What is Asperger’s?

This post is just a brief explanation, Asperger’s is a lot deeper and there are far more things to share about the diagnosis than what I have written. Please remember we are each individuals and just like neurotypicals you cannot define us with a single definition or diagnosis.  

Most people, especially those who are neurotypical describe and act as though Asperger’s and other forms of Autism are diseases with no cures and dread to hear the words mentioned about their child. In fact it’s a neurological disorder which you are born with and there is little evidence proving the cause and exact reason why some of us are born with it. Family history has been seen to play a part in the development. It is also much more common to diagnose boys rather than girls this may be because on average women will present differently to men. Asperger’s is quite often diagnosed later in life especially for women, this can be really hard for us with Asperger’s as this means we have gone through life being misunderstood and hurt due to a lack of understanding. 

Asperger’s is normally referred to as “high-functioning” which means we normally have above or average intelligence, we normally develop as normal or slightly faster than peers however, suffer in the social and mental health department. This makes it harder for those with Asperger’s to be diagnosed at a very young age as they may perform well until something is presented in their life that challengers them. I for instance didn’t have many obvious negatives growing up (no more than any child of course) and most of the “quirks” I had actually helped me to do so well in school and develop. However, later in life I began to show a lot more negative symptoms and began isolating myself as well as social and emotional problems. Masking or pretending to be someone I am not during most of my life finely took a toll on me. After having my first life changing break down my mum fought extremely hard with the health system and I got a diagnosis. If this hadn’t happened maybe it would’ve taken even longer to present. 

It can be a super power, a curse or both at the same time however, no two people present the same, so each of us with a form of autism will be different and will struggle and succeed in different ways. Treatment to help ease the negative symptoms should be unique to the individual as we are all different. Boys and girls will present differently as well. 

I do not need a cure, I do not have a disease I am just different in some ways this can make me better at some things however, it can also make me worse in other things but this is a journey and there’s no easy fix for anyone. 

I am “too sensitive” and this hurts me greatly, I feel far too much compared to an NT (neurotypical) this is both a blessing and a curse, I am able to feel complex emotions however, it can be hard to control them and may cause outbursts. Heightened emotions and empathy sometimes means those of us with Asperger’s struggle to process and show them so it appears that we lack emotion when in fact most of us feel it much more. Of course some of us lack emotion and this is fine as many NTs have also had this present. 

The communication problems usually arise when the NTs(Neurotypicals) and autistic people try to communicate to one another. We tend to be more direct, honest (which normally appears as rude to NTs) and efficient, however, those without autism tend to rely on body language, complicated social dances and unspoken rules which is so very hard for some of us.

Imagine being told to play a brand new game or build a piece of furniture without being given a manual, that’s what it can be like for us to live around others. Communication is a two way street, you cant expect us to change ourselves to suit you because you’re idea of normality is different. It’s a lot of energy and effort to fit in for anyone let alone for someone with a disorder, try and put in some effort too then we can meet in the middle and it’ll make it easier for the both of us haha. 🙂 There people with autism who do not communicate via voice, they may still understand and be able to communicate in other ways so please don’t assume anything. I find I act very different and mask around my family. Around others I mask in a different way again, I feel I am only truly me around my partner and parents.

Social isolation is very common and not always intentional because sometimes its easier and less exhausting than masking. Some of us can be expressionless (or have little expressions) and speak in a monotone like voice.

Stimming is another big part of being Asperger’s or well a majority of us will have heard of this. Just a quick question, do you click your pen, tap your fingers or shake your leg? Well that’s considered a stim. NTs and those of us with Asperger’s all stim however, we tend to stim much more or in different ways that are considered as negative or more obvious. Again some of us may not stim much at all but on average we will stim more than NTs. This can include rocking on chairs, swaying, spinning or twirling yourself or objects around you, head hitting, repetitive behaviours, hand picking or tapping, hair pulling or twisting and chewing of clothes, fingers and hair. These seem to be the stims I see pop up the most in the community. There are many others that I have not mentioned. Most of the time safe stimming should be encouraged not frowned upon, it is considered self-soothing and calming. 

