So, Did You Grow Out of It?

I have, seriously, been asked this question. We were talking about the 2010 film The Social Network, and commenting on facebook-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s various aspie-type traits. I’d mentioned how I’d been “just like him” when I was younger (only without the genius), and that’s when my friend said, “So, did you grow out of it?”

At the time, I just muttered, “no.” I didn’t know what else to say; when faced with such ignorance (however well-meaning), I was speechless.

So, here are some answers (those I give, and those I wish I could give) to the responses I get to saying I have Asperger’s:

You? YOU have Asperger’s?
Yep.

Are you sure?
Yep.

But… have you actually been diagnosed? By a proper doctor?
Yep. This one.

Don’t you think you should get a second opinion?
Nope.

Oh, you mean Ass Burgers. Ha ha ha!
Har har har.

But only boys get Asperger’s syndrome…
Now you’re going to tell me all about someone you know whose son who has Asperger’s syndrome.

But you’re not actually autistic
Let me guess. You’ve seen Rain Man.

Well, it is a spectrum…
I know. You’ve seen Rain Man.

You obviously don’t have it very badly…
You wouldn’t last five minutes inside my head.

You must be very high functioning…
Yes, I can talk.

But you seem so normal…
Yep. Should have been an actor.

So, did you grow out of it?
Nope.

It’s only a label…
It’s better than all the other labels I’ve been plastered with all my life.

You’re still you…
No I’m not; I no longer carry the weight of failure everywhere I go.

It doesn’t need to change anything…
Oh yes it does.

You’re not actually ill though.
Do you need me to be?

Okay, so you have a disability, but you’re not actually disabled by it, are you?
How long have you got?

It won’t affect you long term though…
Hahahahahaha!

I know people mean well, but seriously. Why do they feel the need to try and make it better, usually by questioning the validity of my diagnosis and telling me everything they know about autism? You’d never say, “Oh, you have cancer? Are you sure you saw a proper doctor?” And go on to explain all about your aunt’s colostomy and her resulting irrigation-problems. Would you?

It would be much nicer if people would give credence to what I’d just told them, and resisted the urge to tell me all about the nephew of a friend who has Asperger’s (and how he freaks out at fireworks and likes to line up his toys), and everything else they’ve ever seen on the news or read in the paper. And then not tell me how unlike that I am.

Praise me for coping so well if you like and, if you really want to have a conversation about it, please don’t tell me what it’s like to have autism. Try asking me instead.

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55 Responses to So, Did You Grow Out of It?

  1. Richard says:

    Hi Leigh (and everyone else reading this)

    Your site is ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT (and yes, I did mean to shout)

    To introduce myself, my name is Richard and I’m a justoverforty male,obviously with a name like Richard!, married and dad of three. I live a good life, have a superb wife, great mum and dad and fantastic kids.

    Our son has Aspergers Syndrome (diagnosed and statemented at 4 years old) and my youngest daughter has dyslexia and dyspraxia tendances.

    Now the reason for my writing is about a week ago during a conversation with my wife, not an argument I must add, I said something like sorry if I’m a bit OCD about this (can’t remember what it was) and she commented that you’re more AS than OCD. This came as a bit of a shock to me but I must stress that I’m really glad that she did.
    Since then I’ve done a hell of a lot more reading about adult AS and I think she might have a point. I scored very highly in every online test that I’ve taken and actually started to realise that my behaviour MIGHT be a little erratic in some((lots) of cases, both now and as a kid.

    Now the problem I now face is with diagnosis. I’m genuinely happy to accept that I have Aspergers because, like I mentioned, it answers a lot of questions, and am happy to leave it there. However, a major part of me feels that this is me just letting myself this as a copout and an excuse (weird eh, I’m arguing with myself!!!) and I’m not sure what to do.

    Sorry if this message is a bit random but I haven’t re edited it to make sense because if I go back over what I’ve written I’d delete the whole thing!!! Trust me, I know I will.

    Many thanks for reading and I wish everyone out there the very best.

    Kindest regards

    Rich (self diagnosed aspie?)

  2. Les Rowe says:

    Well, I was unaware until my 13 year old son was diagnosed (after about five years of guesswork) as being Asperger Due to this I started to read a great deal about the subject, as we do. Once the facts came to the surface and I reviewed my life overlaying the facts with the history and suddenly Whoops Epiphany! Over the years I built up coping mechanisms sometime or other getting into drugs and drink to try to find something to help me fit in with groups. I realised I was highly conflicted with the social conditioning and the real me. It has been especially difficult with my son since I would become angry and tense seeing in him the same issues from my childhood. Fortunately my partner of many years and mother of the children could see past this and helped greatly with making me aware of my anxiety and anger at the past. I can see why my parents had such a hard time with four neuro-typical kids and one me. It is a daily struggle, I fell into IT years ago and fortunately found it easy to perform test on large systems however these days it has become more frustrating as projects become more politically biased and quality fails to mitigation. I would like to get more help with adjusting but in the UK there seems to be a great ignorance surrounding Asperger people in the workplace. On the continent this appears to be more understood and with companies like SAP actually a quality they seek out. Our focussed and sometimes manically detailed gift are a positive boon, added to this they have training for non-aspies and managers to better understand how to keep us comfortable and functional in the workplace. Anyway, each day is a challenge and we work through and keep the hope going that though we are not “normal” we have more to offer than most of the drones :)

  3. Frankie says:

    Thank you for this site it is a life changer for me and I’m a 42 year old self diagnosed (waiting for diagnosis) Aspie woman.

