What is it really like to have Asperger?
I am only one person. No more and no less. I was diagnosed with Asperger when I was an adult but of course I had had it for all of my life.
The important thing to remember is that I am just one person with this disorder and I am different from the next one.
When you look back you see things more clearly and I often wonder why my mom didn’t notice how different I was and address it better than yelling at me all the time. My maternal grandma used to tell her all of the time to find a private school for me since the public school seemed to not suit me and she herself offered to take me in so I could choose to go to either a performing arts school or one for gifted children and perhaps fit in more.
Looking back there were signs that I was different even when I was young. I was told by my mom that as a baby I seemed sensitive to touch and cried a lot in situations where I may have experienced pain. I also had sensory issued which made me get sick from certain smells and not like the feel of certain clothing (like pantyhose) or texture of certain foods (tomatoes still make me cringe).
I also showed some advanced skills. I started writing my own stories at only age 6, poetry at age 8, and wrote my first novella at age 10. I also showed more advanced level of thinking than my peers. (I watched One Life to Live when I was only 11 and commented on the aspects of the stories of Frankenstein and the bible during the Todd Manning redemption story and even remarked on the acting rather than the characters). I was already reading at a high school level before 6th grade and teachers would comment on my advanced linguistic skills.
But being ahead of my peers didn’t help with my lack of social skills. I had a hard time understanding their likes and lingo. I would feel like I was stupid or that I was speaking another language.
People don’t always understand what it is like and will ask me to describe it. It can be hard because I don’t know what is like to not have it but I do my best to explain.
Sometimes when I smell things they smell stronger to me than most people. I have even vomited from smells and I can’t use spray air fresheners or any kind of aerosol sprays.
I have a hard time with physical touch. When I wear certain kinds of pantyhose I feel like something is scratching me. Needles hurt me more and those puffs of air for glaucoma testing feel like something is trying to scratch my eyeball.
I may have a high IQ (like 180 to 200) but I don’t view myself as smart. I had a hard time in college because of my disorder and that lead to emotional problems.
I feel things more deeply than others. When someone says a kind word to me it can make my week. If I think that I have upset someone, I feel bad for a week. Oh I don’t lack empathy. In act I am very compassionate but I don’t always know how to express it.
I worry about having Asperger. It’s true that it’s not an obvious thing like being in a wheel chair but it still makes it hard. I often have to keep it under wraps because people just don’t get me or if they find out they believe in stereotypes and treat me like a freak.
Lacking social skills doesn’t mean I always enjoy being alone. It’s true I like my quite time but I often feel lonely and because it’s hard for me in large group settings. I may have a hard time going out.
I am not immature. It’s true that I may seem childlike because of some my traits that come from Asperger. For example, I am very creative and often come up with silly songs or ideas to amuse myself or my students and yes I have quirks like shaking my leg or sometimes being talkative but because of my situation, I actually grew up a little faster than most people I had to become independent at a young age.
I don’t let this limit who I can be. I have support and I have learned to use my strengths to accept my weaknesses in order to do what I want to do. I accepted that I have to take a different path than others to achieve my goals but I am used to being on a different path.
Does having read this make you an expert on what all people with this disorder feel: no.
As I said before, I am just one person with this disorder.