The Asperger Syndrome
Although it is called “Syndrome”, it is not a mental illness; it is just a kind of personality. (Don’t relate the word “Syndrome” to illness, because it is not). It is very common in most geniuses. People with that personality may be hard to understand, their actions are misunderstood very often and usually they are underestimated by the rest of the people.
The Asperger Syndrome is also known as the “living in a wrong planet” syndrome. This means that people with the syndrome feel like normal people living in a world of aliens. The syndrome is a combination of symptoms and behavior related to autism. More than a mental illness it is a “social disability”. Basically they process information in a different way. They may notice details that most of the people won’t notice, but at the same time they lose obvious information. Usually, they explain their ideas in a different way. So it is hard for the rest of the people to understand their ideas, or they may misunderstand the ideas. Asperger people may sound weird or even funny most of the time due to this different way to explain themselves.
As an example, If there is a picture with a car, then a street, in the back a house with windows and a person behind the window. Common people will notice the car first, then the street and then the house. An Asperger person will notice the person behind the window first and won’t notice the car.
Usually they have special abilities, because they can process ideas that most of the people can’t process but they may fail on basic activities like a common conversation with a neighbor. It is known as an inequality between understanding “the world of people” and “the world of things”. It looks like all their abilities are focused in some specific kind of intelligence, but they lack on other areas.
Because using Sheldom is too mainstream… To demonstrate some of the Asperger characteristics, I will use those 2 videos of Taemin (Performing “Danger” and playing the piano). I will use him as my model to explain the Asperger personality. He is just helping me with a graphical explanation; I am not saying he is an Asperger, because I can’t know it yet… He may be more likely in the spectrum of the Savant Syndrome.
Playing the Piano with Onew: https://youtu.be/nTw0UbwJvIg
(WARNING: 99% of people cry watching this video. Watch it under your own risk).
An Asperger will have difficulties to interact with other people, to have an informal conversation. They show a clear lack of interest on common activities, the ones that may attract the crowds. This means activities that may be fun for most of the people, for them are idleness. The same way, if an activity is commonly known as boring or tedious, they will find it fascinating and will do it happily. When they are curious about something, they may spend hours researching without getting tired and keep going on when most of the people would give up.
This attitude makes it harder for them to have a normal social life. They get too involved in their own ideas to interact with other people.
One of the main characteristic is that an Asperger is unable to see non-verbal signals send by other people. The same way they are unable to express themselves with facial expressions or body language. If they notice this, they may pay especial attention to it, and “learn” to express their feelings in a conscious way.
Aspergers may look as cold people, weird, funny, awkward, arrogant or even dumb. An Asperger may express his own ideas very well by writing, but not talking face to face, so they can’t show their real knowledge. Despite their intelligence is much higher than the average, they may not know how to express it and people tend to underestimate them. People in general may not see them as genius, as Asperger or autistics; people just see them as a “weird person”.
The Asperger Syndrome will always be related to an extremely high intelligence, but it may not be seen on normal tests or without a complete observation of the person. They will have outstanding abilities in a certain area or several areas. (See The Savant Syndrome)
A clear example of Asperger is Da Vinci. Over his whole life, he studied different areas of knowledge, with certain intervals of time that obey a pattern used to the diagnosis of Asperger and other autistic syndromes.
Aspergers may show a great vocabulary but used in a different way. They may use scientific terms very easily, or the terms related to the subjects they have studied, but they may get lots if they are talking to somebody who talks in a very informal way or who misuse words.
As far as Asperger is a part of the Autistic Syndrome, there is a huge range or levels of autism. Every person has their own combination of symptoms, that’s why it is very hard to notice.
Those are just a few of the most common characteristics:
They don’t look into the other people’s eyes. That’s why they can’t remember people’s faces and can’t recognize people’s expressions and feelings. They may forget that they met somebody, how the person looks, his face, his voice, name or his physical appearance, but they will remember the place and the situation. If the person said something interesting, the Asperger will remember every single word, but if the conversation is not interesting, they will not even listen to it.
Aspegers have special troubles to interact with the same age people. Usually they like to be with older people, it makes them feel more comfortable.
They don’t care about the time and schedules. They may go to sleep during the day and stay awake at night, to avoid people or noise. They may eat randomly. If they want to do something, they won’t care about the time to do it.
They are interested in certain topics. They may not get interested in trends or the news. Just a few topics may get their attention for a long term. Usually they focus their attention for about 1-4 months. If a topic gets their attention for more than 6 months, probably it will become as a part of their life and everyday routine. They are based on routines, once they get a new habit, it will be part of their personality and may never leave.
