My life with Aspergers Syndrome (the Social Dyslexia)
Its been five years since I first wrote this piece and now I feel compelled to return to it and post it to Medium, I do hope you enjoy it.
Where do I begin this…this item is as personal to me as anything could ever possibly be. This is not just about me, but to all intensive purposes this is me.
Now the reason why I, a twenty-six year old has decided to sit down and write this, is simply because having a form of Autism seems now to be a cause of shyness, of the thinking that everyone who might have the slightest form of Autism, or any mental difficulties should be bubble wrapped, this is wrong!!!
To those of you who have ever read anything about Aspergers Syndrome (AS), might only know what you do from what you have read in newspaper articles. Articles that have made it into the main stream media due to people who have it and who have done terrible things, murders, computer hacking etc. These cases are far and few between, people with AS have the potential to do great things and to be great people.
To give those of you to whom this might be an introduction to Aspergers Syndrome, an idea of the type of people who have had it in the past and present (please bear in mind that I might be wrong in a few of my examples). These are people whom in my opinion have displayed characteristics that I have noticed and see these with in my self.
- Michelangelo Buonarrotti
- Albert Einstein
- Bill Gates
- Leonardo Da Vinci
- Mark Zuckerberg
This story of which I am about to tell comes from me, someone who has lived with it and suffered its pains, and revelled in its gifts more so than most. I am not an expert who has studied it and decided to write about something that I think I understand because I have studied it…No… this is something that I have lived with everyday of my life. So you can take much of what I will write here as the truth about my self and about this cursed gift that I live with.
To start with I am going to mention the pain that this “curse” has caused me my entire life…to call AS a “social dyslexia” is probably an exact description of what it is. At the same time it is more than that, as if it were so simple to call it this…it has caused me more pain and self suffering that I have ever wished for.
The endless longing to be what is perceived to be “NORMAL” is something that I have for a long time craved to be. This is what I have been in tears crying out to which ever divine entity might exist to rid me of this…this affliction, this cursed gift.
For years I have felt that for every step that I take forward in my life, I take one massive stride backwards.
When writing this I think of all the pain that I have caused to those whom I care most about in this world, friends and family who have suffered probably more so than me. Not just those whom I care most about but others whom I have wronged throughout my life with a certain level of consistency.
I admit that inside of my I have never forgotten those whom I have wronged or who have wronged me. For those of you whom I have wronged I feel eternal guilt over my actions and will always live to regret what I did… I ask not for you forgiveness as I cannot forgive myself for what I have done.
As a young child without a care in the world, with no knowledge of what I was born with only that I saw things a different way, and that I struggled both socially and academically at school, at that age I found it hard to make friends in the playground and harder still to impress my teachers.
Were it not for the never waning and ever present love of my family in those early years, I know not where or what I would be to day. The ever present questioning of teachers and consistent teasing and bullying of fellow students, had me crying in my mothers arms asking her; “Mummy… Why can’t I just be NORMAL?”.
It was during this time that I ended up preferring solitude and the company of small groups of people, over groups of people that were large in number as I just couldn’t mentally deal with it. Even today not much has changed and I still have the same preference. However today instead of shying away from those large groups of people…I face up to my fears and I overcome them, leaving them behind and summoning a belief of self that I built over the past 22 years or so.
As a defence mechanism I developed a stubbornness, that many of those close to me found hard to deal with. Even to day it is there, and I am teaching my self when is the right time to use this muscle and when not to. Believe it or not having this overly stubborn side if aimed correctly and used at the right time can be a driving force.
Over the years I have progressed aided by a close circle of friends, and the ever enduring love of my family. I have done more than many whom have doubted me would have ever imagined, these doubters one day will see what I will become and I hope they remember never to doubt anyone with AS ever again.
Having Aspergers Syndrome has never been and I doubt will ever be the easiest thing to live with. I have discovered with much pain and dismay how important it is to aware of one’s behaviour. Still today I struggle with this, no where more important is this than in the working environment, where ones desire to be heard and thoughts listened to can become over whelming. Having to monitor my self in every social scenario for fear of saying something that comes to the forefront of my mind, and more than likely saying something entirely inappropriate.
This has be come more and more of a daily struggle, as the years have gone by I have been made to become more and more aware of this.
I have mentioned on of the strengths that having AS brings to the table, the other is a unique vision of the world. A way of seeing things and thinking about things in a more unique and creative way. Having this “mental wiring” has allowed me and those like me to see connections that others more often than not don’t see.
This sight which I have taken to calling “Disciplined Insanity” is perhaps the best way to view someone with AS.
If you are a parent who has a child with Aspergers Syndrome, there are major organisations that will tell you that they have the answer to your child’s “problem”, I can reassure you that they do not. Having been to one of their meetings with my mother, we were completely and utterly outraged by what these so called “experts” were telling parents and teachers. To limit what their child can and cannot, which subjects they can handle and cannot handle, to put them into a BOX. This is SO WRONG, I cannot even begin to tell you about how this kind of treatment angers me. Have they met the child and seen where his or her strengths lie, I most sincerely doubt it, this is a generalisation that is there for one reason….to sell books and make money it is that simple.
We are all different and unique, for those with Aspergers Syndrome more so as not one of us is the same. We have different abilities, desires, dreams and ambitions. How DARE THEY TELL ANYONE WHAT THEY CAN AND CANNOT DO. To give an example telling parents that their child’s mind cannot handle learning a new language…do I really need to say how unfair this statement is, let it be the decision of the child to learn a new language if they choose.
There are major differences about the results you come up with when you study something for a number of years, but it compares to nothing with those who have lived with something. I like a history student who has studied WW2 and saying “I know what it was like to live through the blitz” to someone who was living in London during the time of the blitz.
I believe that we are only limited by the limits that we put on ourselves and not by those that are forced on us.
What a child born with AS needs, is simple a lot love, time, patience, disciple and someone like my mother who never let be believe that couldn’t do something. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears for my mother to make me the man that I am today, but if you were to ask her I hope she would tell you that the sacrifices are more than worth what the results bring.
She never let me quit anything without a damn good reason for doing so, and without a deal being struck that ended up with her usually being right, she always was and had I been allowed to quit I would have missed out on some of the best parts of my childhood.
For those of you who feel lost and not too sure where to turn when dealing with Aspergers Syndrome, if I can I will help. But this is a journey and there is no quick fix to this as it will last the entire life of the person who has it. I hope that this tale of mine has given those of you an idea to which direction to head when dealing with someone like me and that my story can in someway help you to understand about this social dyslexia.