    How am I so sure? Ha ha, let me count the ways.

    As a young girl.
    Blinded by sunlight regularly and painfully on white grey days to the point of streaming eyes and crying and stumbling holding Mums hand
    Inhabiting every small space our house had as a matter of course, behind sofa and under table being two favourite casual use bolt holes. On bad days I was literally inside the sofa under the springs, unaware adults sitting chatting above me ( I made a hole to worm through and hid it with a cushion) or between the base of my bed and the mattress with torch and a teddy.
    I was not able to smell or touch certain foods without gag reflex
    Was off the reading scheme and in the library alone at school by aged seven but couldn’t tie my shoelaces or add up simple sums.
    Couldn’t cope with ordinary noise of primary school, couldn’t cope with hard surfaces, corners, chairs scraping or dinner ladies picking up spilt food in their hands, it made me physically sick when they did it.
    Could not fathom ‘ordinary’ girl playground interaction, couldn’t understand the criteria for being left out or let in, didn’t know the rules and didn’t understand the code needed to socialize.
    I either played alone with teddies and plastic farm animals who were very much ‘alive’ to me, or just stood on the sidelines watching and trying to figure out the things to do and say, until about eight years old.
    I remember my first normal conversation with peers aged eight where we actually told funny stories about dreams we’d had. I told mine and people laughed. I was very thrilled, significantly thrilled.
    I came back the next day convinced that the peers involved would want to do exactly the same thing again and boy was I all ready to do it. I was very surprised that they didn’t and couldn’t remember how GREAT our grown up talk had been the day before and seemed reluctant to be rounded up and taken back to the same spot for a repeat. (I was so confused by that one)
    Was an expert on every type of British bird by the age of 7
    Likewise hedgerow plants and trees/medieval methods of torture/the Lockness monster and breeds of horse and dog.
    I was moving into flags of the world and cutting out obituaries from the local paper that I was scrap booking and remembering in case of possible foul play when my Nan caught me and nipped it in the bud, they had managed to ignore everything else, but I think the scrap book obituary collection rattled them.
    I played with boys because they were easier to understand and join in with, boys tend to roll with a freak so long as they can bury her up to her neck in clay and she doesn’t tell on them.
    I started to try to adopt things girls were into, I specifically purchased posters and scented rubbers and all sorts of crappy tat to make my boy looking bedroom appear more like those of my female peers that I had deliberately accessed and scoped for ‘normal’ clues.
    As I got better at pretending I needed more down time, I remember every toilet cubicle and under stairs void at high school with the fondness a castaway regards an island paradise.
    Strip lights buzzed louder than anything, motorbikes sent me through the roof, scraping chairs and body contact sent me deeply into the cringe zone. Everything was too loud, too busy, too pressurised, too intense.
    I spent hours and hours up a tree opposite my house or crouched beside the river watching the water, my happiest time as a kid and teen was at my quietest.
    I discovered the ‘freak’ peers at 16 and had friends for the first time, we talked about Quantum Physics, God and War Poetry and wore black, which I liked because it’s easier to chose clothes for any event when everything is black.
    I still do this today as an adult I buy six pairs of the same leggings, six vests the same, three jumpers and only buy one of every pair of necessary footwear.
    Choice of clothes and style is a minefield of distress and confusion. So things with patterns are out, plain T shirts with ironic statements are welcome so long as they don’t have scratchy labels, tight sleeves, or little buttons or frills or anything fiddly.
    It took me 30 lessons to learn to drive and I cried at some point during every single one, passing my driving test was the single most big thing I have done in my adult life. Yay freedom and a car is the ultimate Aspie friendly box that is safe.
    I still get lost in buildings that I have been into many many times.
    I still get my right and left mixed up if someone is in the car directing me.
    I can’t talk and drive, at all.
    I have to go the same way to places or I get anxious.
    Supermarkets overwhelm me with choice and colour and size and busyness, I tend to go to small ones and follow a route through, when they change the shelf order I get very rattled and moan at the staff.
    I wear sunglasses in the house.
    I NEED a hat and sunglasses in order to be in large crowds successfully.
    I interrupt small talk with big ideas about philosophy, life, death, etc and people who don’t know me very well either get ‘that obituary collecting look’ or decide I’m awesome and want to be my new best friend ( this is how I collect fellow freaks and alienate myself from all the nice ordinary NT people who want to chat about hemlines and the school run)
    I spend hours and hours on line researching crazy stuff that interests me.
    I LOVE being in none talking, pottering fellowship, gardeners and mechanic type folk are the greatest for Aspie women like me. I can hang out, watch, learn stuff and not be under pressure to perform any social hierarchy reinforcing magic.
    I hate ‘all together chatty’ group work/activities/gatherings/get togethers.
    IE talk therapy in a group, brain storming for projects, work team building exercises (my absolute worst and DON’T TOUCH ME)
    I love individually focused, practical group work/activities/gatherings/get togethers.
    IE Yoga class, art classes, beach cleans and environmental building projects, nobody touches me and communication isn’t enforced, it is chosen.
    I really like who I am, I’ve always been my own friend and I’m happy with me inside, it just always feels such hard work to live in a world where being super sensitive is viewed as anti social. It feels as though I’ve spent my life compromising to help others feel more comfortable around me and I think it’s about time Aspies had those others meeting us half way.
    I might not wear busy prints or have neat hair or know how to talk about celebrity gossip at the water cooler, but I can give you a great short hand version of the awesomeness that is quantum, show you a blackbirds nest with chicks in it and I’d help you change your tyre in the rain without feeling put upon or resentful if I got wet and muddy helping you learn how to do it for yourself next time.
    The thing is we are not horrible people and being a bit anti social and needing our spock like routines doesn’t mean being anti love, or anti understanding or anti kindness. Aspies are the best friends I have and I didn’t realise any of us were until recently, I thought we were just a bunch of super intense, funny misfits.

