Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Medical Question About Asperger Syndrome

  1. Jun 7, 2012 #1


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    How well do Aspies get along with other Aspies? I'm just curious.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2012 #2
    You could examine how well people around here get along, seeing as how most of the people here are convinced that they have Asperger's, or some other disease that makes them antisocial.
  4. Jun 7, 2012 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Ah good point. I was wondering about in person, not online - e.g. at a workplace.
  5. Jun 7, 2012 #4
    My attempt at humor.....

    I don't have Asperger's, but had an extreme case of self-consciousness and shyness in my freshman year of high school. It wasn't that big of an issue, but it definitely bothered me. The funny thing was, not that many people commented on it, or brought it up, because my face never got red or any of the tell-tale signs like that, but on the inside, I felt like a more obscene version of the word poop.

    Eventually, at some time during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I snapped out of it, realized I had nothing to worry about, and no longer cared about speaking in front of people, etc. etc. What I have really noticed after this, though, is that I can now relate to the people who I see as shy. I feel genuine empathy towards them and what they're feeling, because I felt that same way no more than a year and a half ago. Aspies (nice term, by the way) clearly suffer from social disabilities, avoid eye contact, confrontation, etc. While I have no idea whether or not they would still continue to have those traits amongst each other, I am guessing that (similarly to my situation) they are at least able to recognize somebody else who goes through what they do, and empathize with them, which in turn might create bond between them.

    It's almost the same logic behind AA meetings and the like. It's beneficial to you to be around people dealing with the same difficulties as you, because they can relate to what you're going through. I couldn't know what it would be like to have Asperger's, so I can't talk with one of them as if I knew exactly what they felt like, but clearly somebody else with Asperger's could. That connection of going through the same hardships, I believe, would at least generate some sympathy between people who have Asperger's.

    That's just my 2 cents on this. I don't have a degree in Medical Science, and all of this is speculation as to what I know from personal experiences, but I felt obliged to share my thoughts on this seeing as how I've already posted in here once, that I mine as well make a somewhat beneficial contribution to the thread.
  6. Jun 8, 2012 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    One of the characteristics of Asperger's is a "blind spot" when trying to figure out other people's feelings. They may be brutally blunt in situations that neurotypicals would treat with a bit more tact or sensitivity.

    So your statement that I bolded...I don't know if that's true. I suspect it isn't, but that's exactly what I'm wondering.
  7. Jun 8, 2012 #6
    Aspies aren't shy and self-conscious, though. In fact, they are likely to get themselves into trouble by blurting out overly personal information or asking overly personal questions. For example, someone told me a girl Aspie they knew once blurted out, during a conversation in a crowded coffeeshop," Oh I think that actor is so handsome! I masturbated thinking about him last night!" Their trouble with social interaction arises from being very naive, not from being shy. The content of their remarks can often have a shameless boastful-sounding edge; they enjoy ticking off perceived personal accomplishments, which is one of the many reasons they tend to attract attention from bullies in school.

    They don't naturally understand social boundaries, and lack what psychologists call "Theory of Mind", the ability to appreciate that other people can have completely different things going on in their minds than they do, and to estimate what other people are feeling and thinking based on non-verbal cues. Within a minute or two of meeting a stranger an Aspie will often launch into an unstoppable monolog about their field of interest and they can literally go on for hours without them ever picking up, and reacting to, any signs the listener is bored, without ever leaving any space for the listener to contribute to the conversation. The problems with social interaction in Asperger's is not shyness, it's cluelessness.

    Generally, before their problems come to a point where they get referred to a psychologist people with Asperger's do not remotely suspect there's anything wrong with them and they are very unlikely to harbor a secret worry they might have it. Over time, after years of lack of success in social interaction, they can become withdrawn and depressed, prone to alcoholism and heavy pot use, but that, too, is not shyness.
  8. Jun 8, 2012 #7
    As to whether Aspies get along with other Aspies, I do not know. I poked around Tony Atwood's site but didn't see anything that looked like it might address this issue. I did find that there are group homes. How they get along in these homes is probably completely dependent on how the homes are run. My personal experience is that, at this one coffeehouse where I used to live, there were 6 guys with Aspergers who showed up a lot (one actually worked there). Left to their own devices and free to approach anyone they wanted, they did not tend to gravitate to each other and become friends.
  9. Jun 8, 2012 #8


