What’s Asperger’s Syndrome?
You know me. I’m constantly stuck in my own head. My inner monologue — how did I put this yesterday to Adam — it’s unending. We were downtown drinking sake and watching football and he asked if I wanted to go meditate at some temple. And I told him how I tried meditation after my last breakup, but I found out I wasn’t good at it because no matter how hard I concentrate, or repeat a mantra, or relax, my inner monologue continues to be a freight train barreling through the vast nothingness. It’s the proverbial pebble in the shoe of my skull. It’s the thick coat of bong resin caked along the edges of my thought chamber. Choose your metaphor.
For the few weeks I’ve been taking online tests to see what’s up with my brain. Every few years I think I go through one of these phases where I stop and wonder, “What the hell is wrong with me?” And then I take a bunch of personality tests in order to see if I have undiagnosed psychological conditions. And then I take a bunch of IQ tests in order to feel better about myself, because most of the psychological tests come back negative. I’m not a sociopath. I’m not a psychopath. My mental health doesn’t appear to need much improvement. I don’t have borderline personality disorder. I’m not bipolar. In fact, I don’t seem to have any malfunctions or imbalances whatsoever!
Last night, after the Giants lost that heartbreaker in Philly, and after I introduced my roommates to Apocalypse Now (yes, while delivering my fanboy “armchair director’s commentary” throughout the film), I retired to my room and clicked around the Internet. At some point I was transported back to a Wired Magazine article from 2001 about Asperger’s Syndrome. Pretty much everything I know about Asperger’s I learned from an episode of South Park. Also I distinctly remember being at a party in Jersey City once, where some kid was reading a book with his hoodie pulled over his head (yes, in the middle of a party) and a friend pointed out, “Ah, Asperger’s!” and I laughed as if I understood what that meant.
According to Wikipedia, “Apserger Syndrome (AKA Asperger’s Syndrome or Asperger Disorder) is an autism spectrum disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction.”
Say no more. Show me to the multiple choice test that might peg me as a sufferer of this affliction!
Leave it to Wired Magazine to post the 50-question multiple choice exam on their website. According to the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4, and eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. They even broke the answers down into the familiar “Definitely Agree” (DA), “Slightly Agree” (SA), “Slightly Disagree” (SD) and “Definitely Disagree” (DD). Let’s see how I fared:
1. I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own: My answer (SA). Would I rather go see a movie by myself or with others? Or go to a bar with others? Of course! But when I try to make plans with people, and then they fuck them up, but want to tag along anyway even after they’re thrown off the schedule? In instances such as those, I’d rather just do it by myself. I like to drive by myself. I like the other people to be at the destination, though.
2. I prefer to do things the same way over and over again.: My answer (SD). I mean, do I like grabbing a six-inch Subway sub with a cookie and some apples every Monday night before my Tuesday morning runs? Sure. It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s a decent source of energy. But am I the kind of guy who thinks to himself, “I need to take a shower that lasts exactly eight and a half minutes every morning,” or “I need to be out of bed at exactly 9:22 every day”? No. Absolutely not.
3. If I try to imagine something, I find it very easy to create a picture in my mind: My answer (SD). This is an unfair question because I cannot recall faces from memory. But can I imagine being handed a check for fifty million dollars? Yeah, I can see that. Can I remember scenes from movies that I like? Hell, can I recall the setting of a funny memory? Sure! Just don’t ask me to remember the faces of the people who were there.
4. I frequently get so strongly absorbed in one thing that I lose sight of all other things: My answer (DD).
5. I often notice small sounds when others do not: My answer (SA). I hear very well. Even though I never wore earplugs while standing front-center at concerts. I guess I’m lucky?
6. I usually notice car number plates or similar strings in information: My answer (DD).
7. Other people frequently tell me that what I’ve said is impolite, even though I think it’s polite.: My answer (DD). I know when I’m being impolite, and I know it to be impolite. I just say it anyway.
8. When I’m reading a story, I can easily imagine what the characters might look like: My answer (DD). That’s not fair. That’s just not a fair question. I can’t imagine faces! How many times do I have to tell you!
9. I am fascinated by dates: My answer (DD). Like, calendar dates across history? Or, like, first dates. I think they mean historical dates, so…
10. In a social group, I can easily keep track of several different people’s conversations: My answer (SA). It comes at the cost of not listening to what the person talking to me is saying, but I can hear and interpret what others are saying around me.
11. I find social situations easy: My answer (SA). Are my friends around? Is that girl I hooked up with and didn’t call back there staring at me all night? Some of these are too vague.
12. I tend to notice details that others do not : My answer (SA).
13. I would rather go to a library than a party.: My answer (DD).
14. I find making up stories easy: My answer (DA). I’m a writer.
15. I find myself drawn more strongly to people than to things: My answer (DA).
16. I tend to have very strong interests, which I get upset about if I can’t pursue: My answer (SA).
17. I enjoy social chitchat: My answer (SA). Am I trying to get laid? Do I care about the person or not?
18. When I talk, it isn’t always easy for others to get a word in edgewise: My answer (DD). I’ll gladly cede to you and your boring point-of-view.