    This is a great site and I am so looking forward to my official diagnosis so I can come out of the closet fully and say I’m not NT and it’s official and that means it is officially and governmentally approved for me to be different. Hoo fricken Ra !

  4. Elizabeth says:

    On reading your articel I cried and cried and am still blubbing. It helps to know that others are like me, now I know I’m not an alien, but I am SO LONELY. I have a 27 year old son with Aspergers. He was diagnosed at 14. I’ve raised my 3 sons alone and have been alone for the past 25 years. I’m 60. Should I dare to mention I think I too have it I just know I shall be accused of all sort of crimes, such as wanting the attention for myself etc. I’m in therapy and have been for over 30 years. Now I know why it doesn’t help. I have a diagnosis of Personality disorder, no medication as I refuse to take it knowing it cannot help me. Maybe when I get my head around this new revelation that I could be an Aspie things will be better and I may accept myself. Whoever I am.
    I have ostracised myself from my family as the hurt and pain of their treatment of me was unendurable. I know I’m different, I didn’t need telling every day!
    Thank you for this brave and brilliant post. It has helped but I’m still in a very dark and lonely place. Time I guess will move things on. One telling thing, my spell check doesn’t recognise Aspergers!!!!!

  5. Lizzie says:

    I am 25. My daughter has ASD (high functioning), I’m pretty sure my Dad has either ASD or Aspergers (he spends a lot of time organising his collection of train tickets, can list his interests on one hand and has no understanding or compulsion to comfort someone crying in front of him), but lately I’m beginning to think I may be an Aspie too. I feel uncomfortable about this, because I feel like people won’t believe me, or will think I’m lying/attention seeking/ hypochondriac. But it would make sense, with my over-sensitive and inappropriate emotional reactions, odd little freak outs over stuff like balloons, stickers, and clothing labels touching me (these are tactile sensory issues, right?) difficulty engaging with people (not always, not everyone) properly, I talk too much to people about things they are not interested in and there are times when I am so engaged in an activity that I cannot un-engage to communicate to people -it is like I’m in the back seat of a car (my mind) and the driver in front is not listening to my suggestion that they stop for a minute. Does this make sense? Do you think I might be on the spectrum?

  6. Hannah says:

    Hi,
    I’m 14 and I think that I have Asperger’s. I have a lot of the symptoms, but I know if I tell my parents they will laugh it off and think I just want attention. They rarely take me seriously, and when they do they just get upset with me. I don’t know how to tell them without them waving it off like nothing is wrong. And like (Amal) said, I don’t know how to bring it up.

  7. ia1989 says:

    i’m 25 female n undiagnosed. been labeled different/weird/insensitive all my life. succeeded university in aeronatics but failed to understand basic conversation n misunderstood emotion most of the time. yelled at in an interview bcause my answer format is different. tried my best to use common sense but all resulted as outliers. hated by the first glance. once believe i was a jerk. found home now.

  8. Michelle says:

    I am 39. My husband spotted my Aspergers first, he’s worked with adults and kids with autism for years. I got a diagnosis from a doctor who was less than helpful and took the attitude of yeah, you’re Aspergers, so what, we’re all different.

    My family are sceptical, my parents don’t believe me and say I just like labels despite their concern over my nephews and nieces who have all been diagnosed with autism. My brother (not the father of those kids) sneered when he found out and said, “since when have you been autistic?” I replied, “Since birth, diagnosed two years ago.” I really wanted to tell them how hard it has been living with the constant critism and labels from them calling me antisocial, misery and obsessive but what would be the point?

    My husband is very supportive and encouraged me to step I to the unknown. Last year I joined a knitting group, I was terrified going to a new place with new people, you know what I mean. I so proud of myself for having done it because now I have a small group of new friends, some of who have personal experience with autism and so are very understanding and supportive. Knowing what I am helped me to interact with these new friends as I could tell them I am an aspie so they understood my odd behaviour. They also explain to me why something I said may have been inappropriate and what is socially acceptable.

  9. Christine says:

    I’m a 49 year old woman with Aspergers- I know it -My mother and Father are long gone butI was a late baby-they were 41 and 45-My mom did take me to a university when I was about 8 but there was no futher addressing of my shyness and sensitivity and mute periods. I never had a best freind or any at all that were
    close.I turned to drugs and the alcoholism that also is genetic in my family until
    I was 42 and got sober.Now 7 yrs sober my aspergers is so evident to me .I
    waitress in a diner and don’t interact with my coworkers .I more observe them.
    I’m not part of their rapport w each other or the customers.I’m the efficicient quiet waitress.People have said I’m the only normal one becuse I’m not having fun and being silly with them because I can’t. I feel trapped inside myself. When I try to make eye contact w customers I notice they look to the side or down as that is what I must always bedoing with them. I usually just say Good Morning
    to ackowledge them and avoid the chitchat. When others are small talking I drift away.,like I’m busy. I remember as ateenager my people saying how my voice carried.It took years for me to tone it down. I don’t flap my hands .but i’m stilla nail biter and cuticle tearer at my age. Ihave chronic anxiety and tension, but I hide it well most of the time just by acting composed and quiet. I’m not close with my siblings like they are w each other. I’m happy I beleive I matter to God!
    I never married and have failed at long term relationships-a broken engagement when I was younger.It helps me to realise what I am and cope withou the substance abuse. Istill feel very alone however and battle the depression.

