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Does Sheldon have Asperger's Syndrome?


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With Aspies it is more of how their brains are hardwired than a personality quirk. With Aspies their brain doesn't register aspects of human behavior. I have heard it called mind blindness which means some aspects of interpersonal behavior just do not register on their brains.

But if it's "mind blindness" (for lack of a better term), then would it be possible to learn desirable behavior simply by observing? For example, Sheldon is learning to recognize sarcasm -- hasn't quite got it down yet, but he is learning. He's also learned/adopted a number of "social conventions" -- the fact that he didn't know what they were to begin with suggests to me that he was not exposed to them (or else never paid attention to them) in his early years, not that he was incapable of recognizing them.

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I agree with SheldonCooper Fan. Sheldon has OCD (his knocking, his spot, his weekly shedule etc.)

With Aspies it is more of how their brains are hardwired than a personality quirk. With Aspies their brain doesn't register aspects of human behavior. I have heard it called mind blindness which means some aspects of interpersonal behavior just do not register on their brains.

But if it's "mind blindness" (for lack of a better term), then would it be possible to learn desirable behavior simply by observing? For example, Sheldon is learning to recognize sarcasm -- hasn't quite got it down yet, but he is learning. He's also learned/adopted a number of "social conventions" -- the fact that he didn't know what they were to begin with suggests to me that he was not exposed to them (or else never paid attention to them) in his early years, not that he was incapable of recognizing them.

Yes it is possible for them to learn social behavior. I worked in a group home with people with Asperger's syndrome (severe level) and they had goals to learn proper behavior in certain areas and they were able to make progress.

I read about a woman with Aspergers that watched movies so she could learn what facial expressions went with what emotions.

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These are very interesting and intelligent questions that people are raising. It is not easy to define Asperger's because it is a syndrome. A syndrome is a group of unusual characteristics that tend to occur together. But no one person ever has all of the characteristics of Asperger's, so there is no one characteristic that can define it. You can find an exception to every single generalization about Asperger's. But the important thing to understand is that it is not a disease or affliction, it is an alternative type of neurological wiring.

Sheldon illustrates so many of the characteristics of Asperger's so beautifully. There are so many, but I will start with aspie communication style. To me, one of the key characteristics of Asperger's is a tendency not to take things personally. When an aspie seems to be tactlessly direct, he or she is only practicing the Golden Rule from an aspie point of view, because that is how aspies prefer that people communicate to them. If you are having a problem with me, then just tell me directly and then let's figure out how to fix the problem.

Aspies prefer directness. The vagueness and lack of straightforward honesty in the neurotypical world is frustrating to aspies. But neurotypicals call aspie directness "tactlessness" and say that aspies lack social skills.

Well, if the situation were reversed, if aspies were the majority of the population and the neurotypicals the small minority, it would be the neurotypicals who would be judged to lack the social skills! Neurotypicals seem to be allergic to directness, they hint, they equivocate, they tell "white lies" so as not to "hurt your feelings," they pussyfoot, they prettify, they disguise their opinions, they say things ambiguously so that they can have an out, they talk behind people's backs, they make you guess what they are really thinking instead of telling you directly, they take everything personally -- this kind of thing drives aspies crazy.

Aspies don't pick up the signs that someone is offended by their directness, because they don't identify with that feeling. You have to have a particular feeling yourself in order to empathize with it.

Like Sheldon can ask Penny, "Where are you in your menstrual cycle? ... Consider female primates -- such as monkeys, apes, you..." and is surprised when she slams the door in his face.

Connected to that is that most aspies hate lying and hate being lied to. In the neurotypical world, it is considered normal to tell lies and dissimulate all the time. The neurotypical world seems full of lying and pretense, and aspies are allergic to lying and pretense.

Aspies like precision in communication and can drive people crazy with hairsplitting and the desire to express something completely and correctly. A Sheldon example: "she howled like a civet cat" (someone else starts to say something) "-- I'm not finished! -- which, despite its name, is not a true cat. (pause) NOW I'm finished."

By the way, I disagree with the poster who said that an aspie would not be able to adapt the way Sheldon has. Aspies are as adaptable as anyone else and can learn social skills, it just doesn't come naturally the way it does to neurotypicals.

