Aspergers. I feel like I always knew the word – I kinda knew it was related to being a bit “special” but not much more. Turns out I have Aspergers, an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Reality is a lot of people do, and particularly musicians it seems. This will be a really long article. If you have no interest in understanding either yourself, a loved one, or work colleague then feel free to bail. Sometimes I will be blunt (as is my way), sometimes I will even use words you may think I shouldn’t. Usually, they will be in “quotes” to show you I know, but I am using those words deliberately as they are the fastest way to get that image across. If you think I am being judgmental, well I may be mental but you are the one judging. Ha!
Never Mind The Bollocks
If you are starting to research Autism, High Functioning Autism, ADHD and Aspergers you will read a lot of stuff. Much of it is true but some is wrong. Some of it will be right for some of us “Aspies” but not for others. It is a very long spectrum. Here’s how it is for me and from those I have observed (word used deliberately). Also, I am speaking from the point of view of an adult. Most information is about children. I’m past that now. If you came here looking for how to deal with your child, I don’t promise answers but I’m sure there will be some things that resonate and help you and your child too.
An ASD person’s brain takes in a lot of information, most likely more than the average Neuro-Typical (NT) person. We often struggle to process all of this information. To cope we defer to logic over feelings (that aren’t logical). This often makes us rather littoral. No one really knows why we are this way and there sure isn’t a cure. Over time we can learn to manage ourselves better but stress can toss us right back to struggling. No different from anyone really.
Some things you read about managing ASD are really about trying to pass for “normal”, effectively hiding your true nature so the locals don’t have at you with pitchforks. While that makes sense it can also leave you feeling isolated, like you are wrong and they are right. Don’t swallow that pill, please. Neuro-Typical (NT) people are slightly different from us Aspies and we are slightly different from NTs. We are both born the way nature intended us. Do your best to understand people around you and those people must give you the same courtesy. That is just good manners. Expect no more or less.
A Strange Boy
I was born in 1969 a tiny bit early. Seems I didn’t have much of a chin, had collapsed thumbs and the nurse wasn’t too good at working out if I was a boy or a girl. Thankfully my Father was able to be more definite on the latter so that fact was able to be squared away. My Father was told to carry me around by my thumbs to pull em back out. I grew a pretty workable chin and everything else seemed just dandy. My Mother said I was a quiet baby. That was a blessing with her already having to manage two baby boys who were a unit in such charming activities as paddling in the pooper and barfing in bed.
One of my brothers was into sport and the other finding clever ways to beat us up. I was into reading about ancient history. Egypt, Sumeria, the Greeks & Medieval times were what interested me along with Star Wars. I could spend a whole day living in the worlds from my books. Understandably I was a bit slower in learning to throw and catch a ball as I didn’t do it so much. Later when my sporting brother roped me into amusing him I got pretty passable with a ball.
My Mother knitted things. When it came to asking what color we wanted our sweaters, my brothers chose things like brown or green. I chose black with silver tinsel. When asked if I was sure, I was. And I loved that tinselly black woolly (English for sweater) till it looked more like a crop top and Mother reclaimed the wool.
On my birthdays I always wanted pink icing on my cake. I had no problems with my brothers having whatever color icing they wanted but that pink icing (and the little silver balls) said my birthday. I have no idea why pink was the right color but it was.
You may be thinking I was another kind of different but not so. I may have looked like a little Peter Allen in my sparkly woolly, eating pink icing, but it didn’t dawn on me they indicated anything other than comfortable. There were more clues though. Clues that today would be very clear.
I would flap my hands whenever I got excited. My parents knew that looked kooky so they told me not to do it so much, and definitely not in public. Hand flapping or “Stimming” is a very clear sign of ASD but no one knew what it meant back then.
A child reading so much about specific periods in history whilst developing an encyclopedic knowledge is another pretty clear sign. Sure parents will be chuffed their child is reading HG Wells by age 9 but it is not only average or gifted, it is also a sign. So is speaking with a voice, words and authority way in excess of age. I was a classic “little professor”. My parents brought us up to be little adults so I would have seemed like a great success.
I seemed to see and know more than other people around me, particularly about people. I seemed like a psychic with my ability to work out what was going on. I would pipe up and say these things – direct and to the point. Blunt even. I was being helpful and blunt about it. Classic signs.
