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could a diagnosis of Aspergers actually be something else?

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Hey :)


I have a very simple question, however I have a very complicated history, And I am not really sure how to word this, or even explain exactly what I am asking.


I was actually diagnosed with "Communication Disorder NOS" when I was 3. Mainly because I did not talk at all until I was 2. I was completely mute and then a few months after turning 2, I started talking in complete sentences. As well, I talked very fast to where I would stutter. And if that wasn't enough, I did not talk in public whatsoever. To family I was a chatterbox, but to strangers I was completely mute.


When I was 15 I was diagnosed with Asperger's. At the time, some things fit and some didn't. I wasn't really concerned at the time however, because I knew I was just a stupid kid and not a professional and I actually liked the fact I had something I could relate to people with.


Most of my teenage years, even from 11 to 21 I had the "usual" seen symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome.

  1. I could not make eye contact,
  2. I was completely, and utterly socially clueless
  3. difficulties communicating
  4. limited range of interests
  5. repetitive/ritualistic behaviors
  6. coordination problems
  7. very poor concentration and attention
  8. eccentric in behavior
  9. a very, very high reading and writing level (I learned to read & write when I was 3)



By the age of 21 and to this day, the only real symptoms I experience are...

  1. talking fast, trying to keep up with my thoughts
  2. eccentric behavior
  3. coordination problems
  4. very poor concentration and attention
  5. a very, very high reading and writing level (and I never took an English class in my life because I dropped out of high school when I was a freshman)

What I did find out in my years of therapy was that I suffered GREATLY from severe Social Anxiety and Selective Mutism my entire childhood. Literally from when I started talking to the age of 21 when I "grew out" of it. I had no clue it was called that, or that what I felt around people was actually NOT as normal as I thought.


Sometimes, some days, with some people...I still feel like I am on the spectrum in some way. Mainly because I have some of the mannerisms. Like I am not sure of rhetorical questions sometimes. I'm not sure though if it is just because I like to answer hard and thought out questions (haha) or if I really don't know.  As well I tend to be very eccentric, just in the sense that I'm kind of intelligent and see things the way most people don't. So I act, dress and say things that are unusual to other people however make perfect sense to me and a small group of other people on the planet. However other days I think I am a perfectly "normal" 25 year old woman trying to find herself after a very long past of severe anxiety and depression. Just trying to move on and heal from the emotional and even physical brain damage that it has caused.


I already have a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, and I am not looking for a diagnosis or anything. I am just basically wondering if it is possible to be misdiagnosed with an ASD. Maybe either with a different spectrum disorder, or even maybe its a bad diagnosis from the start.


Diagnostically & medication wise, it really doesn't fucking matter to be honest. I love to learn though, and the traditional college learner type is definitely not me. And I kind of want to know if there is maybe a learning disorder that I have so I can get THAT proper treatment and move on to a bigger and better world.


Any thoughts at all?

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"could a diagnosis of Aspergers actually be something else?"


Yes.  It's possible.  Asperger's itself can present very variably, though there are key qualifying criteria, and many of the individual traits and symptoms also occur, singly or in varied combinations, in other conditions: social anxiety, OCD, , and though it's going to be relatively rare, simply statistically, there is no rule that says more than one condition cannot be present at once.


(I did once have an RPG where becoming a vampire or a werewolf gave immunity to the other sort of bite: being a werewolf *and* a vampire was a bit too complicated, but I digress.)


And not every practitioner who does diagnose Autistic spectrum disorders is that good at it.

(that's going to give mis-calls both ways, of course.)


But it could also easily be a good diagnosis, then and now.

(No-one can call it from Crayzyboards postings, just to get that in.)


Your set of markers 1-9 is  pretty good fit.

And your "improvements" are not necessary much of a guide: having at least average intelligence  and often having above average observational powers in *some * areas, those with Asperger's do tend to adapt to reduce stress and difficulty in their lives.

This will include learning social skills and rules (more consciously than most people do) and also tending to  selected activities for work, hobbies, and socialising  which are a better natural match, so leaving leaving weak spots and difficulties less tested and exposed.


