Asperger's Syndrome could be the CAUSE of Social Anxiety
I've heard people mention Asperger's Syndrome on this board occasionally, but never really took the time to learn about it since I am so preoccupied with worrying about my social anxiety. But I went on wikipedia a little while ago and read up on it a bit, and was shocked after seeing how well it described my personality. Then I realized that there's a good chance that Asperger's Syndrome could be the root of my social anxiety. Here's a list of some symptoms I found on wikipedia.
1. Difficulty reading the social and emotional messages in the eyes - People with AS don't look at eyes often, and when they do, they can't read them. I certainly don't look into people's eyes very much, but that's mostly because I'm afraid I'll stare too long and end up looking like a weirdo.
2. Making literal interpretation - AS individuals have trouble interpreting colloquialisms, sarcasm, and metaphors.
3. Being considered disrespectful and rude - Prone to egocentric behavior, individuals with Aspergers miss cues and warning signs that this behavior is inappropriate.
Every now and then I'll say something completely off-topic or innappropriate, and that's when I immediately shut up so as not to embarrass myself any further.
4. Honesty and deception - Children with Aspergers are often considered "too honest" and have difficulty being deceptive, even at the expense of hurting someone's feelings.
5. Becoming aware of making social errors - As children with Aspergers mature, and become aware of their mindblindness, their fear of making a social mistake, and their self-criticism when they do so, can lead to social phobia.
I can definitely relate to this. I know that when I was a child I was kind of shy, but was never too self-conscious about it, until I entered middle school and began to realize how different I was from all the other kids. That's when Asperger's led to my social anxiety I believe. BTW, mindblindness is described as the inability to recognize and understand the thoughts and feelings of others.
6. A sense of paranoia - Because of their mindblindness, persons with Aspergers have trouble distinguishing the difference between the deliberate or accidental actions of others, which can in turn lead to a feeling of paranoia.
Yes, I'm definitely paranoid about people's intentions and what they might think of me, and it seems to be getting worse.
7. Managing conflict - Being unable to understand other points of view can lead to inflexibility and an inability to negotiate conflict resolution. Once the conflict is resolved, remorse may not be evident.
This is something I sometimes struggle with. For example, when I argue with someone, I don't always try and see things from their point of view and instead focus on making them think that I'm right and they're wrong.
8. Awareness of hurting the feelings of others - A lack of empathy often leads to unintentionally offensive or insensitive behaviors.
At times I can be a little insensitive, but for the most part I try my best not to hurt people's feelings.
9. Repairing someone's feelings - Lacking intuition about the feelings of others, people with AS have little understanding of how to console someone or how to make them feel better.
10. Recognizing signs of boredom - Inability to understand other people's interests can lead AS persons to be inattentive to others. Conversely, people with AS often fail to notice when others are uninterested.
11. Introspection and self-consciousness - Individuals with AS have difficulty understanding their own feelings or their impact on the feelings of other people.
12. Clothing and personal hygiene - People with AS tend to be less affected by peer pressure than others. As a result, they often do what is comfortable and are unconcerned about their impact on others.
This one doesn't describe me at all. It's quite the opposite actually. I usually try and wear what's cool and in style so I'll fit in with everyone else.
13. Reciprocal love and grief - Since people with AS react more practically than emotionally, their expressions of affection and grief are often short and weak.
When I'm feeling sad or angry, I can't seem to express it effectively or at least enough to the point that someone actually notices. I'm sure I experience emotions just like everyone else, but I can't outwardly express them as others do.
14. Understanding of embarrassment and faux pas - Although persons with AS have an intellectual understanding of embarrassment and faux pas, they are unable to grasp concepts on an emotional level.
Embarrassment is something that I'm entirely familar with, intellectually and emotionally.
15. Coping with criticism - People with AS are compelled to correct mistakes, even when they are made by someone in a position of authority, such as a teacher. For this reason, they can be unwittingly offensive.
16. Speed and quality of social processing - Because they respond through reasoning and not intuition, AS individuals tend to process social information more slowly than the norm, leading to uncomfortable pauses or delays in response.
I often find myself searching for something to say when in a conversation. Whether this is due entirely to anxiety or something else, I don't know.
17. Exhaustion - As people with AS begin to understand theory of mind, they must make a deliberate effort to process social information. This often leads to mental exhaustion.
After being in a conversation for more than 5 minutes, I do feel very exhausted and have the urge to try and end it as soon as possible.
According to this list, I'd say there's a definite connection between Asperger's Syndrome and social anxiety. The question is, even if we're able to overcome our SA, will we still suffer with Asperger's (for those who have it anyway) or will that eventually disappear as well?