When people see me, out and about, or in my place of work, they see the persona I’ve developed over decades to cope with the reality of the world that most people live in. They think that I am composed and comfortable, perfectly competent and able to go about daily life. What they don’t know is that, even when I feel do feel fairly confident, the slightest upset can cause massive upheaval for me, so I micro-manage, and try to stay in control of my own environment in ways that can seem excessive.
I always knew I was different – figuring that out isn’t rocket science: at school I was the odd kid, persecuted for being the odd kid, utterly unable to comprehend the nature of competition, or bullying, or socialising, or team sports, or fun; completely focussed on certain interests to the point of obnoxiousness; fearful of every new experience; straightforward in a way that people thought completely tactless; unaware of appropriate boundaries; naieve, and gullible, and guileless. And that’s not even scratching the surface.
I have spent a great deal of my adult life trying to figure out my purpose in life, looking for the answers to my existence. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was alerted to the existence of Asperger Syndrome and High-functioning Autism, and began to explore what that meant; this led to the discovery that females with Aspergers (“Aspergirls”, a term coined by author Rudy Simone) often become expert mimics and imitators, looking to their peers for how to behave in social situations, and doing likewise – but in the way that a parrot might. Which is why females are far less diagnosed than males with Aspergers: it just isn’t that apparent.
Since that discovery, I’ve realised that Aspergers is part of my life, and that it’s a gift, not a curse; but it does come with a whole different set of challenges for coping with life. And that’s okay, but it’s really, really easy for others – and sometimes even myself – to forget this, when to all appearances I’m just as capable as the next person. And sometimes that expectation gets me into trouble, and I make huge errors of judgement.
Right now I’m hurting because of one of these errors, and I’m hurting because I doubt many people will understand that I didn’t make it with full knowledge in the usual sense, and I truly didn’t understand the consequences. The truth comes as a shock to me, and I’m devastated.
If you care about me – or a girl who has, or you think might have, Aspergers – please read this.
I have no need for your pity – but I’d do just about anything for your understanding and respect.