Autistic Spectrum? Or just 'different'?

Chat with others about dyspraxia and share your experiences.

Autistic Spectrum? Or just 'different'?

Postby C » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:06 pm

For the past few weeks I have been two-ing and fro-ing as to whether or not I am actually on the 'autistic spectrum' (for those of you who don't know, it was suggested to me last month that I have non verbal learning disorder, which falls on the spectrum.) I definitely think I have NVLD, I meet all the criteria for it and it explains me better than dyspraxia ever did (I doubt I have dyspraxia now as the motor skills problems I have are common to both disorders). But is it really on the autistic spectrum?

My head says 'no, it is not.' It is often compared to Asperger's Syndrome and I don't feel I have AS at all. I think I have social difficulties but they stem from a different cause; finding it difficult to pick up on and interpret non verbal communication. Vicky, I remember you saying (well, posting) that you can't make small talk and neither can anybody else on the autistic spectrum you know. Yet I make small talk very easily. I also have good eye contact and both use and decode sarcasm, in fact some people have said that I'm quite witty. Plus the fact that I'm always lying to spare people's feelings. For example if someone asked if they looked nice and I thought they looked terrible I'd say that they looked nice. Certainly from the onset I appear the very opposite of 'autistic.' Work in a primary school, friendly, smiley, sociable. And yet...

Right now, for example, I just feel brain battered after a day at Uni. I do get anxious sometimes when I go out and about because of poor perceptual skills. Crossing the road is very difficult because I find it so hard to judge distances. Going to parties is stressful because all I can hear is everyone's conversations and I don't know exactly what to 'do.' It's not like when you go to the cinema and there's a procedure, first you get your tickets, then you get something to eat, then you watch the film. It's unpredictable and that scares me. I can't stand anything 'new', I hate novel situations. I like to stick to a routine. I pace up and down when alone. I know all these things aren't dyspraxia but sometimes I feel they make me 'different' rather than 'autistic.' My tutor was talking recently about how there are lots of people being diagnosed with autism now who wouldn't have been twenty years ago - about the label being stretched so that many people who are just 'abnormal' or at the extreme end of 'normal' are being wrongly diagnosed. To an extent I agree. In terms of labelling, I think many things I do aren't 'dyspraxia', yet as that label was applied to me, people attributed my behaviour to that and a lot of my social problems were overlooked or called 'low self esteem' when I don't think they were low self-esteem.

I think a better way of looking at NVLD is as a right hemisphere dysfunction. My visual spatial problems are very severe and this is controlled by the right hemiphere. So, there's an imbalance in my brain with me being 'normal' (whatever that is) verbally (verbal IQ = 104) and 'borderline retarded' (peformance IQ = 73) spatially. Naturally, this affects social functioning as well. Anyway, I do think that you can think about these things too much, just after the diagnosis I was obsessing over it all but now I think it's good that I've got a reason for all the little things I do that aren't dyspraxia. Anyway, I just thought this would be an interesting topic. Anybody think that autism is overdiagnosed? Or not diagnosed enough?
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Postby monkey » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:49 pm

every one is diffierent. autism is a tyep of diference. i dont kwno if to many or nto enough peopel are beign diagnosed wtih it. i didnt get diagnosed untill i was an adutl and so maby 20 years ago i woudl nto have been diagnosed at all. btu i do nto think that changes em in any way. it does tno mater wehter i woudl have been diagnosed 20 years ago or not. wheter or nto you woudl hvea been diagnsoed with ti 20 yearas ago does nto mater ither i think.
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Postby parnassus » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:55 pm

Charlotte, you are going through the same process that I went through a few years ago. I was fifteen when the possibility of autism was suggested to me. The wife of the boarding housemaster (known as Mrs S in Caged in Chaos) sat down with me to go through my diagnostic report and told me at the end that she thought I also had Asperger Syndrome. She was the headmistress of a special school, so I took her quite seriously until I went on the Internet and read about AS. Then I decided that this couldn't possibly be me at all. I didn't know what she was talking about. I was seventeen when I was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, and by this point my knowledge and self-awareness had increased enough for me to accept and even welcome the diagnosis. Being a part of the autism support group here at university has helped me to see that there are lots of autistic people who match my cognitive profile, so I'm not even the kind of 'autistic anomaly' that I saw myself as when I was seventeen - I'm actually a standard model!

