My list of Asperger’s traits, part one of four

I’m starting here, because, well, this is where I started. I found this list while looking for reasons for my extreme sound sensitivity. By the time I was done reading it, I was bawling. So, I shall start from the start. I want to go through this list mainly for my loved ones who must deal with all my quirks, and for those who wonder how and why I came, and jumped headlong, to this conclusion.

Appearance/Personal Habits

1. Dresses comfortably due to sensory issues and practicality.
I have always preferred clothes that are too big to clothes that are too small. I cut the tags out of stuff because my shoulders and neck are very sensitive. I wear very little jewelry on a regular basis because the weight and things like loose fitting rings drive me to distraction. I don’t like certain fabrics, sexy undies usually drive me nuts because of the scratchy lace. I opt for soft cotton granny nightgowns because they feel good against my skin. I hate scratchy towels and blankets. I don’t like clothes that are difficult to put on, take off, or wear in general. I hate the feel of pantyhose and refuse to wear them, but thick tights are fine, they don’t feel like they are falling off. I can’t stand low rise jeans, I always feel like I’m going to lose my pants. I avoid heels unless they are platforms because I have balance issues a lot.

2. Will not spend much time on grooming and hair. Hairstyles usually have to be “wash and wear”. Can be quite happy not grooming at all at times.
I have waist length hair that I almost always wear in a ponytail. I’ve had it short, even down to 5/8″, and even then, I rarely do anything with my hair. Most days, if I don’t have to go out of the house, I don’t bother to brush it. I rarely wear makeup, I hate the way it feels on my skin. I wash my hair once a week, and bathe/shower maybe twice a week unless I’ve gotten very sweaty or dirty. My biggest issue is my teeth. For whatever reason, I hate brushing them and I always manage to put it off till I can’t anymore. My teeth are very sensitive, hot and cold foods hurt, and brushing hurts. How I’ve managed to go to my 39th year without a cavity I will never know, I do have gum disease, though, so I am trying really hard to remember to brush more often. I’ve gotten to the point that I usually remember to brush once a day. I say “usually”. I know this bugs a lot of people, but it’s just one of those things that escapes me most of the time. Not to mention, I HATE dentists. Until just recently, I’ve always bitten my nails and cuticles, sometimes all the way down to the second knuckle, leaving bleeding sores on my hands. Everyone I know freaks out over this. But my three year old gets so distressed about it, she tells me to stop every time she sees it. At the moment, I have two small snags on my cuticles that I trimmed with clippers after I caught them on something.

3. Eccentric personality, may be reflected in appearance.

I love weird clothes. There was a period in my life where I dressed to please the man I was married to, but before and after, I was usually dressed in something strange. In high school, much to my mom’s dismay, my favorite outfit was an olive green top with matching footless tights, a red polyester mini skirt, big, black clunky shoes, and an old red and black plaid flannel. I could often be seen wearing outfits I pieced together from the wardrobe room of the drama department at my school. Later in life, when I was a working stiff having to wear uniforms every day, I took to the habit of wearing crazy, usually mismatched, socks. I still love my socks, and they don’t always match my outfit. I’m at a point in my life that I am loving the brightest colored, rainbow hued clothes I can find. I like clothes with funny things on them, like Dr. Seuss, Nerds, Hello Kitty. I’ve made three generations or more of my family and friends wince, shake their heads, hide or laugh at my fashion choices. I love having multicolored hair too, except it’s way too hard to maintain, and I get lazy (see above) :).

4. Is youthful for her age, in looks, dress, behavior, and tastes.

This is mostly true. I think I look a bit younger than 39, but I’m not getting carded anymore. My dress is somewhat more youthful than other people my age, except for the comfort thing. My nightgowns are decidedly granny material. My behavior is another story. I am quite self conscious, and so, a lot of the silliness I might otherwise exhibit gets stifled. I have difficulty with playing with my daughter, which is a pain in my ass. I’m working on trying to loosen that up. I think a lot of that comes from being teased in school, and my first husband always telling me to grow up and act my age. I’ve stifled a lot of that. Another part of that is my sound sensitivity. It takes the fun out of family game night when I get brain fried after three rounds of yatzee. My tastes are definitely younger though. I recently went shopping for a set of headphones to help me when I get overstimulated, and fell in love with a Hello Kitty pair with silver spangles. I seem to have skipped the teenage years. I’m either all business, or I’m about 9 :). I adore Hot Topic and Disney movies :).

5. Usually a little more expressive with face and gesture than male counterparts.

On this one, I don’t fit the pattern. I am very expressive. But I wasn’t always. I took speech and debate and drama in high school, and I’m very good at observation and imitation, so I tend to overemphasize if anything. I don’t have a stony face. I do, however, seem to have issues showing my true feelings on my face sometimes, usually when I am most at an emotional attachment loss. This seems to manifest mostly when someone I know is grieving or stressed. I’m horrible with it. I just sit and try to give them advice, and it always comes off as uncaring and cold.

6. May have many androgynous traits despite an outwardly feminine appearance. Thinks of herself as half-male, half-female.

