I have to admit, one of the scariest moments in my life was hearing those two words: “Aspergers Syndrome”. I was familiar with what it was, but I was in denial. Members of my immediate family were the first to suggest that I may have AS. Why did they think that I had AS? I have a close friend with AS, and eventually my family began to realize that I was a lot like my friend. My mom researched it, and the more she found out about it, the more she was convinced that it explained everything about me.
How could such fear come out of two little words? I knew the stigma behind any autism spectrum disorder, whether high-functioning or low-functioning. I worried about what the people I knew would think if I was diagnosed. Most of all, I was terrified that I would not be able to cope in my own mind with knowing that I was a part of the spectrum.
I guess I should probably give you some more detailed background info on my upbringing, so it makes sense why my family thought AS was so plausible. I was always the odd one out growing up. In elementary school I didn’t fit in at all. I liked to spend all of my time reading science books, while all of the other kids were always playing outside or making up new games. I didn’t make any true friends during that time in my life. I tried to avoid the other kids as much as possible. I knew that if I did interact with them they would begin to call me names and push me around, although that still happened even if I ignored the other children. In middle school not too much changed. I still didn’t have friends. I still kept to myself. I still was absolutely obsessed with science. I got bullied more frequently, to the point where I was seriously struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts at that time. I didn’t want to look at people, and when people would happen to start a conversation with me I would frequently avoid eye contact. My mother would always wonder why I wouldn’t look at her when she would talk to me. By the time I reached high school I had given up on friends. I did happen to make a few close friends during high school, by the grace of God. I spent most of my time reading, playing video games, and doing more in depth research to the science I loved.
Several of those things from my childhood point to AS, but my parents had not heard of it so they just assumed that I was too smart for my own good. When they did find out about AS they encouraged me to go ask my psychologist at college about it, and I did. From that point on I was officially an Aspie.
For almost a year after my diagnosis I view myself as useless, stupid, and worthless because of my AS. I was terribly embarrassed to have it, and I did everything that I could to prevent people from finding out that I did. I viewed it as a curse because it caused me so many problems in my life. I couldn’t talk to people, I couldn’t fit in, I couldn’t even PRETEND to be normal because of it. I didn’t think that anything good could come from the AS. I kept it to myself and locked myself in my single dorm room for pretty much the entire semester.
My feelings about my AS have changed in the past few months. I’ve realized that although I have it, that doesn’t mean I deserve the cruel treatment that I’ve gotten over the years. I deserve friendship, love, and self-esteem just like everyone else. I’ve tried to learn ways that I can manage some of my manifestations of AS, and it has been somewhat successful. I have managed to even make a few friends in the process. More importantly, I’ve seen that the way that my brain is constructed due to AS is much more of a blessing than a curse. It gives me a unique insight. It gives me my intelligence. It gives me my passion for science. I never thought that I would get to the point where I would view AS as a positive thing, but I’ve finally reached that point. AS makes me who I am. It is an integral part of me. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I have finally seen my AS as a true blessing.
If any of you have been diagnosed with AS and are struggling, I would like to encourage you to keep going no matter how hard it is. Believe me, I understand how difficult it can get. But never give up. I’ve made it through 20 years with having AS, and I’m sure that you can too. AS is not a defect, it does not make you less of a person. It makes you a unique and beautifully gifted person.
I hope all of you enjoyed this post.