Repetitive and obsessive behaviors are common too. I started to get into music when we got a cassette of Neil Diamond’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull”. I played it a lot with the earphone in (just the one as it was the 70’s). The sounds and patterns fascinated me. If anything interrupted me I rewound that cassette to the start and pressed play again. I did the same when I got my “Jan & Dean Story” record. Not normal stuff it turns out. Also on the music thing, I would burst into tears if made to listen to Opera. Now that may seem normal (and healthy) to many of you as Opera is a learned taste but it was the “wobbly woman” that did me in. For some reason, I couldn’t abide female singers who used a lot of vibrato. Plenty of people “on the spectrum” are sensitive to sound, light or some other sensory input. It is a too much info thing and a flag. By the way, I still rail against over-singers like Whitney or Christina as they agitate me greatly for doing far too much when it is not necessary.
I couldn’t take some foods. My brothers would want Coke & Mars Bar. I would want Fanta & Flake. When the family ate meat pies I had to have apple pie. I really had to choke down frozen or canned peas and refused corn straight up. That mushy thing made we want to hurl every time. Still does. Many of those taste things I grew out of. Some things like mushy peas & corn I didn’t. I still prefer simple foods. The thought of Mastercheffed food makes me feel stressed. I always really liked Brussels Sprouts!
I want it to be very clear that I don’t blame my parent for not getting any of this, as while Aspergers existed as a diagnosis it was such a new condition no one was looking for it. Full blown Autism was known but Aspies don’t always look the same and if you don’t know what you are seeing you will miss it. I do however blame my parents for feeding me peas and corn. That was unforgivable as I don’t deem them proper foods at all. (yes I am joking – but not about peas and corn)
I Go To Pieces
I was good at math in grade 8. We moved towns and I missed some school. When I started again, math made no sense to me. As if the teacher were saying; asdfh ahowepy hdjdfhueh. In senior I was talked into taking advanced math with algebra and the like. Still gibberish. I tried to get out of it as I was doing really well in every other subject and that made maths a waste of time. The teachers seemed offended. They told me how smart I was and I just wasn’t applying myself. So I applied myself to being a pain in the ass. Sorry, Miss. Reminds me that in about grade three my parents came to request of the teacher that I not get homework for a while as I was not coping. Odd as I was super good in class. I remember being really stressed, freaked out even.
When I finished school with really good grades I went to University to study psychology (seeing there was no degree in being a music producer). I went straight to pieces. From the get-go, I was as freaked as when I was in grade three. I couldn’t work out how to be a uni student. Subjects I had been great at in school eluded me. I had no idea what to do. Lectures and tutorials seemed almost devoid of content so I had no idea what I was supposed to learn. I played video games, listened to bands and gradually skipped classes as I was starting to sleep through them (working in a nightclub didn’t help there). I was failed by a Socialist Tutor for writing a paper on Anarchism when papers that praised Communism with less content than mine passed with flying colors. That clear logical dilemma finished me off.
People tried to give good advice about hanging in there as I was smart. They even said to defer and go at it again next year. No one thought to wonder if I had some sort of ADHD thing going on. I saw other super-smart kids drop out early too; I wonder if anyone asked them either. Probably no one knew. I noticed that my work life was taking the same pattern.
Praying To The Aliens
So how did I work out I have Aspergers? Like I said, I felt like I always knew the term but not really anything about it. Just one of the many bits of info stored in my head. (UPDATE: I realize it was in some articles about Down Syndrome kids and Savants I saw on TV as a kid.) It wasn’t until I was about 40 that some of those bits of information all started coming together. Here’s how it happened:
Turns out a lot of ASD people feel like they are living in the wrong world. I did a bit. One of my heroes wrote a record or twenty about it and was impressively odd in the process: Gary Numan. He was diagnosed later in life. He wrote a bit about it in his Bio “Praying To The Aliens”. New fact, big hero. Off to Wikipedia. Bells rang. I figured it slightly amusing and moved on. Not much later I was watching the local agricultural show, Landline, not because I’m into farming (far from it) but because it was more facts to take in (and the lady host was kinda nice). On came an article about how this woman with Autism was helping farmers learn how to move cattle efficiently, with the upside of keeping them happier. That was Temple Grandin and I was really taken with her. Back to Wikipedia to learn more random facts. I came to realize that a lot of my favorite characters, like Sheldon, had Aspergers. People laugh at Sheldon; I get him. I’m not quite that fussy but I see myself; so while I laugh it is with him. Penny annoys me in those early shows because to me she is the narrow one.
