I hope you will forgive this deeply introspective and personal post. It's not my usual kind of post, but today the aspie in me needs to get something out of my system. I can't really explain why I feel compelled to write this, just that I do. From the research I've been doing (intensive research being typical of those with Asperger's!), it appears to be an aspie thing.
Until relatively recently, Asperger's was a condition I'd never heard of. If the word "autism" was mentioned, my first thought was of Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman" and I certainly couldn't see the remotest connection between the character and me. I still can't.
All I knew about myself was that I'd always felt I didn't quite fit in, that I've always found social situations extremely painful, bewildering experiences; that I tend to have 'meltdowns' over what, to other people, are the silliest things; that I've always been described as 'clumsy', and that I while I can be extremely smart in some situations, in others I am incredibly stupid, naive and display an appalling lack of judgement.
What I didn't know, was why I was like this. I didn't understand what made me tick.
Then a year or so back, when other people whose kids do have Asperger's observed Small and suggested he exhibited a lot of aspie traits, I began to research the condition. Up until then, it had never occurred to me that he might be different, just like I've always felt I was, he was just my little boy whose quirks, while exasperating at times, were perfectly normal because he'd always been that way. There's little doubt in my mind that he does have Asperger's - a paediatrician whose field of expertise is autism agrees, and reading up on the condition has been a total revelation to me, leaving me certain that I have it too.
The more I read about Asperger's, the more I feel like I've walked out
of the fog into the sunlight. It's as though I've spent my life staring
at a book with blank pages, not understanding what was going on both
around me and within me, only to then have words miraculously appear on the
page and suddenly everything makes sense. Every page I read could have been written about me, and it's a wonderful feeling to finally know WHY.
Asperger's is a recognised neurological condition, and an explanation can be found here from the National Autistic Society. It's not something you catch, or anything to do with lifestyle or parenting, we're born with it. It's not autism in the sense many people think of autism, but Asperger's is a form of autism. We do appear weird and dysfunctional because our brains aren't wired quite the same way as what the medical professionals call "neuro-typical" people. We find it extremely difficult to read social signals that everyone else takes for granted, and while non-aspies learn from social mistakes and move onward and upward, aspies tend to make the same mistakes over and over again because we just don't get what's going on and can't see that we've made a boo-boo. When or if we do realise we've stuffed up, we tend to get so anxious about not stuffing up again, we actually get worse and make more mistakes in social situations.
There's actually very little information out there on adult females with Asperger's as in the first place the condition affects far more boys than it does girls, and girls are, apparently, much better at hiding it than boys are. Two well-written articles by or about females with Asperger's can be found here and here.
I hope if my parents read this blog post and the linked articles that they may understand their daughter's odd behaviour a little better. As the mother of an aspie child myself, I know just how exasperating it can be to have a child who's 'different'; brilliant in some aspects - Small (just turned 5) spent the morning gleefully doing three-column addition with and without regrouping, yet was totally overwhelmed and bewildered at today's home ed meet up because he just doesn't understand how to fit in. It's not through lack of opportunity or lack of trying, it's simply one of those things that doesn't work for him.
It broke my heart to see him upset because he felt no-one wanted to play with him, and seeing him make the same social gaffes I made as a child (and frequently still make!). He simply doesn't understand what it is he's doing wrong, just as I didn't. Things that seem to just come naturally to everyone else are a complete mystery to people with Asperger's.
We have a big learning curve to work on together, and I know the more I learn, the better I will understand my son and myself. I also hope I can help him understand himself a lot sooner than the time it took for me to fathom out myself.
Until next time. x