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Living with Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD)

How is Your Son?

A woman came up to me at church this weekend and asked how my son is doing. She asked because her son is very similar to mine. They are both adults with Asperger’s Syndrome Disorder (ASD). My son was diagnosed in the early 90s. Back then there was a debate among the scientists. Is Asperger’s high functioning autism, or is it a diagnosis of its own? Last year they decided to lump them all together and call it all Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

People on the “lower” end of the spectrum are characterized by classic autism. They are completely non-verbal and seemingly trapped in their own mind. People on the higher end, like my son, are extremely verbal, very intelligent, but lack one thing that the neuro-typical brain has hardwired at birth. They cannot intuitively interpret non-verbal communication. This is called mind blindness. More about that in a moment…

Why Write Now?

I have been blogging for over a decade. This particular blog has been running since 2009. I just did a search to verify that I have NEVER written about this before. I have been very public about other personal and tender issues in my life (sometimes regrettably). Yet, I never wrote about this because I wanted to protect my son’s privacy and not talk ABOUT him in this public forum, as if he was some object to be discussed. He is my son. I love him with all my heart. He is an amazing writer, and, now that he is an adult, I invite him to join this conversation publicly on my blog, to help people understand ASD better.

I write now for two reasons. First, we are at a loss. We simply don’t know how to help him as parents of an adult son with ASD. Second, I know that there are people within the reach of my blogcast that share in a similar situation who may benefit from a public discussion/support forum.

I’ve created a group and discussion forum here (you must register on the site before you can join. That keeps spammers out).

What is Mind Blindness?

You may be wondering about mind blindness. Let me try to explain.

The neuro-typical brain is hard wired to interpret facial expressions and other non-verbal cues. Do you remember how your mother could give you “that look” and you knew exactly what she was telling you? ASDs can’t do that.

Let me demonstrate. Look at these three pictures and notice the labels.

HAPPY

HAPPY

SAD

SAD

MAD

MAD

Happy. Sad. Mad. Those are big and basic emotions. Not too hard to distinguish.

Now, what about these three. How would you interpret what I’m communicating?

face 2

?

face 1

?

?

?

These are more nuanced, aren’t they? You would have to know the context of the conversation to be sure what I was communicating non-verbally.

Now, this is what the ASD sees.

ASD Interpretation

ASD Interpretation

We don’t know exactly why the ASD brain functions this way. We just know that it does.

Can you imagine trying to navigate life when 90% of the things people are saying to you are like white noise?

Beginning the Conversation

I don’t want this to be a whiny, woe-is-me, kind of a blog post. I want to open a discussion for people who live with Asperger’s (I will limit it to the higher end of the spectrum, because I have no experience with the more classic autism). This is for both those people with ASD, like my son, and the family members who love them and have developed various coping mechanisms to deal with it.

Let’s be honest. It can be frustrating for everybody. Let’s talk about it.

Join the Group

 

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Comments
  • Christie February 27, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for sharing this info! I see that the group can no longer be found through the posted links. I am a private school teacher. Many parents show up at our doorsteps looking for hope and support for their children with such needs. Private schools like our own can only provide grace, peace of mind, love and patience but not the educational tools needed. Eventually, we help them plug into the public school system and find the help they need. Until then, we take the time to love on them and teach fellow students how to love on them as well. It’s not easy, but that is the season we are in as we wait for more knowledge and insight on the spectrum to be revealed. Anyway, thanks again! Love all that you do!

    • stevethomason March 3, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      Thanks, Christie. Sorry the group isn’t around any more. It never really took off. I’ve simplified my website, so it doesn’t support forums anymore.

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