I also liked the Taelons in “Earth: Final Conflict”. I actually do that funny hand thing. Seeing it on someone else made me realize it was a sign of an odd brain. I thought I did it as a sort-of cartoon character joke but in reality, it is a way I “sample” the world without having to touch it. I get some funny looks in the supermarket. May be odd for you but not for me. It is a form of stimming. Lets me manage the excitement (memories) of ice cream.
Work, relationships, and it seemed the world in general, were not really going well for me. My boss kept saying I was “a great stamp of a bloke” but doing a terrible job with customers. My actual customers loved me, they liked how thorough I was with them and their questions. My non-customers hated me so much they set out to get me in trouble almost every time. They commonly said I was the most horrible or difficult person they ever met. I was trying to help both my boss and the people who were demanding opposing things like “let us put km on this expensive car then give us your best price so we can get a better price and buy at your competitor” – ummmm! #$@%$#
I struggled on for a few more years till finally at 45 I had no work or relationships left. I was ready to accept I may really be Aspie. I didn’t really want to be, as that seemed to say I was “broken” and would never be able to get it right and be happy. I did a few online tests. Several actually to be sure I’m not making a false diagnosis, if you are ASD then you probably did that too. I every test I came out “probably”. Now I know I’m not Mr. Bean, but slightly funky in the wiring is exactly what I had already worked out when I was much younger.
This Is The Day
Today I still do a lot of those things I did as a kid. The outward signs may be different but the motivations aren’t
Fact Gathering & Patterns: Whenever I meet something new or interesting I research a bit about it (or them). I take in a lot of information and am able to put it into a pattern. Anything I know a bit about will see me create a mental spreadsheet that I am always adding to. I even cross-reference my sheets so new info on a fish can help me make sense of something seemingly unrelated like human relationships. I can pour this info back out at will, but usually when triggered by something else that matches that pattern. Some people see me as a little encyclopedia. Compared to most people I guess I am. If you haven’t already worked it out most of my sub-headings are song titles, lyrics or other musical references. I have all of these in my head and they spring forth as I meet a pattern match. However, like everyone, there are some things I don’t get. As a musician, I have struggled in getting music in the same way others learn it. It took 25 years for me to start to even get theory properly. The moment I can see the pattern I am generally better at it than others.
Being Blunt: I see patterns, my forte seems to be in human behavior. I can’t remember the name, marital status or number of kids of someone I just met but I can tell you a lot about where they are at in life. If they are happy, sad or in trouble. I see their motivations and where they will lead. If I see something I think I can help with I will pipe-up and start telling the person how to solve their dilemma. That to me is being helpful. A few people take that in stride – often with wide eyes. Most don’t. They think I am being rude. I think they are being rude to reject well-meant help. Aspies see a problem and the solution and can’t help but want to offer it right away. I try to train myself to be less helpful but the logic still feels all wrong and even uncomfortable. Not helping when you can seems a bit evil.
Stimming: I flap my hands when happy, especially if there is stress involved like making an application for a job I would like to get. I do it whilst writing articles like this. I learned other ways to stim that don’t look quite so odd; things like beating time to music. I went to a support group and half of us were playing with a toy or pulsing. Stimming helps me to feel in control of all the information flowing through me. It’s like it buys me some space. I can focus on the action I’m making to control or block the other stuff I don’t want right now.
Dickslicksia: No I’m not actually but I like playing with words and other little logic games. However, as I get stressed my trypering goes awol. I can tap the keys as fast as ever but words and letters come out jumbled. This isn’t Aspie as such and we all do it but it shows that my brain isn’t working at the same speed as itself from one part to another. I noticed this first when I was in a job where things were going wrong but I didn’t want to admit it. I have to try very hard to proof my writing a lot over a lot of time so I see what I wrote and not what I meant to write.
