A Quirky Perspective

Hello.

This is my first attempt at writing an article on a subject that is, well a part of me. Makes up who I am. I have ASD, specifically Aspergers Syndrome. It seems very weird to describe it this way. It’s like it’s a disease or something when it’s not. ASD and those who are categorised as being part of that umbrella have a huge array of symptoms, difficulties and abilities. Yes, it’s true some of these issues are extreme and mean that some find it extremely difficult to function in, I guess current modern day society. However, I feel that topic is a bit huge for this particular article. Recently the medical boffins have gone through a recategorising phase of ASD not sure why but if it helps them fair enough.

Growing up information on ASD wasn’t very accessible unless you went to the dusty smelling part of the library, the internet wasn’t as readily available as it is now nor was the information on it as vast. So as a high functioning “Aspie” I muddled through. I feel it’s important to point out that I am female and my experiences differ greatly from ASD males. I’m not sure if these are misconceptions but I do hold a full time and very rewarding job, socialise, have friends, have several interests, I am an artist and an academic. I do keep the fact I have Aspergers and that I dance around the ASD spectrum to myself much of the time and those that know me very well when I have “the talk” say well that’s obvious and those that know me less well say “Oh I couldn’t tell”. Both responses are interesting and neither comes from a malicious place. I think to myself with close friends “Oh good I’m relaxed around you enough to be myself” and others I think “Oh good I’ve still got the ability to blend in”. There are many that would argue I shouldn’t have to blend in but be honest there must have been a time in your life where you’ve had to rein in who you are?

A lot of the time I’ve thought to myself ASD is just a part of me and I’m not defined by it. Which is true it’s given me quirks and difficulties but also, I think, the ability to see the world differently and in my efforts to work through the more challenging elements of ASD a greater insight and understanding of people. I’ve had to put (being modest here) a little bit of extra effort in, to learn how to interact with people, read their facial expressions and pick up on emotions in their voices, body language and even their words. Which I suppose comes a little more naturally to other people. I can’t be certain of this because I’ve never been another person.

I’ve read a lot about other peoples experiences and how they’ve encountered those who say “I know what you mean I find it hard to.” This seems to anger those with ASD. I’m not sure why I think maybe because they believe their experiences are being downplayed? A lot of the time I think when we interact with each other we use our own personal experiences to relate and understand one another. I personally, appreciate that someone is attempting to understand what I say and how I feel.

Occasionally I do experience a “meltdown” I think that’s the current word being used. I think of it as a storm. Where everything gets whipped up, most find being caught outside in a storm pretty awful. And that’s what it’s like for me, a storm but inside my head and body. Over the years as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to weather the storm better and like meteorological forecasting notice when one is brewing and take steps to prepare and lessen it’s impact.

Whilst I think it’s vital (to me) to not focus on the ASD part or stand up and declare it to the world because I hate the idea of being defined by one particular thing, labelled, categorised and filed away in the social norms boxes. It has been hugely important and beyond beneficial to know that the thoughts, feelings, frustrations, confusions, and it’s true, sadness, loneliness and anxieties I’ve experienced throughout my life have a reason or cause. It’s not just that I’m broken or there’s something wrong with me or I’m crazy it’s actually because I experience the world differently to most (according to all available research). That is such an important thing to say and understand for anyone dancing around the ASD spectrum.

Which is ultimately the point of this little article. That all those feelings and the displeasingly clear internal monologue voice that echoes through your mind is for lack of a better word wrong. It’s just a part of who you are, that makes up an element of yourself that makes you special (That’s right I used that word and used it with the intention of it having a double meaning) and unique. What helps the internal monologue to be less damaging is knowledge and understanding not from others but from yourself.

Eira Gwenllian Jones
Submitted 11th June 2018