I have a good sense of humour as well. I know a lot of autistics who are funny. Similarly, I am a very friendly person - I just don't look it on the outside. It pains me to know that I have a reputation within college for being brusque and unreceptive, because I really do care about people. I wish they knew that. I just don't know how to show it so well. It is easier for me if the people are obviously vulnerable or in need of my help, because then they tend to concentrate on my intentions (to be kind) more than the problems I have with communication and expression.

For what it's worth, I think that you are probably on the autistic spectrum somewhere. It is very broad and blurry in places. However, if you don't feel comfortable using the autistic 'label', you don't have to - I was given the same diagnosis as you by one specialist, and I have rarely used it. (It was made redundant by the ASD diagnosis anyway.) For some reason I always preferred to say dyspraxia. Remember that your comfort is the most important thing.
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Postby Steph » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:16 pm

I agree with Vicky-I have a good sense of humour and am a very warm and compassionate person yet am on the autistic spectrum. I was very lucky in that I was very young when I was diagnosed so didn't go through the phase of wondering whether it truly was the case. Like Vicky, I am a member of the autistic support group at Kent. One of my friends from the group is one of the funniest people I know and would do anything for anyone-he's still autistic. I do know people with autism who seem very cold though-we are all different. One of the other girls in the group will say to me directly, "Your hair needs a wash!" and will make racially inappropriate comments frequently. I would never say that to anyone but I am still autistic. (I don't mean to suggest that autism is correlated with racism because I know that's not the case). Autistic people come in every different form from one of my friends here who writes for magazines on motoring and has his own radio show on the Kent university network to the girl at my aunties old special school who is still in nappies at sixteen and everybody in between.
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Postby C » Tue Mar 11, 2008 9:55 pm

Thanks Vicky and Steph. I'm lucky I have you guys here :D To be honest I think that the non verbal learning disorder label 'fits' me a good deal more than dyspraxia. But dyspraxia is better known so I don't really know which to use... it certainly isn't a dyspraxic profile I show either, all of my performance IQ is down and my short term memory as measured by a digit span test is actually really good! Sometimes I feel like I am on the autistic spectrum, usually not. Funnily enough I think five years ago when I was really having social problems I'd have believed it more. But even now, I was thinking the other day, on a superficial level I seem sociable in that I am friendly and everything. But at higher level social functionining, like maintaining friends and parties and things it all falls apart. I think it is because it's novel and everything, like I have learnt a lot socially that has come naturally to most people and these things fall apart when the routine changes or anything is new and that's why I panic.

I am really glad I went to see the ed psyc again though - she was so helpful. I took a piece of writing about some of my problems I have and she looked at it and in the piece of writing I'd even asked if it was a form of autism. In hindsight it must have been quite prominent in my mind for me to have done that, even if she said no. But then I knew she wouldn't say no, I knew she'd say yes and when she did so I could feel myself splitting metaphorically into two, part of me saying no and part of me saying yes.

It's hard though because I know I don't fit the stereotype and I feel like half of me is on there somewhere and half of me isn't. I just don't feel like anyone's being much help, my dad was good for a day and is now trying in his own little way still but doesn't get it and my mum is just even worse. The first thing she said was 'it's not autism' and 'you've not autistic'. Then she started saying that my anxiety when I go out is a state of mind thing and psychological, of course it's not it's because I'm scared of getting hit by cars!!! She's really annoying me at the moment and she keeps saying things like 'well you're just academic don't worry if you don't like parties' when I'm not worrying for goodness sake, it's her that's worried. My tutor was fascinated by it all although he doesn't think I'm autistic, just abnormal (he meant it as a compliment and I took it as such). I told my aunt last week, who's the headmistress of the primary school I work at. I left with her the writing I'd written for the educational psychologist. She seemed more understanding than anybody else, saying 'autism is a very broad spectrum.' She nodded when I explained some of my problems to her. Although she also disbuted the Asperger's Syndrome, saying straight away 'no you don't have asperger's syndrome, Charlotte.' And I agree and that's why I don't find it helpful to compare it to AS in my case.

Vicky and Steph I did think of you both as neither of you (at least one here, I've never met you in person, Steph) fit my stereotype of 'autistic' at all. And Vicky, I agree you are a really kind and compassionate person, in fact you're probably the most amazing person I've ever met.
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Postby carebear15 » Tue Mar 11, 2008 10:11 pm

you know what my mom said that they are now linking vaccines to autism.