ADHD: I read a book on ADHD called “Smart But Stuck” by Thomas E Brown because I couldn’t find an Adult Aspergers book at the library and the book did promise to cover at least some of my problems. Attention Deficit isn’t technically ASD but the two commonly go together. As you will see in the first video below, ADHD symptoms are a common result of not coping. Matter of fact the book details pretty exactly what happened to me in University. I have always applied myself with fervor to things that interest me (like this article that I have spent almost 12 hours straight on) but lately, I have struggled to apply myself to things I should do. It is like I seek distraction and those new things are as important as the thing I should be doing. If a new thing appears I have to rush off and Google it, that leads me to another new thing to read up on or a song I need to hear on YouTube, then I think I should check my music Forum… Simply put, I seek what feels comfortable to avoid what I am not comfortable with – or more accurately what I don’t know how to make sense of. I know now it is stress so politely remind myself that I have a more important task and I can come back to the distraction when I am done. Some of the time that works, other times I accept I don’t have the answer so rather than putting myself under stress I do something I can win at like write music or an article. I have learned not to get depressed from creating failures. That is…
Structure: This is my salvation. In many ways, I was luckier than some as I worked this out (or stumbled into it) when I was young. I read about the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-Step program when I was a teen. Can’t remember why. Like I have said I will learn about anything that crosses my path. I think that was one of the best things I ever did as it let me get as far as I did (including deciding not to drink/take drugs as if I don’t start then I don’t have to stop and I knew I would have had trouble with the latter). The AA program is all about structure. Without meaning to I applied it to myself. When I didn’t want to do school work that didn’t really interest me. I applied my logic to working out how to win with what I have and then let go. Other kids spent hours studying before exams. I didn’t. I worked out I had a good memory for things that interested me so I did my best to be interested in class. If I got the info in my brain in the first place then it was there. I didn’t need to study; maybe a little bit of reminder reading but that was enough. I then let go and let the facts come out in the test. Assignments were initially stressful. I didn’t know what to write – normal enough but I worked out if I started then things came. We were supposed to use a plan and fill in the blanks. That may have been a good idea but not for me. I started and let it flow out. I still do exactly that. Put me on stage to talk about something I know about and I will wing it every time with few nerves. Make me follow a script and I am toast. I found the structure that worked for me. Music is part of my structure too. I have it playing everywhere. It helps me more than it hinders. Music has a pattern and I feel like I can use that to “contain” myself, in 3-5 minute bursts. If I am distracted the music helps keep me in the room. I gradually found I worked best when I applied structure to everything I do. I shop on the same day of the week and buy the same things. If I forget something I refuse to go back. I go without that week, to ensure I don’t make a habit of forgetting. I rarely forget anything. I have meals I make on Monday, Tuesday… It is not about being boring but because deciding things is hard for me. I can waste an hour working out what to have for dinner. If it is Monday I have Fish & Veggies. I will let myself break the structure if I know I want something else. I even have “other” dinners in my list for such times. I just refuse to get stressed and my structure keeps me moving. Most of the time. Sadly other people don’t always understand my structures. I get that they don’t do it that way, I get that I am amusing. What I don’t like is when people get nasty with me about it. Structure does not make me a soulless robot boy. I’m as interesting as the next person – in my own way, as you are in yours. I avoid drunks as they see I don’t drink and attack me for not being like them. People will make other’s strengths into a weakness if they can. I’m getting better at walking away from those situations. I also have to get better at asking for help with things I can’t work out how to manage myself – like job applications as right now they freak the hell out of me. How am I supposed to prove on paper that I am good with customers? I’m terrified of them these days. Despite that, I will still give all my time to anyone who wants my help and is polite.
Logical Dilemmas: I live with logic as my main driver, that is how I am wired. I can’t really choose otherwise. As I said to someone recently who was trying to get me to be illogical: if I were an elephant would you expect me to be a zebra? Can’t do it even if you paint stripes on me. I’m an elephant as that is my nature. Sometimes situations (ok, people) create logical dilemmas. I can solve the situation but if someone demands that I suspend the laws of physics by doing something like making an event not to have happened I can’t as time is set. Now maybe that person is misusing language in some vague emotive way and wanting an apology but I can’t get that as I can only answer the littoral question given. I try to move forward with how can we help solve this. Answering with “it should never have happened” isn’t helping me help as I can’t change the past. I learned if I point that out then I am personas horribillis.
