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Strong suspicion of Aspergers, need your opinions !

Corgy's picture

Strong suspicion of Aspergers, need your opinions !

Mon 13 Jan 2014 8:17am

Hi guys !

This is my very first post on this forum. I wanted to get some insight and advice from other people who have close relationships or experiences with young adults who have an ASD, Aspergers to be more specific. I myself just graduated as a psychology assistant (emphasis on diagnosis and communication techniques instead of treatment and therapy). If you've never heard of this before, it's because i'm from Belgium and not the UK Wink

I myself am 21 years old and studying for a second degree as a social worker now. Since about two years i have a stepdad and a stepbrother, he's 18 years old.  And with my background in psychology, i have very strong suspicions that my stepbrother has Aspergers. I wil list his typical behaviour below, because i want some opinions and infro from people who have more hands-on experience with this than i have. Because altough i have studied the theorical matters, i have absolutely no practical experience on young adults with an ASD what so ever.

I am fully aware that a diagnosis should be only concluded if it is functional, and i don't believe it's particularly healthy for my brother's mental state at the moment to be bombarded with a posibility of having an ASD when ther is no lead or use for a diagnoses at the moment. Yet i do want some advice on my suspicions because i feel that frictions and frustrations are growing more heavily by the day and that especially his father is getting very depressed about the issue's he has with his son, seeing he doesn't have a clue why he is behaving the way he is. If it ever comes to a point where somethings have to be discussed, i want to know if my suspicions are somewhat understandable or just plain crazy Wink  I wil list below the things that are most apparent to me

-) very stiff motor skills. The way he moves around is somewhat awkward an stiff. It is obvious and apparent even when you don't pay attention to it (my mother knows nothing about autism yet she also told me she's noticed his stiff movements, note that she knows nothing about my suspicions)

-) Undefinably strange and excentric behaviour. The perfect example is that he can be very polite in terms of basic politeness to strangers, he always says hello, goodbye, 'till soon etc. Yet he does it with me, my mom and his dad at home too, constantly. When he's downstairs and i enter the room, he says hello almost every single time, no matter how many times he's seen you in a day. Most of the times he waves at you as well. When you just mention you're going to take a shower and head upstairs again, he says "ok, see you later!". At first this might not seem so very strange, but imagine having to saying hello 7 or 8 times a day to your brother every time you pass each other or enter the same room. He also seems to take it a bit personal when you pass him without saying hello

-) Not very good at adjusting to different contexts and people. For example, when his grandparents come to visit he will talk to them about videogames and technology, because that are his main hobbies and interests. It doesn't occur to him that they don't understand a thing about what he's talking about, and that their interests differ greatly from his. When they laughingly tell him "oh dear boy, i'm not the one to talk to about that" He also seems to take it quite personal. Also he wil quote movie or series references or use english terms to make a joke when other people are in a conversation. The joke is usually linked to the subject of the conversation, yet they're insider jokes that other people usually don't know anything about when you didn't see the movie or played the game. When they react strange or say that they don't have a clue what he's talking about, he feels a bit offended as well. In general he doesn't seem to understand that not everyone thinks like him and knows what he knows. This also often results in blunt somewhat rude responses. Like saying "why would i care about that?" When something doesn't interest him or "that's just stupid in my opinion". He doesn't understand it when people react shocked or hurt by those kinds of exclamations.

-) Communication problems. In the most broad meaning of the word. Sometimes, with no apparent lead, he wil start talking to you while playing a video game, or just randomly, and tell you what he likes about that game, why, what he thinks of it etc. He will do this often, and almost always with absolutely no lead what so ever. When you're working on something or even just out of the shower to get dressed, you just have to listen to him. The subjects range from videogames to movies or other things he likes. Regardless wether it interests you or not. This seems to be a pattern in most conversatioins he initiates: summing op facts or opinions or thoughts about something. He doesn't seem to read the bodylanguage of people who are appaerantly showing him they don't really care for the subject. Even literally saying "i really don't know anything about that" or "couldn't say anything about it, i'm not really into it" in a polite way does not make him change the subject. This results in very tiring and energy consuming "conversations" with him, as all you can say is "uhu, oh really, i see".

-) Lack of social imagination. I put the emphasis on social because he doesn't lack any kind of imagination on other area's. He doesn't seem to understand how to adjust his behaviour to the mood or feelings of someone else. His dad works late shifts sometimes for weeks, when he comes home at 21:15 all he wants to do is eat and sleep because the next day he has to do a lot of household work before going to work again. Yet when he comes home my brother tends to smother him with conversations (that demand a lot of energy, as said before) and doesn't seem to understand that 'now isn't the time'. When his dad bluntly tells him to leave him alone because he's just exhausted, my brother seems to take this very personally and genuinly doesn't understand why his father reacts that way

