Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Accessories" To Autism

First I would like to point you in the direction of this link. It is a short list of other disorders that often pair with autism. Please check it out!

This is something that I thought about today and thought maybe it hasn't really been written about (though I don't know, maybe it has). 

Here's the thing. You might know this one person who you're sure has OCD. In fact, maybe they are diagnosed with it. The link itself was pretty brief on OCD, but it did say that 30% of people with OCD also have ASD. Interesting. I wonder what those numbers would look like if they said how mnay % of people with autism have OCD. 

The thing is, I don't consider autism a disease. Autism is a difference. Just like one person might be able to do advanced calculus and another can read and speak in several different languages. Our brains are all different. Autism is just one "label" of a difference.

So, what my thinking is that because of the differences in autistic people, we are perhaps more prone to these other conditions. For me, I was also 'diagnosed' with generalized anxiety and recurrent depression and OCD, but none of them are stand alone conditions, they are, as the tester put it, "accessories" to my autism.

"Accessories" makes me laugh. Makes me feel like I'm all dressed up for a party. You know, one by myself, alone, at home or something. LOL

But in all seriousness, that is the truth. I have autism. That helps me understand who I am, how I think, why my brain seems to work differently than so many others, and the struggles I have, things like that. However, it also helps me understand why I am prone to anxiety, depression, OCD, or other things that I just might not be showing right now. 

I think that often there is a lot of misdiagnosis with people who have undiagnosed autism. I think  this is especially true in adults, and even more so with women. Obviously, adults have had their whole lives to "practice" or learn by trial and error how to manage certain weaknesses or whatever. And women seem even more prone to this, because we tend to mimic other people in the social situation around us, or whatever. This is why many adults are not diagnosed as adults. Doctors are just not looking for this. And most adults would not have been diagnosed as children because it just wasn't done back then. It was hardly something that was recognized unless there were severe difficulties. The more "socially acceptable/normal" looking autistics were missed, and I feel they still are. 

Anyway, so these undiagnosed adults end up at the doctor with depression or anxiety (or pick your favorite from the list), and they are often treated FOR depression with drugs/medication. I'm sure some of those people also get therapy or counseling to help their struggle. Sometimes this alone may work, but for some people it can make things worse. Drugs always made me feel worse, more anxious than ever. 

However, I have talked before about how diagnosis is the cure. Knowing something like this about yourself is very helpful because you can put things in your life into perspective. 

Depression can be a scary thing, because you don't know how low it will take you, or for how long. Though it is said that many people with autism will feel as if there is no end to their struggle, for me knowing I have autism has really helped me to understand that because it is just an "accessory" to my autism, I will fall into it now and then, but I will always end up back out again. I make sure to take care of myself enough to get help if it lasts for too long, but I know that it's just a part of the fact that i struggle with some parts of who autism makes me in relation to the world. And that's ok.

I honestly can't think of anywhere that this kind of thing is more brilliantly revealed than in Sheldon. I've written on Sheldon before, here, here and here. What I would like to say today, is that they didn't create Sheldon to "be" anything specific. However, it isn't hard to see that he isn't your "normal" character. You start picking out different characteristics about him that points to certain diagnosis. There are a pretty good list of things you could come up with. Here is a wiki link and another wiki that I think covers a good bit of Sheldon, and here is a good link suggesting autism spectrum. Here is a link talking about a few different disorders relating to Sheldon's behaviors. 

The point is, the character was not created to "be" anything specific. But his behaviors and whatnot fit in to quite a few. He is just like many adults in the world today, undiagnosed and living their lives. They have difficulties and struggles and other conditions may present themselves stronger than others, like OCD or personality disorder. But we can't really isolate those things on their own if they are really a part of something else. 

So, like I said, I have generalized anxiety, but it is a part of my autism. It doesn't stand alone. It is a part of the whole picture. If we didn't know the whole picture, I don't think we would be able to treat things as effectively. 

Also, it is important to know that just because someone shows this disorder or that disorder, it doesn't mean they aren't autistic, just like having them doesn't mean they are autistic either. It is important to listen to someone who feels they fit into autism, because if they feel they do, it is likely they are right. THEY know themselves. THEY know the daily struggles and inner thinking and stuff that makes them who they are, much more than anyone else ever will. Telling someone who thinks they have autism that they can't possibly is very discouraging and hurtful. We have to believe people and listen to what they have to say. I can't think of any reason that someone would say they have a difference like autism without having a darn good reason for it. You might not know that part of them, you might not know what is going on in their heads or daily life. You don't know what it's like when they are alone or at the end of the day when they are at home. You don't know. So you need to keep your assumptions and stop thinking that it would make someone feel better to discourage them from thinking they have autism. It doesn't make them feel better, it makes them feel worse. I know this first hand.

Anyway. I hope this post isn't too long or too scattered for you tonight. I had to stop and start. HA! My head is all over the place today too so I felt like I rambled and got random. 

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