So I’ve done a lot of reading on Asperger’s Syndrome since I worked out I had it (Yes I worked it out, when the tests came back positive my parents didn’t tell me). Most of the literature out there is done by people who don’t have Asperger’s Syndrome and is aimed at parents, or friends of people who do have it. Which I guess is ok, but it lead to something that a friend of mine had to point out to me when one day. Which is that very often the tone of the books or the sites is very patronising of people with Asperger’s Syndrome. Now I hadn’t noticed cause I don’t really notice tones in books (I wonder why). But once it was pointed out I couldn’t stop noticing.
The language is all “They can’t understand ” or “They don’t like to be touched” or worst of all “They don’t feel emotion like you do”. Looking at it now, I get more than a little vexed. Now I won’t play the name game, cause sometimes these books are actually helpful, but it isn’t what you want to read as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. What you want to read is something written by a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. The best example of this that I can find is Dr. Temple Grandin. She has written a slew of books, mostly aimed at Autistic, but there is plenty in there for everyone to read. For example “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships” looks like a great read if you have difficulties interacting with people.
So, what does Asperger’s Syndrome mean in my life? It means that when everyone else was learning how to interact with people I wasn’t. So now I have to learn while everyone else thinks I’m stupid or slow. It means that I freak out if someone that isn’t allowed hugs me does so, or even those that are allowed hug me from behind, or without at least some warning. It means I take longer to connect with people emotionally, but when I do so it’s usually a very strong connection. It means that I want my pens on my desks arranged in a specific order, or I want to sit in a certain place on the bus, or my morning routine is very important and shouldn’t be disturbed. It means I’m different, but I can still be understood (I wonder where the blogs name came from). I don’t think outside the box, the box I think in is just a different box to yours.
Here is a list of ways I think Asperger’s Syndrome effects (affects?) me that don’t apply to most Neurotypical people.
- I can’t tell people stuff about myself unless they ask. If I am in a bad mood 9/10 times I have to be asked “What is wrong?” or “How are you?” to start talking about it.
- It takes me a lot longer to get close to people and because of this I have a hard time letting go of those I do care about.
- I don’t like to be touched, it freaks me out, unless I am close to the person touching me, or it’s very very short term. e.g. A pat on the shoulder is fine, but don’t leave the hand there.
- I tend to over think and analyse the simplest of things in social circumstances cause I don’t have the intrinsic knowledge most people do. e.g. What the hell does that smile even mean?
- People often think I’m unresponsive in a social situation cause I’m trying to formulate an answer to a question, but I don’t know how to formulate it or phrase it without causing more harm than good. e.g. Sometimes me dad gets angry at me and will ask a question. But while I’m working out how to answer it without angering him, or to express myself properly, he will get angrier cause he is waiting for a response.
- When it comes to emotions I either feel something very powerfully or not at all. e.g. When I crush on a girl I can see myself marrying her and with her forever.
- I generally get past emotions quicker than most people e.g. When that same girl turns me down, I’ll feel really shit for a day or two. But then I have it out of my system.
- I don’t care about family. Not because they are mean, but because they are different to the kind of people I would be friends with. So I can’t connect with them, so I don’t care about them. If my parents died tomorrow, I wouldn’t really be upset. Cause I don’t care about them like I do my friends.
- I find it difficult to express my emotions, often wishing I could send people links to songs and say “This is how I feel” but most people don’t get that.
- I had to add this point in so there would be an even number of points.
Now there are still more, but I don’t quite know how to describe them, or I will be going into more detail on them later. So if you know someone with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism get to know them and don’t make assumptions. I know another person with Asperger’s Syndrome who loves giving hugs to almost anyone. It just means the neurons in our brains fire very differently to most other people. But we are still individuals.