You beat my veral iq and my performance iq and my full iq which are

performance 57
verbal 69
full scale iq 60
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Postby Danni » Wed Mar 12, 2008 1:40 am

I do not think that vaccines are linked to autism in any way. It's a bandwagon that many people have jumped on, but which is not held up by science.
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Postby Steph » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:54 am

I agree with Danni-it is also a dangerous bandwagon as parents are so worried of "losing" their child to autism, which I could say plenty about too, that they decline the vaccine-this means we get measles epidemics-untreated measles can lead to braindamage and deafness.
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Postby Steph » Wed Mar 12, 2008 10:55 am

Not to mention death in some cases.
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Postby Lucy_Rush » Wed Mar 12, 2008 3:03 pm

yes we discussed this the other day on my course. Medical Studies have proved that the combined vaccine is linked to autism in any way.

parents not vaccinating their children because they think it could cause autism 9when it doesnt) is a very dangerous thing. the child could get very sick, and even possibly die.
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Postby k9ruby » Wed Mar 12, 2008 6:58 pm

I sort of know what you mean charlotte. A few specialist said they thought I have as, but we disagreed. Some just said "some sort of asd". Some said dyspraxia (most). 1 said I also have SID and a tremor. I have checked some of the boxes that people with both dyspraxia and an asd would:

- for instance, when I was younger I had quite a few "things", such as not sitting on any chair with cushions.
- I loved mobiles- anything I got my hands on until I was about 7, I made into one. I loved watching them swing.
- I hated "small" changes...but ok with big ones. For instance, when I moved house and school, I settled in alright, but remember feeling so upset when we got a new tv (I was about 5/6 at the time) or the house was slightly rarranged
- I was fascinated by lights, especially burgular alarms, (I still love looking at lights now- especially fairy lights or lava lamps!)
- I was also fascinated by electrictricity/insects
- When I was younger, I had a quite a hard time recongnising when someones bored, and amittidly still do occasionally now, although nowhere near that extent it was.
- I like my own company
- I- like charlotte hate big parties- I know exactly where your coming from when you say you dont have a clue what to do! So its not just me then... Next year I have my 18th and I honestly cannot see any appeal.
- I still inccorectly answered TOM question when I was nearly 11 (something that according to the report is developed normally at around 4)
- I love deep pressure!! I sleep with 4 blankets + cushions on top of me- and got a beanbag for my birthday- heavingly whether your on top or under it!!
- I like routine, and cant tolerate for some to be changed.
- very occasionally, my friends have commented before my face has done the wrong thing without me knowing..
- When I feel uncertain about whats going to happen for too long I start to feel my brain going mad and feel sick. This especially happened when my dads mum died (she had bowel cancer and I didn't know where I was going to stay, when my dad was back etc) .
- When i was little I had lots of noises I couldnt tolerate. Now I'm ok, unless its a severe case of thunder and its in the night/im on my own.
- I dont like it when people i dont know hug me
- I have very sensitive skin, hearing, smell and taste.
- I tend to drift in to another world when I read for long enough, and will often lift up my head to find out my friend has repeated herself 3 times
- I have a photographic visual memory.
- When I was in primary school, I enjoyed being on my own in the playground.
- I can get overloaded by something as simple as someone trying to brush my hair at the same time I'm putting my shoes on...its either one thing or the other- not both!!!

:oops: :oops: :oops:


Since I was little I was very sociable, and I make good eye contact if I am talking to someone, unless I dont know them and its a very busy situation and they are staring at me, then it feels as though my eyes are burning :? . I also smiled at 3 weeks and was laughing at 6. I have also been told I have a good sense of humor and get sarcasm most of the time.

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Postby C » Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:48 pm

Ha ha, Ruby I have quite a few of those things. Here are some of my symptoms:

* I had a few 'things' when I was younger as well. I went through a stage as a child where I was obsessed with counting the number of letters in words and the number of words in a sentence. I loved reading and I'd sit up in bed night after night counting the number of letters and words in my book titles and saying them aloud! Also, I was quite obsessive over certain things, I went through a stage where I'd have to keep getting out of bed and checking the bathroom light was off. I slept with the light on when I was younger as I was scared of the dark.

