Updated: Aug 26
Asperger’s means, to me, people giving me a funny look because they have an idea of what Asperger’s is in their head, and I’m not it. It’s a widely misused term, or at least, the definition people give/think of is mismatched. I think Autism is more recognised, and Asperger’s falls under the Autism umbrella, so I think people think I have Autism, even though they’re very different things realistically, which is why they probably arrive at giving me a funny look.
I think it’s obvious that Asperger’s defines who I am, because it is who I am. It’s not something I have, it’s something I am. It can’t be taken away from me, and it’s not really a massively negative thing – i.e. it’s not a disease that will kill me if it’s not taken away, so of course it defines me. Without it, there’s no way I’d be who I am today. God knows how weird I’d be…
Asperger's affects me in a lot of different ways, many of which I find hard to describe at this stage of my life, because just like it defines me, it’s also my lifestyle. It affects me, end of. Nah, I can list a few things, but the older I get, the more used to it I become, it doesn’t mean it no longer affects me, it just means I have more control, or I’m more used to it, or I learn to expect it. I.e., I can go somewhere crowded, if I feel I’ve made the choice myself and I’ve prepared for it. I don’t do anything drastic to prepare, it’s just, when my brain makes a choice, it’d be kind daft for it to then be like, oh hang on! What the… because it decided to do it, so it must of thought it could cope. It’s the unexpected that I can’t deal with as well.
I don’t think Asperger’s is a disability, because with everything that I can’t do because of it, there’s something else which I can do because of it. I.e. I might not be able to go out on my own, but I have special talents, like painting, which I don’t think I’d have without Asperger's. Creativeness is my thing. Or learning – at school I never seemed to have to try very hard, things just sort of, stuck in my head, even though I didn’t’ realise it sometimes, the knowledge would always be there for me to retrieve later – which is thanks to Asperger's.
I’m not social. I can put on a front, and sort of act, in a temporary social environment, like ordering food, or buying something from a store, or briefly meeting someone. But I can’t just go to a party/group of people and chat to them – and I’d rather not, it doesn’t bother me that I can’t. I dislike the situation so much that I’d rather not have friends. I always say that it feels like everyone had a copy of the social rules, from early childhood, but I never got my copy. I’m blind to other people, unless they are just like me, or know me very well, like my family – but then they just excuse any weirdness on my part anyway.
Unless I’ve known someone a long, long time I don’t really seem to be able to understand body language as such – and I certainly don’t understand why a lot of people do the things they do, just, in general. I think the second I say I have Asperger’s, I’m vulnerable to some extent, in certain situations, because certain people view it as a way to take advantage – my driving instructor for example. 20 lessons and barely any progress because he just let me drive; did it for me if I struggled and never spoke about what I should be doing…and never ticked anything off my progress chart. But I’m not stupid and I know when someone is taking advantage of me.
I don’t suppose I fit into the world, but I fit into the internet. It’s virtual, yes, but therefor easier to navigate. I don’t like where I live, I feel I belong in America, so I feel out of place in that way. But I don’t really go out into the real world very often and I don’t work in it either. I haven’t the foggiest idea how the world views me. Probably badly; doesn’t work, receives benefits. In the UK people like that aren’t viewed in a good light!
My life is structured to the extent that I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night. I try to shower before bed, but if I don’t, I usually end up leaving it until the last minute the next day to get ready, i.e. just before I need to make a start on tea. I have a timetable of chores/work that needs to be done on what day, and I have things in bold which are essential. Usually I end up wasting a lot of time on the internet and forget to do the important things. It’s not as structured as it could be, but I’m working on it. I used to nap until lunch time, but now I never do: stage one, complete!
I’ve hypersensitive to noise and touch. My sensitivity to touch is mostly with people I don’t know, which isn’t a bad thing right? (No but really, walking in a crowd is horrible when you keep getting jostled). Noise – usually I just get very annoyed with really quite things that other people can’t hear, but if they persist, they feel deafening. I used to have issues with clothes, because of school uniform, but now I can choose what I wear 24/7 I don’t have a problem. Certain materials still freak the crap out of me, but I don’t buy them so it’s all good.
I don’t really handle money. I work from home and earn extra money that way. I dislike dealing with money in an important sense. I don’t have very much self-control. I once went into PC World for a computer keyboard and came out with a flat screen TV on finance.
Positive things about having Aspergers….nothing… Nah, I’m joking. I like the way I am, it’s simplifies things to an extent. I buy the same things in shopping each week, which is easy. I’m super creative, which is a nice plus. I learn new things relatively quickly. And I retain a lot of information as well, which I can retrieve fast due to my brain being organized alphabetically like a filing cabinet, or so it feels… Plus, I don’t have to keep track of a gazillion friendships; it’s just me, which is easy.
I used to have crazy obsessions which ate all of my time up, but they don’t seem so all consuming any more. Or at least, I can compartmentalize them, and fold them away when I need to. Now it’s just graphic design, painting, writing, photography, singing, making videos – which all go towards my website that I’m launching anyway, which will hopefully become my job.
Aside from all the ridiculous assessments I had to try and figure out what I had, I’ve never had any medical stuff for my Asperger’s. As soon as I got a diagnosis, that was that. I deal with it on my own. I have been given anti-depressants before, but I decided not to take them. I sometimes get myself into a really bad place, and sure, it would probably be quicker to get myself out of it with pills, but I’d rather drag myself out of it, then at least I know it’s real.
Autism is a spectrum, which a lot of people fall onto, probably everyone, in my opinion, but only very slightly, which is why they are still just ‘normal’ (whatever that is). But some fall onto it more severely at one end, Autism, which shares a lot with Asperger’s, but usually comes with learning difficulties of some kind and then the ‘higher functioning’ end comes with, usually, some crazy intelligence or skills – Aspergers. Now, I think I’m somewhere in the middle, I have a few learning difficulties/added extras like Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia and ADD. But on the whole, the crazy intelligence end, I think is evolution. Because let’s face it, some people have crazy skills, but maybe just aren’t all that social, but realistically, that just makes for a better work ethic. I don’t know, I’ve had long, intelligent discussions about this, and without getting uber technical, which believe me, I can do, I do think Asperger’s is the next stage of evolution.
People who think Asperger’s needs to be eradicated, clearly don’t want any more awesome tech developing from silicon valley; aren’t most of those guys Aspies? It’s stupid to want rid of something you don’t fully understand, those people are ignorant, and clearly won’t last long when Aspies take over (jokes).
My name is Willow Hope Marsden and I am proud to have Asperger’s Syndrome. Too cheesy? Well you get the idea…