I also wanted to comment on:

Sheldon's behavior is more a product of growing up alone and isolated from others, which is common with extremely intelligent kids, particularly when they don't even have others within the family unit to support them. There's a reason Sheldon used to fantasize about aliens coming to Earth and taking him "back" with them -- he felt like an alien.

This is true too, because, like everyone else, aspies are shaped by their upbringing. Sheldon had many factors in his life that isolated him and tended to exaggerate his aspie characteristics. Now he is smoothing down some.

There are other characteristics of Asperger's I will describe when I have time. I think they will all be recognizable in Sheldon.

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Thank you Paula. I can relate to the part about being honest. I have a really hard time telling a lie and I hate people that lie. I also can't stand gossiping, which makes it hard for me to like people, because most people do it. I know we all do it from time to time, but so many people, that is ALL they do.

It is interesting that there are so many different characteristics. I think the way you described an aspie not knowing that how what they says affects people, because they never had those emotions, would be the most telling for aspergers.

From what I have read in these responses, I think my dad does not have it, but does have a few characteristics, but does not have the most telling signs of it.

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Like I said, there is no one characteristic that is characteristic of all aspies. It is a spectrum. Some people have most of the characteristics ascribed to aspies, some people have a few of them, no one has all of them. If you have some aspie characteristics but not enough to really consider yourself an aspie, you can say you are "on the spectrum."

Some aspies would consider the obsession with predictable routine (Sheldon's spot, his moving his bowels every day at 7:20, etc) and difficulty in dealing with changes in routine (like Sheldon when someone takes his spot) to be one of the most key characteristics of Asperger's. But I personally don't have much of that characteristic, even though I consider myself an aspie and recognize that the obsession with routine is very common in aspies.

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Continuing to discuss characteristics of Asperger's:

Some aspies would consider the key characteristic of Asperger's to be perseveration. This means that when an aspie becomes interested in something, he or she can become obsessed with learning everything there is to know about it. Perseveration is an asset in a scientist, who needs to be obsessively focused on his or her particular area of research, and is one of the reasons that many aspies are attracted to the sciences.

Some aspies, when you ask them some little question about their research area, will start going on and on and on nonstop about that subject, never stopping to think that that subject might not be as fascinating to everybody as it is to them. Sheldon actually does this less than some aspie scientists I know personally -- although I am sure that there must be a scene in some episode in which he goes on and on about some subject that he is totally interested in and no one else cares about.

(These posts could be an example, I could be babbling on about something no one else is interested in, 'cause how many people here are really seriously interested in the title question? Luckily, the format of a forum makes it easy to skip things one is not interested in.)

The aspie trait of perseveration is expressed not only by Sheldon but other characters in the show, in their perseveration about comic books, Star Trek, etc.

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Continuing to discuss characteristics of Asperger's:

(These posts could be an example, I could be babbling on about something no one else is interested in, 'cause how many people here are really seriously interested in the title question? Luckily, the format of a forum makes it easy to skip things one is not interested in.)

No, I am interested, Paula. But every characteristic you describe, I'd say is true of just about every introvert with a high IQ. What makes it "Aspie" vs. just their basic personality? And if Aspie is really just describing a personality type, then why the need for a label?

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I have to admit, I am also kind of confused. I read this article below :

http://earner.hubpages.com/hub/Aspergers-Syndrome---Living-as-an-Adult-Aspie--Social-Life

It was interesting. But I am having problems distinguishing between an aspie and someone that is just shy/introverted. When I was young, I became very introverted in 6th grade, mainly because some people were mean to me, and it continued through many years. I have gotten good now at initiating friendships, but like the article says, it is had for me to take initiative in continuing the friendships. A lot of it is that I have small group of good friends, and that is enough for me. I don't feel the need to have lots of friends, and it kind of complicates my life.

Does that mean I have aspie characteristics?

I don't know, it's hard for me to understand the difference between someone that has some of the characteristics on the "spectrum" and someone that truly has aspergers.