-) Very closed minded. My brother has his own interests and his own toughts and opninions about life and how the world works. Which are often very stereotypical and narrow minded. For example, he just entered the conservatory of film studies to become a director. At one point we ended up having a discussion about the fact that he insisted that the role of burglar in his latest script had to be casted by a male adult. When trying to broaden his options by telling him a lot of burglaries lately are done by teens and youngsters, he told me that it wasn't an option. His words: "why should i do that? Burglars are always adults. you see it in the movies all the time !". My mother joined the conversation and told him that it probably depends on the story he's writing. He bluntly responded: "i don't know where you get that information, but as i recall all the movies i have ever seen had male adult burglars in them, so that's what i'm doing". This conversation he took very personally, as he does with every conversation. Every confrontation with something that seems to be different as he thought is was, is like hitting a brick wall. I remember him asking me something as simple as "Why did you even choose to become a psychology asisstent when you know beforehand that there's no jobs in that sector? Isn't that just a bit stupid?". I reacted slightly surprised (didn't know him very well at that time) at his absolute narrowmindedness. I started my response with "Wel, maybe i just...". As soon as he noticed that i was going to explain why i didn't agree with that, he simply blocked me off with following response: "no no it's okay you don't have to explain it i was just asking you know, i get it i get it". What bothers me the most is that he always does this when someone tries to explain something to him, and that he says it in a way as if we were very rude or snappy to him, as if he feels attacked personally.

These are the main things i can think of. Sorry for the dreadfully long post, but this is, and he is, quite important to me Smile So i would appreciate the hardy readers out here to tell me what they think about this Wink

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  • Whirling Mind's picture

    These are definitely Apserger's behaviours, but obviously you may be aware some other conditions can have similar traits/overlap with Aspie-like behaviours.  My hunch is from your detailed description, is that it could well be Asperger's.  Maybe you could leave some information leaflets lying around where you know he will find them, to allow him to come to his own realisations rather than prompting him to go for an assessment without any lead up.

  • Corgy's picture

    Thanks for the response.

    It definitely isn't an easy topic. Especially because we have only been living together for one year now. Me and my mother often feel it's not our job to suggest such things to my stepfather. Nobody wants to hear from someone that their child 'has something', in any kind of way, i deeply understand that. Yet i could try to leave behind some 'unintended' clues along the way as you suggest.

    The thing is, if my brother gets the diagnosis, how hard it may be, he can finally stop blaming himself for not understanding people or saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Lately his behaviour seems to get more outspoken and out of line by the day, and i'm afraid his father is going to have a 'talk' with him soon. How good his intentions may be, i would just love to rid him of the thought that his own son is a very annoying and rude child. Because he is NOT Smile His behaviour just gets more outspoken when he's in stress or change (during exams at the moment), and to normal standards he comes across as very rude and inconciderate.

    A diagnosis is not a solution, but it would open the gates to understandment en rid our household of all the tensions, frustrations and misunderstandings Smile

    If anyone else has ever been in such a situation, where mentioning the suspicion of ASD was/is a very delicate subject, please share your experiences with me Smile

  • Whirling Mind's picture

    I would leave some leaflets/information around for your father too.  He may be in denial.

    Yes, my eldest daughter is in denial about having Asperger's (for which we are awaiting diagnosis).  It's been really tough because I have to walk on eggshells around her, she is very un-PC about all disability too.

  • Corgy's picture

    I think it's fair to suspect he could be in denial about it. It could also be that he is very uninformed about the subject, as he doesn't know anything about aspergers or autism, he's never come into contact with it before. I feel for your situation and hope that if the diagnosis is posed, your daughter will learn to accept that it doesn't make her a different person. Yet i recognise the trepidation linked with the denial...

     I can recall that last summer my mother very carefully tried to bring it up, after my stepdad confessed he always suspected that 'something' was up with his son. Yet he connected the dots differently and told us he always had a suspicion his son had ADHD, because of his tendency to be very exhausting and time-consuming. The things he was talking about then were his one-sided conversations and his lack of independancy, always being very clingy to his dad. To my stepdad this came across as being very active, tiring and jumpy, etc.

    I personally do not think my stepbrother has ADHD. Although i know that it has a high comorbidity rate, i do not see any signs of it. He has never had any problems with lack of concentration, in fact he can very deeply focus his attention on something for hours and hours in a row, not even realizing what's happening outside his little 'bubble' anymore Wink. Also no signs of lack of impuls-control, on the contrary. He plans things in advance a lot and if new questions or events arise he can be very doubtfull about what decision to make.

    Being ever so carefull and respecting his position as a father, i tried to inform him of the problems that occur with ADHD, and told him that the attention deficit etc. wasn't what first came to mind for me. When he asked me what did, i told him that i recognize a lot of behaviours and patterns that are typical for the autism spectrum. His reaction was rather quiet, and i think that's very understandable, i never brought it up again ever since.

    As i said allready, he's very uninformed about autism, and i think he does not really understand the spectrum concept. Sadly but understandable, autism is something that in his mind is linked to children or adults with a mental impairment, following stereotypes on tv or in the movies (i hope i'm using correct terminology here, i just literally translated the dutch approved terms). 
    I think he is scared to link his son with this sad stereotypical media image of autism and is afraid of the consequences it will have. Yet i didn't get as far as to explain to him that there don't have to be any consequences. His son will still be the same guy he's always been, yet we can finally understand his world, and he can learn to understand ours :)

    I think it might be a tricky case, but we'll see where we end up :)


  • Whirling Mind's picture

    Good luck, maybe if you can find some information that shows higher functioning people and also point out that famous people such as Darryl Hannah and Dan Akroyd have it he might be less stereotypical in his views.

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