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 here because she never did that to me. When I would have 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 kindergarten had been way too overwhelming for me. I wasn’t used to so much noise, and the lights were way to bright! Nap time was another challenge; by the time we were supposed to lie down I was too keyed up from all the input and would either cry or throw a royal fit. Normally, I was quiet and withdrawn preferring to escape inside my head then deal with school and everyone in it. I don’t remember a lot of my early childhood but I do remember I had no social skills to draw from and my mom was told I was retarded by my kindergarten teacher. But you know I wasn’t and am not retarded. At the tender age of five I could already read a newspaper out loud to my grandmother. I knew my colors and how to count but it took me till I was in third grade to learn the alphabet.
In first, second, third, and fourth grades I had sessions with therapists and tutors sometimes twice a week other times every day. During some of these sessions there were toys piled high on a table in the room and the therapist would watch me play. In other sessions they would just talk to me. In 4th grade my therapy visits were eliminated when I went to the first visit that year and looked at the psychiatrist who was there to evaluate me with another table filled high with toys and said “You want me to play with these toys so you can watch me and see if you can determine what type of therapy I need.” By then I was tired of being evaluated all the time when I played and tired of having to see a therapist. I told the Psychiatrist that I needed a tutor to help me catch up with the other kids; not see a therapist who only further alienated me from the other kids. The psychiatrist said I was fine after that. He also said I was a lot smarter than the teacher’s thought and I was not retarded. I remained in tutoring until the beginning of fifth grade at which time I was caught up with my peers.
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 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 a days it’s back with a vengeance) I like quiet and soft light; it bothers me if it is too bright outside.
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 a day or two 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.
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 grocery sacks full of 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 nuts. 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 told her the truth, that I had tried to commit suicide 20 years ago. I didn’t go into detail that’s all I said but this caused the patient to request another nurse because she was afraid I would get upset and try to commit suicide in her house. Which to me is a really weird reaction as I had never done anything to make her think that and she always requested me prior to that.
Even with all the adversity I have had through my life I keep plugging away. One thing that has helped is my writing whether it be journaling or writing stories it’s the one way I have been able to connect with people without feeling at a disadvantage.