Monday, January 17, 2011

Vastly Improved, AKA, are you sure you are an Aspie?

It is quite interesting when I talk to people that have known me only for the last two or three years and try to tell them I am an Aspie, because they don't see it, and they don't get it.  I explain to them what it means to be Aspie and the basics of Asperger's Disorder and being on the Autism Spectrum and they look at me with genuine bafflement..."Wow, I am glad you know, but are you sure?  I don't see this with you at all".

My answer--first, I hide it really, really well.  And second, you should have seen me when I was a teenager and into my early 20s.

Imagine your teen years, and going through puberty.  Now imagine going through the same thing while having Asperger's or being on the Autism Spectrum.  I cringe at what a tough time I had, and how hard I made it on others, and how many people I hurt or offended or turned off because I just. Didn't.  Get it.  And I was way too stubborn to even contemplate the idea that I could, in fact, be wrong.  I suggest you all read the Erudite Mom's post on emotions for further details on this from the one who was right there with me the whole time.

It was not until my mid twenties that I finally had the epiphany that even though I thought so many of the social niceties were stupid, and even though I hated small talk and didn't do well at all in groups of large people, and even though I just didn't get any of this at all--well, I was going to have to buckle down and learn some social skills and basic diplomacy for relationship building.  It took learning it by habit, training, and rote, and NONE of it was instinctive.

It still isn't instinctive.  The only reason I seem to have 'good social skills' now is because I have learned what to say and how to say it and what to look for.  And this is not an easy or a natural process for me.  I have to be on my toes and paying attention and focusing on everything I do and say every second of a social interaction.  I can't let my guard down at all, or I will inevitably do the wrong thing and make a fool of myself.  My brain still doesn't understand why I have to do it, but I have accepted that I DO, and so I practice and fake it, and I'm lucky in my friends that still love me and are forgiving of my slip ups.  They also are good at cuing me if I am heading down the wrong road so I can stop myself from making an egregious mistake--more on that in another post.  The end result of this is that I leave social interactions absolutely exhausted, even when I've had a good time.

So yes, I am an Aspie.  If you can't tell, then that means I did it correctly.  If you can tell, well, please forgive me, and let's try and get past it and be friends, OK?  I promise, I really do like you.  And I'm worth getting to know.

1 comment:

  1. High school would have been so much easier on you if we'd known then what we know now. :)