I saw a video yesterday where a group of people were taunting a policeman who was legitimately stopping a guy who had transgressed (conveniently missing from the video). The main offender was abusing the policeman and even went so far as to touch him in an aggressive manner. The guy was told he was now under arrest and he resisted. The offender’s friends kept taunting the policeman, telling him he was wrong and would be put on YouTube to try to shame him out of doing his job by badgering him. The policeman was very restrained and it looks like the group got away despite it being a city street. Poor Mr. Policeman couldn’t go all Steven Segal on those scummy people because he would be the one punished despite being entirely in the right. This is a logical dilemma: enforce law or let bad people rule society. It may not affect you but it greatly conflicts me. It causes me great stress.
Meltdown: Too much and I break. That break is called a meltdown and thankfully mine have never been full-blown tantrums or shut-downs. I used to burst into tears. I taught myself never to cry as people picked on me for it. Good one – yes I can do sarcasm. So these days I get very logical and then rigid. I try to get away from people before this happens. It may be five mins in the bathroom to reset or go home to read my book and sleep. I may even minimize contact with the world for a few days till things start to make sense again. Sadly not always possible at work when in front of customers. I avoid parties wherever possible as it is just too much (and people don’t talk to me anyway). I learned to like nightclubs but I can’t do it anymore. I guess I could re-learn but I see no point. I can manage live shows (but I don’t enjoy them as much as I should as I get worn out too fast). I like being on stage as it is a controlled space with a limited and defined number of people.
Work: Now this is the difficult one for a lot of us. Loved ones may choose to accept us as we are, but bosses, co-workers, and customers commonly won’t. Most of us look completely normal which is oddly a problem. If we looked “retarded” people would treat us with better care as they could see we’re not quite like them and adjust. But we don’t so they figure (even insist) we must be just like them. One boss tried to get me to come out to socialize with the co-workers to “build the team”. I did but they studiously ignored me each time. Same way they daily asked each other if they wanted something from the shop but never asked me. They would all talk with me one-on-one if I started the conversation but in a group, I was a ghost. In many ways, I don’t mind. I don’t want to talk Facebook statuses. Several bosses have been stroppy and shut me down in meetings as I have been helping re-arrange some plan I could see would fail. I was told to stop being negative when in reality I was doing my job to make sure their project flew (or didn’t burn for obvious reasons). That said I have at times had great bosses who have accepted me for exactly who I am. These bosses have used me for my strengths instead of my weaknesses. Several times my ideas and work changed industry practice. I have loved those bosses and jobs and done exceptionally well at those times. Find these sorts of bosses (whether they know you are Aspie or not) and everyone will be happy.
Love: Yes I do. Just like everyone does. I am not any different in this way. The way I express and manage love may be slightly different from the leading man in your favorite Romantic Comedy but the motivations, feelings, emotions, loyalty, affection… that’s all there. If I notice, and like, her new blue dress I am likely to say “Blue Dress”. I may not add the “you look lovely in your…” bit that she feels is more important. I’m telling her I noticed. If I say nothing then I probably don’t like her dress. Doesn’t mean I don’t like her, just that I’d prefer her in the black pants, but I won’t say so to avoid hurting her feelings over such a trivial matter. If I don’t say, she asks, and I tell the truth then that ain’t my fault. Remember I am logical. She asked (and pushed). If she doesn’t want to know then she is unwise to ask. If she were logical then she would have worked that out – especially after I explained how it works. You can’t force people to make you feel good.
Give me the opportunity to do it my way and I will do everything I can to see people happy every day. That one didn’t work out and being Aspie didn’t help as she was a “feelings” person and unwilling/unable to accept my ways (like I accepted most of hers). Can anyone say co-dependent? Sadly Aspies can be victims of co-dependency. I have been a lot. I want to help. I think that if I help someone they will value me. People take my help then keep taking and taking. Then deride me.
Most of us Aspies are slower in social training. We are more interested in the composition of Jupiter than other people, who seem to recoil from us no matter what we do anyway. Because we approach life with logic we plain don’t get the obscure, and totally silly, rules of relating to others so we get shunned. Often we become our own worst enemies in this matter as we try to solve in the only ways we know, logic: a) being helpful and when that makes things worse, b) withdrawal and deliberately being the odd one everyone tells us we are.
