Saturday, July 25, 2009

Meet Max

Max is 6' 2". He has sandy blond hair, blue eyes, dark tan skin, big hands – rough from years of hard work, a strong upper body, muscled arms, and a handsome, face-splitting grin. Maxwell is incredibly outgoing and loves people. His precise and clearly articulated words often impress his listeners. He sounds quite intelligent, like a brilliant professor. He strikes up conversations with anyone about anything - anytime, anywhere & anyplace. Often he dominates the conversation with his opinion, sometimes not allowing the other person to get a word in edge-wise. He is not as good a listener as he is a talker. Some of his favorite topics include cars, engines, anything mechanical, anything having to do with air conditioning units, industrial fans, engines, steam powered trains, chimneys, fires and politics (really don't want to get him going on politics!). Often, he fixates on a particular topic far too long, completely unaware of his listener's increasing disinterest or frustration.

His intellectual abilities are far better developed than his social skills. He is extremely egocentric, rarely able to see another person’s viewpoint. Because of this, his ability to empathize with others is poor. Most people assume he is just eccentric - fairly normal for the most part with a few quirks. He is incapable of hiding his feelings and wears his heart on his sleeve. He has a childlike personality and naïve innocence which is clearly seen in his boyish behavior. In spite of his dominating tendencies and seemingly eccentric behavior, his honest personality wins the hearts of many. Others lose patience and seek to be rid of his company as quickly as possible. Some are highly amused, often too amused. They just sit back and tauntingly laugh at him, asking questions which provoke the reaction they find entertaining.

You may be asking what my point is. His description so far most likely describes a number of guys you have encountered. You might be saying: “So what?” However, as you get to know Max better you will see various abnormal patterns in his behavior, mainly in the way he socially interacts and communicates. Remember, you’ve only just met him. These certain abnormal behaviors I mention, become obvious overtime as you begin to interact with Max. Here are some examples of the abnormal behavior I speak of, some of which have already been mentioned: ***The following list of symptoms were taken from various online resources (see bottom of page for more info.)***

"Peculiarities in speech and language"

"Repetitive behaviors or rituals"

"Limited interests or preoccupation with a subject"

"Socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and interpersonal interaction"

"Problems with nonverbal communication"

"Lack of empathy"

"Clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements"

"Problems with hand-eye coordination and other visual skills"

"Poor pragmatic language skills. (This phrase means that the child does not use the right tone or volume of voice for a specific context, and does not understand that using humorous or slang expressions also depends on a social context.)"

"Learning difficulties - which may range from mild or severe."

These are the basic symptoms of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. My relative, Max, was born with this syndrome. Thus far you may doubt how pervasive and serious this syndrome is, but as I said, you’ll understand more as you get to know him better. It affects everything social in his life – how he functions in public, one on one, with his mother, with his sisters, with his close friends, with the stranger on the sidewalk, with his boss, with his co-workers, with his neighbors, in a crowd, in a small group…the list is extensive. I hope you’ll stay tuned as I try to define and explain Asperger’s Syndrome. I look forward to sharing with you the many touching, funny, sad, frustrating, and delightful stories about Max’s life.

*Resources Used:


Ladyfishfelt said...

Max is lucky to have an understanding and loving family.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bethany for a great post! This helps me understand my uncle a little better.