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

Intellectual/giftedness/education/vocation

1. May have been diagnosed as autistic or Asperger’s when young, or may have been thought of as gifted, shy, sensitive, etc. May also have had obvious or severe learning deficits.

I wasn’t even aware Asperger’s could be a female thing until three weeks ago. I was always in the gifted program, honors classes in high school and college. There was talk of skipping me grades a couple of time. Always very shy, but took acting and speech classes in high school that seemed to help me learn to work around it. I have always been very sensitive to other people’s emotions, and to criticism. I never had any learning deficits, really, though. I usually excelled at most everything to a certain point, but almost always hit a wall that I can’t quite explain, where I just couldn’t go any further. This has resulted in my having lots of college credits, and no degree.

2. Often musical, artistic

I was very music and drama oriented, but I never did learn to read music properly. I played and sang by ear, learned my parts by listening to everyone else, or tinkering on a piano for the note. I am sensitive to colors, although my taste appears to be very different from most, and have good artistic sensibilities, but I lack the coordination and/or the ability to translate what I see into drawing or painting, and it always leads to frustration. I am pretty good with counted cross stitch and crochet, with patterns, but I get flustered a lot and distracted if I am trying to work without a pattern.

3. May have a savant skill or strong talent.

I’ve never found one. Can being fairly proficient at pretty much anything I pick up be considered a strong talent? There are very few things I’ve ever tried that I simply cannot do. I can do many, even most things, to a decent level or proficiency, and then I hit a wall. I never progress to expert in anything. This has been both bad and good in my life. I can do just about any job if given enough time to learn it, but I’m never good enough to be one of the really great ones. I have so many interests and things that I’m good at that I can never decide what to focus on.

4. May have a strong interest in computers, games, science, graphic design, inventing, things of a technological or visual nature. More verbal thinkers may gravitate towards writing, languages, cultural studies and psychology.

Half of my college credits, beyond the required gen-eds, are computer related, and the other half are English, geography, anthropology and psychology. I find this interesting because every time I take a right brain/left brain test, I score almost perfectly or perfectly 50/50. Most of my personality tests put me in the middle of everything. Again, in all of these subjects, I’m very knowledgeable in all of these areas, but not enough to get a good paying job or finish a degree.

5. May be a self-taught reader, been hyperlexic as a child, and may possess a wide variety of other self-taught skills as well.

I don’t remember when I learned to read, and my mom doesn’t either, but I don’t remember ever NOT reading. I remember being able to read the word “Open” on a sign when I was very young, I want to say probably around 3. I’ve always read anything I can get my hands on. When I was a kid, and still to a degree, I am almost always reading something. Cereal boxes when I’m eating breakfast, shampoo bottles in the bathtub, spending hours sounding out and discerning the meaning of all the chemical names on the bottles, stuff like that. I used to read the dictionary, copy from encyclopedias, I can spell almost anything, and I see the word clearly in my mind when people ask me. I think in words a lot, not images or ideas, but actual written language in my mind. As for other skills, I have always told people, when asked if I know how to do something, “No, but give me a little time, and I will learn.” I like to think about myself as infinitely trainable to do just about any job.

5. May be highly educated, but will have struggled with the social aspects of college. May have one or many partial degrees.

I have majored in English, psychology, math, education, music, theater, accounting, business management, web design, and management information systems. If you add all of my credits together, I have enough for a solid PhD. I do not even have a post-secondary certificate. This has always been a HUGE issue for me. The social aspects of college are very difficult. I remember when I went right out of high school. I was so overwhelmed. After only a week there, I started hiding around campus, trying to be “social” without being social. I would stick my nose in a book, and let the world pass me by. This led to my latching on to my first husband suddenly and completely, because he afforded me a way to feel real. I’ve dropped out of a few other programs because I just got overwhelmed. Large classes wig me out. The dawn of online classes has been a big thing for me; I can learn without having to be around other people.

6. May be very passionate about a course of study or job, then change direction and go completely cold on it very quickly.

This is a big part of why #5 happens. I do this all the time. The only thing that hasn’t done that with me so far is crochet. I’ve quit more than one job spontaneously. One, as an assistant manager at a grocery store, I left in the middle of the day and left my keys on the desk in my office. Once I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough. I rarely give two weeks’ notice when I change jobs. Most of my jobs I’ve held down for long periods of time, but I have always gravitated towards jobs where I can use my brain, and the job is diverse enough to keep me from being bored. My hobbies are much the same. This has often frustrated people around me, because once the shelf life runs out on that hobby, I’m done, regardless of how many supplies I have around, or what project I have sitting. I’ve never understood why this frustrated people so much, but I guess this isn’t normal for people. My hubby is quite supportive though and has always been very patient with my flightiness.

7. Will often have trouble holding on to a job, and may find employment daunting.

This hasn’t really been the case for me, but there are certain jobs I found too difficult to maintain, or aspects of certain jobs I just couldn’t do. Working in an electronics store, I refused to ask people personal information for no good reason, and it got me in trouble. I tried working at a mall boutique store once, that lasted about 2 weeks because I hated having to talk to all the bouncy teenagers. Another job at a dollar store also lasted two weeks because I could not handle cleaning up all the clutter that accumulated in that store…it was always trashed, and I simply could not keep up. I hate jobs where I have to talk on the phone a lot, and could never do a telemarketing job. My best work has always been one with minimal supervision and human contact. Just tell me what you want done, then leave me alone and let me do it. I’ve been a stay at home mom now for 4 years, though, and the thought of having to go back out into the workplace as a grunt is very daunting to me. I’m looking at opening a small handmade crafts store this summer, but I’m doing it in a known location, in a small space, with things and people I am comfortable with.

8. Highly intelligent yet can sometimes be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues.

This happens to me most often in two areas: reading certain things, and trying to converse in a noisy or busy environment. There are certain books I’ve tried to read, for example the Silmarillion by Tolkein or the Mabinogion, that I simply can’t muddle through because I get too distracted by the names of places and things and how to pronounce them. It becomes such an issue, I can’t simply skip over them, so I just give up trying. Through high school and college, I NEVER read a text book. When I try, I get muddled, and I lose the information. I became very good at outlining and skimming, and it’s managed to get me through most classes. In noisy areas, I simply lose all track of the conversation, my brain goes off on it’s own and I can’t “hear” anything the person is saying to me.

9. Will not do well with verbal instruction, needs to write down or draw diagram.

For me, this is the case in some issues, but in others, it’s the opposite. It really depends on what it is. If people start telling me their schedules or itineraries, I always tell them, write it down. I do well with diagrams, if they are clearly done. But there are times when I will read instructions, and they simply won’t compute, and I need someone to explain it to me. It does usually help to have someone show me how to do something. I like video tutorials a lot. I will get very flustered though if a step has been missed; it’s sometimes hard for me to figure out what’s missing.

10. Will have obsessions, but they are not as unusual as her male counterparts.

Many of my obsessions have toned down over the years. I used to be a walking popular  music encyclopedia. I could name almost any song, artist, and often the album and year they came out. I was obsessed with geography and world religions. I’m not sure that at the moment I have any obsessions. Study of Asperger’s is a big interest right now, but I don’t think it’s obsessive.

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