I have Asperger's Syndrome (diagnosed), and I'm fairly certain my mom has BDP.
I'd suggest picking up a copy of "Aspergirls" by Rudy Simone, and also checking out this website, which lists an overview of female AS traits: www.help4aspergers.com/pb/wp_a58d4f6a/wp_a58d4f6a.html
When I told my mom I thought I had AS, her reply was that "there's no way my child is autistic! I know what autism is!" But after a lot of begging and negotiating, I got her to read that book. When she finished, she told me "It's like they wrote a book about you." The point I'm getting at is, that book is easily accessible and gives a good general overview on what females with Asperger's experience AND appear like to the outside world.
Here are some differences between AS and BDP I can think of off the top of my head:
- Black and white thinking means a different thing in AS than it does when speaking about BDP.
In autistics, b&w thinking means things like "there is only one way to get dressed" or "there is only one right way to build a sand castle." We can be very set in our ways, often to the point of ritualistic or seemingly OCD behavior. In interpersonal relationships, it means that we have difficulty seeing beyond our own experience. When I was a kid, I could not comprehend how someone could dislike a book or a movie I liked. It was obviously good (according to my experience), therefor the only reason someone didn't appreciate it as much as I had was because they hadn't been paying attention or just didn't understand (in which case, it was my job to explain). It was a "good" book, in my mind, not that my experience of reading the book was good. The idea that "Good" and "bad" were subjective was too abstract for me to understand. It wasn't until I was in my teens that I started to learn that people can experience the same event and have a different reaction. However, this is something I know cognitively, not intuitively, meaning that in social situations (which often occur too quickly to completely think through, because non-autistics rely on their intuition completely) I can still get tripped up. B&W thinking in autism really refers to how we take things literally and how we need things to be a certain way.
In interpersonal relationships, what you're really talking about is a lack of cognitive empathy and a poor theory of mind, which gets into the examples I was discussing above.
Black and white thinking in BDP's is really a completely different animal. It's the "my way or the highway/all or nothing" mentality. Superficially, they might in some instances seem the same. My mom and I both might need the cereal boxes to be lined up in alphabetical order (for example). We might both experience distress if this need is not met, and we might both react in a way that seems completely overblown. However, the mentality behind it (in my opinion), is different. For autistic people like myself, routine is comforting and change is distressing. It's very similar to the needs of a person with OCD. I might get upset if someone rearranged my cereal boxes. I might even get angry at the person who rearranged my cereal boxes. But the source of my distress would be the cereal boxes themselves, and only the person who rearranged them by extension. I would feel comfortable again once the cereal boxes were in the right order.
If it was my mom we were taking about, the locus of her distress would be on the person
who moved the cereal boxes, and the cereal boxes would only be the facts which frame her anger at the individual. As I understand it (and I'm really more an expert in autism than BDP), the BDP individual needs to exert control over their environment to feel secure. While they may be particular about how things are done, it is less about those particular things and more about exerting their will over others (consciously or unconsciously). My mother and I may both think that our need to have the cereal boxes in alphabetical order is more important than my brother's need to keep the box on the low shelf to reach it, but in the case of the BDP individual it's the mentality of "my needs come first" or "my needs are so great that I can't consider yours." She has a need to control others which she satisfies by controlling the environment. The fact that my brother needs the box lower is then an act of defiance or an attack. It is something done with the intent of hurting her, and she lashes out to punish. In her mind, the black and white thinking is "This request was simple. You were capable of bending to my wishes, and the only reason that you didn't is because you don't care about what I want or feel." The other person's feelings don't factor into the equation. White is "you love me and you'll do this for me" and black is "you hate me and you won't." The idea that my brother can love her and not put the cereal boxes in order is an impossible paradox due to her "all or nothing" mentality.
- Self-harm or SIB is different in AS than it is in BDP as well.
Which is not to say that autistic people never self-harm like others do. What I mean is that there are two different impetuses which can compel an person to self harm. There is the type everyone is aware of (the cry for help, the self-hatred, needing to feel, etc.), and there is the type unique to autistic people (and some others). When you hear about low-functioning autistic kids who bang their heads against a wall, they're not doing it because they're depressed, more than likely.Due to sensory issues, certain types of "pain" can feel good to an autistic person.
Our brains don't process sensory information the same way others do. I floss so hard that my gums bleed because I like the way it feels. I also put pressure on the sides of my fingernails. Self-harm can be a reaction to stress.
Which is often the case with head-banging. When my brain gets overloaded (particularly because of too much sensory input and social situations), I find that a little bit of pain can momentarily "bring me back." I'll do things like twisting my fingers until they hurt, bite the inside of my cheek, or bite my fingers to get through something difficult. It keeps me slightly more focused.
But none of this is to say that autistic people don't self-harm due to the "typical" reasons as well. People with AS can also be depressed or bipolar (and so on). We're not immune to that, but we might not be self-harming for the reasons you think.
- AS is a pervasive developmental disorder, not a personality disorder.
The keyword there is "developmental." You do not develop AS late in life, you are born with it (or acquire it sometime during the early stages of development, jury's out). If your daughter has AS, there were symptoms present in her early childhood. Of course, that doesn't mean you necessarily recognized them, particularly if she was your firstborn and you didn't have a real comparison to draw.
Symptoms in childhood include things like hyperlexia
(reading at an unusually early age, massive vocabulary, but peculiarities in usage), echolalia
(repeating back words or phrases they hear, particularly instead of a response when questioned), poor fine or gross motor skills
(difficulty with handwriting, difficulty with learning movements by mimicking others, clumsiness and general poor coordination), taking language literally
(taking figurative phrases literally, I put the cat in the fridge so it would "chill out." Common conversational phrases are often picked up on through trial and error, but look for difficulties in following instructions because they're taken literally. For instance, "give that paper to me by Friday" could have the implied meaning of "turn that paper in to me by email the same way we always do." However, the person said "give" instead of "email," causing great confusion to the autistic individual who has difficulty understanding the implied meaning.), and sensory issues
(being incredibly sensitive to certain sensations, such as the tags on clothing, certain smells, certain colors or patterns, being touched lightly by others, food tastes and textures, and certain sounds. The autistic brain can perceive everyday experiences as physically painful, and when overwhelmed by these painful experiences, the autistic child can often explode in an uncontrollable tantrum or completely shut down.). This is by no means a comprehensive list. It does not mean your child has autism if they had one or all of these traits. It does not mean your child DOES NOT have autism if they had none of these traits.
The main thing to keep in mind when considering whether or not your child is autistic is to look at the big picture. Every autistic person experiences the traits in their own unique way, and we all experience the traits to a different severity. But the bottom line is that we all experience the same thing to some degree. If your daughter doesn't have that shared experience (particularly if she does research into it and doesn't feel that it fits her), don't try to force it just because one aspect really makes sense. Like I said, I'm not really an expert on BDP. I'm not 100% sure my mom has it. I may have made some mistakes when talking about BDP, but I'm confident my info on AS is solid.
Writing this made me realize how similar AS and BDP can seem on the surface in certain situations. I was really kind of offended at first that someone could mistake one for the other. I still am, actually. But I guess that's just my own prejudice. My mom was just so hard to live with, it's hard for me to see BDP in a positive (or even neutral, really) light.