They said, what?

I was in a room of student teachers the other day after work. They were talking about a student who cries everyday. She said she didn’t know what was wrong with him. “He must have a touch of Aspergers,” she said. And everyone in the room burst out laughing. I sat there feeling angry and ashamed that I didn’t say anything. I wanted to tell them that they had hurt my feelings, but I couldn’t speak up.  Now, I just imagine what I could have said to shock them into shutting up. Am I a joke?

  
  
 

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“You don’t look Autistic.”

When people think of Aspergers, they. see mostly men who live in their mothers basement. They see nerds wearing fedoras and playing video games. people don’t really ever think of women with Aspergers. But if they do they see a nerdy tomboy without makeup or girly clothing. but I want people to know the truth. I spent most of my life being bullied physically and emotionally. I was suicidal from this. But I have worked hard learning to fit in to the point I appear normal. But I’m not. I have terrible anxiety, I have a routine I stick to or I get freaked out. Socializing is incredibly hard and I usually end up not talking because its hard to read people. Once you get to know me you can see it. I think very logically, I separate emotion from logic when making a decision, if I can make one at all. I’m clumsy and have very little hand eye coordination. I fall a lot. Sometimes I fall non-verbal and my brain can’t get words to my mouth. It’s like a train going off the tracks. I do rock and flap like many Autistic do. I cover my ears to normal noises because they hurt. Lights give me migraines and my skin is dull to pain. I could bleed and not notice it. Yes, I have Aspergers and I have an eye for color, shape, texture and patterns. My obsession is makeup and vintage clothes. I want people to change their expectations of how I should look. I no longer want to hear, “you dont look Autistic.” Challenge your expectations. I am Autistic and beautiful.


The Way We Think.

“Let us consider that we are all insane. It will explain us to each other; it will unriddle many riddles…”
                                                                                         Mark Twain

I am a Bottom-up thinker. I must group specific concepts together to form a larger idea.  Specific to general. For Autistic people abstraction and generalizations present trouble.  “I can not see the forest for the trees,” is a prime example of what I mean. I see the individual trees, individual leaves, different textures of bark, and all the colors present. Once I take that all in then I can start to conceptualize the forest.

I always have to focus on one step of a larger problem. Once I complete it to my satisfaction I will move on. I do this while eating all the time. Meat first, then vegetables and finally the starch. That’s what I consider a meal.  Even if it’s mixed together I will pull it apart.
Being a visual thinker, pictures are employed in my thought processes.  Words are less concrete and hold little substance.  I think more in pictures than words . One word can have multiple meanings or examples. The word “cat” illicits many pictures. I don’t see a concept of a cat. I see different breeds and even individual cats.  The more examples I have the better I conceptualize. 

 It’s much like a puzzle, I fill in here, I fill in there until I can see the image.

Socialization is also carried out in defined, separate steps. Autistics use logic to work out socializations and emotion can be separated from the issue. We have emotion but we also have the ability to compartmentalize.

For me to interact with you I must scan my brain for a similar experience.  Then I must consider all the possible outcomes. Finally, I will make the most logical decision for the situation.

For example, I have to plan my conversations ahead of time. I see a person I know, then I see the topics that they like or relevant news and then I choose to most logical thing to discuss or relevant way to act. Otherwise, hurr durr awkward moment or I will accidentally say something in a blunt, to the point way that will offend you. 

Also, please don’t expect me to know your name unless youve told me a dozen times. I do not see faces with discernible detail and all persons with a similar physicality look the same to me. I mean ALL people. I could never describe you to a sketch artist. I usually put names to a voice or hair. I can’t tell Keira Knightly from Natalie Portman. I only know that you have a nose, lips and two eyes. I am face blind.

Things that surprise or shock me throws me off. When I am surprised I get so nervous I forget how to react properly. This means, never ever, ever, ever sneak up on me. It’s like having a mini heart attack. This results in not having time to think about outcomes and I come across as rigid or confused.  I’m thinking one thing and showing a vague unidentifiable expression that isn’t congruent to how I feel. It takes a lot of work to keep myself synchronized.  

 The moral of this story is understand that we are different. Do not expect the same interactions as with NTs. You will not receive what you expect. But if you take the time to get to know how we work then we will make sense.  Opposite isn’t a bad thing.