When I was a kid, a lot of people thought I was a boy. I acted more like a boy, but I still had girlie traits. I preferred playing with the guys, when anyone would let me actually join in. I didn’t have a lot of interest in the games the girls played, and I was too uncoordinated for most of the sports the guys played. Having asthma put a big crimp in that arena. I’ve been accused of thinking like a man a lot in my life, especially at work. Many of the jobs I’ve held have been in predominantly male areas, such as managing an electronics store, and working as a computer tech. Today, I don’t think I have many traits people would consider masculine really. But I think a lot of that is due to my current husband, working very hard to bring me out of my shell. My feminine expression seems to manifest as very young girlish tho, not womanly. I am also solidly bisexual/biamorous. I do not prefer one gender to the other, it’s pretty 50/50. Another interesting point is on many personality tests, tests to determine your political/religious affiliation, right brain/left brain, I usually score half way between the options. Except the Aspie tests. Those I am decidedly lopsided 🙂

7. May not have a strong sense of identity, and may be very chameleon like, especially before diagnosis.

This was the first trait on the list to freak me out and make my eyes well up. Oh, how I have struggled with this my ENTIRE life. In elementary school, I was the butt of almost all of the bullying around me. Even the younger kids picked on me. I was always trying to fit in and make everyone happy, at home, at school, at church, and always failing miserably and always feeling like I was an outsider in my own life. In junior high, I moved to a different town, and I made a conscious choice to change me. I started watching other people. I often gravitated to one or two people and would just assume their likes, dislikes, even their mannerisms. I wanted so much to fit in. This continued through high school and into college. The most devastating was my first marriage. I literally changed EVERYTHING about myself to suit what my husband wanted, what he liked. I drove myself to bulimia trying to be perfect in his eyes. I stopped wearing makeup altogether, stopped wearing the clothing I liked because it made him jealous, I changed my taste in music. I was so good at the chameleon changes that it was seamless. About half way through our marriage, while dealing with postpartum depression from my second child, I told him that I didn’t even know who I was. I was a shell of a person. A mere reflection of others around me. I tried to kill myself more than once, and only succeeded in screwing up my stomach. I was cutting to relieve the stress that I didn’t really realize I was under. When I met my second husband, I started doing it again. But he wouldn’t have it. We went to some pretty extreme measures that maybe I’ll get into some day, but it took a lot of work and patience for him to get me out of that cycle. I’m still learning who I am, and this blog is part of that.

8. Enjoys reading and films as a retreat, often scifi, fantasy, children’s, can have favorites that are a refuge.

This one is definitely me. I love fantasy novels, and retellings of fairy tales. I enjoy science fiction if I don’t have to think too much. I read for enjoyment, and I find that reading assigned work is very difficult, even when the topic is interesting. I managed to get through two years of high school honors English having read only two of the novels assigned for summer reading. The rest I did Cliffs notes and faked my way through. I don’t ever read text books, never have. I skim and take notes. This served my well usually, unless there was an obscure question on a test about such and such’s not so famous quote that wasn’t in bold print. I love books, get caught up n reading for hours on end. I can’t go to sleep at night without reading for at least a half an hour. I used to be very into movies too, but for the last several years, we haven’t had cable, so I’ve lost a lot of that. I still like movies, but with a three year old, I rarely get to watch one uninterrupted, and interruptions make me lose interest quickly.

9. Uses control as a stress management technique. Rules, discipline, rigid in certain habits, which will contradict her seeming unconventionality.

This is likely the hardest one for my kids and younger siblings to have dealt with. I have things I want done my way. It drives me nuts when it isn’t. Right now, my living situation is quite crowded, and my roomies are much more laid back, haphazard, fly by the seat of their pants. This drives me to distraction. I have tried recently to just stay in my room, where I can control things, because outside of my room, I feel like I’ve been sucked into a tornado vortex. It’s gotten worse recently, to the point I was having panic attacks and lashing out because no one was working things the way I like them. So, right now, it’s better for all of our sanity if I just avoid the issue. Once that situation changes, I will work on getting my schedule and my surroundings organized in my way for my peace. That should help me a lot. The other issue this has caused for me, is that am am almost ADD flighty. This tweaks my own sense of organization, and I go through phases where I get so annoyed with my own disorder, I freak out and clean and rearrange the whole house in a day. This has been me the last two days. I had surgery a couple months back, and I’m not up to my usual energy level, but I still managed to clean and rearrange my bedroom in 7 hours, top to bottom. When my surroundings are orderly, my brain is more orderly. If only I could stop myself better when I am so absorbed in what I am doing that I just throw my stuff wherever, then I wouldn’t work myself into a tizzy as often. That is a work in progress.

9. Usually happiest at home or other controlled environment.
I used to be much better at this than I am now. I had to work much of my young adult life, and I think I just learned to cope because I had to. I’ve been a stay at home mom now for 4 years, and it’s taken me a long time to adjust. Lately, though, I find myself hesitant to go places that I am not familiar with. Going somewhere alone that I’ve never been to scares me to death. I have to plan out my route, with alternatives, because if I get lost, I get very stressed. My direction sense stinks, which doesn’t help. I’m ok going to my local grocery store alone, because it’s familiar. I hate Walmart and malls, unless I am with family or friends I know well. Even then, if it’s super busy, there’s no way I will stick around. Hot Friday shopping is an absolute no go for me. The only places I have ever found that I enjoy going alone are thrift stores and craft shops. I can spend hours in there indulging my obsessions :).

It’s almost 4am, so I guess I should wrap this up for tonight. I’ll write more tomorrow.

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