One might think that a person with Asperger's syndrome would thrive better in community with people with the same diagnosis than in association with people without the diagnosis. But it's probably not that simple. It seems that personality and interests are more important for how good a "match" one experiences with the others.

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This is something that Gustav Koi reflects on in a new guest post on helpseeker.net. He is known as the author of several Norwegian books on Asperger's Syndrome.

 

Advantages and disadvantages

He further writes:

I have been too little with others with Asperger's syndrome to be able to give a good answer as to whether I thrive better with others with the same diagnosis. But there can probably be both advantages and disadvantages to it - also in relation to well-being. I believe more in interests and personality under this question. But for those who are younger, I think it can create something more common.

Just the fact that one has the same diagnosis can mean a lot, and for some this also has something to do with identity, something that young people are more concerned about, although it can take a long time to find their identity for those who are adults also.

I must admit for my part that I was also looking for a kind of identity in searching for others with the diagnosis. But I was disappointed because I did not find anyone.

 

The importance of personality

There are some that I feel a certain identity with, but as I said it is more the personality, and sometimes I have also wondered if they can have Asperger's, if so undiagnosed. I have been thinking about whether the extra trait I see in them may be Asperger's syndrome in addition to the personality.

Someone with Asperger's has to deal with a lot of details in a conversation, and they can not stop until they feel that they have said what they are supposed to, and you get tired of talking or waiting.

The advantages are if one understands and takes into account the conversation partner where both have the urge to talk too much, and thus see themselves from the other's point of view. Then one can learn to let others speak and listen more. One can ask questions, be interested in the other for better or worse.

Now it is also the case that not everyone is equally talkative.

 

What some mothers have seen

Here are some statements from parents of children with Asperger's syndrome regarding the question of whether those with Asperger's thrive better with others who also have such a diagnosis:

 

  1. I have experience from when he was 9 years old. Then there was no "match" with the two other boys he was in conversation with at the child and adolescent mental health services. They had completely different interests and then it did not help that they all had Asperger's syndrome.
  2. My son loves meeting others with both Asperger's and atypical autism. Although he is proud to have Asperger's, it means a lot to know that he is not alone in that. They gain a tacit understanding of each other's challenges. That's why small, mixed groups work well as an alternative at school.
  3. If the young people are open and honest with regard to diagnoses and difficulties and have similar interests and a steady age, I have the impression that they thrive very well together and find support and strength. So they can thrive with others with Asperger's.
  4. My son enjoys being with those with Asperger's because he meets understanding. He also has no problem being with those with other diagnoses.
  5. My child does not want to be with others just because they have Asperger's syndrome. And that's probably because people with Asperger's are as different as those without a diagnosis. So basically it's not that strange. They, like others, must feel that they have something in common with this other person in order for it to be a good match.
  6. We have tried slightly different measures to increase our daughter's social interaction. But the "match" also comes into play between Aspergers. Some individuals she gets good contact with, and others not. She seems to get the best contact with boys. Role models are also important for Aspergers.
  7. It depends on who we are talking about. A teenager often has enough with himself no matter what. Getting along with others with additional difficulties can probably be tiring.

 

What do some diagnoses say about well-being with other Aspergers?

Here are some statements from people who have an Asperger's diagnosis in relation to the question:

 

  1. Of those I have met so far, I have only met one with Asperger's who I thrive with, so if you think about everyone I have met, you can probably say that I rather thrive with non-Aspergers / neurotypicals. I just felt more functional than others with Asperger's, so it has been a bad match.
  2. It can probably vary. If both have social difficulties, it can sometimes be extra difficult. On the other hand, there may be a slightly greater chance that you have common interests that you can talk about.
  3. I find it challenging and stressful in informal fellowship with others with Asperger's Syndrome. I feel they understand me to a much lesser extent than people without Asperger's syndrome and I find it difficult to communicate with them.
  4. It depends on who it is. Aspergers are also different, for example in political views, and I think it is physically tiring to relate to someone I strongly disagree with. I also find it difficult with Aspergers who see the actual diagnosis of Asperger's as a mental disorder. It's related to the fact that I also have a son with Asperger's. I am provoked by the fact that the diagnosis is interpreted this way by those who have it themselves. It seems to me that they also believe that my son has a mental disorder.

 

What professionals have observed

Here are some statements from professionals in relation to the question:

 

  1. I do not have much experience of how this is. Based on the literature and what I have heard from colleagues, group therapy and group work with others with Asperger's is positive for most people with such a diagnosis.
  2. I have written a master's thesis on the subject, and I understand that many people with Asperger's syndrome experience it as a relief to be able to be with others who have Asperger's. This is justified by the fact that one then feels like others, and that one avoids the communication barriers that exist between one with Asperger and the others.
  3. Many people thrive because they can be themselves, have the same need for alone time, and do not have to chat all the time.
  4. It seems that many people who go to schools that only have children and young people with this diagnosis (for example in Denmark) have a good fellowship. But some thrive best in their own company.

 

My conclusion:

Since the personality is so different in different people with Asperger's, it seems that there is a tendency towards well-being being just as good when you are with others without the diagnosis. This is how it appears from the conversations with those I have contacted, who are admittedly relatively few.

But to be able to thrive with another person with Asperger's, I think that the personality must be quite similar, or that you like the personality of the other and have some common interests.

So personality and interests can play a bigger role than diagnosis.

The text is an edited excerpt from the book Ā«Asperger landscapeĀ»

- Written by Gustav Koi, private researcher and communicator

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Written by

ove heradstveit

Ove Heradstveit

Psychologist, specialist in clinical community psychology. PhD.
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