* I've never minded small changes but I don't like big ones (even now). I like to carefully plan out activities I participate in. I like routine and sameness. I never quite know what to 'do' in new situations, I find it difficult to use my intuition like other people can

* Sometimes if I find something interesting I will go on about it without realizing the other person is bored

* I love my own company and sometimes even if I like people I'll need to get away and have my own space. I generally prefer to do things alone and can spend quite long periods of time without any company

* I hate parties and don't want to do anything for my 21st!

* I have a few sensory issues. For example, I don't like people touching my shoulders. Sometimes it feels like the world is spinning round too fast...

* sometimes if I have to tell someone something I can feel the words sort of mixing up in my head and I find it hard to get them out in the right sequence and order

* Poor peer relationships, although get on better with both adults older than myself and with children


* Good eye contact

* Quite friendly and can 'put people at ease' if know them well

* Sociable

* Can make good small talk

* Well developed Theory of Mind

* Social skills milestones met on time during early childhood. Smiled, pointed, babbled etc. at the right time
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Postby mattie » Sun Mar 16, 2008 7:26 pm


I don't think I am autistic although some of my family members have mentioned me having AS traits before now (but I'm not sure myself).

I had a job interview recently for the role of trainee chartered accountant. I did well in the tests we had to sit, but failed because i was deemed not suitable for the job. Apparently I am not assertive enough and am insensitive and not self-motivated. That's what the feedback based on my body language and a pyscho-whatsit test was anyway :D :D

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Postby Hermionefan5 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:22 am

I think there are lots of kinds of autistic people, so I can't really say that I am not one of them. I have NVLD and so I often think of myself as not autistic, but if I happen to someday be classified as such, then I won't really care. I don't fit the stereotypical autistic form though. I feel like sometimes I can fit in with the autistic people and sometimes I can't. I have some characteristics that I share with people on the autistic spectrum like great rote memory and not liking large parties, however there are differences there as well. I am higher functioning than many of the stereotypical autistics in that I can stay in my own dorm room and take care of myself. I have the ability to socialize with others and people don't always know that I am "different." Sometimes I have to say something to them for them to know it. Sometimes I wish I knew exactly where I fit because I feel like I'm halfway between being on the spectrum and not being there kind of like what Charlotte said. I guess I'm just an in-betweener. :?

I am pretty sociable, although like Charlotte I hate large parties.

I have trouble with eye contact, but I must be getting better at this as people on my mission trip said they didn't even notice that I was at all "different." I must be getting better at socializing in general.

I have trouble with maintaining friendships because I generally am shy and have trouble with social cues. It's tiring for me to spend a whole day with a few friends or even with my family at a sporting event or something.

I am creative like some autistics are. I love to write and make up stories. I have a large imagination.

I hate the textures of some foods and so I'm a picky eater.

I am kind and compassionate, but sometimes this goes too far when I am naieve enough to think that "everyone is going to be nice to me" or "everyone is a good person" and this is not always the case. I have had to learn not to trust every single person.

I am a little gullable because of my naievety that comes along with being NVLD.

I sometimes talk too much because I can't tell when people want to say something or I ramble on about a subject no one wants to hear about anymore.

I have great rote memory skills. I can remember random people's birthdays and other random facts or quotes from films. :)

I like my routines and when things get too out of hand I tend to get upset. If it's a little thing, I can usually deal with it, but big changes in schedule really throw me off balance. Vacations can sometimes be stressful.

I spend hours longer doing homework than others my age.
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Re: Autistic Spectrum? Or just 'different'?

Postby Nicole xD » Mon Apr 30, 2012 7:35 pm

Hey, I had the same problems as you and I still sort of do. I was diagnosed with dyspraxia age six and Aspergers wasn't well known about then. I had a lot of social skills training linked to dyspraxia anyway so I wasn't totally alone. I don't fit into the complete austistic norm either. I am outgoing too, I go to parties (loud noises, loud people etc still get to me but I don't let it ruin my fun), I was on student council last year and the year before that I was a member of our school's Green School's Committee, I'm quite popular at school but still struggle with aspergers traits too.

I didn't even know what Aspergers was until an Educational Psychologist said last year that I probably had it, I mentioned it to some of my teachers and they agree, I do too I guess. My friends and everyone that isn't trained to see austistic traits can't tell the difference because as human beings we learn to act like other humans ie. socialisation.

My point is that you could have it or you might not but either way it won't stop you doing what you want to do. I found it hard to accept that I probably have aspergers but in time I have just learned to accept it and I don't even think about it anymore. Don't freak out too much :)
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