I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (Asperger Syndrome) in 2013 and at the time, wondered if it would change my life, or would I just carry on as I had before I was diagnosed.
Initially everything carried on as it had before, but at the time of getting my diagnosis, I was told that there are other services available, most of which you have to pay and travel for, and since being diagnosed I had been thinking about this.
I started looking on the internet and reading as much as I could about Asperger’s but only some of what I read sunk in, on further investigation I discovered that I am a visual learner. I learn better by being shown what to do rather than told or by reading it, which is the reason that a lot of what I read I have to get Leigh to look at and try to explain to me.
I was told that if I was learning something I may need a scribe, I didn’t even know what a scribe was. It turns out a scribe is someone who will sit in a class with you and take notes while you watch and learn as Aspies can only do one thing at a time, and if we are writing we are not listening or taking anything in. If you have a scribe you will be fully focused on learning, and the scribe would take notes for you to refer to later, the notes would act as a prompt, a reminder to jog your memory of what you learned.
I now understand through reading and trial and error, that some things cause me anxiety, and I now know what causes it and how to avoid it. I have learnt the situations I can tolerate and the ones I can’t, and should be avoided as much as possible.
I have realised not all Aspies are the same, and some are just like me, others can in some ways be the opposite, where as I have no empathy, others have a lot. The one thing above all else that I wanted to look into was my feelings.
I have gone through my whole life describing myself as cold-hearted, as I’ve always known that I don’t react the same as the majority of people, and just thought that, this is just the way I am, no reason for it, hence the reason why I describe myself as cold hearted, but as it turns out my lack of feelings is a big part of my Asperger’s and it’s not that I have no feelings but more that I think completely differently than most people.
I think in terms of black and white, things are either one way or another there is no middle ground, no grey areas. As I think like this, it affects my feelings, as an example and one that I use a lot as it seems to be the one situation that people always get upset at, and that is funerals. I recently lost my grandmother we had the funeral and everybody was upset and crying even people who didn’t know her all that well.
I did not shed a tear, if anything the only reaction I had been to the people who were crying it was very confusing as they seemed unable to control their emotions, and I felt it was just what I was doing that day. A better example would be my grandad as he died when I was only ten years old, and wasn’t able to control my feelings the way that grown ups (some of them at least) do.
When my grandad died, I saw him at his house after he had passed, while the men from the funeral home were dealing with paperwork prior to taking him away, I looked in at his room and he was still in bed, I wasn’t upset, I was fascinated I had never seen someone who had died before, and again, at his funeral everyone was unable to control their emotions and I was untouched by the experience, and you have to realise this is not the sort of thing that ten year old’s can do, they get upset at not getting sweets.
The thing that I realise now is I don’t react the way that most people do, but I still can’t say what feelings I feel as with the example above, in both cases, I knew that they were going to die. My nan of old age and my grandad of cancer, so I think that because I knew that it was going to happen when it did, it wasn’t a surprise, and as such, what I knew was going to happen did, and in the months leading up to it, I had time to think about it.
The main things that I have learnt about Asperger’s is what things I can do and not do, this is with the way I learn, what information I can take in and the best way to receive it, which social situations I can attend and which to avoid. The fact that not all Aspies are the same as me, and although there are many that are, there will undoubtedly be as many that are not.
I do not understand my feelings as the examples above can be explained but I still don’t react in a normal way to other situations. I don’t sense danger, and this is good and bad ,as I am not afraid of things that I should be, and this could cause me a lot of harm, as I do things like step out into traffic due to not sensing the danger, and picking up hot trays without an oven glove. I shall continue to learn as much as I can about my particular form of Asperger’s, but the one thing more than anything I would like to understand is my feelings and emotions, as they just seem to be missing.