Issues with planning, organising, time management are very common (women with Asperger’s have mentioned this more frequently) as well as being able to hyper-focus, because of these we tend to overthink and often feel unmotivated or lazy. This will then lead us to question our intelligence as well as worth as we may not be able to do things as easily as others and this is detrimental to our health.

It makes me very low and insignificant. You cant expect a fish to climb a tree as a monkey would. Whether you’re Asperger’s or not we each need to remember that our talents may not be the same as the next person and sometimes some people are unable to do things that you can do. 

Hyper focusing for me is helpful, it allows me to complete tasks and learn new things much quicker especially when it’s a special interest. 

Special interests should be encouraged and could pave the way for future goals, enhances pleasure and may help us make friends. Special interests can be for a range of things such as; trains, animals, numbers, quotes, books, films, music and so much more, a special interest is much more than a passion to us with Asperger’s (I will explain further at a later date). 

Being different is what makes us special, both Asperger’s and Neurotypicals are wonderful. 

Even if there were no labels we would all still be different and that’s so important to remember you are worth just as much as anyone else so don’t let others define who you are. 

Both images belong to rightful owners.

Before and after my assessment

When I ended up getting an assessment and was finely diagnosed with high functioning Asperger’s, a lot of my life changed surprisingly. 

What I like to remember and what I wish I could say to everyone going through this is, no matter what you’re diagnosed with you are still you and don’t listen to the negative way that people may react when you let them know. 

This post is about the day of my assessment, and what happened shortly after, I have not included the leading up or anything before/a while after etc. 

I was just about to turn 18 when I had a date for my assessment, on the day me and my parents had to be at the centre, it was key that my parents expressed what they saw while I grew up. Childhood is a very important stage of the process. AT the beginning of the assessment I was interviewed by two professionals and my parents were in another room being interviewed separately by the third professional. During my assessment I was asked to do various puzzles, read a book and choose a preferred activity as well as answer some questions about my life and feelings. Other peoples assessments may vary, this was my assessment personally. 

My parents were asked many questions regarding my physical health, mental abilities and my academic level and progress during childhood and currently. The questions varied from pregnancy till the present day, they asked questions about my eye sight and hearing, my speech. What I was like with food also came up in questions. The developmental stages were a large component of the assessment for example, when did I talk, walk and complete motor skill. 

They questioned what my special interests were (if any) and how they impacted my life. My thought process was also questioned, we all responded with the fact I can concentrate on a task and learn knew skills much quicker than my peers and the response was that may be because I was hyper-focusing and or it was a special interest. 

I have a lot of issues regarding my senses however, I have learnt to hide my feelings and reactions in order to create a more “acceptable” persona around family, friends and the public, I am able to be myself fully around my parents only and getting closer to being this way with my partner. The senses that I find are very heightened for me are; my sight, my sense of smell, hearing and my most affected, touch. I get regular migraines due to light sensitivity, I can find strong smells very overwhelming and may cause me to feel unwell or again a migraine. I am very sensitive to loud or specific noises, I can often hear things that others cannot or notice things that other may not notice till it is pointed out to them. Touch is very sensitive for me, it is almost like I feel textures on a whole knew level which can cause me to itch, gag or just in general feel very uncomfortable to the point where I need to leave. Food has been impacted massively due to my sensory issues, I have struggled with eating my whole life and at one stage just stopped eating normally for months, I would live on one snack a day and only water. I do love vegetables and fruit due to their water content and lack of textures. I was labelled “gifted” while growing up due to my fast learning and progression capabilities, I learnt how to talk and walk by the age of one, I went partially mute during secondary school due to anxiety traits and other issues however could talk happily with those I trusted or knew personally. 

