Hey guys this is Erik Johnson. I want to talk about my childhood with Asperger’s and the 10 signs of Autism or asperger’s that your child might have, so stay till the very end, because these are not your typical signs, I’ve really researched this and pulled up the most unique signs, so check it out let’s get into it.
10 Signs of Autism – My Aspie Childhood
The first thing is when you’re a child, there’s different ways that we play with children that normal people do not. Normal children do not play like Asperger’s children, and this is the first sign that you might have Asperger’s is that children with Asperger’s need predictability and control, while they are playing, whereas a normal child craves spontaneity and collaboration, and that totally just pinpoints my childhood.
I needed certain outcomes when I played, I had something in mind, and I needed to fulfill that image in my mind. So, if other children came by, let’s say I was making a racetrack and playing with little cars, if a child would come up and start creating their own racetrack using mine, I would get very upset because I had an image in my mind of what I wanted.
I’m still like that today, you know, when I’m landscaping the yard or something, I have a certain image in my mind and if someone comes up and says, Can I help? I’m like no I got it, because I don’t want them to detract from my image, and my dad is the same way.
He’s been restoring cars for the last 15 years, and there’s no way that he’s going to have somebody come over and help him build the car. My dad has perfectionist ways and he’s going to do it exactly the way he wants – he’s not going to want any outside influences. So that’s a very crucial key right there. Again predictability and control versus spontaneity and collaboration.
The second thing is, children and adults with Asperger’s prefer playing with older people. They prefer playing with adults and they prefer playing with animals. They don’t necessarily like playing with kids their own age. In fact, my very first girlfriend when I was 20 was 20 years older than me and my best friends were 10 to 20 years older than me.
In high school, it was horrible, because I only played with kids my age, they teased me, they were mean, they were loud and they talked too much. And, when I first got my first friend who was older than me it was very refreshing because they respected me – they listened to me when I spoke, etc.
The third thing is lack of flexibility and dictatorialness in playing with others. So a person with Asperger’s could start dictating the other kids, and what they want and that goes back to that image you have in your mind of what you want to accomplish with your certain play or whatever, that you’re going to start to dictate to others and be like, you know, I really want it this way, that car has to come over here and we have to do this.
So kids with Asperger’s, especially males will get into that dictatorial state. I still do that today. If you get me in a kitchen with a couple other people, I will start telling them what to do, and it’s just something I’ve done ever since I was a little boy.
In fact, when my parents and I were driving up moving up to Washington state from California, my dad has a funny story of me sitting behind him, and I couldn’t see the highway so I literally moved his head with my hand, I was only five years old, and I moved his head with my hand because I couldn’t see the highway. That’s just how I was.
So number four is brutally honest and Asperger’s can’t really white lie. See normal kids will learn how to white lie because they don’t want to hurt feelings but kids with Asperger’s rather tell the truth, because they have to be honest. It’s just in their nature they have to tell the truth, like it is.
I’ve had people say that I don’t have a filter or, I’ve hurt a lot of people because I’m just brutally honest I’m just like, you know, I don’t like the look of your mustache he should just get rid of it, or whatever. I just tell it like it is. I rather be honest than tell a white lie because I really do not want to lie. It’s a merit thing. It’s a value system, and a lot of people with Asperger’s follow that merit system.
Number five, Asperger children learn a lot of social cues from TV, and that’s funny because I grew up in the 80s, and my main thing was watching TV after school, watching TV before school. But a lot of the shows that I watched after school where I could see a lot of different social interactions play out shows like Facts of Life and Different Strokes shows like that – Mash even.
I could see how people interacted, and I learned a lot of social cues from TV. I watched four to six hours of TV every day. I grew up on TV just like a lot of kids from the 80s 70s 80s and 90s. So, you know, a lot of Asperger children are watching Mr. Bean. Mr Bean is a perfect example of watching someone who is socially awkward, Mr Bean is a lot of fun to watch.
Number six, is performance anxiety. People with Asperger’s get really tired of social interactions, and they get performance anxiety. So, this happens to me when my family comes and visits us and I haven’t seen my family for a year or two, I get total performance anxiety. It’s overwhelming.
Last time I saw them I just broke down crying. I was like I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m really nervous around you guys. They were just like, Don’t worry, Erik. My dad was like you need to go see a counselor. And that was when I was still rocking stimming 14 hours a day.
Now that I don’t stim, I have a lot more confidence and self esteem, so gotta look at your habits and if they’re destructive, then it’s going to be hard for you to look people in the eyes because you’re going to feel guilt and shame. I had 20 years of drinking alcohol, drinking and drugging and porn, I couldn’t look people in the eyes because I was doing shady things secretly. So, clean up your act and that will really help your self esteem.
Number seven, we take things literally, as an Asperger teenager. My friends teased me a lot and they tricked me a lot. They told me things that would get my hopes up. They would tell me things that got me really excited and they were just fooling me. They’re just pulling my leg, and I would get my hopes up. I relied heavily on everything they said and I believed everything they said. I thought pro wrestling was real. No one could tell me otherwise.
One time, someone told me that they bought a drum on eBay or something and it was my favorite type of drum and they said that they would give it to me for 50 bucks. I was so excited. But they were just lying to me because they knew that I loved that certain type of drum and they were just pulling my leg. So I believe a lot of stuff and my feelings got hurt a lot in high school, because people were always playing tricks on me.
Number eight, can’t read subtle cues, like sarcasm. A lot of people with Asperger’s can’t catch little innuendos, little slips of the tongue or sarcasm or white lies or whatever. People with Asperger’s take everything face value and they take it literally. So if someone teases me or if they give me a half truth, I get really upset if I find out later that they were bending the truth.
I really cannot handle liars. I can’t handle people that are fake on social media and then I find out later it’s not who they said they were really, really gets me fired up when people are lying to me on social media, or when I hire someone online to do an article and they say they’re from America but it turns out they’re from Africa or India, that really gets me fired up. So that’s probably a trigger from my childhood being deceived.
Number 10, Asperger’s read cues from mouth, rather than eyes. A lot of people that have Asperger’s don’t really look at the eyes for cues from others but they look at the mouth, or they just look away so they don’t pick up on the same social cues that normal people do.
I had a girlfriend once that said I had a third base stare. Meaning when I looked at her, I was literally looking through her and looking out in the distance, and she teased me, not knowing I had Asperger’s but she said I had a third base stare.
So, eye contact is really hard, especially for long periods of time I can look someone in the eyes for a half a minute, and then I gotta look away. When I look away I can concentrate and I can breathe. But when I look people in the eyes, I literally stop breathing, and I can’t concentrate, because I get tripped out on their face.
I get tripped out that they’re gonna see through me because we have this fear of intimacy. Eye contact is really intense. I mean I have to look away just like you look away from the sun because I can’t think, I can’t think of what they’re saying. I have to look away to concentrate and to actually hear what they’re saying.
So over the years I have created the third base stare so I can kind of look at their eyes but I’m not really looking at their eyes. A lot of people with Asperger’s will create ways to handle it, social cues, or anything by cleverly using their intellect, instead of social intuition.
So, if you want to learn more about this, you can read the complete Asperger’s guide by Tony Attwood. I hope this helps guys. Hang in there, it will get better the more you understand it. Life is a trip, and I am glad to be alive still – almost got taken out by drugs and alcohol, couldn’t face reality, and my Asperger’s – but finding out about Asperger’s late in life really saved my life. It really put all the pieces together and I’m very thankful. So hopefully this gives you some insight. If you have Asperger’s or your child does leave a comment below and we will talk to you soon.
Read my full story HERE.