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I have to admit, I am also kind of confused. I read this article below :

http://earner.hubpages.com/hub/Aspergers-Syndrome---Living-as-an-Adult-Aspie--Social-Life

It was interesting. But I am having problems distinguishing between an aspie and someone that is just shy/introverted. When I was young, I became very introverted in 6th grade, mainly because some people were mean to me, and it continued through many years. I have gotten good now at initiating friendships, but like the article says, it is had for me to take initiative in continuing the friendships. A lot of it is that I have small group of good friends, and that is enough for me. I don't feel the need to have lots of friends, and it kind of complicates my life.

Does that mean I have aspie characteristics?

I don't know, it's hard for me to understand the difference between someone that has some of the characteristics on the "spectrum" and someone that truly has aspergers.

Not necessarily. You sound like an introvert to me. I think you'll find a lot of people on forums are. Internet communication is easier for us to communicate with lots of different people. We function better on a one to one basis, and it can almost seem like that. No one looks at you when you make your point!

I met a very talented musician who has aspergers. I have no idea where he is the spectrum but I quickly realised he couldn't read my facial expressions. Very sweet man, remarkable musician. I was relieved when his manager got him a cab to leave, because everyone was trying to talk to him and he just looked so overwhelmed. There are many different levels I'm sure and I have a couple of friends who may be on the spectrum somewhere. It just adds to the variety of life in the end. :icon_biggrin:

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I had a talk with my husband last night about the boy in cub scouts that had aspergers. It helped me to understand the clinical difference. He said this boy would go to a tree and roll into a ball when he didn't get his way during camping trips (like sheldon making a nest in the comic book store). He also said that he would have the entire camping trip planned out when he would get there and get upset when the other boys would not do what he thought they should do. Also, he talked about how this boy would be focused so much on something sometimes that it was very difficult to get his attention back.

It understand a little more now what the difference is.

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Despite a lot of similarities, I don't think Sheldon has Asperger's. I'm not sure how to describe it but I've seen a lot of people with Asperger's and Sheldon's different. He's more like someone who is OCD

I noticed an what I thought was an OCD-type trait also when Sheldon was going down the stairs reciting the periodic table and trying to make it fit with the number of steps. At the end he had to either jump or shuffle down the last couple to make the numbers match. Of course if it was an OCD manifestation, he would have had it already down pat, but it's a comedy so I wont quibble.

I hope it is permissible to post articles from other web pages. The original page that this was taken from appears to have gone extinct years ago, but I found this article (with its original, defunct link) reposted on another forum.

This is, of course, supposed to represent how "neurotypicals" (normal folks) appear to an aspie, and parodies the way Asperger's Syndrome is so often represented as some sort of disease. So think of this as how Sheldon looks at "normal" folks:

Understanding Neurotypicality (a parody) <-- (see, the author has to explain to us he is being sarcastic)

http://home.att.net/~ascaris1/neurotypicality.html

by Frank Klein

Understanding Neurotypicality

Neurotypicality is a pervasive developmental condition, probably present since birth,......

Thanks for that...thta's going to be saved for reposting :icon_biggrin:

I thaink i will rename it:

Understanding Neurotypicality or to rephrase in Neurotypical language for muggles – The Logically Challenged in our Midst

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  • 4 months later...

i have aspergers syndrome it has been diagnosed and it may not come as a surprise a large quantity to the people reading this that i have been told on numerous occasions that i am a lot like sheldon... the difference is i believe that sheldons persoal qualities that relate him to others with aspergers syndrome is that his characteristics are exagerated for comedy effect when other aspects are temporarily ignored... if he was an actual person rather than a character i think he would have been diagnosed with aspergers but then im sure he would act just a little different and a little more consistently to what he had been through the series... from birth my parent said i was a little different... im a slow learner and have always hated contact, when i was put in and out of a pram i cried because i had been put into contact. that changes as i get older, im still uncomfortable but i can easily give someone a hug so long as i knew about it, i cant take surprises unless im warned that i will be surprised. funny to think i have a girl friend and that goes against almost every one of those aspects but for me its not all hugs and kisses its a lot more personal i think (not that you want to hear about my relationship status). my friends generally dont give me hugs because of the times ive reacted badly to them but i can still give them hugs from time to time... a lot of my friends have aspergers syndrome or other mental dissabilities. people tell me aspergers isnt a disability its a different way of thinking but to my understanding a disability is something that makes a person less capable than others at completing a given task, the fact im a slow learner is a disability but i can consider everyone else disabled as well because once i know something i never forget it, i can tell people the names of the children that went to the same pre-school as me and i can even recognise them on the street (though im sure they think its weird when i say hi to them, i dont think they remember me) i find it hard to make eye contact and though im not easily embarassed im very cautious not to do anything embarassing (not sure if thats aspergers or just normal) ive stayed awake for multiple nights on the trot writing essays about the universe and the implications of an infinate or expanding universe which my science teach told me to keep safe as at GCSE i had done what he called a degree standard case study, this i beleived until i went to sixth form and failed physics. my parents and secondry school teachers agreed i had had a bad year but im now doing business instead since my college dissagreed and said i was not on the right track to complete physics to any level of pass grade.

