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. 

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Lockdown?

Yesterday the island where I live finely decided that a lockdown was best, I think I can speak for a lot of others living here; it was something that we as the public have been shouting about for a while. I’m not saying we should all panic, I think we all need to work together to ensure that those in our community who are at risk are taken care of. I think so far I have seen many people happy with the lockdown however, we must remember that hundreds have lost their jobs and some businesses may never open again. This keeps me awake at night; I am so lucky and thankful for my situation and I really hope those who need it gain the support and care soon.  

Before lockdown was enforced I was already working from home and avoiding contact with my family members and the public. This isn’t really much of a change for someone like me haha. I have always been rather antisocial and enjoyed spending time alone or indoors. However, I do love walking and I have to admit I’m rather nervous about going for walks so soon after the announcement.   

There are so many problems that will arise from this change such as mental health, many places around the world have had this implemented much longer than us and you can clearly see the affects of it already. We are about a week and a bit behind the UK, roughly. I am seeing more and more options to support people during this hard time in regards to online chats and counsellors which is a massive positive. I personally feel as though this whole change will continue to impact our lives and change the way we view the world even after “it” is “over”. Maybe not in an entirely negative but hopefully it’ll help people remember to wash their hands properly…    

I have been communicating a lot on some ASD and Asperger groups online lately and have seen an abundance of comments and posts about being bored, lonely and general struggling during this time. Not everyone who is on the spectrum has the same traits. I for one love being alone and when it comes to learning without interruption, oh I’m in heaven. I have a wonderful quote from Tony Attwood that just really sums up the fact at this time, for once I am very thankful about being Asperger’s, “Being alone can be a very effective way of calming down and is also enjoyable, especially if engaged in a special interest, one of the greatest pleasures in life for someone with Asperger’s syndrome.” I am aware that some of us truly love social interaction and are good at it (some may enjoy it however find themselves struggling to be accepted) I think this is a wonderful trait but at this time I really do feel for all those in the world whether you’re Asperger’s or not. 

Our medical experts, retail workers and general essential workers are still working on the front line to give us support, medical advice, medicine, food, water, electricity and so much more. Even those of you who work from home are still giving something back to the community, I hope everyone realises no matter how small of an effort you make it will always matter and impact those around you. Both of my parents are essential/critical workers and unless they become unwell they must continue to work, I have so so much respect for those brave workers who continue to work within the public. Nurses will continue to work first hand with those infected and just wow, you are all truly heroes. I am probably forgetting a lot of professionals here, or I have just not mentioned some and I apologise but I really hope everyone stays safe during these hard times, it will get better. 

For me this time has provided me with opportunities to move back into a workplace I previously worked for and has allowed me to gain more general knowledge in the areas I will work within. It is also giving me more time to expand my knowledge in particular fields of study that I think will improve my understanding of the workplace and my future goals. My “Special interests” usually revolve around reading and learning new things which enables me to learn new tasks much quicker and smoother, this has really been a highlight for me at this time. I wish to expand my knowledge in both the technical and psychological fields and this time deems perfect. For those who are struggling, I am so sorry, I really hope you find something that makes you feel a bit more comfortable and continue to be strong and stay home as this really will enable our community to stay safe. 

I hope you are all doing well, let me know how you’re coping with the lockdowns where you are? My traits allow me to handle the situation in a certain way, but we are all different so remember to check in with your loved ones and yourself! You matter just as much 🙂