We only recently pursued medical treatment for Justin after he started getting so stressed out about work at his full time job (that he loved).  We’d had suspicions that Justin had some sort of Autism, but wasn’t sure until we actually saw a therapist and she went over the symptoms.  It clicked.  It was like she was reading the article about Justin.

Here are the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to Autism Symptoms:

SOCIAL COMMUNICATION

• may have difficulty understanding gestures, body language and facial expressions
• may not be aware of what is socially appropriate and have difficulty choosing topics to talk about
• may not be socially motivated because they find communication difficult
• may not have may friends and they may choose not to socialize very much.
• difficulty making eye contact
• repetitive speech
• difficulties expressing themselves especially when talking about emotions
• anxiety in social situations and resultant nervous tics.

IN JUSTIN’S EYES:

Justin has almost every single one of these symptoms.  He doesn’t do very well in intimate social settings.  He doesn’t make eye contact with anyone (even me sometimes, and if he does, it’s short).

He repeats himself CONSTANTLY (his favorite things to say are:  “I’m bored.”  “How’s life.”  “What’s the plan for today.” “What’s for dinner.”).  He will say these things constantly, several times an hour or several times a day, in no particular order.  He has done this his whole life, and he’ll constantly say them.  In fact, just now, he just asked me “How’s life,” while I was typing this up.

He can’t express his emotions at all, and when he can’t express a severe emotion, he melts down.  When he lost his job due to his Asperger’s, it was possibly the worst day of his life.  He was so upset his melt down lasted about 3 hours, and I couldn’t do anything but comfort him.

He also has lots of nervous tics.  He plays with his goatee, plays with his phone (he’s not actually doing anything, he just swipes left and right), bounces his legs and taps his fingers when he’s nervous.
SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING

• difficulties in group situations, such as going to the pub with a group of friends
• finding small talk and chatting very difficult
• problems understanding double meanings, for example not knowing when people are teasing you
• not choosing appropriate topics to talk about
• taking what people say very literally.

IN JUSTIN’S EYES:

Justin does well in group situations, but when you’re one-on-one with him, he finds it really hard to keep the conversation going.  He has a hard time understanding sarcasm, so when others are laughing at the sarcastic joke, he won’t get it.

He doesn’t know how to have small talk.  If we are hanging out with friends and there’s a silent period, he’ll bring up something completely random, like the time his sister’s dog ate a live squirrel.  Not super appropriate, but he doesn’t know what else to talk about.

Justin even takes things I say literally when I’m joking, even after being together for almost 9 years.

IMAGINATION

• an obsession with rigid routines and severe distress if routines are disrupted
• problems with making plans for the future, and having difficulties organizing your life
• problems with sequencing tasks, so that preparing to go out can be difficult because you can’t always remember what to take with you.

IN JUSTIN’S EYES:

Justin is very much a one-routine kind of person.  He’s not as bad as some have it (thankfully), but it’s made working almost impossible.  He can’t work where things change (such as working with a group one day, then changing to another, or having one job to do one day, then changing the next) or his tasks change.

One day I came home early to surprise him, and it had the opposite effect.  He was not happy.  He was irritable and kept saying how I’d messed his day up.  I didn’t take it personally, but I was sad he wasn’t excited to see me.  Of course he was, but I threw his day off, and he struggles with that.

Justin doesn’t make plans for the future.  He likes to say he can only handle one day at a time, but now that we know, it’s more of his ASD than his poor planning.

SECONDARY TRAITS OF ASPERGER SYNDROME

• obsessive compulsive behaviors, often severe enough to be diagnosed as Obsessive compulsive disorder
• these can also be linked to obsessive interests in just one topic, for example they might have one subject about which they are extremely knowledgeable which they want to talk about with everyone they meet;
• phobias: sometimes people with Asperger syndrome are described as having a social phobia but they may also be affected by other common fears such as claustrophobia and agoraphobia;
• acute anxiety, which can lead to panic attacks and a rigid following of routines;
• depression and social isolation: this is especially common among adults;
• clumsiness often linked to a condition known as dyspraxia. This includes difficulties with fine motor co-ordination such as difficulties writing neatly as well as problems with gross motor co-ordination such as ungainly movements, tripping, falling a lot and sometimes appearing drunk as a result.

IN JUSTIN’S EYES:

Justin is so OCD about things sometimes it drives me crazy.  Things have to be neat and organized.  I’m fairly anal about being clean and organized too, so if it’s not organized to his standards, I’m like hey, I’m not a slob!  He’s not doing it to undo my hard work; it’s just how HE likes it.

Justin has anxiety, which is what actually lead us to get a psychologist’s help.  He was working construction with his brother, which he LOVED.  But before work every day, he’d start having these severe anxiety attacks.  He was shaking, hot, couldn’t control his emotions, and even took him to the ER one morning.  Come to find out, his anxiety was over the fact he didn’t have a structured routine at work every day, and that’s when we realized it was his ASD, not anxiety.

Justin is clumsy, which in part comes with being 6’3″ and 280 pounds, but I mean, he’s pretty clumsy.  He walks into walls and objects a lot.  He kicks things constantly on accident, and various cuss words follow.

 

Does your significant other show these symptoms too?