another comment i noticed on here was a mention to the recitation of the periodic table going down steps, weird as it seems have done this before i really hope it is a symptom of aspergers else im weird or OCD as well as aspergers (i only did it once, it was curiousity)

im not sure if this was helpful or not but i figured that if people had an actual aspergers person to compare against they could reach their own conclusions

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Guest I'm not dead Cheryl

i have aspergers syndrome it has been diagnosed and it may not come as a surprise a large quantity to the people reading this that i have been told on numerous occasions that i am a lot like sheldon... the difference is i believe that sheldons persoal qualities that relate him to others with aspergers syndrome is that his characteristics are exagerated for comedy effect when other aspects are temporarily ignored... if he was an actual person rather than a character i think he would have been diagnosed with aspergers but then im sure he would act just a little different and a little more consistently to what he had been through the series... from birth my parent said i was a little different... im a slow learner and have always hated contact, when i was put in and out of a pram i cried because i had been put into contact. that changes as i get older, im still uncomfortable but i can easily give someone a hug so long as i knew about it, i cant take surprises unless im warned that i will be surprised. funny to think i have a girl friend and that goes against almost every one of those aspects but for me its not all hugs and kisses its a lot more personal i think (not that you want to hear about my relationship status). my friends generally dont give me hugs because of the times ive reacted badly to them but i can still give them hugs from time to time... a lot of my friends have aspergers syndrome or other mental dissabilities. people tell me aspergers isnt a disability its a different way of thinking but to my understanding a disability is something that makes a person less capable than others at completing a given task, the fact im a slow learner is a disability but i can consider everyone else disabled as well because once i know something i never forget it, i can tell people the names of the children that went to the same pre-school as me and i can even recognise them on the street (though im sure they think its weird when i say hi to them, i dont think they remember me) i find it hard to make eye contact and though im not easily embarassed im very cautious not to do anything embarassing (not sure if thats aspergers or just normal) ive stayed awake for multiple nights on the trot writing essays about the universe and the implications of an infinate or expanding universe which my science teach told me to keep safe as at GCSE i had done what he called a degree standard case study, this i beleived until i went to sixth form and failed physics. my parents and secondry school teachers agreed i had had a bad year but im now doing business instead since my college dissagreed and said i was not on the right track to complete physics to any level of pass grade.

another comment i noticed on here was a mention to the recitation of the periodic table going down steps, weird as it seems have done this before i really hope it is a symptom of aspergers else im weird or OCD as well as aspergers (i only did it once, it was curiousity)

im not sure if this was helpful or not but i figured that if people had an actual aspergers person to compare against they could reach their own conclusions

thanks for posting this!

I was also diagnosed with Asperger some years ago, with an OCD comorbidity and I do see Sheldon (and Amy as well) as Aspies, even though they are not diagnosed on the show, and in a way, I think is better that they don't (I have said this already on the past, but is because of avoiding first, the stereotyping of Aspergers as well as how limiting it would be for the writers to actually label them as Aspies, but I disgress).

And also, I really relate to Sheldon's "I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested" since, my mother had me tested as well LOL.

