Can mild Asperger's get worse?



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Joe90
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:42 am

I know there's probably a thread on this somewhere else, but I couldn't find it. I am really concerned, can AS get worse?

I was diagnosed with Dyspraxia and mild AS, and although I have become more and more self-aware and socially stronger each year since I was 4 years old (all the teacher through school said this, so did the social workers), and I know it is true, but in other ways I've become more anxious now than I've ever been in my life. I'm worried, because I get the bus almost every day to go to do voluntary work, where I'm mixing with different people, and I'm gaining experience in customer service, and I also attend courses to boost my confidence (in case you haven't guessed, I am unemployed). But I seem to be getting more and more anxious and worked up about starting employment, even though I am helping myself to lower my anxiety, but instead it's building up more and more. Since I left college at 18, I have changed an awful lot, in just 2 or 3 years. When I remember back when I first started voluntary work at 18, I wasn't half as anxious as I am of things now, and the things I am anxious about now never ever crossed my mind when I was 18 - and this wasn't that long ago. I have become really, really self-conscious about other people in the street looking at me - whereas when I remember me at 17 and being out and about alone in public, I never, ever thought of this. It just never worried me.
Also, at the charity shop where I volunteer, I used to really crave to go on the till - but now, 2 years later, I've become really afraid of the customers, all of a sudden. This is rather strange, because usually the more experience people have, the more they get confident at it - but for me it seems that the more experience I've given myself, the more unconfident I've become.

It really frightens me. What will I be like in 10 years time? Will I be so severely Autistic that I'll be unable to connect at all with the world? Will I be severely Agoraphobic, and so frightened and distrusting of people that I will never be able to go out? Will I get so overwhelmed one day that I will suddenly behave manically in public and be thrown into a mental home? Will I be suffering from early-age Dementia, which could be starting now? Actually, this is a big symptom of Dementia and Alzheimer's: the more change you have, the more confused and worse you get. (I do know more about Dementia than I do Autism - I know more people with Dementia than I've ever known people with Autism).
It really worries me. Is this anything to worry about, or is it just that I'm developing that self-awareness what typically is supposed to develop in mid-childhood?


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kfisherx
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:18 am

We do discuss this topic a lot but it is hidden inside of other posts primarily. The NET is that as our anxiety grows in life, so does our symptoms. We have to balance activities that we do (daily activitey) to ensure our overall mental well being in order to have less symptoms. It sounds to me like you are actively pursuing self improvement but that you are also shooting yourself in the foot by potentially pushing a bit too hard. I am doing something similar but I am using a therapist to help me with anxiety management while I go through my self-improvement work. If you have access to a therapist (general anxiety) it might be the thing you need to allow you to continue this work while keeping your symptoms at bay.



LabPet
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:46 pm

Although the condition, AS, remains a constant certainly the expression can change over time. At times, I might seem quite neurotypical (albeit shy) and at other times....well, the opposite.

From my own personal observation, I have days when I really seem to "read" others better and other days are not. Anyway, do not worry Joe90 since you may be experiencing other technical difficulties that are exacerbating your AS, making you feel out-of-sorts. Personally, I do not proport GFCF diet but I understand others can find this approach helpful - the evidence is ancillary but it surely cannot hurt and having a good diet is important anyway. You might try!

I guess most obviously, if one is stressed - then unconfident - etc. then nothing really works out. My friend says meditation has really helped her a lot. Like the GFCF idea, it cannot hurt to try. Joe90, you may naturally flux (quite common) and I sincerely doubt you're in decline. Certainly I've had really rough periods, but inside I am still the same. So are you.


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anbuend
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:47 pm

Yes.

http://www.autistics.org/library/more-autistic.html


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ZeroGravitas
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:03 pm

I don't think it is a matter of AS getting worse (at least in my case), so much as comorbidities and just plain life making it harder to compensate for. It's tough to to do anything when you also have to deal with depression or anxiety.

I know that during the very stressful times in my life, it was extremely hard to deal with the negative effects of AS on top of it all. Changing jobs, graduating, recuperating after a bad relationship, etc - I found that my ability to compensate and adapt could at times drastically decrease.

This may interest you: researchers developed a metric for life-changing events called Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and ... ress_scale
http://www.montana.edu/wwwcc/docs/life-change.html

They discovered that negative changes (losing a job, being divorced, failing school, etc) can be just as stressful as positive changes (getting married, getting a different and better job, graduating). It can cause just as large a disruption to your sense of happiness to have any drastic change of circumstances, for better or worse. This applies to everyone.

In light of this, it would not surprise me to find that people with AS would notice the stress affecting their compensatory mechanisms, and come to the conclusion that it is getting worse. An NT may express this stress differently, but I think it is not unique to aspies. We may just have a more noticeable response.


