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My nerd thing and Asperger's Syndrome

Whenever I hear the symptoms associated with Asperger's, they feel
uncomfortably familiar. However, psychologist friends berate me when I
indulge my (mostly suppressed) hypochondria in this area. Maybe there's
a spectrum, from nerdish unsocial behavior to Asperger's to autism, I sure
don't know. For more, check here on Wikipedia.

A friend tells me one symptom is "the inability to
accurately assess her own feelings and the feelings of others" and perhaps that's part of my problem.

In my case, let's say my capacity for social behavior is a bit limited,
and it's a good thing my work is mostly in front of a screen.

However, the eye contact symptom is a real problem for me. Maybe I just
live in my head too much, or it could be related to vision problems. (I
have double vision, and if you're in conversational distance, I have to
work so I don't see you as having two noses.)
It's quite possible it's a symptom of some deep issue that
I don't get.
In any case, I work on it, but it's part of the real me, whatever it is.

Tags: | 17 Responses »

17 Responses to My nerd thing and Asperger's Syndrome

Davi Ottenheimer says:

Craig, interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing. I have no doubt that there is a spectrum that makes hard rules elusive, but from our limited meetings and my armchair perspective I would say there is no way you have aspergers. For starters you are incredibly thoughtful about the needs/wants of others and your legacy is one of inspiration to those who wish to do good unto the world.
Also, reminds me of the saying "If you think you might be insane, you aren't, but if you think you are normal…"

elizabeth says:

We only recently came to realize that our 14yo son has Asperger's. He's on the "high functioning" end of the spectrum. For years we just considered him "quirky" and weren't very threatened by it. After all, my husband and I are both rather quirky ourselves.
Aren't we all on a continuum? And isn't the line between normal and not normal more than a little elusive? And arbitrary?
Eye contact is a real problem for my son. It was the one trait I couldn't just write off as being quirky.

Charles Pierce says:

I was interested to find this blog. I am 64 years old, and at the age of 60 was told by two qualified people who have known me for decades, that I have Asperger's syndrome. This information was a revelation and a liberation. The course of my life was explained, not excused, but explained, and a clear road to future progress opened up.
20 years ago I had a book published on different economic concepts to point the way to a sustainable world economy. Someone who liked the book contacted me this year to suggest that I update and re-publish it as a blog. She set up the blog, and the book is now complete on the blog in a series of postings. There are now also additional pieces on global warming and other subjects. Here is the link:
http://www.economicsforaroundearth.com
The world needs Aspies too!
With all good wishes,
Charles Pierce

Linda Diane Feldt says:

Craig, It is a spectrum disorder. And there are thousands of high functioning people on the spectrum. There are three in my family. My brother self diagnosed after reading a sci fi book – Elizabeth Moon "The Speed of Dark" I love the irony of figuring this out in such a total nerd way.
Having the understanding has made all the difference for me, and of course for them. My life makes sense now – growing up surrounded by Asperger's men. And they now have language to explain so many pretty quirky ideas. And they are deeply moral, ethical, caring men who have worked to make the world a better place. And are highly functional – and brilliant.
Trust your feelings, look into PDD NOS (persistent developmental disorders not otherwise specified) and use those hints and feelings to help other people understand you as well as find more comfort in yourself.
And you might want to check out the book!

Angela March says:

I found this blog whilst looking for Double vision and Aspergers, very sad to read that the author has comments from aquaintencies(Davi Ottenheimer) that state that because he is thoughtful towards others there is no way he could have Aspergers!!!! Craig Please see a real profesional if you feel the need to get a diagnosis, I have two boys with Aspergers and they are kind and considerate and always thinking of others. It infuriates me that in this day and age of supposed acceptance there are people that are still demonising Autism and its spectrum. Not all sufferers are violent and uncaring, what a ridiculous statement.Perhaps your collegue should read 10 things every child with autism wishes you new by Ellen Notbohm. one of which is EVERY CHILD WITH AUTISM IS DIFFERENT !!!This means adults too.