Turns out most people are not logical, and worse fight to be illogical. The more logical I become the angrier some people get. I try to explain using yet another, simpler image but that makes it worse. It frustrates me when I do understand and am showing a person that I do, in the only way I can, and they tell me over and over I don’t understand and start shouting me down. Don’t try to love those ones as it won’t work out.
Doctor For My Heart
So far I have decided not to bother with a formal diagnosis. There are a few (possibly conflicted) reasons. It takes a lot of time and money and I would only be told what I already know. Also, I have seen people who are clearly more “interesting” than I be denied a diagnosis based on a technicality. I met a fellow who was definitely not like you or me (well not like you anyway) and doctors wouldn’t give him proof of his obvious disability. Without that he couldn’t get the help he needs to get a job etc. I call that dumb and cruel – both to the man but also society as this man can be very good at some things when afforded the opportunity.
“He said take a right at the light, keep going straight until night, and then boy you’re on your own”
Bruce Springsteen from “Blinded By The Light”
Either way, that piece of paper won’t change a thing about me or you. The test is only there to help tell you who you are and how you work. It is like Astrology or a Myers-Briggs type of thing where you are Introverted or Extroverted (or “INTJ” like me). Having the ASD “label” pinned to your jacket hasn’t changed you in the slightest and nor should you let it. DO NOT take the label as being “broken” or “lesser” in any way.
Take it as a blessing that you have finally been told what you knew about yourself all along (but perhaps chose to ignore). Take it as a new opportunity to live a better life.
If you are coming to ASD as an adult then there is a very high likelihood that you are suffering from some other morbidity. Ok so that isn’t the right word at all but it amused me to write it. Adults commonly get diagnosed (or work it out themselves) as a result of something like Depression that sees their life seem to unwind out of their control. That makes it easy to get the two confused in your thoughts. Always remember to keep the two separate. Asperger’s traits can lead to Depression when you feel like the world refuses to get you, but that is only one possible outcome. There are others. Remember in the AA 12-Steps above we sometimes have to let go of what we can’t get our head around right now.
Let life help you, by asking it to and letting go. Your finding this article is probably because you were asking for answers to something. Maybe being here seems random. But probably not. Take it as a new opportunity to live a better life.
Accepting you are Aspie is one thing. It may make you sad for a while. It may make you relieved that you are in fact normal – for you. But you also have to decide if, and what, you will tell the world?
When I told my boss he just looked at me. Maybe if I had that piece of paper that proved it… But I shouldn’t need that. If I say I am not comfortable dealing with customers anymore and ask for a back-line role I shouldn’t need to have to prove anything (everyone in business knows people are becoming more demanding – chaotic). I was told that I should do what I was told and pushed further onto the front line in a messier role. When the inevitable happened and problems came up from my not being able to cope with the mounting stress and logical dilemmas I was the one punished.
If you have a boss like this and want to keep that job then probably worth getting an official diagnosis to force everyone to accept you as you are. I say find a better boss.
Workmates, well if you tell your boss so you get allowances then perhaps best to tell workmates so they understand why you get a quiet office when they don’t. I had conversations with a couple of workmates in my last job. The smart ones had a laugh with me about it and that was it. There was no need for change as we got on fine already. The people who weren’t so good to me, well I don’t know. Your call.
I told my Mother over the phone. Probably not the best timing but it just came up. Her first reaction was to tell me not to be silly and stop making it up. Don’t blame her as who wants to think their (45 year old) kid is faulty – and they missed it. I explained a bit more and she switched to saying well probably good to investigate further. This is likely to be a common enough thing so don’t freak yourself if your family freak themselves first time they hear. If they don’t come around then let it be their issue, not yours.
My last partner, well I started trying to tell her and she didn’t want to know. It was an inconvenient truth for her. It was messy and I was surely just being “dramatic” and “looking for an excuse”. Not everyone is going to look at the information logically. You and I will read the pamphlet and then probably Google everything in sight. Most people won’t. Matter of fact suddenly finding their loved one is a “spastic” is not comfortable. Most emotive people will want to avoid this as it changes their view of themselves and the future they have mapped in their heads. How will they tell their friends and family that they are with a “retarded” person? They will come around or they won’t. After all, I was no different before and after I worked it out.
