Asperger’s and Me
I was born in September of 1966. Back in those days people had no clue what Asperger’s was. If you were dysfunctional or acted strange you were put in an institution. I have to give my mom a lot of credit because she never did that to me. When I flunked kindergarten my mom convinced the teacher to pass me. My mom and grandmother thought it was because I four years old when I started kindergarten not turning five till the end of September. The truth of the matter was it was too overwhelming to me. Too much noise, the lights were too bright and I did not want anything to do with a nap. Plus how could I sleep with all the distractions and noise. I was usually either very quiet or I acted strangely. I just remember having no social skills and being extremely shy. It wasn’t that I was dumb I could read a newspaper out loud to my grandmother and I knew my colors but it took me till I was in fifth grade to learn the alphabet. It took me to my senior year of highschool to get good at mimicking the behavior of others and learning to maintain eye contact. I think the eye contact was the hardest to learn and I still struggle with it from time to time.
In first, second, third, and fourth grade I had sessions with counselors/tutors sometimes once a week sometimes twice a day. During some of these sessions I was to play with the toys on the table and the counselor would watch me in 4th grade the counselor visits were eliminated when I went to the first visit that year and looked at the counselor and said you want me to play with the toys so you can watch me and see if I play like a normal kid, right? The counselor visits slowed way down and eventually tapered off after that. I still had tutor visits though until the middle of fifth grade.
My difficulty in school was always related to how I related to things or how I interacted with other children. For the most part I found other children mean. I went through a lot of bullying too, which made k-6 years almost unbearable. By high school I learned to fairly mimic other kids and how they socialized so, I did much better.
When I look back on my life and then think about my life now I realize I still suffer from a lot of Asperger’s related issues.
1. Hypersensitivity to noise (in high school this diminished now it is back with a vengeance) I like quiet and low light, it bothers me if it is too bright outside. I also hate crowds and having people other than family & maybe a friend. Though I don’t socialize with friends anymore.
2. hypersensitivity to sensations: if I am hot I am extremely hot to the point of getting very fidgety, if I am cold I am freezing. I cannot nor have I ever been able to tolerate tags in my clothes and clothes have to be washed sometimes three times before they are comfortable to me. Certain smells bother me and there are certain foods I cannot eat because of the texture and the texture I can’t tolerate can change on me.
3. Routine I need a least two or three days to prepare myself for changes and when I work I must have a certain routine to keep my stress level down. I also have to have a certain amount of down time between being at work and not being at work or I panic. After about four hours I start panicking and having anxiety attacks.
4. Obsessions: I get obsessed easily for instance I watched extreme couponing once and ended up getting a notebook, and dividers and I would go to the recycling centers and collect all the coupons and that’s all I would do from the time I got up to the time I went to bed. The same with scrapbooking. Its like I go through these extreme phases where I eat , breathe and sleep whatever I am obsessed with at the time.
5. Poor social skills: though my social skills have gotten better and I have learned to recognize some facial expressions I still will ask someone if they are mad at me because I read their facial expression wrong. This drives my mom crazy at times. Used to drive my best friend crazy and the people I was in a relationship with because I always thought they were mad at me or something was wrong with them when there was nothing wrong. In-addition I tend to talk before I think and I tend to tell everyone my life story even if I just met them. I also tend to answer a question literally I have no buffers. For instance one of the things that got me into trouble at my last job was because I had an elderly client ask me what the scar on my left forearm was from. Instead of making up something or hedging the question I blurted out that it was from when I had tried to commit suicide 20 years ago. This caused the patient to request another nurse because she was afraid I would get upset and try to commit suicide in her house.
There are other symptoms but it is getting late and I am tired.