They are very careful on keeping their routine. They don’t like to lose the control of the situation. Their behavior is inflexible. They will not change easily. They have a routine, a way to organize stuff and a system for everything. They don’t like to change from a school or a job, they will do everything to avoid a change on their routine.
They pay special attention to little details, according to their perception of the situation. They are perfectionist, so they are very good at working on analyses and they get promoted easily. They can keep a better record than most of the people. They like see everything clean and tidy. They need to arrange and fix things.
Their senses of sight and hearing are more developed than average people. So they are very sensitive to noise and bright lights. So they can’t stand on noisy places, crowds, outdoors, parties, schools, sports etc. And they stay away from those places. They are not interested nor like to be there. If they can work on a certain are that they like, they can be highly productive and outstanding. They hardly make mistakes, they keep on focus, they are very responsible, they don’t get distracted and may have an almost perfect memory (Like a Savant playing the piano).
Aspergers prefer to stay in their bedroom, lights off, in front of their computer. They can be like that for hours or even days. It is very common to see them baggy-eyed, with pale skin, and unfit. They may be too fat or too skinny, because they may forget to eat correctly.
When something gets their attention, they act like a hunting cat. When something gets their attention, they focus on that specific topic. They want to know every detail about that topic. It is not like a hobby to do on free time. When they want to know about something, they may study about it for hours. They won’t take care of their sleep hours or diet until they are done studying. They are done when they feel that they already know everything about the topic, when they have no more questions, where there is nothing else left to learn and they feel like a real master.
Then, they will keep on their routine until they find a new interesting topic. An Asperger may jump from one topic to another without following any pattern. They will focus on anything that gets their attention.
An Asperger will not take care of his appearance, but if they do, they will be very obsessive about it. They get obsessed about having everything clean, well ordained, and with a system. They tend to overthink everything and make too much plans for every situation.
This makes it harder for them to take personal decisions, because they are always overthinking about the side effects and consequences. Usually they have a struggle between following their feelings, their needs, and what they think would be the best option. It may lead them to avoid long term relationships.
For an Asperger, is hard to even keep a long conversation. They get easily distracted from a conversation; they use to stop listening and focus on the environment, especially if the conversation doesn’t include an “interesting topic” or is very frivolous.
For them is very hard to understand the rest of the people. An Asperger will easily thank that the rest of the people are stupid, frivolous, too simple, empty or in a lower level than him.
They process information in a different way. In a conversation they process all the information literally. They get lost when people use words inaccurately. Usually they don’t see the jokes in a conversation especially sarcasm.
As an example: A child didn’t do his homework, because he was busy on his own interests. The teacher will ask him sarcastically: “Did the dog eat your homework?”. An Asperger child will not respond, because he is thinking if he must explain his teacher that he doesn’t have a dog, or that dogs don’t eat paper. He will not notice the change on his teacher’s voice, or her facial expressions. The child would think about changing the topic to something more interesting (for him) and may answer something off topic like: “My dad just bought a new computer”.
Then the child will think that his teacher is stupid and not able to teach him. After that the child will not pay attention to the lessons and will start having troubles at school. If the teacher is unable to understand the child’s personality will think that he is an arrogant child, weird or a troublemaker.
They are credulous and naïve. That fact makes it easier for them to be fooled. They see hear literally, and don’t analyze facial expressions, so they don’t see lies.
Usually they can’t understand symbolic language or games, or they are not interested in it. But when they feel interested, they will not stop analyzing until they decode it.
The same way they can’t see lies, they can’t see other people’s emotions in their facial expressions. They have troubles to understand people’s feelings. They may be talking without noticing the effect of their words on the other people’s feelings.
Due to their behavior, they may face troubles to go to school. They won’t like to go to school, because they don’t like to get out of their house to interact with lots of children. They will ask to be educated at home, but they may still have trouble because they are stubborn.
They may learn to speak and read earlier or much later than other kids, but always in an extreme way. Usually they speak louder or with a low voice level, with a high pitched voice, but always in an extreme way. This is because their perception of sounds is different.
Aspergers usually have motor coordination problems, making a clear contrast with their higher intelligence. They will not be good at sports, and they may look clumsy when even while walking. They have troubles controlling their own body. They may have tics, the most common is to moving their hands in a specific way, touching every fingertip with their thumb and it may look like they are counting, but they are not, it is a tic.
