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recognising autistic traits in adults

(15 Posts)
elliott Tue 16-Dec-08 11:03:55

For some time I have been wondering whether my dad's lack of empathy and social skills go beyond what might be expected from a person of his generation with an emotionally repressed upbringing and an introverted personality (he's nearly 80).
Does anyone have any useful sources of information that might help me clarify this issue? Any good books or weblinks? Or just descriptions of other similar oddballs?

I suppose his main peculiarity is an inability to see things from other people's viewpoints. He is not deliberately unkind, but can be very thoughtless, often forgets things about people, and cannot really accept an alternative viewpoint in a debate. He is often quite rude because he does not express appreciation or gratitude, or follow normal reciprocal social conventions. He is deeply introverted and finds social interaction quite tiring (although having said that he is also quite a 'joiner' with several groups he belongs to, choirs and local community groups, so he is not completely asocial. He does miss the point about other people's motivations and feeligns rather a lot though.)

Any thoughts or comments?

cyberseraphim Tue 16-Dec-08 11:13:49

I think you can be an oddball without being autistic. Lots of non autistic people can't accept other viewpoints and prioritise their own feelings and views over anyone else's. Does he have any language impairments beyond the normal? Does any subtle use of language leave him blank ? Does he leave questions unanswered? Is it very hard to converse with him - for any reason?

nikos Tue 16-Dec-08 11:23:24

What job did he do? How did he cope with that? Does he love routine?

elliott Tue 16-Dec-08 11:42:25

Yes, he likes things to be, if not routine, then stable and unchanged. He was an academic and did ok but not outstandingly - because he doesn't understand about the way to succeed (i.e. the people politics aspects of it).
Conversation/language - he has a tendency to launch into detailed descriptions/monologues about things rather than have a conversation that goes 'back and forth' iyswim. There is no point in asking him how other people are doing. He is very difficult to talk to about anything personal - finds it very threatening. When we were all living at home, he had quite an explosive temper and we used to have some huge rows - but I wonder whther this was a combination of a) not being able to see other viewpoints and b) not being able to cope with emotional intensity.

I know, I realise that non-autistic people can do strange things too! But I suppose it might help me if I thought some of these things might be outside his control. Or it might help me understand why he was so difficult to live with.

cyberseraphim Tue 16-Dec-08 11:51:23

You probably should read a book about Aspergers in adults to see how much of it strikes a chord. Tony Atwood's book on Aspergers is good it's mainly about children although the traits will carry over into adulthood. But there's no official cut off point for being autistic or non autistic, there's a large grey area where an individual can have contradictory traits.

elliott Tue 16-Dec-08 12:00:02

Any recommendations for books specifically about adults?
I guess it is all a bit late for coping strategies now (my main strategy is avoidance as far as possible within the limits of daughterly duty to elderly widowed father). But it might help understand why my parents marriage was so Groundhog Day - the same frustrating situations for my mum over and over again. I used to think that the problem was that they didn't talk about the problems, but now I think perhaps he was incapable of change, or of actually understanding why his behaviour was upsetting/unacceptable.

choccyp1g Tue 16-Dec-08 12:04:14

He sounds a bit like my (late) father. I eventually found an explanation for his behaviour in his having seen some terrible things, (and suffering a head injury) in WW2. Having said this, some of his brothers were similar despite being exempt from War as farmers and steel workers.

SixSpotBurnet Tue 16-Dec-08 12:08:34

Have a look at the National Autistic Society website - they have lists of suggested reading and although I haven't checked lately, I bet there will be some titles on Aspergers and adults.

nikos Tue 16-Dec-08 12:12:17

There is quite a bit there that sounds Aspergers like. Although it might be too late for coping strategies, it might be a huge relief to your dad to find out if Aspergers descibes his experience of life.

elliott Tue 16-Dec-08 12:21:47

thanks - will check out NAS.
nikos, I don't intend to talk to my dad about this (crikey its hard enough just raising much less loaded issues about his health and future). He himself I think is blissfully unaware of his limitations socially and his effect on other people. Its one of the things that makes me so angry with him!!
I think the main value may be for me and my siblings to help understand our upbringing better. And I think my db may also have some traits, and he may well be able to learn and benefit from understanding this. Will need to take it softly softly though.

LeonieDecktheHalls Tue 16-Dec-08 17:28:52

Message withdrawn

amber32002 Tue 16-Dec-08 19:38:30

Elliott, have a look for "thinking in pictures" by Temple Grandin, herself autistic and an engineer. Plenty in there that explains how we're different.

The checklists for adult ASDs can be found if you go to a search engine and put in "AQ test" which should take you to a 50-question test that can act as a talking-point (not a diagnosis). A score over about 32 is worthy of note and something that a proper psychologist might find interesting. Mine's about 43, which is unsurprising since I'm diagnosed as Asperger syndrome.

kettlechip Tue 16-Dec-08 20:50:01

Our elderly neighbour (75 I think) has Aspergers which has never been dxed. I had wondered about it as he avoids eye contact, talks at length about subjects which interest him (trains, shelf brackets etc) and obviously fails to pick up on my glazed expression.

He worked as an engineer and has an obsession with trains, going so far as to buy a house to accommodate a £30000 train set - small clue there then! His wife mentioned to MIL that she has always suspected he has Asperger's, and given what I know about it from researching for ds1, I would think it fairly likely.

He is one of the kindest, most genuine people I've ever met though, (although misunderstood as aloof and antisocial by some other neighbours) and has always gone well out of his way to help me (DH works away much of the week) and even insisted that I be insured on his car while I was pregnant and we only had one car at the time. I'm waiting for a tactful opportunity to chat with his wife about it, and her experience of living with him - hopefully the subject will come up at some point while I'm talking about ds.

elliott Wed 17-Dec-08 12:01:53

Yes, my dad is genuine and kind, in a rather unworldly way. His disconnectedness and lack of understanding can be very frustrating though. Not to mention forgetting everything you tell him.

CoteDAzur Wed 17-Dec-08 12:18:40

There are quite a few tests online that you might suggest your father do.

Maybe show him this article, with the test at the end (click on "Take the AQ test"). He will probably want to take the test himself.

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