19. I am fascinated by numbers: My answer (DD). I hate math.
20. When I’m reading a story, I find it difficult to work out the characters’ intentions: My answer (DD).
21. I don’t particularly enjoy reading fiction: My answer (DD).
22. I find it hard to make new friends: My answer (DD).
23. I notice patterns in things all the timen: My answer (DD).
24. I would rather go to the theater than to a museum: My answer (SD). Am I going to see Book Of Mormon on Broadway again for the first time? Is the exhibit at the museum on something that’s boring?
25. It does not upset me if my daily routine is disturbed: My answer (SD). Did I realize i forgot to take my stomach pills? Yes. Does this upset me? No.
26. I frequently find that I don’t know how to keep a conversation going: My answer (SD). I like to keep conversations going. I notice when they’ve stopped. Does that mean it’s my fault? I don’t know.
27. I find it easy to ‘read between the lines’ when someone is talking to me: My answer (SA).
28. I usually concentrate on the whole picture, rather than on the small details: My answer (SD). What if the small details are the important parts. Like, “Hey Evan come to my party on Friday (the whole picture).” It’s at Wood & Vine and it starts at 10pm (small details).”
29. I am not very good at remembering phone numbers: My answer (SA). This is kind of outdated, no?
30. I don’t usually notice small changes in a situation or a person’s appearance: My answer (SA). I’m too selfish to notice your haircut. Sorry.
31. I know how to tell if someone listening to me is getting bored: My answer (DA).
32. I find it easy to do more than one thing at once: My answer (SA). Depends on what the things are. Eat a sandwich and drive? No. Talk on the phone and drive? Yes.
33. When I talk on the phone, I’m not sure when it’s my turn to speak: My answer (DD). Really?
34. I enjoy doing things spontaneously: My answer (SA). “I’m going to go to the park and read!” Yes. “Let’s stay here and drink for an unknown amount of time instead of leaving to go to the bar right now!” No.
35. I am often the last to understand the point of a joke: My answer (DD).
36. I find it easy to work out what someone is thinking or feeling just by looking at their face: My answer (SA). They’re crying: Yes. They’re a complete psycho who might be thinking about murdering me while we’re chatting about football: No.
37. If there is an interruption, I can switchback to what I was doing very quickly: My answer (DA).
38. I am good at social chitchat: My answer (SA). Is it someone I know: Yes. Is it someone I just met: Could go either way.
39. People often tell me that I keep going on and on about the same thing: My answer (SD). This is almost identical to a question on the Scientology Personality Test. By the way, I think it is funny how WFMU completely distanced themselves from me after that controversial post I made. They removed my author page with links to all of my posts, but they have no problem keeping the individual stories available to the masses, so that they can continue to draw in readers based on my work.
40. When I was young, I used to enjoy playing games involving pretending with other children: My answer (SD). I think we mostly played video games.
41. I like to collect information about categories of things (e.g., types of cars, birds, trains, plants: My answer (SD). I like to collect records, and I keep a record of every record I own and where it came from…but I think that’s an entirely different form of OCD.
42. I find it difficult to imagine what it would be like to be someone else: My answer (SD). Can I imagine what it’s like to bang Daenerys Targaryen? Yes. Do I want to imagine what it’s like being Seth Macfarlane? No. He looks like Sloth from “The Goonies” but with a full head of hair.
43. I like to carefully pan any activities I participate in: My answer (SA). “We should get to the bar by ten”: Yes. “It’s imperative that we arrive at precisely 9:50pm”: No.
44. I enjoy social occasions: My answer (DA).
45. I find it difficult to work out people’s intentions: My answer (DD).
46. New situations make me anxious: My answer (SA). Am I giving a speech in front of a large crowd: Yes I’m anxious. Am I going to Sri Lanka for the first time? Absolutely I am not anxious.
47. I enjoy meeting new people: My answer (DA). I could make a friend! I could bang her! I could make an ass out of myself!
48. I am a good diplomat: My answer (SA). Vague.
49. I am not very good at remembering people’s date of birth: My answer (DA). Thank God for Facebook.
50. I find it very easy to play games with children that involve pretending: My answer (DD). What am I doing playing games with children? That’s not acceptable. That’s creepy.
My score: 12.
I guess I don’t have Asperger’s Syndrome. Too bad. I was really hoping I could once-and-for-all find out what the hell is wrong with me, and then I’d be able to stop taking all these online tests. I could rest easily. I could just…enjoy the constant inner monologue buzzing in my brain like a jackhammer that just won’t quit. Maybe I could even learn to accept or appreciate the constant barrage of thoughts threatening to overtake my brain for good. I might even be nice to succumb to it. The utter darkness of an endlessly blabbering voice in my head that’s analyzing everything I do, say, or think.
There’s got to be something I can call this affliction of mine.
Maybe it’s just boredom.
Boredoms – Born To Anal [MP3]
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