RAADS-14 Check-in

There’s an online RAADS-14 Aspergers/Autism Diagnostic tool at http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/autism-quiz.htm. It’s diagnostically respected and backed up by research. It’s a handy way to cut to the chase and seems to hit on the major areas where you can have autistic issues.

Issue When I was young Now Notes
It is difficult for me to understand how other people are feeling when we are talking. I didn’t really care about what other people thought or felt, when I was talking to them. The main thing was talking about things that mattered to me.  I don’t always understand instinctively how others are feeling. I have to actively “put myself in their shoes” to understand that. I can do it, it just doesn’t happen instinctively with me. This is a learned thing. I do want to understand others, however it doesn’t come naturally to me, and I have worked pretty hard at figuring it out. Also, based on my own values, I don’t think that I should necessarily have to understand how others are feeling, in order to communicate with them. I focus on exchanging information, not feelings.
Some ordinary textures that do not bother others feel very offensive when they touch my skin. Scratchy tags and seams in clothing drove me crazy. The clothing my mother made me was often very uncomfortable to wear. I could not easily tolerate the feel of water on my wrists. Soft, smooth, light fabrics did not bother me at all. I am better, but I cannot take the feel of tight collars on t-shirts, or some types of fabric. I still hate the feel of wet wrists and water on my hands. Silk and other light, smooth fabrics don’t bother me. I’m not sure why this is only about textures. It could relate to other sensations, as well. Maybe because clothing is such a big deal with us on the spectrum?
It is very difficult for me to work and function in groups. I always tried to dominate the interactions, and I did not do well when we had to take turns, or I had to share a leadership role. I could not function well in the gifted learning group – I could not follow or concentrate. I have a hard time figuring out who talks, and when. I hate group gatherings where everyone is milling around. I can function, if I must, but I prefer to be in an organizer role or some other working role when dealing with groups. They are too superficial, too confusing, and I have a hard time hearing what people are saying. I tend to shut down, after a while.
It is difficult to figure out what other people expect of me. I was very unclear about this as a kid, and I got in trouble for not behaving properly or not performing properly. I always felt like it was trial-and-error, with a lot more error than success. Things still feel like trial-and-error, and I experience a lot of anxiety around figuring out what people want, especially at work. Expectations of my boss is an ongoing mystery to me. Nobody seems willing to clearly state what’s expected of me. It’s like a big test, and their indirect suggestions are not helpful.
I often don’t know how to act in social situations. I didn’t understand what other girls and boys were interested in, and I didn’t know how to just do small talk and interact socially. I just wanted to talk about my interests and latest findings. I tend to be pro-active in social situations, set the tone of the interaction and set the pace of the conversations, so I don’t have to figure out what others want from me. I either avoid them, or I step into the fray, take a lead, and then kind of “ride” the situation. I come across as socially successful, but I am often confused about what’s happening and don’t really know what’s going to happen next.
I can chat and make small talk with people. I was terrible at this. I didn’t know what to say, and no matter how people pushed me to be social, I never warmed to the idea or the practice. I wanted to talk, but it was to exchange information, not hang out. I can chat with people and make small talk, but it has taken a lot of work and a lot of practice and a lot of focused concentration. I can do it, but it doesn’t come first-nature to me. This is a learned thing. Tolerating vacuous drivel and feigning interest plays a large role in my perceived success.
When I feel overwhelmed by my senses, I have to isolate myself to shut them down. I would crawl under my bed and hide in the far corner, or I would withdraw to the corner of my room and become still and silent and non-responsive. I sometimes have to walk away from my partner when she is talking-talking-talking at me about intense things. Also, I need to just isolate for a day or two, when I am overwhelmed with the stresses of the week and all my senses are on high alert. Being a visual thinker, it is easy to get overwhelmed, because I “see” everything that people are talking about. When my sense of touch is on fire, and my hearing is to sensitive, I have to pull away for a while.
How to make friends and socialize is a mystery to me. I did not have a lot of long-term friends when I was a kid. I scared them away. Or, when they wanted to befriend me, I wouldn’t know how to respond, or I would just ignore or avoid them. My friendship faux pas resulted in bullying. (Not my fault, but a direct result) I don’t have any friends, other than one or two who I need in touch with by email. I use my workplace as my main social outlet. I just don’t get it. So, I rely on my work, as well as volunteering, to provide socializing.
When talking to someone, I have a hard time telling when it is my turn to talk or to listen. I recall either talking over other kids, or being really quiet, so I wouldn’t mess up. This is still difficult for me. It’s especially difficult on the phone, where I can’t see how other people are behaving and reacting to what I say. My usual approach is to either stay quiet, when I can, or take the lead with the conversation.
Sometimes I have to cover my ears to block out painful noises (like vacuum cleaners or people talking too much or too loudly). Vacuum cleaners bothered me terribly. I could not tolerate it, and I left the room (or abandoned my chores) if the vacuum was running. Loud noises bothered me and startled me. I still have trouble with noises, although it is better than it was. It really depends how tired/stressed I am. People yelling and shouting at me is painful. Some notes and tembres are difficult for me to tolerate. This is unfortunately true of my partner’s singing voice. Sometimes it is just too loud and hurts my ears, so I have to cover my ears or turn my head away. (She hates that – she feels rejected)
It can be very hard to read someone’s face, hand, and body movements when we are talking. I felt like I was “flying blind” half the time. I didn’t know if it was because I couldn’t understand what they were saying (their words) or if they were trying to trick me. I often thought I knew what was going on, but found out later that I didn’t. I have a hard time figuring out if people are happy or sad, angry or upset or just thinking hard. Hand movements make more sense to me, but face and body movements confuse me – and sometimes I mis-read cues from people who are interested in me, or who want me to go away. This gets to be a problem, when dealing with men who are interested in me. I can’t read their “signals” well enough to communicate that I’m not interested.
I focus on details rather than the overall idea. In 3rd grade, I did a report on the Chinese abacus, and I focused only on the beads and the design, rather than the overall use. #fail At work, I am prone to look at details that can be worked out, rather than seeing the overall program I am supposed to be running. I have been working on this, but at times, especially when stressed, I just don’t see the forest. Details are my first impulse.
I take things too literally, so I often miss what people are trying to say. I did not understand metaphors, analogies, sarcasm. I thought certain songs were literally about what they were alluding to. I miss jokes all the time. People who use innuendo infuriate me. I once got into an argument with a police officer, because she used innuendo to communicate with me, and I took her literally. No matter how I work at it, I don’t seem to be able to work around this. It continues to be a problem with me.
I get extremely upset when the way I like to do things is suddenly changed. Changes in routine and schedule were very hard for me. I freaked out when our kitchen was remodeled when I was 12 years old. There seems to be a right/wrong way, an easy/hard way to do things. When those ways are changed up or the right/easy way is not used, it infuriates me. I think this is more about trying to avoid the stress of figuring things out all over again. I like to do things a certain way, because it actually works – which isn’t always the case with me.