They are used to be alone and do everything by themselves and it makes them to forget about “how they look to others”. So they may adopt any position, strange and new. They may get so used to that position that can even develop back problems. One of the most common positions is to sit down with a hunched back and hiding his head in the middle of his shoulders as much as possible. It is like the desire to create a bubble that protects them from being interrupted while doing something really interesting.
When an Asperger learns to do something, they may do it again and again without mistakes like a robot. They enjoy finding new stuff, so they like to read and use computers a lot. They can be looking into the screen for hours while they eat, moving just their hands to eat.
Usually they like to eat candies, cookies, snacks, fast food, and packed food, because it requires fewer distractions, they don’t have “to go cooking for a long time”. They will do anything to avoid people, so they will ask for home delivery food, instead of going to a restaurant or going shopping to a market. If they receive a bad service or somebody makes a mistake about the order, Aspergers will get really mad, because they have a great memory and won’t understand “how people can forget the specifications of the order”.
An Asperger will not simply take a “no” for an answer. They don’t like to feel that they can’t understand something. If they see an enigma, a mystery, a puzzle, or something unknown, and it gets their attention, they will not stop until they can decode it or they learn about it.
These last characteristics can be found at any point of the Autistic range, so Aspergers are like that too.
Most Aspergers like to study about dinosaurs, astronomy, architecture, airplanes or trains. They like everything related to physics, logic, and the analysis of cause-effect. They may get highly interested on playing video games. If a video game gets their attention, they will not stop until they win every single level easily. Not only winning a level, they will want to master the whole game. Aspergers have a different way to get interested about stuff. If they get interested on sports, they will like to analyze the statistics more than watching the game.
When Hans Asperger was studying this syndrome, he called the kids as “little teachers”, because he analyzed 13 years old kids with knowledge about a certain topic comparable to a university teacher. Being so interested on a topic will lead them to become a real expert.
They are extremely sensitive to any external aggression. This is one of the reasons that make harder for them to create relationships… They may try to interact with other people, and when they receive the first aggression, they will be deeply affected. They feel really hurt by things that most of the people would ignore, at the same time, they would ignore actions that would get most of the people upset.
When an Asperger feels an aggression, he will react with more violence than the average. They will make a tantrum until they get whatever they want. The amount of tantrums may vary depending on the amount of aggressions received by their environment. An Asperger may look like a coldblooded person, like a robot without feelings, but when he receives an aggression, he will have a clear reaction, with a crisis that includes crying, rage and then he will run away from the situation violently. Then he will hide in his bedroom and will be affected for the rest of the day. After that, he will isolate himself even more.
They can’t bear to be in the middle of a fight. They won’t like to see people fight (even if they are strangers, or he is not affected). People fighting, yelling, making excessive noises, or crying will lead the Asperger to have his own crisis.
For an Asperger, the most important thing is to have a peaceful environment. They have to feel respected, without receiving aggressions and will want a clear explanation for everything denied to them. For parents is very important that while rising the child and they deny something to the child, the child will ask “why?”, parents have to explain the real reason and not only say “Because I say so”. A bad response will lead to a tantrum; a good response will lead to understanding and obedience. They really appreciate people who respect their vital space, who understand if they want to be alone and who doesn’t interrupt them while working.
Asperger’s attitude towards children is very extreme too. If the child is sweet and cute, he will be extremely sweet (more than the average), he will act like a kid to. He will be naïve and curious like a kid discovering the world around him and will be a great friend for the child. But at the moment the child is too noisy, reckless, makes a tantrum, if the child doesn’t respect his space, order or systems… The Asperger will react immediately. They are very sensitive to that, and they will react like if you touched a nerve. The Asperger may run away or have his own crisis beside the child making a tantrum.
In addition to that, they are unable to express their feelings clearly, and it may lead to misunderstandings. When they feel misunderstood they will react violently too.
That extreme sensitivity helps them to have a better enjoyment of pleasure. They feel in a more intense way than the average. They are more sensitive to pleasure and to pain, that why they get so afraid when they see a fight.
Due to his weird personality, they will not enjoy normal activities. While most of the kids enjoy playing on the street, a person in the autistic spectrum will prefer to stay at home alone. They don’t like parties and crowded noisy places. They will have trouble finding a partner, they may spend years without a partner and their relationship will be unusual for sure.
When they find a new pleasure they will not leave it easily. Some Aspergers enjoy candies a lot. When they eat a candy they enjoy it so much, that it may relieve any pain. An Asperger may be in the middle of a crisis, and if he gets a candy he will calm down like a baby with a pacifier.
