I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in January 2015; it felt really obvious to me, in that I had virtually always known that I was different. I was picked on for being sensitive, mocked for lacking any understanding about social situations, yet obsessive in my interests.
I wanted to write about some stylised confessions, as I feel that there is not a lot of testimony from people who actually have this condition; by contrast, there’s a mind field of medical research.
I see it nearly as my job to educate people about ASD, as being on the spectrum is not always an ‘easy ride’. I cannot always adjust my decibel level, can become upset if my plans are suddenly changed, stim, and talk for hours about my special interests. To anyone ‘neurotypical’ – those who do not have Asperger’s – I can stick out, not fitting to a conformity that’s expected. That is not easy. I have lost friends, been lonely, and it can feel as if the odds are stacked against me.
(Let’s be brave here!) I cannot de-code what your face is telling me, nor your voice – be it happy, sad, etc. And it can get me into trouble at times. I try my hardest to be aware of this, yet it doesn’t always work.
I am not Dustin Hoffman’s Rainman, simply because the spectrum is far more nuanced. Numbers, and anything related, make no sense to me. But I’m good with words and facts. Otherwise, why be a blogger, a columnist, and a freelancer?
Autism, including Asperger syndrome, is much more common than most people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism.
For a long time, I didn’t like myself; I wished to be like my peers – the people who met up after school, did each other’s make up, chatted about boys, worried over tests and homework. But I was not, and am still not like that; rather, I spend a lot at time largely writing or lost in a world of books. (And people wonder why I love libraries!) But I wish to impart some words of wisdom to end with.
Autism is not to be cured. If you are on spectrum, despite what people say, you have nothing to be ashamed of. We all need help at times. But this is where your power is – we have abilities that others do not, which is to be envied.
You can achieve far more than you know at this very moment because you have the power to do so. Despite some of the shortcomings I have listed, have faith. Ask for help if needed. Say sorry if you upset anyone, and treat people with kindness. Asperger’s, ASD, Autism – all synonymous, all powerful. And everyone else will watch us run, despite the flaws they perceive.