masterdix is correct. Asperger's Syndrome is not rigid, and those who have it cannot be stereotyped, not even by the official criteria.

Case in point: myself. I was diagnosed with it just this year, at the ripe old age of 38. The reasons it took that long were a combination of fitting "well enough" into society (we'll get to that) and flatly refusing to believe I was the oddball (everyone else is) and therefore believe anything was 'wrong' with me. That and never having heard of it before.

I could rip the DSM criteria (above) that I was diagnosed with apart, and I shall. It's based on the observations of someone "on the outside", and as such I believe it is prejudiced. Yes, it's accurate to a degree, but it does nothing to explain what's really going on with the person it's being applied to.

The prior writeups to this node are enlightening, but this is a story that can never be completed, because everyone, even every aspie, is different.

Rather than give a motion picture view into a particular aspect, I'm choosing to give small glimpses into the criteria itself, as experienced by someone on the inside.

Social interaction
Eye contact: The main reason I rarely make eye contact is sensory. I don't think I have a problem with it really, although my significant other swears I rarely look him in the eye. Hogwash. I love looking into his eyes when they aren't hidden behind his spectacles. What I can't do is look and listen at the same time, and this is where the Asperger's comes in. All sensory information appears to come in through one single receiver. If someone is speaking, I must either look away at something non-stimulating, or completely defocus my sight in order to process what's being said. People hate that - they think I'm ignoring them or worse, avoiding them. I'm doing neither and am in fact focusing on paying attention to them. Guess what. I won't apologize for that. It's how my brain is wired, and there's nothing anyone can do about it, so live with it if you want to be heard.

It's the same with my other senses. I have to turn down the car radio in order to look for an exit I'm not familiar with (rather, that my car hasn't memorized yet), or in order to pinpoint precisely what that smell is coming from the car engine. Passengers think this is funny. I do, too. I do have a sense of humor after all.

Peer relations: Frankly, I don't understand this one. My friends and acquaintances demonstrate a wide range of "development" both in age and personality. I either like someone or I don't. I don't consider whether the person's mental or emotional level is on par with mine.

Spontaneously seeking to share: Bull. Too often, and I don't just speak for myself, it's not a lack of sharing on the part of the aspie, but a lack of interest on the part of the others in the vicinity. Think about it, though. If people didn't have such a diverse range of interests as individuals, where would we be today?

Lack of social reciprocity: Unlike some with this syndrome, I believe I actually have a fairly good sense of others' body language. Maybe it's because I'm female, maybe it's because I bought the books. I don't know. I just tend to pick up on nonverbal cues far more quickly than I pick up on words. I am not, however, able to respond to those cues as quickly as the "neurotypical". Every movement I make is a conscious effort taken from an inner script I've written for myself over my lifetime. Recognizing the body language of others as quickly as I do might be construed as intuitive, but my responses are not, so no one ever knows I did it in the first place. I cannot react without thinking, and it takes me a moment (or several, or several thousand) to "shift" into a responsive mode. This, of course, means that I have a natural talent for making a fool of myself by appearing to ignore or be unaware of the change in the situation. Give me a minute or two and I'll catch up, alright?

Of course, this doesn't help with small talk. Aspies really are lousy at mild banter. We're more the debating/discussing/dissecting types. Mind if I use this scalpel on your theory?

Emotional reciprocity: Another bag of shit. We are not unfeeling, insensitive people. We may feel very sympathetic and compassionate if we understand the situation. What's considered a lack on our part is the difficulty in expressing said sympathy. Scripts don't work for that kind of thing. Lack of expression doesn't mean the feeling's not there.

Restricted repetitive and stereotyped behavior
Encompassing preoccupation: Ok, so it's almost universal that aspies tend toward the obsessive. Geez, we've got to have something interesting to do with our time since it's not really in our nature to gossip at the water cooler about reality tv stars. Can't we have a little joy in our lives?

Adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines: I hate routine, but I hate surprises even more, so I opt for routine anyway. My routines aren't nonfunctional and I doubt they are for other aspies. Because we have to pay attention to everything we do just to be able to do it, the routines get created as a means of getting moving. They organize us, they get us on a roll, they prepare us. Nothing is more disconcerting to me than having something pop up out of the blue (no, I won't go to the party, because you didn't tell me about it yesterday so I could prepare).

Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms: This is known to autistics as stimming. See that person chewing her lip? See that other one tapping his foot? Most people think of these things as nervous habits. Mostly they are, but sometimes they're done because it just feels good to do it. Rocking is a comfort (I actually don't rock, one of the few of my kind). Flapping is a great way to ease or express excitement (watch me at a garage sale with lots of tools to sift through). Rubbing things that feel pleasant is good too. If you have hair of the length that makes your head feel like a Hallmark(tm) teddy bear, I'm going to stim all over it. It's your own fault for making it so touchable.

Preoccupation with parts of objects: some people like to spin their (matchbox car) wheels. So?

Oooo, now comes the fun part.

Clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
The world today seems hell bent on turning everyone into a car salesman. Social skills are of utmost importance in Western society and causes the biggest hinderance to the aspie. Interaction has become nothing but protocol with little substance. Aspies like substance. Keeping up with social nuance is too much for us because it happens too fast to process (sensory) and means so little (protocol). We aren't stupid, but we are often seen to be because we can't or won't "play nice" along with the other kids. Please. So we don't keep up with what Mrs. Jones down the street is doing with Mr. Smith. We aren't doing Mrs. Jones, so it doesn't have anything to do with us. Are you keeping up with the latest mathematical computations in quantum physics so you can "find God" or learning everything you can about seismic activity in order to design the perfect earthquake-proof building? Didn't think so. We simply can't be casual (actually some of us can, but it gets boring quickly).

That came across as arrogant and cocky, I know. I don't mean it that way, really. Everyone finds different subjects stimulating, and one interest is no more or less valid than another. It just angers me (and not just me) that my interests seem to come second to that protocol everyone else is so fond of. I'd like to order the Substance, please, and hold the meaningless Chit-Chat. Is it any wonder I don't "fit in"?

Call me an "Aspie with an Attitude". I'm old, I'm cranky, and I don't give a damn anymore. Deal. I still don't hate you, so don't hate me.

I will take the liberty of speaking for other Aspies here: give your favorite Aspie a chance. We really can be cool people if you give us that opportunity.

Okay, maybe I give a damn after all.