Aspergers have highly developed talents:
Their actions always make sense, because they live in a rational world. Therefore they are very good at logic games, like chess. They have a great memory, so they can remember laws, rules, systems, important facts and situations. This talent is very helpful for intellectual jobs. They are good mathematicians, physics, lawyers, computer technicians, astronomers etc.
People in the autistic range may develop an extraordinary musical talent, because they are more sensitive to noise and music due to the hours they can spend practicing. At the same time, they can be very virtuous to play an instrument. They can do things that most of the people find boring. Aspergers can spend hours playing the piano, doing math problems without an apparent reason (they have their own reason), and they really enjoy to analyze books, movies and games to find mistakes and the information nobody else have seen. They have a huge ability to see little details that nobody else has seen. They have developed a great memory (visual, musical and digital memory).
They can be great actors, because they have to develop the ability to express feeling with facial expressions without really feeling them.
Aspergers have difficulties to communicate while talking, but are great writers. They are very careful to choose every single word; they try to use the exact meaning of each word. They may look much more expressive on internet that real life. This is because writing doesn’t involve body language or facial expressions, so Aspergers develop the ability to communicate by written language.
They have a great difficulty to get a balance between close people and strangers.
When an Asperger tries to be friendly towards new people, they tend to overact and may end up looking arrogant. It is really difficult for an Asperger to start a conversation with a new person.
Aspergers have a huge range of highly developed values, like loyalty and honesty towards the few people that can understand their mind or can reach their hidden feelings. They have few friends and people emotionally close to them. Aspergers really value these people, so they love and take care in a more intense way than people who easily get into relationships. They have problems to express their feelings to their partner, so they have to find new ways to express their love, without the common way of saying “I love you” all the time. They may not say it with words, but they will try to show it.
It is pretty obvious to see who is close to them and who is not. Usually they are very close to partners, parents and siblings. I may be because they get used to the Asperger’s personality, or both have the same feelings and can understand each other.
People with a non-autistic personality have a sense to recognize people’s feelings through facial expressions and are able to empathize with other people. But Aspergers are “emotionally blind”, they don’t care to see people’s expressions, for Aspergers, people’s feelings are irrelevant.
An Asperger may be wrongly diagnosed as a child with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, bipolarity, Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or even a child who can’t learn as fast as other children. The child can simply think that the lesson is boring or that the teacher has stupid ways to teach, he may consider himself as smarter than his own teacher, so the teacher may have nothing interesting to say. If we remember Einstein’s case, he had all those troubles at school and even his parents were thinking that he was stupid.
The Asperger Syndrome is not an illness. It is a part of the “neuro-diversity”. It is a kind of personality. Basic different between and Asperger and a person who is not in the Autistic range is: Autistics brain cells have more and shorter axons. Brain cells are connected by more axons that the average. Brain cells are closer to each other. An average person has few longer axons connecting brain cells. This makes the information to move in a different way.
Let’s use the pictures as example:
If you have ever seen Taemin dancing, at some points it looks like he is going to fall down, because he dances in a different way. The way he moves his hands is different too. So different that even his own dancers can’t get the same positions with their hands.
Here we can see a great care of the details. Look at his hands. He is very careful about the position of the hands, while the rest of the dancers are not paying attention to it. His back looks like an arch; this is the same position of an Asperger when he is too focused on what he is doing and forgets about his posture. The rest of the dancers are not in the same position.
Despite Aspergers don’t like crowds, lights and noise, due to their hard work, perfectionism, and outstanding abilities, lots of them have become famous. They can do that kind of jobs by disconnecting their mind from the place they actually are and putting their mind in a “blubble”. They consciously choose to ignore the environment and everything else around them.
Aspergers usually like to have a long hair that helps to cover their face from other people, because it helps them to create that “bubble”, the same way as the position of the shoulders.
Despite being a Savant or not… We can tell about Taemin’s sensitivity by the way he plays the piano. He is touching the keys really softly, but he is still feeling strongly. If we think about a person who feels the music in a different way, we can’t know exactly what he is feeling or thinking.
In the video it is very obvious that Taemin enjoys playing the piano. He is feeling the music and the song with more passion than the average…. But we already know that Taemin is very sensitive.
It may look like Taemin is looking at the piano keys, but he is not, he is in a moment of concentration that he is not looking at anything. ( I toldyou not to pay attention to the song or you would end up crying, so please don’t look at Onew… I repeat… DON’T LOOK AT ONEW! You will hear your own heart breaking down.)
I wasn’t able to take a good screenshot.. but if you see the video, when the song ends, the way Taemin stands up, you can see how he is still focused on the piano, and suddenly he “gets out of his bubble” and then he focus on Onew.