The thing is, I was born on 1982. As a baby I barely cried and I didn't speak a word until I was 4 years old, and only started talking in sentences by the time I was 5. My mother had me tested. A LOT, because of this, she thought I had a mental disability, but they could never find anything, and actually, my IQ turned out to be pretty high (I am a member for Mensa International). When I started elementary school they found out I was also dyslexic. Still they found nothing. Why? because Asperger's was not known in the medical area until the 1990's and it was included in the DSM-IV just in 1994. I was diagnosed when I was 21 in 2003 when my sister (who is now a Psychiatrist and was at that time in College) was studying the subject and realized I fit all the criteria. So she made me see a Psychiatrist and a Neurologist and I went through several tests until they diagnosed me.

And I agree with you, Asperger's is not a disablity, it is just "different wiring". The way I usually explain it to people is "we run on different Operative System, you run Windows, we run Linux - we are not user friendly" LOL

But back on the show, yes, Sheldon (& Amy) fit the criteria, but I do think is better that they NEVER label them as such in the show.

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I have to say I'm greatly relieved to see an open discussion about this where no one has assumed that Sheldon is a sociopath. It's a comparison I've heard before, and it bothers me.

I've had a lot of experience living with someone I believe now to be a sociopath when I was growing up, and the difference is that, I believe Sheldon genuinely cares about the feelings of those around him.

He may be awkward, and oblivious, and seem distant, but when his friends have a problem, he really and truly wants to help somehow, he just needs a little coaching. lol

A sociopath very often seems perfectly normal on the outside, because they've learned social ques in order to manipulate and imitate them to their own ends, but the feelings are not genuine. Sheldon is neither deceitful nor manipulative.


My wife is an Aspie and females tend to manifest Asperger's differently. She is very outgoing although socially awkward and very childlike.

I never realized it manifested differently in women! I had to go look it up. I found this, and while one or two of the more severe symptoms are not something I've ever had to deal with, the rest of it sounds quite a lot like me. Maybe I should have that checked out. lol

img244154ad237783e339.JPG

Just based on the number of people in this thread who have expressed their own diagnoses with aspergers, I wonder how much of the rest of the fan base for the show is on the spectrum as well.

I understand the writers not wanting to clearly diagnose Sheldon with anything, because it would then seem too insensitive of his friends to tease him about it. However, I think all the main characters could easily be diagnosed with a disorder or two of their own, so to one another they would be free game for occasional and somewhat affectionate ragging. But having the actual terms used on the show would put a lot of undue pressure on the cast and the writers/producers

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I have to say I'm greatly relieved to see an open discussion about this where no one has assumed that Sheldon is a sociopath. It's a comparison I've heard before, and it bothers me.

I've had a lot of experience living with someone I believe now to be a sociopath when I was growing up, and the difference is that, I believe Sheldon genuinely cares about the feelings of those around him.

He may be awkward, and oblivious, and seem distant, but when his friends have a problem, he really and truly wants to help somehow, he just needs a little coaching. lol

A sociopath very often seems perfectly normal on the outside, because they've learned social ques in order to manipulate and imitate them to their own ends, but the feelings are not genuine. Sheldon is neither deceitful nor manipulative.


My wife is an Aspie and females tend to manifest Asperger's differently. She is very outgoing although socially awkward and very childlike.

I never realized it manifested differently in women! I had to go look it up. I found this, and while one or two of the more severe symptoms are not something I've ever had to deal with, the rest of it sounds quite a lot like me. Maybe I should have that checked out. lol

img244154ad237783e339.JPG

Just based on the number of people in this thread who have expressed their own diagnoses with aspergers, I wonder how much of the rest of the fan base for the show is on the spectrum as well.

I understand the writers not wanting to clearly diagnose Sheldon with anything, because it would then seem too insensitive of his friends to tease him about it. However, I think all the main characters could easily be diagnosed with a disorder or two of their own, so to one another they would be free game for occasional and somewhat affectionate ragging. But having the actual terms used on the show would put a lot of undue pressure on the cast and the writers/producers

Hi, what web site did you find this chart? thank you...

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I think that if Sheldon had aspergers the show would have said so. Sheldon has said on numerous occasions that if someones problems does not affect him, then he is not interested. That does not make him a bad person, it just means that he is honest.

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I have to say I'm greatly relieved to see an open discussion about this where no one has assumed that Sheldon is a sociopath. It's a comparison I've heard before, and it bothers me.