  10. Nikki says:

    Hi, I’m 36 and I think I might have AS. I have worked very hard in my life and have many successes. I was on the verge of failing (quitting) a very successful career in 2012 because the stress was overwhelming. But something happened. In 2004, I had a close call with a mortar in Iraq. Yet had no concussion or loss of consciousness. Over the next few years – more job stress, I began to notice more and more memory problems, hard time recognizing people and other things, communication problems, slow processing, etc. neurologist found abnormal EEG’s. Diagnosed me with petite mal seizures – medically retired me from the military. Also diagnosed with TBI – but it never made sense to the neurologists completely and it doesn’t make sense to me either. There is more they don’t know about my personality – from my childhood. Lack of empathy, lack of being touched, etc. sensitivity to sound and light, trouble sleeping, night sweats, slow processing (univ has to give me extra time for taking tests) – working on 3rd degree; animal science, intl diplomacy, wildlife ecology. 95% of my symptoms fit AS. those symptoms could be associated with AS rather than TBI? What do you think…?

  11. mitch says:

    -NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)

  12. Nathan Shenton says:

    Hi all i’m Nathan i’m 17 years old and last year i found out that i have aspergers syndrome. I’m only writing this now because it took a lot of concentration and time to learn “normal” human behavior but now i’ve mostly mastered it i can let myself talk to other people like me which i’ve been looking forward to for a long time as i have only ever known 2 other people with aspergers and they are both out of my life now. the main reason i’m posting this is to let you know that if you work hard enough at human behavior you can achieve it and i know that you wont properly understand why you need to learn it (to be honest neither do i) but i have learnt that life is a lot easier when you have people who like and love you around you. I spent the first 16 years of my life blissfully unaware that i had aspergers but after i heard some of my classmates talking about me behind my back and heard something about “autism” i decided to google it and found out that i have aspergers. so i asked my mother about it and she says that she knew since i was in year 3 that i have it and gave me 2 sheets of paper with my diagnosis on them. if you want to get in contact with me then please do i get very lonly with noone else like me to talk to my email adress is: nathanshenton24@gmail.com

    thank you so much for setting this page up leigh i have learnt so much :)

  13. sue says:

    I am 64(female), and still trying to get used to the idea that I am an Aspie. It came about when discussing my now deceased father (with my previous counsellor 2 years ago,) who I thought was definitely on the spectrum as is my son and grandson(diagnosed). I suddenly made the link…ME.
    For a while I felt better having made some sense of my problems, but as time goes on I am still apologetic admitting to having AS to anyone, and feel fraudulent. My own family think I am being over-dramatic, so I don’t mention it anymore. I feel anxious most of the time, and meltdowns are happening more frequently. I feel I can’t cope with family gatherings , and avoid them whenever possible.
    I am starting with a new counsellor next week who has Asperger’s on her list, so hope to get some relief there.
    Has anyone else found problems seem to get worse as we get older?

    • Stephanie says:

      I haven’t been diagnosed but I feel I am reading my life over and over in these stories and for me, I am having more and more difficulty keeping it together. The more stress I am under, the more outbursts I have. I called for an appointment today because it feels like I’m too out of control and no one in my family understands how difficult it is. I wish you all the best in finding ways of coping.

  14. Julie says:

    Thank you for your website. I have always felt as if I were an alien surrounded by humans who just assumed I was one of them, but until recently, Autism never crossed my mind as an explanation. I was one of those people who’d… umm, seen Rain Man. But when I happened to watch a speech by Temple Grandin at Ted Talks on Netflix, she left me speechless. The realization that I related to much of what she said was as terrifying as it was illuminating. It’s taken me months to wrap my mind around it. I’m still not sure where I fall on the Spectrum, but I know inside that I do fit on it somewhere.

    I have yet to tell my family and friends, partly because I anticipate the “play it down” response you mentioned receiving and the subject is much too new and raw for me to cope well with being forced to defend a conclusion that’s been months in the percolation for me, but will seem to be coming out of the ether to everybody else. And again, I’ve kept it to myself partly because I’m reluctant to supply them with “proof” that I’m “wrong” whenever there is inter-personal conflict about what is expected in relationships. I hear enough about my failure to meet expectations and emotional needs already.

    I really appreciated what you said about no longer carrying the weight of failure with you everywhere. For my entire life, I’ve consistently failed to meet the standard social rites of passage. I either meet them years later than normal, or not at all because they terrify me. The success I’ve achieved now has come through dint of long, tireless analysis of humanity. I’ve had to approach everything like a social scientist, which has given me a fairly good grasp of body language and motivation, but I still have no clue what to say to a stranger to open a conversation or how to change the subject when one is heading for trouble. I may lie that I like your haircut, to spare your feelings, but I can’t resist telling the truth, to my own detriment when it really matters and I should know better. I’m blind to lies and insincerity in real time conversations. It takes a track record of contradicting behavior or direct evidence to the contrary to signal me that someone lied to my face and even then, I can’t tell if they were lying to me or if they lied to themselves and I was just in the way.

