benefits every area of your life and will make you much happier.
Nowadays I practice on the people around me to curb my tendancy to end up in an argument. I have trained myself to smile and nod in aggreement or to make a joke as way of bringing the conversation to a close, if engaging in small-talk, rather than dig myself into a hole.
If I’m with friends, I try to keep the thought “Will they be glad they invited me?” always in the back of my mind, and this is usually enough to make me behave myself! When I look back on my behavior over the years, it is clear that I never used to ask myself this question and thought I could say anything I liked without repercussions. Then I’d get upset and confused when it all backfired. But then again, my inherent depression and resentment towards the world governed most of my behavior. That and lack of sleep. Sometimes it’s ok to get into a healthy debate with friends, as long as you’re not too insecure, paranoid and able to keep a lighthearted tone.
The irony I find is that many arguments I have found myself in, have come about by myself not being able to communicate effectively in the first place, and subsequently being misunderstood. I cannot tell you the number of times I have agreed with the other person, but I have over-complicated the conversation, and they end up thinking I was disagreeing with them.
This happened on New Years Eve 1997 in a discussion about the late Princess Diana. I was so upset by how the argument ruined the evening, I vowed never again to talk about politics, religion or “Diana”!
“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings” – Salvador Dali
Being highly ambitious is more common than you might think, among people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder; notably Asperger Syndrome.
As you may have picked up on this site, I believe that Bipolar Disorder is the resulting condition/symptom of having Aspergers Syndrome, and therefore I believe the two to be essentially one and the same.
One recurring theme among people with a diagnosis for one or the other condition, is that a large percentage of sufferers are very ambitious.
Many people I have met say they have written, or are writing, a novel, without any hint of irony, and after reading their work, some have been delusional about their talent or lack thereof. Others probably would have been able to get pubished if they had believed in themselves all of the time, and not just when experiencing mania.
It is said by some that the only difference between a Visionary and a person suffering “Delusions of Grandeur” is whether they are a success or not.
The autistic spectrum contains a lot of frustrated writers, inventors, musicians, composers, artists, entrepreneurs, designers and the like. It houses a lot of successful ones too.
I first noticed the pattern of Ambition within people with Depression and Bipolar around 2004. This was before I made the startling connection between the autistic spectrum and depression. I was shocked to learn that a colleague who I thought was devoid of ambition, had always wanted to be a rock star! In fact I was pleasantly surprised to discover he was quite an accomplished guitarist.
Within weeks I found out about more and more people with depression that were extremely ambitious. If you are reading this thinking “Who isn’t ambitious?”, then it is most likely that you are ambitious, but not everyone is.
It is also not usually money that is the main motivation for being successful. While most people will enjoy having money when it is still a novelty, the original motivation lies deep within their psychological make-up.
One theory for why people with ASD are often highly ambitious, is that they have failed at so many things, they feel the need to prove themselves to people. They believe they can achieve something worthwhile, but feel they have to convince the rest of the world. They simply want to show people that they can get stuff right.
When you have made many mistakes in your life; when you have been treated constantly unfairly because people always thought you were being deliberately difficult, you develop a yearning to be successful. At anything. Just to be taken seriously.
Another reason that people with ASD can be hugely ambitious, is that they can have a pragmatic type of common sense. When a person is genuinely talented, they should have the intelligence to know they are talented. They also like doing their chosen craft, so it simply makes sense to excell at it.
Then there’s the classic intolerance, of which most AS disorders are made. Many successful people might not be the determined folks people painted them to be, but they simply could not bear to do anything else!
Add to the ASD mix the everpresent obsessive nature, and you potentially have a recipe for success. An obsession in learning a skill will usually mean that the skill gets learned all the more effectively. So the only thing that remains is to hope that the obsession does not die out.
Autistic spectrum folks can also be fickle and indecisive by nature, so there can be a thin line between success and failure. Whether an activity is pursued or not can often depend on outside influences, such as whether or not their decisions are supported by their familes. But some extrordinarily determined (or obsessed and intolerant), ambitious people have still succeeded in spite of unsupporting relatives.
If our writers, artists and inventors (who are not deluded about their own abilities), do not realize their ambitions, there will always be a nagging, haunting feeling throughout their lives. This is why seemingly normal people have mid-life crises and meltdowns. Something triggers a bout of depression, and this is mentally added to all the previous bouts of depression. Then the sufferer wallows in all the horrible memories they have collected over the years.
But if they just had the courage to take action, and realize their dreams.
What advice do successful people always give to those who are still dreaming of achieving what they have acheived?
“Just do it!” – That’s what they all say, isn’t it?
And yet taking the first step seems so colossal, especially when you have ASD.