This is something I seem to have been debating with the rest of the world or at least with many who are convinced I don’t have Asperger’s. One of note was my local psych nurse who disagreed with my self diagnosis because she stated that I can interact well in social situations. Yes, in one to one situations, I usually cope very well and can carry on a conversation. That’s unless something gets mentioned that could overload my mind and I’ll get to that later. In groups, I am almost always the quiet one at the back. Traditionally, the reason is my fear of making some horrendous oral gaffe. The one thing I really despise in these situations is suddenly being thrust into the spotlight. This can cause great stress for me so I try to avoid it. Other factors play into this as well like my fear of being labelled a typical loud mouth American. Sounds silly doesn’t it? But to me this fear continues to haunt me in several ways.
This leads into the main reason why I think I have Asperger’s. See, after living with me for nearly fifty two and a half years, I know that my mind tends to overload very easily. Put it this way, I could never be a judge because if the evidence wasn’t clear cut, I would never reach a decision. I’m a bit like that character played by Paul Whitehouse on the “Fast Show.” The one in the pub who sees everyone’s point of view and thinks they’re all right that he doesn’t know what his own opinion is. Sometimes, the slightest variable or unexpected event can throw me sideways, even at times to the point of frustration.
One problem is that my mind seems on the go even to the point that others think the other extreme. I get so caught up in my thoughts that any distraction to those thoughts can cause upset. The problem is that I often get so caught up in my thoughts that I appear to be talking to myself. (I call it thinking out loud.) I even go further on occasion to actually act out what’s on my mind. Needless to say, this has cause me many problems in my life.
The Paul Whitehouse analogy provides further proof to my case. See, I have this wonderful ability to remember very small details, something which many people with autism can do. I bet most British people reading this will remember the Fast Show, but not the character I am referring to. It wasn’t one of the most popular sketches at the time. I can pick out small details and even link them. Back in sixth grade, I remember that my class used to always beat the partner class in PE. That was until, one of the stars in my class moved mid year. Then we used to lose a lot. One fellow pupil even stated that I noticed things like that. I know I could probably provide many more examples but I would run out of blog space.
Working with adults who have Asperger’s Syndrome, I can see pieces of me in many things they do, only on a smaller scale. I have little rituals and routines like some of them do. For instance, I play all my CDs in the order they are on the shelf because this way, all of them get played. I also rotate the clothes I wear obsessively. Hey, I have found that my clothes last longer by doing this but many people think this is abnormal. One aspect which many of the people I work with have, which I don’t, is material obsession. If we let them, they would spend all their money feeding those obsessions. Some of the obsessions range from trousers, to models to Star Wars figures and more. As for me, I tend to go the other way, I fanatically budget. When I get my pay at the end of the month, I’ve already mentally spent it or put some away for a future use. The next two months it will be Christmas presents.
The counter argument against me will be the fact that I have achieved so much in my life in spite of any shortcomings. Yes, it’s true. I have now had two books published, am a qualified teacher and served in the marines to name the main accomplishments. But I also painfully see where they have hurt me. Where I failed to get the job because my condition caused me to blow the interview. While it’s true that I am married now for the second time and carried on my line, I remember where Asperger’s had prevented me from getting the girl so to speak usually because of the goings on in my own mind which I can’t properly explain. So I say that maybe things are going well for me now, it took much painful trial and error to get to where I am.
Like Mark in “He Was Weird,” not knowing how to deal with Asperger’s in my early life caused me problems with others. I often was the subject of teasing and out and out bullying on the grounds that I was weird. That is why it was so easy for me to create the character.
When I brought up the subject with my then counsellor some years ago, she told me that she could read a book of diseases and discover she had the symptoms of half of them. I see what she meant at the time but as I learn more of Asperger’s and reflect on my past life, I remain convinced that I am well established on the Autistic Spectrum. I may not come close to the extremes that some of the people I work with have, but I know that I too have it to a lesser degree.
Next post: What is DAMP and why I have that too
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