Tag Archive: diagnosis

These are a collection of symptoms listed in various sources, put into “layman’s terms”.  Those with Aspergers may not exhibit all of these symptoms – it’s a very individualized condition.

  • preoccupied with a favorite subject
  • possibly gifted in a particular skill
  • one-sided conversations, usually about their particular subject of interest
  • speech marked by a lack of rhythm, an odd inflection, or a monotone pitch
  • isolated from others because of poor social skills and narrow interests
  • eccentric behavior and interests
  • developmental delays in motor skills
  • awkwardness, poor coordination
  • a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy
  • unable to read body language or understand social cues in conversation
  • dislike changes in routine
  • appear to lack empathy or portray the correct emotion in facial expressions
  • taking things literally; not understanding jokes
  • a formal speaking style, advanced for their age, making them seem like little professors
  • inappropriate eye contact – either avoiding it as if it’s painful or staring too much
  • unusual facial expressions or posture
  • heightened sensitivity – easily overstimulated by loud noises, lights, strong tastes or textures (sensory integration dysfunction)
  • singled out by others as weird or strange
  • difficulty forming friendships with people their own age

This list is for informational purposes only.  Never self-diagnose – always seek the professional assistance of a psychologist or other licensed specialist.  If you know of other symptoms that I have left off – please comment on this post.


Our (Mis)diagnosis

Although she wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until two years ago, our daughter was previously diagnosed in 3rd grade as ADHD of the inattentive type with generalized anxiety disorder.  Looking back, it’s more clear that she was showing some slightly autistic tendencies since elementary school.

When we tried recreational soccer, she would stand in the field and look up at the stars.  She would wander off and do her own thing at Girl Scout meetings.  She would pull out a book in the middle of class and start reading (and not the textbook, either!).  On top of that, although she could identify every single dinosaur ever studied, draw it and describe it, she could not seem to stay organized or turn in her school assignments.  This still remains a problem today.

So, we took her to the psychologist to figure out what was going on.  After two or three long testing sessions, she got a diagnosis of ADHD.  It’s easy to understand why she was diagnosed as she was.  The symptoms and characteristics of ADHD definitely fit (with the “inattentive” label since she most definitely was not hyperactive), and quite often patients receive a dual diagnosis.

Over the next few years, the social weaknesses became more and more evident as she had problems with making friends, bullies, looking people in the eye and facial expressions that did not always reflect what she meant.  The homework struggles continued, although she scored far above average on standardized tests.  The final straw which prompted us to re-evaluate, was during sophomore year when she began taking her health class curriculum to heart, and she began running 3-5 miles a day, and following a strict diet resulted in losing 20 lbs in 2 months and got down to 88 lbs. Fortunately the pediatrician and psychologist were able to talk some sense into her and she regained her normal weight over several months.  Questionnaires were completed, more testing was done, and shazam! – a new diagnosis which made much more sense… Asperger’s Syndrome.

Even though we have this diagnosis — every day is a challenge with unusual decisions (that make sense only to her), achievements, disappointments, emotional highs and lows.  Add teenage attitude to Asperger’s and it’s quite a roller coaster.

So, what’s your diagnosis story?  Thanks to greater awareness, Asperger’s is recognized earlier now than it used to be, and even though we’ve got word that it will be lumped in with the autism diagnosis, it still gives hope and help to those dealing with the ups and downs of the spectrum on a daily basis.

Asperger’s = Autism according to APA

Autism Awareness RibbonThe American Psychiatric Association has recommended that Asperger’s Syndrome be removed from being a separate diagnosis than autism.  This definitely has it’s pros and cons from my perspective as the mom of an Aspie young lady.

On one hand, autism carries a stigma and a stereotype — unfortunately, people who are not directly familiar with autism envision “Rain Man” or a child moaning or banging their head against the wall – things they have seen on TV or in the movies.  Having a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome creates a distinction between what people traditionally think of autism, and a higher functioning individual.

However, should the diagnosis officially change – I guess I’ll have to change the name of this blog, won’t I?  (and I just started it!)  One of the primary reasons I began this effort was because of the blank stares I receive when I explain that my daughter has Asperger’s Syndrome.   Following the blank stare reaction, I follow up by saying, “It’s high-functioning autism.”  Then they say, “Ohhhh.”  I wonder what goes through their mind at that point.

Originally diagnosed as ADHD in the 3rd grade, she was not re-diagnosed as Aspergian until her freshman year of high school when the social ineptness and obsessions with unusual topics became very apparent. If a diagnosis for Asperger’s had not existed, I am pretty sure she would still be considered ADHD today — not autistic.  And, we’d still be dealing with teachers urging us to medicate her to make their lives easier.

No matter what this condition is called, it should be made clear that every person diagnosed on the autism spectrum is an individual with unique strengths and weaknesses.  Although I like the current differentiation between autism and Asperger’s, changing a diagnosis from Asperger’s Syndrome to autism creates more opportunities, better understanding and accommodations, I’m in support of that.

Be sure to check out this NPR commentary “Asperger’s Officially Placed Inside Autism Spectrum”