Monthly Archives: March 2013

When Aspie Brains Attack

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In general, people with Aspergers love to learn. Many Aspies find themselves bored in school, simple because the flow of new information is too slow for their brains to maintain focus on. Some parents choose to homeschool their Aspie children; very often these children end up one or even two grades ahead, simply because once they start learning they DO NOT WANT TO STOP. There’s no better feeling for me personally than learning some weird obscure fact or understanding a concept that has eluded me for a while.

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Oh, I get it now! You remove the Pop Tarts from the foil package BEFORE putting them in the toaster!

The one thing that us Aspies hate about learning – it’s work! It’s hard. We don’t like it when things are hard. Being challenged is one thing, but we want to be challenged in a way where success is guaranteed. Unfortunately, in the process of learning it’s very common for people to get things wrong. Being wrong sucks. Sometimes the prospect of being wrong is so scary and overwhelming that it can launch an Aspie right into what is known as the “Failure Cycle,” shown abpve.

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And shown below, more delicious breakfast pastries.

It’s all part of the Aspergers Decision Tree, which basically covers everything from “I love learning! This is so cool!!!” to “I HATE BEING WRONG, THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT COULD EVER BE!!!” And, yes, it’s that extreme. Some Aspies can be so intimidated by the possibility of failure that they get stuck and refuse to make a decision for fear of making the wrong choice. Others will deliberately make a wrong choice – because, hey, if you’re gonna be wrong, might as well be wrong on your own terms, right?

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No matter what you say, Mom, I’m sure the knives belong here instead of the kitchen drawer…

As parents, caregivers, spouses, etc., it is our job to help the Aspie escape the cycle by prompting them to make a choice… any choice! We Aspies must learn that it’s okay to make the wrong choice, as long as we learn from our mistakes. It’s one of the most important lessons anyone must learn. It just takes Aspies a little longer to accept it.

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Triggers

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Yesterday, I sent out a semi-serious tweet about the possibility of throwing a tantrum because I didn’t get pizza for dinner. As ridiculous as that sounds, aspie tantrums can very well be triggered by something that insignificant. Perhaps something of even less importance.

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For example, not getting the Golden Goose that you found out existed only five minutes ago.

Fatigue is a very common tantrum trigger, although not so much for me – my wife will tell you otherwise, but I simply get crabby. Hunger is also a big one on the list of triggers. Specifically for people with aspergers, crowds and social events can lead to meltdowns. For those with autism, loud/unpleasant noises or sensations can cause a blow up. Then you have the triggers that are specific to each person – schedule changes, absence of a normal favorite choice, etc. I know I tend to go nuts if I can’t find something that I’m looking for right away.

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GFY, Waldo.

The importance of knowing these things is not to remove all of the triggers from the world of the Spectrumite – that’s pretty much impossible. What’s important is to know that these triggers do exist, and that a tantrum can be caused by the smallest little thing that you couldn’t even notice if you tried.

What are some of the small triggers that you have seen influence you or someone with Aspergers/Autism?

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Please fill up my comments section. It makes me feel important.

Mapping Autism

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An interesting article was brought to my attention about mapping the brain’s connection signals and perhaps being able to diagnose Autism with the results. I will admit , the article was a good read. And it seems to make some sense, at least to me.

The study mentioned in the article discusses the linkages made between different parts of the brain, and the patterns of those linkages are different in the presence of different conditions (such as autism and spectrum disorders). What this means, basically, is that people with ASD have brains that are wired differently than neurotypical people. This is not earth shattering news; this has pretty much been an accepted idea for quite some time now. The importance of this study is how these connections are mapped, and how this mapping info can be used to confirm a diagnosis of autism.

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Just trust me, it can.

Currently, a diagnosis of autism is very subjective. It pretty much comes down to “you look like you have autism, you must have autism.” Uh, duh. What this mapping info gives us is a way to compare and contrast traits of an ASD brain to a neurotypical brain. Some of these differences are quite striking.

One difference the article mentions is the presence of “redundancy connections” in the ASD brain. This sounds like a good thing, but it’s not really. It allows the ASD brain to focus intense concentration on location-centric processes, but it fails when using cross-referencing skills (i.e. deciphering emotions, social interactions, etc.). Details like this in the study push me more towards believing the results are accurate, because we all know that spectrumites have issues with those types of cross-brain processes.

I suggest giving the article a read. It’s very interesting. And hopefully this will lead towards a better understanding of autism and other ASD conditions in the future.