If I knew at ten years old I wouldn’t be any different from who I am now. Maybe a plan could have been put in place to help me get my Psych degree and I’d be a practicing trick-cyclist but I’d still be the same lovable/annoying person I am now (and my clients would love/hate me for being so accurate, also for heading them off as they try to end-run around the therapy).
With new potential partners, I am not sure the best way. I have tried internet dating but I find the success rate abysmal and women who say they would like to hear from me don’t reply to my first email anyway. Maybe that is like workmates who treat me like I am not there, as I immediately do something that flags me as “other”. Who knows. I decided to pop that on-hold as trying to make people like me is a losing proposition. They do or don’t. Using my friend, “structure”, I figure if the cost (depression) is higher than the probable outcome (being ignored or one bad date followed by being ignored) then best not to do that thing. Cue my fave Bart Simpson quote; “Can’t win, don’t try” LOL.
Friends, well this is a tricky one as I haven’t really told anyone and besides I only have one friend and she thinks she may be Aspie as well so we talk about it openly which is great (her child almost definitely is, plus ASD tends to be genetic). My best guess is don’t hide it but don’t make an issue of it either. After all, you are today exactly who you were yesterday. Let the info float and let friends come to you as they feel.
Garth Brooks is right that “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”. Part of you may well be wishing you weren’t burdened with this incurable curse. You may even pray to be “normal”. Sorry, that was never an option. Besides you are already normal.
Every cloud has a silver lining. Like most Aspies, I am pretty happy with most of what I have got in my head. Like most Aspies I wouldn’t want to lose my gifts of logic, patterns, seeing the big picture and wanting to help. If there were a pill, I may suddenly be liked by babes but I wouldn’t be who I am anymore. I wouldn’t take it. Or very bluntly, I wouldn’t take it, as a big FU to people who insist they will only like me if I am as narrow as they are.
We all have things we are good (and bad) at. Like any person, we simply have to find those strengths and play to them. Improve the other things if you can but not if the costs are not worth it to you.
If it helps, look up famous people with ASD. You may be surprised at some of the names you find. Temple Grandin makes no secret she is pretty confident that most of the programmers in Silicon Valley are ASD of one kind or another. Those guys (and girls) get paid heaps. Now that doesn’t mean I am telling you to be a computer programmer but that there are things that we are naturally better at than the average NT so why not use your gift.
Anyone who isn’t looking to get the best from you in exchange for their best is not a good influence. You are normal and have gifts that make you special (yes even if you pretend you don’t). My Mother told me not using a gift God (Life) gave you is a sin.
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Living On Video – Resources
Quite apart from this lady being downright scrummy what she says is spot on. Don’t do these things to anyone. I have had most of these done to me and the results have never been good for either of us. Such a waste.
Temple Grandin. I’m not going to give you any videos of her. Google and take in all you can. Temple Grandin is our God Mother and I feel I owe her a lot.
Even if you aren’t a kid anymore Jennifer McIlwee Myers’ “How to Teach Life Skills to Kids with Autism or Asperger’s” book is well worth a read. It is fun and presents a lot of simple common-sense things I think any parent should do to help prepare their spawn for the big pond.
If you are remotely suspicious you suffer from co-dependent relationships – where they don’t feel equal then Melody Beattie is a pretty darn good place to start. Even if you aren’t sure then reading the books will do you no harm as they also talk about structure. Libraries commonly carry these (and similar) books. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. You may not do it the same as everyone else but that is not a problem. Matter of fact it could even be great. People wrote Einstein off but once he found his way he changed and embiggened the whole universe.
When I was a kid I thought Ian Dury sang like he was “retarded” as a Punk joke. What I didn’t know was that Ian had Polio as a kid so carried the label “disabled” (despite being whip-smart). When asked to provide the official song for Year of The Disabled he fired back. If we are all different then why should those who seem a bit different get “special” treatment? Thanks, Ian.
Finally, if you are in, or thinking of being in, a relationship with an Aspie then please, please don’t assume they will turn into what you expect them to be (i.e. normal) if you badger or otherwise control them enough. Do your own study with books like “The Journal of Best Practices” by David Finch. As you will see a motivated Aspie can learn and change. However like in “Incredibly Loud & Incredibly Close” it helps tons if you can at least come some way to understanding how your loved one thinks. Your Aspie will have studied up on you so why not return the compliment.