    But I digress. What I’m trying to say is that realizing that I’m autistic has changed how I view my past struggles. I’m no longer a failed normal person; I’m a highly successful autistic one.

    Thank you for your site. It has been extremely helpful.

  15. Bea says:

    Thank you for all the information! I’m 60 and always thought I was “different” but never had the guts to actually do something about it. I even ordered a book on Asperger’s once upon a time and read it from cover to cover nodding my head. So I went and took a couple of the tests online and sure enough it’s plausible that I might have it. Wow.. need time to come to grips with that idea. Maybe now I’ll know why I don’t “feel” for people the way others do! Think I’ll just digest this a bit but I wanted to thank you for being here and for leading me to taking the tests!

  16. Michael JT Ford says:

    I believe I have just self diagnosed myself at 27 and if it’s true it explains a lot. It is hard to take because I’m not sure if I should accept it or not – I imagine you can’t confine someone to one definition but a spectrum. It seems no one is accepting of it in my family as their reactions haven’t acknowledged it and it’s very troubling. I want to know for sure but it doesn’t seem I have support. I am on my own?

    • Leigh Forbes says:

      You are certainly not on your own! My own family were dismissive of my concerns (despite my mother thinking the same before she died). You don’t need to feel you’re bogged down by a particular definition: Although initially I was very upset about my diagnosis (so I really can appreciate how hard it is to take), I eventually came to see it as a way to accessing a range of tools to understand myself and cope with it all. This has brought a huge increase in self-confidence too. Give yourself time. It comes right.

      • Pete Sarginson says:

        Hi Leigh,

        Yes it’s true that Michael is not on his own. However, that is very often what it feels like. A classic example…… my wife came to my interview with me to assist the psychologist in explaining what I was like socially. A couple of months down the line I was trying to explain how my thinking works differently. Quote, ” I don’t understand how all this has come out now. You seemed perfectly normal when I married you, just like any other man. I think that you’ve changed since your breakdown. Your different, not the man I married. I think that your breakdown has brought all this out. ”
        I started to try & explain that over the years you develop coping strategies & that on the outside someone else might not realise what’s going on in your head; I then realised that I was wasting my breath. It’s like trying to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity in laymans terms; that’s if I had the faintest idea of what it is all about anyway!
        It was at this point I could feel meltdown starting to kick in so just kept quiet. The frustration can feel very intense sometimes as it’s like trying to hammer through a brick wall that will not yeild at all.

        The old saying that the truth can be painful is ever true. However, if you know what the truth is then you have something tangible to work with. You can lie, cheat, cover up, but the truth always comes out in the end. Michael I’ve read that a lot of people get by on self diagnosis & are content with this. From my own experiences a proper formal diagnosis confirmed that I was correct in my suspicions about myself. It was like finding the missing pieces of a jigsaw puzzle & being able to fill in the missing parts & see the full picture.
        Don’t get me wrong it may not be a eureka moment for you when you have that diagnosis! My feelings were mixed & I compensated by using dark humour. I was very selective about who knew about my diagnosis. Yes…..you’ll know, but there will be some emotions to deal with.
        On the plus side I know how to recognise when a meltdown may be coming & take the appropriate action before things start to get a little sticky. I am a lot more at ease with myself & don’t take things to seriously & I now understand why I react to some things the way that I do. Knowledge equals power. If you know what’s coming or why you do certain things the way you do then you can develop the coping strategies to get by. It has made life easier for me. Othe peoples attitudes………well? So what ? Their issues are their problems, not yours. True friends can accept you for who & what you are. Your family should love & accept you the way you are.

        Be bold & do what you probably know is right if diagnosis is for you.

        Best wishes,

        Pete : )

  17. Kris says:

    I dated a man whose son has Asperger’s. I had never heard of it so did some reading…OMG, that’s me! My whole life explained in a nutshell. (I am self-diagnosed at this point, haven’t really seen the need for a formal diagnosis.) To me, it feels as though everyone else was given a rule book at birth and they ran out before they got to me. However, although I always felt different, I never, ever felt inferior. As a matter of fact, I think of Asperger’s as a gift!

    • Gary says:

      “To me, it feels as though everyone else was given a rule book at birth and they ran out before they got to me.”

      I am near 70 years old, and I can still remember thinking when I was a kid riding my bicycle, ‘Everyone got a manual on how to live life, and I didn’t get one.’

      Your statement was the first I have ever encountered that describes that feeling I had then — and still have — today. You just never fit in. Ever.

  18. Emilia says:

    I freak out at fireworks too! Good, so far everyone except for me has seemed to love it.

