I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, but kept procrastinating writing it. Partly due to fear, I’m sure, of what the reaction of others might be. Will they treat me differently? Think of me as somehow “less”? Argue with me about the validity of my statement, as has already happened once? Then, this weekend, without really meaning to, I told a room full of mostly strangers. It was in the middle of something else, just a line that’s in my query letter, which I was reading out loud. The reaction was thankfully minimal, at least to that, but my *secret* was still out there.
Meanwhile, I have several other posts that I want to write, that require this post to come before them.
So the confession is this: I have Asperger’s.
This won’t be a surprise to those who both know me very well, and understand what Asperger’s is/means. I don’t want to call it a disease, or a syndrome, because I don’t think that’s accurate. It’s just a “difference.” A different way of seeing and processing the world, with both pros and cons.
I had pondered the possibility for a while, first given to me in 2010 at an ex-AOLers party. When discussing my lack of tact in certain matters, someone said to me “We probably all have a little Aspy in us.”
I researched it, of course, and took some online tests (all of which were positive), but was still reluctant to admit it definitively. We all know how unreliable self-diagnosing over the Internet is, after all. But I kept thinking about it, and considering…
A bit later, I was working on a book (the one I’m currently querying), and some of the main character’s personality traits are modeled after my own. One thing I really wanted was a main character who wasn’t witty in conversation, who didn’t immediately make friends with everyone, and who had problems understanding things like body language. They say you should write the books you want to read, and I wanted a character I could relate to.
Then I saw the episode in Glee with the girl who uses Asperger’s as an excuse for everything and it made me really angry. When I think of character’s on TV who portray Asperger’s, I think of Bones, and Sheldon. But not that girl. She’s just a caricature (as everyone on Glee is, I’ll admit). But because of her, I decided that I wanted to put it out in the open why the character in my book is different. I wanted people who read it to know that that girl on Glee isn’t a good representation. I wanted children who have been diagnosed with it to *know* that my character was like them (not counting her magic powers and personal baggage). I wanted parents to see more in their kids than the problems. And I didn’t want to deal with people telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about, though I’m sure some still will.
So, I got tested. It was a somewhat lengthy and expensive process, more so than I expected. I could only find one place in the Orlando area that would see me as an adult. I’m not sure what they think happens to kids when they grow up, since this isn’t something you grow out of. You just learn to cope, with varying degrees of success. Asperger’s basically means people with a form of autism that are still able to function in normal society. So there are lots of people, particularly in the generations before it was well-known, who have it and were never diagnosed. Lots of people I know, since I work in a field where the Aspy tendencies are both accepted and beneficial, as my former coworker pointed out. Many of my friends. Many of my family.
I stumbled across this post over the weekend, and it was the final push that made me decide it was time to write about it. I think it’s important that Asperger’s in adults is discussed more. I think it’s important to recognize that women have it too.
After I got the diagnosis, the therapist asked what I wanted to do now. Did I want therapy? Did I need anything for anxiety or depression? No. I just wanted to know. I wanted a word to use to describe the differences in myself. A word that others might understand. An easier way to explain why I don’t like big parties and can’t lie when someone asks me if the picture of their baby is cute (sorry, but it never is). I don’t want to change who I am. I want to be understood and accepted.
Now you know.
“And knowing is half the battle.”
Comments on: "I have a confession to make" (11)
Dood! Save your confession for when you’ve done something bad or wrong!
I am in the same camp as far as the behaviors, although I’ve never bothered to get a diagnosis. I’ve read enough about it in re: el esposo that I know I am somewhere between ADHD and Aspberger’s, and I am alright with that. Now I am. Maybe I wasn’t always. But I am glad you are getting to a point where you’re ready to open up some conversation on it. There is NO DOUBT women have to deal with this stuff.
More and more I am convinced these so-called symptoms are signs that we (human beings) are not dealing coping well with certain conditions of our time and culture, and the more people have the ‘symptoms’, the closer we are to recalibrating the culture. Until then, there are meds and the ADA and a whole lotta peer support!
Yeah, I think there have always been people with these differences, but that our current culture (which emphasizes both relationships/networking/etc. and “sameness”) make the differences more and more obvious. Planning to write a whole other post about that though.
Good for you for speaking up. There is no shame in this. I hope many others will benefit from your posts, this one and the ones to come.
Your courage is awesome to pen this post. You are an amazing woman! Glad to know you beautiful Evergreen.
Reads so much like my own coming out post. It’s hard, isn’t it? I feel like all the pieces of me have been shook up again, and need time to settle down comfortably. Not that they were that comfortable before.
Absolutely we need to write about it and talk about it. For us, and for the ones coming through.
Thanks for linking my post.
Thanks. I still need to look into those books you mentioned.
I admire your bravery, both for writing a story directly from your experiences and for sharing your realization with us. It is incredibly difficult to be vulnerable, but I think you will be amazed by how many people will be drawn to you because of this. You are an inspiration to me, and I’m sure others will feel the same way.
WOW! I came to your blog from the Lakeland Writer’s page…and then was drawn to it… because I have Asperger’s too! 🙂 I fully agree with what you told the therapist… Yay, you! 😀