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There are many perceptions about what difficulties a person with Asperger's has, but how is this question experienced by someone who has the diagnosis himself? And what does a person with Asperger's experience that are the greatest strengths? 

Image: Atharva Tulsi of Unsplash

These are questions and reflections that Gustav Koi asks in this guest post. Here you read the full post.


An important question

He writes:

How is Asperger's syndrome expressed?

You may be one of those people who wonders why I ask this question? Have we not learned enough about that diagnosis now? Much has been written over time by a professional team about Asperger's syndrome, with all the features that come with it, and all the difficulties of having that diagnosis, some might say.

Yes, that's true enough, but I'll still try to explain why I'm asking that particular question.


I had never heard of Asperger's syndrome

But first I want to say that what I convey here is first and foremost my own reflections, and not least my own experiences. In addition, I have collected many observations from adults with the diagnosis, and from many professionals. 

I have written about people who carry Asperger's syndrome, and I am also one of those with the diagnosis.

So here we are talking about Asperger's syndrome, and not the most low-functioning forms of autism. Even though Asperger's syndrom is an autism spectrum disorder, there is a difference, I think.

After I was diagnosed with Asperger's in 2009, this was a diagnosis I had never heard of before. I asked myself many questions in connection with that diagnosis. I was also diagnosed with dysthymia at the same time, which is a mildly chronic form of depression. It did not come as a surprise to me, but I did not get it as the main diagnosis, even though I felt that it was the main diagnosis. After all, everything was fine before I was hit by that depression.


A different brain function?

Today, after 9 years with the diagnosis Asperger syndrome, I am still not completely familiar with how this diagnosis is viewed by professionals and others. I then think about how to understand the diagnosis, and not least how it is expressed. Of course I have my theories in this area, but a lot is hard to prove when most of it is hidden inside the brain.

The diagnosis cannot be registered on a blood test or urine test. It does not help with medication, because it is not a disease, but a condition. Therefore, it is also called a behavioral diagnosis, and then I ask the question: Are there any common features of that behavior?

We have very little to register on an adult with Asperger syndrome based on what is expressed in behavior. So what we should rather look at is how the brain differs from a normal neurotypical brain.


Not just difficulties

After I was diagnosed with Asperger's, I have also seen that everyone with the diagnosis is so different that one can wonder what they have in common, with the exception of a few common features that have to do with the main criteria.

But there are also positive traits in people with Asperger's, who have more to do with personality traits, i.e. not just difficulties and limitations.

Yes, because what many may perceive is that what makes us so different is a lot about ailments and difficulties in connection with the diagnosis. This in itself is fine enough, but the problem becomes when much of this is directly linked to the diagnosis of Asperger's.

Based on the problems they have, many believe that they have been hit harder with Asperger's than others, and some also say that they have a milder form of Asperger's. That is, there are grades.


Personality also comes into play

Then I ask, since many are affected so differently: Is this due to Asperger's syndrome, or does this have more to do with their personality, or other difficulties or diagnoses?

For my part, I can eliminate many ailments that I think have nothing to do with Asperger's, and what am I left with then? Maybe just a few criteria.

Then many will probably say: What is one to do with a diagnosis if there are no problems and limitations with it? Yes, that is a good question. Then one might as well ask if Asperger's syndrome is a real diagnosis?


The difference in relation to social needs

The diagnosis of Asperger's is relatively new. They first began investigating it in children in the mid-90s. Later, more and more adults have also been diagnosed. A neuropsychologist who had her study time in the 90s, explained that she came across two adults who were diagnosed then, and told that they had a strange behavior. I asked her if they were diagnosed much because of the strange behavior, and then she answered quickly: yes, they did. We probably have a better understanding of the diagnosis now.

People with the diagnosis has often been termed "different" precisely because they perceive them differently. And it is innate, but I still ask: different from what? Is there a difference in how one works, or should work?

What I can see after all these years as something common with adults with Asperger's is that they have no special features in the way they behave, but rather that they do not have the same social needs and desires that many others have without the diagnosis.


Strong focus, perseverance and logical sense

Their reaction pattern is also somewhat different. because they have different expectations and what others expect of them. This can be problematic, so can the problems
or the wear and tear just get there, as a person with Asperger's must exaggerate, or try to mimic the usual social needs and desires that most people have.

But can one call it a limitation? Not necessarily, because this becomes more situational, as I see it, but in close relationships a lot of stress can come, and then there will be something more than situations that are only experienced now and then.

The advantages of having Asperger's are that those with the diagnosis can have strong focus, great endurance, and a strong logical sense. I see this primarily as the positive qualities.

The limitations (not necessarily problems) of having to adapt to a social environment, close relationships and work with things where they can not use their abilities and strengths can eventually take on. It can be as many may feel, and as some also express, that they were born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

- Written by Gustav Koi

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