  19. Mette says:

    I love this post. I found your answers very funny :)

  20. Natasha says:

    Im 41 and in therapy for my issues and I do have issues not to do with this that have been caused by things that have happened in my life “along the way” but I have always known that there is something “different” about me. I see it as “unique”, people who’ve met me, even for a short while describe me as “quirky”. As a child I was described as “incredibly shy, introvert and over sensitive”. Im not much different now inside. On the outside I’m an oscar winning actress with a short fuse, who apologises for alot of things she says when she gets weird reactions for saying things she thinks are factually correct and hides behind self putdown “jokes”. I told my mother after recent intensive research that I believe I have Aspergers (and I think dyspraxia too) and she said “I would’ve known. There was nothing wrong with you as a child! And anyway, the teacher’s would’ve spotted it and told me.” I went to 5 primary schools between the ages of 4-7. I wasn’t anywhere long enough. I was just the little girl who knew noone and played by herself and didnt feel she could go and make friends and the other kids ignored me or teased me for being the little girl playing on her own. So I’m going to see if my current therapist agrees with what I think and try my hardest, as a 41 year old woman to get my GP to refer me to a specialist. I think I will be upset if I don’t get the diagnosis to be totally honest, because almost everything fits. And I like things to fit. I like to know the “why” and get the order and piece the puzzle. My whole life has been focussed on trying to put the pieces of my own puzzle together whilst dealing with knowing that others think I’m a failure or not good enough or not “trying hard enough”, when I try so hard EVERY day. Its hard when you realise that when you try your best you COPE rather than LIVE. I want to live. I want to be accepted and be shown some compassion. I want to “fit in”. But if I can’t, I want to accept myself that this is who I am and it’s not my fault and it wasn’t my choices that led me here.

  21. Liz says:

    I am just about to be diagnosed with HF Aspergers. I am 42.
    The only reason I found it was by filling out questionaires about my daughter, who looked like she had ADHD. No one thought that an Aspie can’t see their own behaviour and gauge it on other people and so I would automatically cancel out behaviour that mirrored mine, Really shocked and so depressed that I have only found myself this week. Had a melt down defending my daughter.

  22. Nic says:

    I’m having a really hard time with myself right now. I’m very convinced that I have AS, but I’m having a hard time accepting it. I have had people close to me think I’m a bit of a hypochondriac so I feel they think it’s just another instance of that and it makes me second guess myself. I want to talk about it but it’s hard to talk to people that I don’t think believe me. I’ve been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and dysthymia (a low grade and constant depression). I’m starting to wonder if they’re better described as symptoms and not the main cause. I’ve been on many medications and through therapy. Both have worked great for my anxiety and feel I have come a long way. My depression, on the other hand, just DOES NOT go away. I cope and distract myself but feel very alone and sometimes it’s debilitating. Meds haven’t helped the slightest for my depression (OMG, lightbulb, maybe that’s because my neurotransmitters and/or serotonin are just fine!). Therapy for depression hasn’t worked very well and group therapy was a nightmare because I felt like I couldn’t relate. Couldn’t relate … maybe that’s why I’m depressed? I still see a therapist and am on medication for both. I would like to talk to my therapist but fear that I would just be embarrassing myself. Perhaps I shall make a written version of why I think I have it, like you say, and that will give me the guts to bring it up. If it turns out this isn’t me just being a hypochondriac then it sure explains the unexplainable in my life. Thank you for sharing your story and giving me a starting point. Just writing this response has helped me out tremendously.

  23. Joe Lopez says:

    Im 25. My life through elementary all the way to high school has been a pain. I have been called many things. Stupid. Maniac. Bullied not only by students but by teachers and assistants aswell because of my behavior and grades. Psychatrists and counselors labeled me as having depression and OCD. I tried suicide @6 times. My family hates me. They labeled me as a person that is crazy. A bad influence. I tried to get a diagnosis but my doctor said I was stupid and slammed the door behind him. I have no firends. No job. Its hard. And harder because im in college and cannot get help. I know I have asppergers

  24. Joe Lopez says:

    Im 25. My life through elementary all the way to high school has been a pain. I have been called many things. Stupid. Maniac. Bullied not only by students but by teachers and assistants aswell because of my behavior and grades. Psychatrists and counselors labeled me as having depression and OCD. I tried suicide @6 times. My family hates me. They labeled me as a person that is crazy. A bad influence. I tried to get a diagnosis but my doctor said I was stupid and slammed the door behind him. I have no firends. No job. Its hard. And harder because im in college and cannot get help.

    • Leigh Forbes says:

      I am sorry for your troubles, and I completely understand how you feel: I have been there at times too (including being bullied, and subsequent misdiagnosis). You should be able to access some unbiased pastoral-care through your college. Speak with your tutor or another trusted member of staff to see what support is available.

  25. ichabod says:

    I’m 14. A freshman. I have done some major research on AS. My mom is a psychologist. She told me in 7th grade that I was “leaning towards” Aspergers. I did my own research and found out I was more than “leaning towards.” I had it. But I can’t tell my mom. So high functioning in classes but socially stupid.