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The following is all anecdotal. Aspergers is now part of the "autism spectrum" and people with aspergers can have a rather wide range of symptoms and severity. I have been best friends with two male aspies and they both could not look people in the eye, they usually took everything you said literally, which made joking a really bad idea. One usually can't understand song lyrics, as far as getting a meaning from them. He also can't grasp a lot of emotions involved in situations. My other friend was terrified of being in social situations in public, for fear he'd feel overwhelmed and need to escape. People that don't know them would consider them aloof or even cold because they have difficulty empathising, what one of them referred to as a "deer in the headlights" moment when someone expresses emotions about a situation and they simply can't undertand it. Neither of them had the problems zoob spoke of, but those symptoms do fall within the autism spectrum disorder category.

    I think the two would have more difficulty relating to each other. As I learned what they could and couldn't cope with or grasp, I tried to modify my behaviour accordingly to make them more comfortable, but found it very difficult to maintain. I doubt another person with aspergers could/would do this.
  10. Jun 8, 2012 #9
    This is a good point.

    As for diversity of symptoms, Asperger's is frequently co-morbid with other problems: OCD, OCPD, seizures, Tourette's, Depression, ADD, ADHD, and Bipolar Disorder. Sometimes it's hard to figure out which behavior is part of which problem.

    My friend Dave's son (the first Aspie I ever met) is as I described them above, but only when his father is around (when he feels secure). I ran into him alone at the library once and he was totally different, all flustered and timid, and tongue-tied, alarmed that I had approached him without his dad there. It was too outside what he was used to, I guess.

    What's interesting to me is that I've never met a female Aspie that I know of. Atwood says girls with Aspergers generally end up doing much better at faking normalcy than guys. He contends that a clueless girl is much more likely to be "adopted" by other girls and coached than a guy is. Clueless guys are shunned and marginalized.
  11. Jul 3, 2012 #10
    This often happens when I'm drunk. I wonder what happens when Aspies get drunk....
  12. Jul 3, 2012 #11
    I don't know how well I understood the book, but I have always called that kind empathy "Catcher & the Rye". Well more so if you felt somewhat obliged to "help" them.

    I also noticed you didn't use the term "anti-social". Bravo.

    Sorry I don't have anything "scientific" to contribute to this, and wonder if "neuroscience" itself does.

    What I do find troubling is the variance in symptoms.
  13. Jul 5, 2012 #12


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I think you have a higher chance of meeting introverts on the internet. I'm an introvert; I have a huge internal world... but I'm able to be "extroverted" on the internet and share my world a little bit.
  14. Jul 5, 2012 #13
    Yea I find the anonymity of online "communication" makes it easy. I don't really consider it communication. Merely reading and writing.

    Oral communication, face to face I find difficult, so much "going on" there.

    I'd consider myself an introvert, but I am far more personal with "face to face" than on the internet. Actually I "watch" what I write on these forums more so than in "real time" communication. (Written in stone)

    That said, internet posting would be a fantastic "tool" for being open & anonymous simultaneously. Have your cake and eat it too.
  15. Jul 5, 2012 #14
    I don't know any scientific studies that address this issue. However, I have been diagnosed with Asperger's. I have a few anecdotes regarding peoples interactions in the workplace and on the Internet. My impression is that Aspies and dyslexics often don't get along.
    My impression is that people in the autistic spectrum tend to get along fine with each other. Aspies get along fine with other Aspies. I get along fine with many people who have different interests than me, even people who have different obsessions than me. However, there is friction between Aspies and more intuitive people. I have gotten into a lot of conflict with dyslexics both at work and on the net.
    Often, one finds a dyslexic in real denial. I have met a few dyslexics who claim that all mathematics is a plot to subjugate superior people like themselves. They will claim that all logic is the work of con artists. You can imagine how that grates on people who only have logic.
    If you watch some of the threads in some discussion groups, then you will find some fiery discussions. My strong impression is that few Normal Types get involved in these discussions. Most people taking part in these threads are obsessive-compulsive in some way. A lot of people admit to having OCD. However, there seems to be a line between two groups of people: those that trust in "logic" and those that trust their "intuition".
    Most everyone in a high voltage discussion probably has OCD. I propose that many of the logic people have Asperger's syndrome and many of the intuition people have dyslexia. Looking at the high temperature discussions, I notice that some of the posters have problems in reading comprehension, logic and formal mathematics. I hypothesize that these people are dyslexic. I notice many seem rather trusting to the point of naivete. They also take statements literally. I hypothesize that these have Aspergers syndrome.
    Yes, this is anecdotal.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2012
  16. Jul 5, 2012 #15