I can do very "normal" eye contact , and usually do.  If really listening to someone, though, I'd *prefer* to shut my eyes and *just listen*

People at work got used to that, and I was able to have my taste, there , without worrying about the social courtesy of meeting "normal expectations"

My eye contact trait has not been "cured" or "grown out of"  but I've learned extended skills (at some cost of energy.)

Similarly "being social"  I can do it, and do it well, but it's not my true preference or natural way.  Solitary time is good for recharging: being with people draining, even when fun or worthwhile.  The traits have not vanished.


Similarly with others.


It mainly shows with how relaxed and de-stressed I can get when I do have the chance to shut the door on the world and do things "my way".  (I currently have that in spades, but that's a separate story)



"I like to answer hard and thought out questions "

That's a good one,  What is this "light conversation" rubbish?

"I'm kind of intelligent and see things the way most people don't."

That too,  It tends to be about seeing too much *and* too little, measured from some statistical norm, 

similarly with feeling too much *and* too little, quite often.

It throws people who generally expect more consistency, as those with Asperger's tend to have very spiky ability profiles, even for areas that might usually seem closely related.


"So I act, dress and say things that are unusual to other people however make perfect sense to me and a small group of other people on the planet. "

I hear "niche", here, and also a set of  decisions related to striking a balance between comfort and being natural, and conformity for a broader social acceptance.  This is all very familiar.


"...very long past of severe anxiety and depression."

This isn't an Asperger's trait in itself but is incredibly common in those with Asperger's.  There it comes from growing up as some degree of "outsider" and having a much bigger hit of "who am I? and "Am I on the right planet? everything seems so strange"  than other teenagers.  Especially as teenagers can be pretty vicious towards anyone seen as "odd".

(So much for alleged "emotional empathy" and "advanced social skills"  these tend to be mainly applied towards "people like us", at least at that age.)


"Diagnostically & medication wise, it really doesn't fucking matter to be honest."

Correct, pretty much.

I'd suggest keeping the Asperger's as a provisionally a good diagnosis, unless there is a need to review in detail, or new evidence turns up.  It's a framework to work with that can be useful, and isn't liable to do any harm unless over-emphasised or obsessed about.



That's my thinking, anyway.

Chris.  With good solid Asperger's.

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Thank you, Chris :)


You bring up a lot of valid points and misconceptions I have on myself, and Asperger's as a whole. I will keep my AS diagnosis at the moment, however mainly for the school aspects of things. Because pretty much, that is the only area I really need a diagnosis. That is one thing that is odd to me, as well as...


  1. I LOVE to socialize!!!
  2. I used to, but do not whatsoever feel "out of place" or "from another planet"
  3. And I have (absolutely) zero problems with
  • eye contact
  • socializing
  • touch
  • anxiety
  • thinking black & white

But the thing is, I used to. My entire life until my anxiety dissipated and I found out I have a allergy/sensitivity to gluten. I mean, Yeah I understand some psychological diagnosticians SUCK and are not always keen on what they are testing for. However, I saw an Autism Specialist by the state. A saw a PhD that specialized in Autistic Disorder & Asperger's Syndrome for over 15 years.


What I really wonder about though, if my Selective Mutism and "eccentricity" (whatever that means) were misdiagnosed as AS.




I wanted to explain what I meant by...



... that is the only area I really need a diagnosis. That is one thing that is odd to me...



Because the thing that get's to me, is that growing up I was completely and utterly socially inept, socially underdeveloped, socially fucked. As well as I did not know how to start or even hold a conversation. And with those things I used to use my AS credentials on how to explain how I was.


Its odd to me that without any kind of Occupational or Social or any kind of relating therapy I can lose that. And I do understand how one can learn new skills, and "niche" as you say. However, going from socially stupid to absolutely loving to socialize and doing it well? I'm skeptical...

Edited by Bug
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  • 3 weeks later...

Bug -


Autism is called a spectrum disorder because persons affected by it can manifest a range of symptoms.  Asperger's Syndrome, as a specific diagnosis, is being deprecated in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V) used by pyschiatrists and psychologists in favor of the broader approach of Autism Spectrum Disorder.  This is in part due to the recognition that people like you and I can adapt to our condition over time and may not always display the "hallmark" symptoms that would lead to a specific diagnosis.