  26. Dianna Mifflin says:

    Hi Leigh,

    I am 35 years old and I got to this article through a link on your other article “Think You Might Have Asperger’s Syndrome?” When I read that article, I was in tears. I have carried a burden of failure around with me my entire life. I’ve been called “stupid, weirdo, oddball, freak, nerd, and some other less nice things throughout grade school, Jr. High and high school. I’ve had teachers wanting to put me in special education classes because I was “too emotionally sensitive.” I have been excluded from nearly all social situations from my peers and even when I was invited, I was shunned for being “weird.” I have also been bullied mercilessly while teachers have pretended not to notice.
    My whole life I have believed I was a worthless human being. I couldn’t do ANYTHING right! I also constantly questioned if what I said in any given situation offended someone. (Did I make them mad? Did I say something wrong? Did I say something awkward or stupid again? DOH!) I have been a people-pleaser, always trying to make other people happy so they would like me, and spent most of my life trying to figure out why people do the things that they do because I just don’t “get it.” I have always had trouble detecting when someone was lying to me and was constantly taken advantage of.
    I strongly suspect that I have Asperger’s syndrome. Though I’m a little afraid of looking into it now because a couple of years ago, I could’ve SWORN that my “problem” was that I had ADHD, it seemed like most of the symptoms matched up and it made sense to me. I went to a clinical social worker who asked me a whole bunch of questions (about 4 pages worth) and tallied up the answers and said that I didn’t have it. But Asperger’s syndrome also fits. I suppose that the symptoms of the two overlap. I have a son who is autistic and another son who I suspect is just like me. He’ll be in 3rd grade and the bullying for him began 2 years ago. I know I owe it to myself to get a diagnosis. A definitive answer so that I can start all over again and help my family work through their challenges too.
    I don’t think my GP will have a problem with referring me, but I am just a bit fearful of what a psychologist might say. When the clinical social worker said I didn’t have ADHD, I started crying in her office. I hope she didn’t think I was a drug-head trying desperately to get some Adderall and crying because I couldn’t get a fix. LOL! But if the psychologist says that he or she doesn’t think I have Asperger’s Syndrome, I fear I will completely give up. This answer fits even better than the ADHD I thought I had. I will plunge through anyway. Wish me luck and thank you for writing about Asperger’s Syndrome! I really appreciate it!

  27. Jodie M says:

    Hi, I’m 34 and I think I might have AS. My 10 yr old son was diagnosed with it a few years back and the more my husband and I learn about it the more we both agree that I fits me completely. It’s really strange to find out other people say what is almost your story about growing up. It’s so hard to deal with all kinds of questions while we are still learning about it. Is there a place for adults to be diagnosed? I live in Georgia, USA. When people make jokes I just ask my husband about it later. Unless I say something that everyone just stops, looks at me and then just busts out laughing, then they will ask did you not get it? (egg on face). I have learned to cope by imitating everyone on different things. My husband helps me. I have to always ask him about other people when they are angry or not. I know he gets tired of me asking him if he was angry, happy, upset, sick. I have just gotten to where I just wait and watch. I feel stupid. I’ve been labled with all kinds of things that my husband and I think are stupid and incorrect. This, this we agree on. So having to teach a child how to cope is extremely difficult for me but I just examples that I find helpful for myself and he seems to get it. Is there any other advice? Thanks again for the information.

    • Leigh Forbes says:

      Hi Jodie,
      No.1 Don’t feel stupid. You are surviving in a world which is organised for a different kind of person (i.e. neurotypicals). The fact that you cope at all does you enormous credit. And the fact that you think to ask about how other people are feeling shows that you care, even if you can’t work it out for yourself.

      I’m glad you find the information here helpful. Regarding your point about trying to help your son – this is something I can relate to. My 10yo son is also aspie, and I remember his old school telling me that I was the best person to help him. I thought they were completely missing the point. Or rather, they didn’t want to be bothered with the issue. I felt like the blind leading the blind. However, as you understand more about your own issues, and learn strategies to cope with them, you will come to find it easier to help your son too. I promise.

  28. Tiffany.B says:

    Hello,

    I’m 18 years old and still in high school. All my life I’ve suspected that something was wrong with me. I was never like all of the other children/teens at school. All my life I’ve tried so hard to act like I understood my dads sarcasm, or not freak out when all of my food touched on my plate. . . And when I heard of Asperger’s almost two years ago, something finally clicked in my head. I felt like I could actually relate to someone, like I wasn’t alone anymore. I haven’t been diagnosed yet, you know, by a doctor. . . But deep down, I know. Right now, I’m just trying to get my parents to understand. . .

    • Leigh Forbes says:

      Hi Tiffany, I can really relate to what you say about knowing something was wrong, and being unlike the other kids at school (I felt the same!), but I encourage you to think of it as something being “different” rather than something being “wrong”! There is nothing wrong with you; you are not flawed or faulty, you are just different. People don’t always like difference, because they find “normal” more familiar, or less threatening, but that needn’t be your problem, nor your burden. I hope your parents are able to understand. Good luck, and remember there’s always support and understanding here.

  29. Dan says:

    I am young teenager, i think i may have aspergers, there are a few reasions why i dont want to be tested…
    1) i am afraid of what people will think about me espessily if i do not have aspergers, thos would in some strang way make me feel guilty that i even compared myself to people like this
    2) i dont know how to tell my mum without getting the respose ‘wise up’

    Also i have been dignosed with dislexia so i do not know if that is what is giving me the symtoms

    thanls,
    Dan

    • Amal says:

      I kind of have the same problem as Dan. Im also a young teenager ,13 to be precise, ive done my research and think I may have aspergers since a lot of the symptoms and things match up but
      1-im afraid of even going up to my mum and saying I think I might have aspergers because she wont believe me and think im making it up
      2-If I go to the doctors my mum will tell everyone that im going and why im going, I know this since my sister has dyslexia and when she asked my mum not to tell anyone that they went to check if she had it, my mum told my whole family
      3-People wont believe me and think im attention seejing
      4-Im afraid the doctor will just say im unsociable and my mum and everyone will judge me for going
      5-I dont even know how to begin to bring up the topic

    • Leigh Forbes says:

      Hi Dan,
      Are there reasons why you do want to be tested? Or are you completely against the idea?
      I clearly remember feeling the same as you – that I wasn’t worthy to compare myself with people with Asperger’s – but you have every right to compare yourself! The doctors have a metaphorical line: if you’re aspie enough for them, you get a diagnosis. If you’re not aspie enough for them you don’t. But within the autism community, it doesn’t work like that. If you recognise aspie characteristics within yourself, there are many ways of coping that will help you, and there are many people who will support you. The autism community doesn’t need you to have a diagnosis to accept you as an aspie. We believe you are the best judge of who you are.
      If you’re unhappy mention this to your mum, you could talk to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO) at school. If you don’t know who the SENCO is, you could ask in the school office, and ask if you could make an appointment to see her. If you don’t want to do that, you could talk to any teacher. Is there a teacher you get on well with?
      If you don’t want to do that, is there another relative you could talk to, or a family friend?

  30. Lisa-Jane Cross says:

    This article is so me…

  31. ictus75 says:

    A bit late to the party, but love your post!

    It’s all so very true! The curse of Aspergers is that you often appear “normal,” so people will question the fact that you have Aspergers. I’m sorry that I don’t spend my day rocking back and forth in my room. Not everyone does that. I also can’t count cards and win at the casino. Sorry, no Rainman here. But I can talk and write and get married and raise a family like most people. But you also don’t see my struggles, or understand what’s going on inside me. You see, I’ve also learned to hide my Aspergers because of rude idiots I’ve encountered.

    You are so right about, “You wouldn’t last five minutes inside my head.” No they wouldn’t. And they would beg to get out and back to their cozy little lives.

  32. Kathleen says:

    Oh..this post came at such a perfect time. I am having the same issue for my daughter at school right now…even though she has a diagnosis-apparently-she’s just extremely shy…*sigh* Sorry you are hearing these things..:(

  33. Ragga says:

    Love your post! Direct, honest, ironic and funny. Props to you! ;)

  34. Beth says:

    “So, did you grow out of it?”
    People are so bloody rude!!!!

    “It’s only a label…
    It’s better than all the other labels I’ve been plastered with all my life.”
    I don’t even get why someone would say that. Are they trying to make you feel better about ‘the label’? If so… well if you have told someone, surely it’s because you’re OK with wearing that label?

    “You’re still you…
    No I’m not; I no longer carry the weight of failure everywhere I go.”
    Oh Leigh. That makes me want to cry, that you carried that for so long.

    “It doesn’t need to change anything…
    Oh yes it does.
    You’re not actually ill though.
    Do you need me to be?
    It won’t affect you long term though…
    Hahahahahaha!”
    PEOPLE ARE RUDE! In what world would it be appropriate to say these things?

    “You’d never say, “Oh, you have cancer? Are you sure you saw a proper doctor?” And go on to explain all about your aunt’s colostomy and her resulting irrigation-problems. Would you?”
    I suspect people who had cancer would have similar stories… although maybe not the ‘proper doctor’ part. They just get the ‘oh well if you just eat three tons of carrots a day it’ll go away’ stuff. Of course that doesn’t make what people say to you any better :(

    These last two just leave my jaw on the floor. People are not only rude but stupid :(
    “Okay, so you have a disability, but you’re not actually disabled by it, are you?
    [haven't thought up an answer yet!]

    Another another one!
    But you’re married…”

    • Leigh Forbes says:

      People are rude! But mostly they are ignorant and careless with their comments, and inexperienced in dealing with anything different, which is why (I reckon) they want to make it okay. Most people (admittedly, not all) stop and think when encouraged to.

  35. Great post; I hope others read. Im still encountering problems with some members of my wider family accepting my daughter’s aspergers. Because she talks, walks etc they just can’t seem to accept that she has difficulties.

  36. Marie_IN says:

    Oh wow, so we all get it, right?
    Imagine being diagnosed “Pervasive Development Disorder -not over-specified”…

    My dad and step-mum have a fit every time I mention “autism” (and my dad is waiting for the day a psy will tell him I’m cured…), most family and friends of family think I should “make an effort”, and my psychiatrist recently told me that once adult, that diagnosis didn’t exist any more because it crystallises into various fears etc. – unlike asperger’s or autism which are “set” diagnosis (even if you can evolve within them).

    I’ve created my own business, lives alone -until we move in together with my partner-, went to uni… but that’s only the surface. I agree on the “actor” part… Most outsiders, including doctors, never saw a thing and still don’t, I got diagnosed aged 22.

    • Leigh Forbes says:

      Yes, we all get it. Sadly. There seem to be all sorts of reasons why it can’t be right. I feel sad that people don’t ask. I’m glad you got your diagnosis, at least, and that you family will accept it in time. I hope it helps, in a way, to know there are so many of us in the same situation.

  37. Leigh Forbes says:

    Glad you like it!

  38. Anouschka Schutte says:

    This should be compulsory reading for all my friends!

  39. Jo says:

    Brilliant, I’m stealing this !!

  40. Leigh Forbes says:

    Thank you, Kath :o)
    (Weren’t you a witness to the “So did you grow out of it” comment?)

  41. Kath says:

    You’re just you and fab as you are.

    • Nikhil says:

      It is interesting how you learned of your own diagnosis after knowing so much about Aspergers already, whereas most folks have to mad scramble after the fact. And while you may not be “just like everyone else”, you get to “have” and “live” the wonderful things. (maybe that sentence made sense?) Thanks for sharing!

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