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Re: ADD Asperger Syndrome

Re: ADD Asperger Syndrome2011-01-26T14:53:56+00:00

The Forums Forums Ask The Community ADD Asperger Syndrome Re: ADD Asperger Syndrome


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Thanks Rick.

My apologies for the length of this post. It’s my “Aspieness” and a really CAN’T help it sometimes, as you will see…

First let me say thank you so much for producing ADD and Loving it. I was amazed at the similarities between the AS experience and the ADHD experience. Differences between them are probably a bit harder to discern, I’m sure, even for those who have both. AS, for me, was much harder to and took much longer wrap my mind around. I can only imagine how much more difficult it would be for those who don’t have it. I suppose the same is true for those who don’t have ADD trying to wrap their minds around it, but I personally found understanding ADD much easier once I saw the video. I suppose as well, it was probably made easier because I had already spent so many years investigating AS, given the strong similarities.

The similarities between them however, seem to be in overall life experience. Cause and effect though, seem to be very different, even when they may tend to cause the same end results in terms of things like feeling like an outcast, being told we are just lazy, not trying hard enough, not thinking positively enough, etc. What’s going on in the AS mind that can cause us to receive similar reactions from the outside world, may be very different from what goes on within the ADHD mind that results in the same sort of reactions.

Your analogy of “being a clean shirt” is close, but a bit off. You probably get this, and this may just be a semantic point. Aspies tend to think very literally. The idea “I am a clean shirt,” wouldn’t make any sense to an Aspie. Obviously, I am not a shirt. I am, however, what I think, and what I think drives what I do. Therefore, if I don’t put on a clean shirt every day, “I am a person who does not put on a clean shirt every day.” If I begin to put on a clean shirt every day, “I become a person who puts on a clean shirt, and that is not the person I was.” If we are asked to change our habits, it feels as though we are being asked to change who we are.

As I said, we are extremely literal thinkers. That said, because I have learned to grasp that aspect of AS in depth, AND the fact that people not on the spectrum have a natural ability to pick up on subtleties, innuendo and don’t tend to take things so literally, I understand that you may already realize what I just explained. We are famous for “splitting hairs” and often exasperate people with our literal interpretations of speech. In this case though, I think it’s important for ME to know that you really do understand the distinction, otherwise we could end up unknowingly talking about two different things, each thinking the other is thinking the same thing.

The distinction in this case really is important to be very clear about. If you did think we might equate our “selves” with a clean shirt, and it seems bizarre to you, it should, because the idea would seem even more bizarre to us! ;-) It’s the HABIT of putting on a clean shirt, that if new to us, might feel like changing who we are, not the clean shirt itself.

A very common response from an Aspie to whom a suggestion is made to change a habit might be preceded with “I don’t…”

For example, I have one son who is deeply Aspie. When we first started trying to get him to comb his hair in the morning before leaving the house, his response was, “I don’t comb my hair.” Of course, we already knew that, and the entire point of getting him to do it was BECAUSE he never did. To him though, BECAUSE he never had, that “non-habit” was part of who he was. Asking him to start doing something he was already in the habit of not doing, was asking him to change who he was.

I think Aspies tend to think that if they must change “who they are,” their must be something wrong with who they are. He had left the house many times before that without combing his hair, and nothing bad had happened, so…

“Why should I?”

Explanations of how it looks to others doesn’t help much, because how it looks to others is their problem, not his. We really have to get him to think the entire process of social interaction, social thinking, and how what others think comes back around to affect US directly. He, because of his Autism, doesn’t automatically follow that logical path. Until one can get an Aspie to understand how their habits can affect them directly, especially when it’s an action that will only affect them indirectly because of how others react, the Aspie doesn’t see any value in the action. If people comment numerous times throughout the day that he should comb his hair, he’s far more likely wonder what their problem is with his hair (it’s not theirs, it’s mine!), and be annoyed that they aren’t minding their own business than he is to think, “Gee, maybe I ought to comb my hair!” He’s also far more likely NOT to do it for that reason because it’s conformity, and just other people insisting he “change who he is.” (By the way, “I am my messy hair,” is acceptable because our hair really Is part of who we are.)

Of course this isn’t a forum about Asperger Syndrome, so let me make the connection between the above and ADD.

From your video, along with posts here and some other reading I have been doing, I’ve been able to discern that for an ADD’er who is NOT also on the Autistic spectrum to change habits doesn’t feel so much like changing who they are anywhere near as much as it does for an ADD’er who IS on the spectrum.

When it comes to this difference, it may be easy to say (as it is with many ADD traits), “Everybody sometimes has that problem!” Trust me, just as with traits of ADD, nobody who isn’t Aspie does not have “that problem” to the depth and severity that an Aspie does.

Changing a habit, for some Aspies, is infinitely more difficult for an Aspie than it is for a non-Aspie. It can involve a philosophical adjustment in thinking. Coming to an understanding that forming new habits isn’t necessarily an “assault” on my being took me decades. I had to learn that “improving” one’s self doesn’t necessarily mean there was anything inherently WRONG with me before I developed the habit. I do understand now that though I may have been improving myself, I am still the same person, with the same core principles and basic beliefs I always have been (less any mistaken ideas I have since learned were mistaken).

But I’m fifty years old! I was at least into my thirties before I even BEGAN to understand that. It took until my mid forties to completely absorb the concept. That’s very late in life to learn something most people know intuitively at a much younger age, and presents a severe disadvantage because of the late onset of understanding.

And therein lies the problem. The only way I know of to learn that concept is the way that I learned it! I’m trying to figure out a way to teach this to my kids the same thing in a way that they can understand it at a much younger age.

Whenever I talk to them about stuff like this, all I can seem to do is either bore or confuse them, or both. It’s like they are in a “bubble” of thinking within their own minds, just as I was at their age. Concepts like this seem so foreign, and makes little sense when put together with what little they know already (or think they know).

It’s frustrating because I KNOW exactly how they feel and how they are thinking, because I WAS THERE once!

Aspies have a stronger sense of need than normal to “test” everything they hear is the way things are. They aren’t built to learn from others experiences, they are hard wired to learn only from their own, and accept only what they have been told that actually holds up during their own experimentation. I can’t tell you how many times my kids have disregarded things I have explained to them for months or even years, then suddenly one day, after a long time of testing what I’ve told them (unbeknownst to me), come to me and say, “Hey dad! Remember when you told me [fill in the blank]? Well I’ve been [fill in the blank], and I figured out YOU WERE RIGHT!”

i know that probably sounds familiar, but it’s to an extreme with my kids. I’m afraid one day one or more of them will one day come to me with big gummy smile to tell me I was right about BRUSHING THEIR TEETH!

Sorry this is so long. One of my own Aspie traits drives me to be as detailed and accurate as possible. Unfortunately, my ADD tends to also cause me to be repetitive because I can’t remember what I’ve said and what I haven’t, which as a combination leads to rather lengthy posts. Drove my college instructors absolutely NUTZ!

In closing, the only idea I’ve been able to come up with probably couldn’t have been done with my kids at a much earlier age, because they wouldn’t have had enough of their own experiences to draw from yet.

And that is to ask them to recall situations during which I advised them, and they later learned what I asked them to do was actually a good idea. Many of those situations involved habit forming. If I can’t yet get them to understand the concept of viewing new habits as nothing more than personal improvement rather than changing who they are, maybe I can get them to just remember habits they HAVE developed, that do now have a direct positive impact on their current life experience.

MAYBE, from there, they might be convinced that because past habit forming didn’t really change their core being, new ones from here on won’t either.