Davi Ottenheimer says:

Angela, why so sad? I read "10 things every child with autism wishes you knew". It doesn't change my view. In fact, I bet we probably agree on most points. A professional diagnosis seems like a good idea. The logic of my message was
a) if the measure is "the inability to accurately assess her own feelings and the feelings of others"
b) craig clearly does not have that symptom as his work is very thoughtful
c) so he need not worry at all on that point
d) moreover he should be commended
Nowhere did I say or mean to imply that because one undiagnosed person does not have a symptom therefore all those diagnosed with Aspergers therefore must have that particular symptom. I was not using Craig as a test. Even if I had made such an inverse (and illogical) assertion, I think that's still a long way from demonizing anyone.

tracy says:

I see my son in you. Both my husband and I noticed it (saw the Charlie Rose interview).
he has not been dx with Aspie but as we say there 'is a toe in that water' a bit. you have the internet–he has airplanes.
curiously i hear there are hot spots in NJ for autism/aspie —

JD says:

This is my first time on this site. I read a recent article on Craig and immediately googled 'Craig Newmark aspergers'. My aspie radar is pretty good and I'm rarely wrong.
Many of us aspies have difficulty in assessing other people's feelings from non-verbal cues, but the vast majority of us CAN assess the feelings of others through other means.

FE says:

I think "the inability to accurately assess her own feelings and the feelings of others" and being "incredibly thoughtful about the needs/wants of others" are not contrary to each other. I have a family member who always attempts to be really thoughtful of other people, but it causes him a lot of stress and practical difficulties because he can only guess at the feelings of others. Mostly he looks totally out of his depth, which is very sad to see, but he's never been thoughtless in his life. Another family member (now deceased) was regularly both thoughtless and had no idea how others were feeling – and was not stressed at all!

Glen says:

No doubt about it, Craig — you have Asperger's Syndrome.
I just read the 8/24/09 article in Wired entitled, "Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess." Between the bit about the Charlie Rose interview, and your willingness (né, love) of plowing through thousands of emails and posting… yep, that's Asperger's.
Welcome to your world. It's not like most everyone else's, which might be why you see so many things to be someone else's problem.
Think about it. Your ideas about social organization and self-governance are likely the result of Asperger's, too. Not that there's anything wrong with that — except that they represent the view of a pretty specific and very small minority.

Sean Conner says:

Craig,
I know exactly what you mean when you say "uncomfortably familiar." Last summer I randomly took this AS self test in a Wired magazine of all things ( http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html ). "It's just a silly test in a magazine" I told myself. Then over the course of the next few months the idea rattled around in my head and I started asking my friends the questions on the test (about me)… to my surprise the collective score was significantly higher than I had self tested. It was at that point I decided to learn more about AS, which eventually led me to this TED talk by Temple Grandin ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn_9f5x0f1Q ) I think you might enjoy the talk.
(I also read "Look Me In The Eyes" by John Elder Robison)
I've now self-tested and community tested myself with just about every test I can find- including the pretty unsophisticated DSM V test for Autism Spectrum, and I've decided to OWN my Aspie-ness and become as much an advocate as I can to educate my neuro-typical friends, family and professional partners about the advantages of having an AS as a co-worker, friend, etc and simple accommodations that make everything much smoother.
… I'm rambling, my apologies I could go on for ever about topics I'm passionate about.
Good luck,
Sean Conner

Martha says:

Hi. I am seeking permission to quote from Charles Pierce's comment of Jan. 2010, for a new book on Asperger's Syndrome, "Wait, What Do You Mean?" The quote is:
"I was interested to find this blog. I am 64 years old, and at the age of 60 was told by two qualified people who have known me for decades, that I have Asperger's syndrome. This information was a revelation and a liberation. The course of my life was explained, not excused, but explained, and a clear road to future progress opened up."
With your permission, please indicate how you would like to be listed in the bibliography. Thank you, Martha Schmidtmann Dunne

Martha says:

Thank you, Craig
I anticipate WWDYM to be published about August of this year.
I'll be happy to send you a copy if you email me with the shipping info.
Martha

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