A big congratulations to you for being able to overcome the limitations that were handed to you when you were born - the fact that you have no problem with eye contact and that you enjoy socializing is great.  It took me a long time and a lot of conscious, concerted effort to teach myself how to make eye contact with people, and though I can function socially I still don't enjoy it or do it well.  Your story shows that it is possible for many who feel marginalized by their ASD to have hope that they can find ways to function better in a neurotypical world.


I understand your skepticism about your 180° turnaround on socializing, but remember when you were diagnosed - 15 years old, right in the middle of the hell years between adolescence and your teens.  Some teens collapse inward socially, some hold their own, and some blossom.  It looks like you blossomed.  I've watched my daughter - who suffers from some significant ASD traits although we haven't had her formally diagnosed - come out of her shell in a big way at age 14 even though she never had a single friend up until now.  I think people often forget that just because a person is on the spectrum doesn't mean that he or she isn't also subject to the same patterns of growing up as everybody else.  You were a teen first, and an Aspie second.  Being an Aspie may make being a teen much harder for some people, but you seem to have beaten the odds.


I wouldn't worry about your diagnosis at this point.  As you continue to adapt and overcome the limitations of your condition, a diagnosis ceases to have any usefulness (a very, very high reading and writing level is not a symptom, by the way - it means you're gifted, and in my experience all the best people are eccentrics).  If you are happy, have goals to strive for, are surrounded by friends, love and feel loved in return - then screw the diagnosis.  Just live, and every one of us at Crazyboards will cheer for you.




Edited by Cerberus
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You can also have other disorders along with it. And like someone else said before, you can adapt and change as you get older. No person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder is the same as the next. My son is 14 in a few days, has Aspergers, ADHD, and symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. A lot of people with ASD don't take meds but my son is miserable without them. He likes to socialize too, but isn't good at keeping it appropriate because he likes to joke a lot.

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He likes to socialize too, but isn't good at keeping it appropriate because he likes to joke a lot.

This is a good point.  I would go so far as to say that most ASD people who have difficulty in social settings actually would like to be more social but find it painful to do so because of the negative reactions they experience from others to their social ineptness or inadvertent gaffes.  Some who find themselves at ease in social situations with friends may not actually be all that functional, but are simply surrounded by a group of understanding and accepting friends. (God knows my friends are understanding...)  Others may simply be clueless and mercifully unable to read signs of disapproval from the neurotypicals around them.  But from the sound of your description, Bug, you seem to be more well-adjusted than such cases, and actually functioning on a high level.


You know... you're questioning your diagnosis, but I think that the fact that you were in the care of an ASD/Asperger's specialist for over 15 years suggests another possibility - your doctor might have actually helped lift you past your limitations.  Your doctor might have done what your doctor was supposed to do - made it possible for you to live a full and rich life in spite of the hand you were dealt.  You might want to send him or her a thank-you card sometime.   :)

Edited by Cerberus
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Just to add on here, I wanted to say that my son is also very smart and has a "big" personality. People think that you have to be unsocial and have no friends to be autistic and it's just not true. One dr. he saw said that to me, "Does he have friends?" To which I replied, "One or two", and he said he's not autistic then. GRR. I won't say that he has a ton of friends now, but he has some and that's fine. He gravitates towards kids like him, he tries to tell me when he does something wrong that it's because he has autism and ADHD. I always tell him that it doesn't give him a free pass. :) He just talks and jokes and doesn't know when to stop, it's hard to stop because he's so impulsive and then alienates himself. Some of this I think is actually a touch of hypomania, but hasn't been proven yet. I just wanted to highlight how social a person with ASD can be.

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". People think that you have to be unsocial and have no friends to be autistic and it's just not true. One dr. he saw said that to me, "Does he have friends?" To which I replied, "One or two", and he said he's not autistic then. GRR. I"


It's amazing, some of this "sure knowledge" that's circulating around, isn't it?

(the fact that "We vary.  Enormously"  hasn't made it to "everybody knows", yet.)


I like the superbly illogical:  "I can always spot someone who's autistic."

I could probably sell such folk a few bottles of universal solvent.



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