After my diagnosis I had mixed reactions, some of the people in my life receded and acted as though I was diagnosed with some horrible life threatening disease. They would walk away and soon ghost me online and even in real life. I assumed it was because they no longer knew how to act around me, maybe they were worried about offending me or saying the wrong thing. I felt like begging them to realise that I am still me and the same person I was before. Not that that would’ve fixed anything. 

I know some people left my life because they were embarrassed or mortified to be associated with “someone like me” which hurt the most and then there were a lot of people who dismissed my diagnosis, ignored it or fully denied that I was different. I have felt very alone during the last few years while I have become accepting of my life long condition, I wish I had more people around who understood me or at least tried to understand. I was lucky to have my wonderful parents because without them I am not sure I would’ve come out the other end. I would’ve been so happy if people in my life had just asked me questions or maybe just looked at the definition so they could start to accept or respect me and who I am. I am not afraid of who I am or to talk about who I am. I think I let some of these negative reactions stunt my acceptance process which led me to be in denial for quite a few years in fact I only just decided to really accept myself in the past year. I find it is very important to learn about what loved ones are going through and ignoring or waiting for something to go away or get fixed can really hurt their minds. There is no cure, this is a neurological disorder that I was born with and I will live with my whole life and having a good support system is key. 

I urge families who may have loved ones who have similar issues, just maybe read an article or try to understand so that they don’t feel so alone or like an outsider in their own family. It is so easy to accidently do this because you may think “oh they’ll understand” when maybe they don’t, just because you understand something doesn’t mean the next person will. Dismissal is always the worst and most confusing reaction I have ever received, I have also had plenty of people act like it never happen or they continue to dismiss me because they don’t understand or underestimate what I have experienced with mental health and this neurological diagnosis due to not understanding themselves. 

Even though I have a lot of talents that the general average NT(neurotypical) will never have I still get dismissed and underestimated due to age which with my condition is actually irrelevant due to being able to self teach and learn knew tasks in a much shorter amount of time…as long as the motivation is there haha! If there is no motivation then there may never be progression. 😀

My mum and dad have always been the best they can be and have always been there for me even when I was a pain in the bum. Me and my parents have always had a really great family unit and mutual connection which has enabled us to be who we are with little to no secrets. This allowed me to learn and develop as a child and I believe I was very lucky because this may have been the reason why I don’t have as many behavioural problems as many other individuals with this diagnosis. A lot of others find our relationship rather strange as we are so open together and don’t have a problem talking about taboo subjects. Even though it was late in my teens when I was diagnosed we all knew there was something different and due to it not being negative we auto-adjusted to fit. All three of us are different in our own ways but fit together to make a great family unit.  ❤

Even after all of this, I still have a lot of trouble dealing with those in my life, the main issues that I have are with those who believe age=better when in some cases I believe motivation and passion=better, you can be older and have little to show for yourself and some of the young people I have met have shown far more and impressive minds than those I know who are much older! Or of course it can go the other way haha! We are all different and this goes for both NTs and us, don’t underestimate anyone because everyone can surprise you, in both negative and positive ways. 

❤ During these hard times we are all tense and stressed so please remember to care for yourself and others around you. Maybe have a little think about what you say to others, I know I fall short with this sometimes as I am VERY passionate and this can come across as arrogant even when I was meant to just help/inform someone, (sadly my Asperger’s plays a big part in this trait according to my doctors haha) but I am working on this but its a bit hard when your brain just keeps telling you”Morgan they need to know so nothing bad happens” at least be polite brain *sigh*.

Don’t be too quick to judge as everyone has secret feelings and worries that they may not be sharing especially during this time, just try your best to be positive and if you do feel those negative feelings creeping in, chat to someone about it and try not to be too shy as you may be surprised and talking may help sometimes. If not find a plate or a cup you really hate and throw it at a wall…metaphorically 😀 ❤