Monday, August 24, 2009

Aspie Traits: Genetic or Aquired?

I've been seeing a new counselor for the last couple weeks (because I moved, not because there was something wrong with the other one), and she really blew my mind yesterday.

Basically, she said she didn't think my Aspie traits were due to neurological differences, but rather due to extreme abuse and neglect suffered when I was a kid (loooooong sob story I'll tell you in person sometime). She came to this conclusion because I have a great capacity to learn social cues when given the opportunity. Even though my social talk, eye contact, and other outward behaviors are all part of an intricate script honed over the years I've been working, she says the fact that I even have such a script shows I recognize the importance of relationship dynamics in a way others with AS can't comprehend. Since she's connected with my job, and it will be easier to keep if I don't have a "neurological condition" I'm not interested in pressing the issue, but I'm curious what you readers might think.

Are your AS traits a given, genetic part of you that cannot be changed no matter what?

Or, are they symptoms of withdrawal due to some early childhood trauma and, thus, something you're able to overcome once you a) learn "acceptable" behaviors and b) resolve and grieve for the existing trauma.


Gavin Bollard said...

I didn't suffer a bad childhood at all though I was socially isolated by a hearing loss.

Aspergers seems to be mainly genetic but environmental differences play a part in the strength of various traits.

There's also the other possibility, that having aspergers could increase your likelihood of abuse. By that, I mean that when a dangerous social situation arises, possibly an aspie will not recognise the signals and move away from the situation?

I don't know.

SavedAspie said...

Hi Gavin, thanks for your comment. You know, I wonder if the other possibility is more the case- that being Aspie increases the likielhood of abuse not only b/c, as you said, the aspie may not recognize the situation but also because it seems that "normal people" just tend to go out of their way to abuse those who are a little different. Especially a child who doesn't know any better than to sit there, take it, and then later go back for more (trying to fix whatever they did wrong to cause such punishment in the first place).

It's such a delicate thing for me, because I have a few years to retirement and was planning on exploring all of this THEN. Unfortunately, with other major life changes all these issues are overflowing and begging to be dealt with NOW.


pink said...

I remember reading somewhere that some Aspies (I believe it was 20%?) are able to outgrow their traits and eventually blend in with society. Most people seem to do this in some way or another to avoid isolation or ridicule (sadly). The thing is, though, since AS manifests itself in so many different ways how is it possible to stereotype behavior past pre-existing foggy guidelines?

I didn't have a bad childhood either - I was bullied a but, but this all started after I was diagnosed with Asperger's, so there's no way being bullied could have caused anything for me - though I do think it intensified my symptoms and made it harder for me to learn appropriate social rules.

And Saved, if it's socially acceptable for "normal" people to mistreat and isolate those who are a little different than they are, then I don't want to know what screwed up path our society is taking. I don't understand how anyone can see bullying as a means to an end. It truly baffles me. Just saying.

SavedAspie said...

Pink, that's exactly why I question the wisdom of wanting to be "normal." Most "normal" folks are way more self-centered and way more mean than most Aspies I know. Why IS that socially acceptable???

Thanks for your comment!

Janet said...

My seven year old son did not suffer abuse (and I'm a stay at home mom, you'd think I'd notice something like that). He's able to learn social things if we can put them into formulaic expression for him. His difficulties come about when there are unforeseen variables. If he's not sure how to compute the variables then he "freezes" and doesn't know what to do. I'm totally convinced his Asperger's Syndrome is genetic and not environmental. Just because he's quirky doesn't mean he can't learn proper social interaction- it just means it's harder for him than it is for the average person.