Welcome. Are you seated comfortably? Good. Then let us begin this week’s Asperger’s Anonymous meeting. I’ll go first shall I?
Hiya luvvies! My name’s Karen. And I’m a little to the left of normal. I have been accepted by the Scottish Centre for Autism in Glasgow as a likely Asperger’s case after GP referral, and am currently awaiting an appointment with them. So as such, I am now happy to call myself “self-diagnosed awaiting official diagnosis.”
Ok. I’ll keep talking then 😉
Yesterday in college there happened a mini discussion about the Autism Spectrum. And the viewpoint arose (or perhaps queried is a better way to say it) that symptoms associated with ASD inc AS (Autism Spectrum Disorder including Asperger’s Syndrome) are just as common in normal people so how can that mean someone may have autism.
This is where I feel there needs to be more readily available information because I too often hear the “yeah but normal people do that too” thing.
Aye, true. But not in the same way, or to the same degree.
There is a fine line at times between what is acceptable as “normal” or NT (Neurotypical) behaviour and what is not. And sometimes people don’t see what is so obvious, either because they don’t want to, or I think most of the time it is because no one has been able to explain the intricacies well enough in the everyday environment. I doubt I will do much better but I’ll give it a go.
I will never get through everything in this one post. Really the intricacies of ASD are so discombobulated that this is going to have to be done over a series of posts. But then why not?
So here goes…
First thing’s first. No two Auties or Aspies are the same. There are huge differences between not only abilities and disabilities on the spectrum itself, but more importantly there are massive differences between male and female Auties and Aspies. The spectrum covers a wide range of disorders previously thought not to be linked, and perhaps some are and some aren’t but they fall under the Autie umbrella now.
People on the spectrum are not psychologically challenged. This is a common misconception. Their brain is in fact wired differently. They have a neurological condition.
People on the spectrum process information in an entirely different manner to neurotypical people. Too much information can be physically painful and it is distressing – by information I am talking anything your brain receives such as sound, light, sensation through touch and texture, sensations within the body in girls that could be menstrual cycle and pregnancy, taste and any number of little things in between.
Now, lets talk about obsessions. Many creatively charged people will jump on the “lets forego self-care (washing, eating, exercise etc) in order to work on that obsession” bandwagon. That’s just scratching the surface of obsession and I wonder if they truly understood how deep obsession can get, if they would still class themselves in the same category and claim “yeah but we all get like that from time to time”? I very much doubt it.
Again, obsessions vary from person to person and across the genders, with males being more obvious in their obsessions, some of which can seem pretty strange to neurotypical folk. For example. A neurotypical person may have an obsession with classic cars. An Autie (particularly a male Autie/Aspie) is more likely to be obsessed, not with the vehicle itself, but with one “special” part of it; for example the wheels, or the bolts that hold the panels together, or the pistons… you get the idea. Females seem to generally be more drawn to things which are more socially acceptable; craft, knitting, books, writing, art, animals etc.
For me, my first and longest lasting obsession is horses. I have given up everything to keep myself close to them, to learn all I can about them. I wonder if I explained just how much danger I have put myself in to keep myself close to my obsession throughout my life, if it would be considered something that normal people do? Let’s not go into too much detail; perhaps we’ll just say when you are willing to put yourself at the mercy of violent and abusive people just so you can stay close to your obsession, to forego food and sleep for days on end and sleep on a thin blanket over a flagstone floor with nothing more than a curtain over an empty doorway for privacy, for months upon months, upon months, upon years even, just to survive and be close to them… it’s a step too far. Not only did I do this. After I took a time out from uni because I had had a major melt down from the shear weight of the stress and anxiety of my daily life. I went back and subjected myself to it all over again. I was used, abused and outright robbed and I endured simply because they had what I needed. And that was horses. I lasted 3 years. Perhaps I will talk about my time in Aberdeen in more depth in later episodes… we’ll see.
It brings up another of those things that people relate to but don’t realise how deep the trait runs, and that is inability to recognise danger. Self-preservation means a whole ‘nother thing. Many look at this as akin to daredevils and thrill seekers but that’s not the case. Those people put themselves in danger to feel that euphoric adrenalin rush that comes with a death defying experience. Auties and Aspies just don’t see the danger. They walk into these situations utterly oblivious. That is why so many Auties and Aspies are physically and sexually abused; particularly as children. Some gain an awareness as they age, some don’t. My mum always called it blind trust. It’s also linked to the need not to let people down. So in order to keep people happy you just do as they say. Even if you don’t want to. Take a moment and reflect on the implications of that. I mean the real and dangerous implications of that.
Not a nice thought whatever way you look at it, is it?
There is so much I want to say, or perhaps need to say on this subject. And I’ve decided now that I will continue to do just that. I’m not forcing people to read about it, far from it. If you’re not interested then scroll on by, but I do feel that it is really empowering to find someone’s experiences are very similar to your own. It really helps you to know you are not alone and that someone else really does understand, because they have been there too.
I will be aiming to post an “A Little to the Left of Normal” episode each week – probably keeping to Wednesdays.
Please feel free to make comment, discuss and ask any questions if you feel you want to.
Thanks for listening luvvies xx
Cheerie-bye the noo!