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    My neighbor never looks anyone in the eye when he talks to them. He is an odd duck in many other (poorly-defined) ways, but I don't think it really occurred to me that he might be Asp-ish. Maybe I'll look up the symptoms and see if some of them match.
  17. Jul 5, 2012 #16
    I would bet these people were joking. Aspies and other people who aren't tuned into humor for whatever reason often don't pick up on it when people are engaging in "dead pan" humor. A lot of humorous remarks just aren't funny unless you pretend you're perfectly serious. "Dead pan" means "straight faced", a perfectly serious face that never betrays that you realize what you're saying is silly, outrageous, or ridiculous.

    Steve Wright is a good example of Dead Pan humor:

    "...mathematics is a plot to subjugate superior people like themselves" sounds a little too outrageous to think they were actually serious when they said it.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  18. Jul 12, 2012 #17
    Of course, I am not really good with intuition. I pretty much fit the current diagnostic criteria for Aspergers like a glove. However, I know deadpan humor. I use it a lot. This is part of an overall passive-aggressive strategy. Some people like dead pan humor, and some people don't. However, I thought recognizing dead pan humor was the one emotional judgement that I was good at.
    The people that I am talking about seem to prefer an aggressive-aggressive strategy. Also, they claim to be proud of their dyslexia. It did not appear to be funny, even to them. They did not present a dead pan aspect. They appeared more angry. I may be wrong when reading this. However, I know anger when it is presented in a straightforward way. This was straightforward.
    The people that I am talking too were very close to hysterical. A few were talking on the internet, and were using angry words. Another who I saw up close was a student who had threatened a few professors. He did not look dead pan at all. He had a red face.
    Would an neurotypical person use deadpan humor when he was very angry?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  19. Jul 12, 2012 #18
    I would have to read the posts in question in context to be completely sure, but what you describe doesn't sound at all like they're trying to be funny.

    I have internet dialogs with three dyslexics that I recall, and none were defensive, so your report is surprising.

    There are still people who don't believe it's a real condition. I suppose how defensive a dyslexic becomes depends on how much and for how long they were told they were lazy or stupid before they were properly diagnosed. There was a guy here when I first joined, for example, who claimed there was no such thing as dyslexia, and who mocked people claiming to have it. Given that, I suppose there could be a lot of seriously defensive, frustrated dyslexics out there.
  20. Jul 12, 2012 #19
    It's my experience that Aspies don't get dean pan humor at first, but that once they get it they're very good at it and even enthusiastic about it. There's a prevalent rumor I've never been able to confirm that Dan Ackroyd has Asperger's. If it's true, it certainly blows the "they don't get humor" meme to hell. For that reason, I've always hoped it was true.
  21. Jul 13, 2012 #20

    I like Serena

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I suspect I'd be diagnosed with Asperger if I'd do a test.
    People around me believe I would.
    However, it's only conjecture.

    I do know that when young I did not do well socially and was very late to develop.
    Since I'm reasonably smart, I've learned how to recognize social patterns and can act accordingly.
    For instance, I do get deadpan humor (although I feel it is really something I've learned rather than really getting it).
    Connecting to people has always been difficult for me though, and I know my interests lie in a pretty narrow band, which makes it that much harder to connect.

    I know a couple of dyslexics, but I have no problem with them at all.
    They know their problems and they accept that.
    If I can help them in any way, I will, and they (at least the people I know) know that.
    I can accept that I'm not really good with people - at least not in intimate relations (IRL).
    They don't mind that.
    That's just the way I am.

    As I've understood it, Asperger is only diagnosed in childhood, when children show they have problems.
    Adults have it too, but they have usually learned how to cope with it, one way or another.
    As a result they (like me) usually don't do tests that would perhaps diagnose them with Asperger.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook