1. Your comments on my voice were interesting. I had never noticed that I have a childlike voice until my graduate school advisor privately advised me to take voice lessons and polish my "image" I remember feeling thankful for his advice but offended at the idea of having to change myself. Do other ladies with Asperger's have voices like mine or more child-like mannerisms? I wonder how they go about work. I find that I have to "hide" that part of me at the office. I hate having to do that. I was glad that I could open up and by myself during the evaluation in November.
Your voice in general does not have a child-like quality, but it did come out on occasion. And, yes I have encountered this quality in many individuals I have evaluated. This is a part of you and your uniqueness as a person and I encourage you not to "hide" it from others in social situations. However, being aware of it may be helpful as you encounter certain situations tied to work such as interviewing for a job, meetings, etc. Recording yourself may be helpful for practicing and noticing the difference of voice qualities. A counselor could certainly work on this with you as a relevant goal.
2. Do many other ladies with Asperger's have fears about dating or caring for children? Many people think I'm lying when I share these fears with them. Others think I'm overreacting. It leaves me feeling even more confused and frustrated. I just wondered if anyone else felt this way.
Many individuals with Asperger's have different fears and anxieties. Fear or general discomfort around children is quite common as kids tend to be very loud (sensory issues) unpredictable (preference for sameness or routine) and require a way of relating to someone who is much younger (social issues), etc. Dating too is a HUGE social event which can cause anxiety as well.
3. My roommates find it bizarre that I relax to techno music. Do any other people with Asperger's like this kind of music? I wonder if it's soothing because I'm so wired and anxious all the time? Sometimes I find that I just have to jump in place for a while because I'm either so happy or frustrated. I wonder how other ladies with Asperger's handle their anxiety and energy?
The fact that you like to listen to techno music to relax is not bizarre. First of all everyone has their own unique way that they like to relax and techno music is yours and what makes you you. Anxieties and energy have been handled by individuals with Asperger's in many different ways and a physical component such as jumping up and down to manage sensory overload is common. For example, I have a friend with Asperger's who jumps up and down on a small trampoline that she keeps in her living room which she finds calming or sometimes she will bounce on the balls of her feet. Others I have worked with have paced back and forth. The more you read about it and the perspective of others you will find various strategies that people will use based on what works for them. Some adults with Asperger's have also found that SSRI medications have been helpful to relieve difficulties with chronic anxiety as well.
4. I heard that the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Syndrome are going to change next year. Is that true? Will that impact my diagnosis at all?
Phone notes: Yes, the DSM will be updated in May 2013. It has a new category called "Autism Spectrum Disorder" which includes Autism, Asperger's, and PDD-NOS. While the term "Aspergers" will no longer be included in the diagnostic manual, people will probably continue to use the term.
5. During this past year, there were a few ocassions where I became ill after events such as parties, outdoor activities, and shopping. When this happened, I got a headache, felt feverish, and became very nauseous. It actually happened this past Saturday while preparing for a house Christmas party. In the past, I never understood what was going on - I just knew that it was really noisy/chaotic/bright and that I felt sick. Rudy Simone mentioned that she sometimes gets a terrible headache when her senses are overloaded. Maybe she'll write more about this later in the book, but do you know if the symptoms of a headache and nausea often occur together in sensory overload? I want to be more prepared to prevent this from happening in the future.
Phone notes: Yes, these are symptoms of sensory overload. To prepare for events such as these, imagine what will take place and plan breaks throughout the day. Use visual reminders if those help you remember to take breaks for water, food, and rest. Afterwards, take time to rest. Do something relaxing to de-stress. Also, you could keep a "life event log" to help you identify the types of events that cause sensory overload. Note where you were, what you were doing, how you felt, how long you were doing it, etc.
6. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Does a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome replace that or is ADHD still a valid diagnosis, as well?
Phone notes: Asperger's was only recognized as an official diagnosis in the 1990's, so before that, many children with AS were diagnosed with ADHD or an anxiety disorder. Hyperactivity looks very similar to AS at a young age. Also, girls are less often correctly diagnosed because AS presents differently in girls than in boys.
7. Is it common for people with AS to be very emotionally sensitive? I'm really sensitive to other's anger and criticism, even when it's well intended.
Yes, it is quite common for individuals with Asperger's to have difficulty with constructive criticism or perceived criticism (as do many people in general). Emotional sensitivity is a feature that is often seen, especially in woman with Asperger's.
8. I've been thinking about some of my childhood behaviors and wonder if these might have been forms of stimming or repetitive behavior?
-I loved picking grass, one blade at a time. I also loved picking the yarn out of the latch-hook style blanket, one strand at a time.
-When I couldn't sleep at night, I followed the groove on my headboard with my finger back and forth.
-When I couldn't sleep at nap time, I looked at the poster of a music clef and followed the curving line of the symbol with my eyes over and over.
-I love watching the "wave line" that electrical wires make when viewed from the window of a moving car.
-I read name dictionaries for fun.
Yes, the childhood behaviors that you recall are examples of various forms of "stimming/repetitive behaviors."
9. I have a tendency to avoid interfering and interrupting. When I was little and needed my parents at night, I couldn't muster the courage to wake them up. Instead, I opened the door and stood there until they woke up - half terrified! I've always been afraid of calling people on the phone and rather than interrupt my roommates to ask a question, I stand and wait until they finish. ...I also hesitate to touch things. I often stand and look at the things in my room, but I rarely pick up anything. Even when I want to, I feel that I can't because I'm already filled up just by looking. Do these sound like Asperger's traits or might they be something else?
Interfering/interrupting is a social behavior and knowing how or when to do this is often not inherently intuitive for individuals with Asperger's, so this can certainly be difficult. Your difficulty with touching things because you already feel "filled up" by looking at them sounds like an issue with sensory overload. What happens if you shut your eyes for a bit and touch the item without looking at it? Do you get the same feeling? Remember, anxiety and obsessive/compulsive behaviors are also a component of Asperger's and can play out in different ways. Megan, these all sound like Asperger's traits to me and nothing else.
Recommended resource: Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome (2010) by Rudy Simone. I love the summary chart in the back.