I am in my mid 30’s, a mum to 2 beautiful children, going through a divorce and this year was diagnosed as having Asperger’s. I haven’t told anyone other than my mum and 2 close friends.
For those who don’t know, Asperger’s is a neurological condition. Basically, my brain is wired a bit differently from most ‘normal’ people. It is not a mental illness, it cannot be cured or helped with medication. I am also not crazy, or mentally unstable. I just process things differently to other people, see things differently to other people and react differently compared to other people.
Asperger’s Syndrome is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder that falls within the autistic spectrum. It is a life-long condition, which affects about 1 in 200 people but more commonly in men than women. Those with Asperger’s Syndrome are usually of average or above average intelligence. So that means I am pretty rare being a female aspie and pretty smart (although that doesn’t always come across!).
The Asperger’s brain is wired to be always anxious, which is me down to a T. I’m still discovering what it is like to have Asperger’s, but since finding out it is part of who I am, I’ve been able to look back on my life with a new set of eyes, re-framing my experiences from the Asperger’s perspective. I just wish I could have been honest about who I am to certain people who have been and gone from my life. If I was diagnosed earlier, I could explain to those who I cared about (and there hasn’t been too many) why I am the way I am. I also wish I had the confidence to say to people I have Asperger’s, and this is me.
A little information on what Asperger’s is –
Many people with Asperger’s want to be sociable but have difficulty with initiating and sustaining social relationships, which can make them very anxious. People with the condition may:
Struggle to make and maintain friendships
Not understand the unwritten ‘social rules’ that most of us pick up without thinking. For example, they may stand too close to another person, or start an inappropriate topic of conversation or question something that to a normal person doesn’t need questioning.
Find other people unpredictable and confusing
Become withdrawn and seem uninterested in other people, appearing almost aloof
Behave in what may seem an inappropriate manner.
People with Asperger’s sometimes find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially. For example, they may:
Have difficulty understanding gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice
Have difficulty knowing when to start or end a conversation and choosing topics to talk about
Be very literal in what they say and can have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphor and sarcasm. For example, a person with Asperger’s may be confused by the phrase ‘That’s cool’ when people use it to say something is good.
How do people with Asperger syndrome see the world?
Some people with Asperger syndrome says the world feels overwhelming and this can cause them considerable anxiety.
In particular, understanding and relating to other people, and taking part in everyday family, school, work and social life, can be harder. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, yet can also struggle to build rapport with people with Asperger syndrome. People with Asperger syndrome may wonder why they are ‘different’ and feel their social differences mean people don’t understand them.
Autistic people, including those with Asperger syndrome, often do not ‘look’ disabled. They look like everyone else yet come across as being a bit weird.
So, this is me
Now I don’t suffer from all the typical traits of Asperger’s, and I am also raising 2 brilliant and amazing kids, pretty much done it on my own since they were born and now as a single mum. My kids are awesome, they wouldn’t know their mum is any different.
But I am struggling to find any good points to being an aspie so far, I can only see the bad. I don’t know how to be in a relationship whether that be a friendship or more and surprised I lasted 12 years with my ex, maybe he is one too, he does show the traits but that’s for another post.
There is such a stigma that is attached to Autism that I think I am afraid to tell people. The world is becoming more open to depression and you see posts across social networking saying “my door is always open”, “you can talk to me” etc, but it is not so welcoming to those on the spectrum. People see Autism as something to take the mickey out off which makes it hard for someone on the spectrum to admit that they have it. I am afraid that relationships will change or will be treated differently.
I wish I didn’t have Asperger’s, I wish I could see things normally and didn’t react the way I sometimes do. I wish I could be normal in social situations. But I know I cannot change who I am, I just need to find a way of moving forward.
This is my story so far, an aspie mum. And my story isn’t over