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draelynn
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:11 pm

Stress is my culprit. All of the coping strategys I've learned over the years shut down systematically as stress increases. Verbal communication is the first to go... I do not desire it, I shy away from it to the point I finally don't bother to speak at all. Meltdowns start to increase. Auditory problems seem to get more sensitive. One by one, it seems to be getting worse. But, if I can eliminate the stress, my ability to cope increases. I don't think there is any literal change in my challenges, only my ability to deal with them.



jmjelde
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:20 pm

Cumulative stress is the killer. If there is too much going on, I can't cope. Everything starts to hurt, everything is too bright, and I'll stop talking or start to stutter. I visualize it as having a limited "brain space." If there are too many things packed into my "brain space", stuff starts to leak out, settling in a random part of my brian, and I become chaotic.



anbuend
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Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:32 pm

For me it's overload rather than stress. A fine line, but there is a line.


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auntblabby
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Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:22 am

i feel like i'm coping less well than i used to. part of this is no longer having access to my strattera.



Helixstein
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Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:40 am

One becomes more aware of their...idiosyncrasies as they mature, but the AS itself improves I think. When I was first diagnosed at 12, I was ecstatic that my abnormality had a name; now I am certainly over it as thrive on conforming whilst suceeding academically; yes, my efforts are indeed in vain.


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Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:26 am

In some ways it seems like i'm getting more autistic as i get older, and in other ways less. My autistic traits have mostly just moved around and in some cases just show up differently. As a kid i didn't stim much, at least not noticeably. Now i stim A LOT. But i'm more tolerant of certain sensory things... My social abilities have improved a little as i've gotten older and learned things, and i've gotten more outgoing around people. So.. i talk more sometimes, but that means that i'm more likely to make mistakes in socializing and that my special interests are more obvious to other people. When you're an adult there's more stuff expected of you than when you're little, so my problems with life skills are more apparent now.



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Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:22 am

I've had some 'worsening,' but it's not been like a path back to where I was when I was younger. It's just different. I.e. Even though I have cognitive losses, I still have what I learned when pushing myself hard to interact with people. As a teen, I found interacting even with store clerks to be terrifying, but I eventually learned how to deal with it, and it remains not-a-very-big-deal, today. And, I can still even manage short bursts of small talk (though it is still exhausting).

It does sound like your anxiety level is getting pretty high, and that's not likely to make anything easier. Maybe it'll be a way to figure out what the best balance of stress, anxiety, or overload is for you, though.

As far as worrying about losing a lot of functionality and such, you never know what might happen in life. But for what I've lost, it's probably not as bad from my side as it seems to other people who have heard about it. Yes, it created some hard times and bad situations (I was pretty lucky, though). But, life goes on, despite that crap happening. If anything, it's made me appreciate the value of not worrying about the things I can't do anything about. There is some sense of freedom that has come from that. Maybe a tsunami will kill me tomorrow, or I'll lose the ability to speak, but I'm still going to get up early to get my car "smog checked," and then do some grocery shopping.



manlyadam
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Thu Mar 31, 2011 4:27 am

from my experience I have gotten more aspergery every year since 16 years old however I got less every year from 11-16 which was highschool so the highschool environment must have made me much more NT, almost certainly because I was in a group of NT guys the whole time. Now as I get older the differences become increasingly apparent and it's increasingly harder to relate to people and to tolerate society. A lot of things changed around for example when I was young I used to collect rocks and I was much more verbose for my age, now I find it harder to relate to people though and I have more social anxiety. I'm sure AS traits will continue to switch around as I grow.

I think a part of it is the people you have in your life and the way you see yourself



silver22
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Thu Mar 31, 2011 6:16 am

I've found myself becoming more isolated as time goes on. I think in school you have friends (often with similar traits) but once you leave your true nature slowly takes control. If you are stressed or don't like being around people much, then you will inevitably find solitude. I'm not sure if things have gotten worse regarding my aspie traits or if I'm just more aware of what they are.



Joe90
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Sat Apr 02, 2011 1:40 pm

Quote:
I think a part of it is the people you have in your life and the way you see yourself
That is true.


I think I have improved some things over the years what are related to my disability, for example I am more better at handling my special interests at a ''safer'' level. By that I mean when I was aged 13-15, I got obsessed with some local people who lived next door to my cousin. I started this obsession, and got to a point where I tried getting really involved in their lives (in other words, stalking ), and it got too ''freaky'' for them (plus they had a baby), so they went to the police station and reported me. The obsession got so out of hand, and I went on about this couple to people at school - who got so fed up with me that I did lose a lot of friends because of it.

Now I am obsessed with some people who I didn't know before (these are bus-drivers), but they don't know it. I've shown I fancy one or two of them, but I give signals in a very steady way - not enough to make them freak out or anything. And I don't go on to people about them as much, and some of my friends don't even know I fancy or obsessed with anybody at all. Also when I meet a friend in the bus station, I don't ever have an urge to want to just linger about in the bus station waiting to see a bus-driver walk by me then act as though I won the lottery - like I would have if I was 14. So I have learnt to keep my obsessions under control more - which is one improvement. I'm proud of myself there.


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