I've had a lot of experience living with someone I believe now to be a sociopath when I was growing up, and the difference is that, I believe Sheldon genuinely cares about the feelings of those around him.

He may be awkward, and oblivious, and seem distant, but when his friends have a problem, he really and truly wants to help somehow, he just needs a little coaching. lol

A sociopath very often seems perfectly normal on the outside, because they've learned social ques in order to manipulate and imitate them to their own ends, but the feelings are not genuine. Sheldon is neither deceitful nor manipulative.


Thanks for the chart. It's very interesting to see the difference and does seem very Amy. I'd say aspie for both Sheldon and Amy but as it's a TV show, it's unconfirmed and can't be. They need to give their characters freedom from any label. In the early Season Sheldon was textbook though.

I think it's quite odd that anyone would call him is a sociopath though. The clue is in the name, social. He's not even close to social. :icon_cheesygrin: Sociopaths are extremely charming. They can charm the pants off anyone and always find someone to pick up the tab. Penny would be closer to a sociopath than Sheldon could ever be, not that she is either. They are master manipulators and get a real kick out of it. I know two of them, one male, one female, both musicians. Everyone loves them, buys them drinks and they take advantage but it never seems that way. Social butterflies but dangerous to get involved with. Ouch!

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Frankly I think that in many ways Sheldon's interaction with other people would be both maddening and refreshing. If you start telling him about your problems and he is not interested, he will tell you so. That could be maddening. On the other thing if you ask him his opinion on something he will tell you the truth. That could be refreshing if you in fact want an honest opinion. If you made the mistake of asking him if your new jeans make your butt look fat, he is very likely to tell you that it is your fat butt that makes your butt look fat. If you ask him how he likes your new hair style or perhaps your makeup, if he though it made you look like a clown he would tell you so.

I don't believe that he has aspergers if for no other reason then if he did they would have said so. He is in no way a sociopath. A true sociopath is very often a serial killer. Sociopaths do not feel guilt for anything that they do. It has been made very clear that Sheldon does feel guilt. A good example is when he couldn't sleep and had nightmares when he switched his broken Star Trek toy with Leonard's.

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Thanks for the chart. It's very interesting to see the difference and does seem very Amy. I'd say aspie for both Sheldon and Amy but as it's a TV show, it's unconfirmed and can't be. They need to give their characters freedom from any label. In the early Season Sheldon was textbook though.

I agree about avoiding labels to give the characters more freedom.

However, I'm not so sure about Amy having aspergers. Her interest in neurobiology is pretty one-track. Females with aspergers seem to leap passionately and with conviction from one profession to another. Also, her emotional immaturity is restricted to a desire to reenact the social interaction she didn't get as a pre-teen. She has no interest whatsoever in childish things, or fantasy in general, as Sheldon does. To use her own words: "Lame-o!"

Her appearance is also mature far beyond her years (muted colors, her deceased grandmother's clothes), whereas a female with aspergers will dress somewhat eccentrically.

In general, Amy seems constantly hungry for stimulus and social interaction wherever she can get it. A female with aspergers often becomes overwhelmed with "normal" stimulus, and social situations, and is prone to emotional meltdowns if she can't withdraw and re-cooperate.

I think it's quite odd that anyone would call him is a sociopath though. The clue is in the name, social. He's not even close to social. :icon_cheesygrin: Sociopaths are extremely charming. They can charm the pants off anyone and always find someone to pick up the tab. Penny would be closer to a sociopath than Sheldon could ever be, not that she is either. They are master manipulators and get a real kick out of it. I know two of them, one male, one female, both musicians. Everyone loves them, buys them drinks and they take advantage but it never seems that way. Social butterflies but dangerous to get involved with. Ouch!

I totally agree about sociopaths. I think the confusion I've seen people have about Sheldon, is how he appears not to care about the feelings of others.

He does care, but it takes him a moment to recognize that. It's like Bernadette says "The part of him that should know is getting a wedgie from the rest of his brain." Sheldon cares, it just doesn't come naturally to him. A sociopath appears very convincingly to care, but doesn't, and sometimes gives people the creeps and they don't know why.

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