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?

Are you sure?

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

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

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?

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…

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.


83 thoughts on “So, Did You Grow Out of It?”

  1. I’m am a 47 year old male. I mostly come off as a mostly “normal” individual person to those I’m around until they are with me on a regular basis. (Problems with knowing when to “step in” to a conversation”, awkwardness speaking with others, feelings of not feeling like I fit in, not getting everything that was being shared with me, problems with eating foods (primarily due to texture), etc…
    Understanding who I am is also complicated by a traumatic childhood- abuse from alcoholic father, 3 foster homes, abuse from older males when I was returned to the home with an ineffective mother.
    That said, I had a co-worker about 10 years ago whose son was diagnosed with Asperger’s, and i researched this and thought…this sounds a bit like me, then left it alone. In the past year, I have been seeing a therapist and I finally asked about this a few weeks ago. The therapist agrees (especially after hearing some things about my son’s behaviors) that I probably have Aspergers. And the thing that really struck me in this conversation was her mention of non preferred activities. I am generally capable of very high performance in different fields. however, I procrastinate quite a bit, and there are times when i just can’t bring myself to do something. I had not seen this word mentioned in the pieces I had read about aspergers, so it really hit home (and explained a lot of my behaviors in the past that I thought were just a result of my troubled childhood).
    Obviously, i have some emotions to work through regarding this whole thing, but maybe I can use it to make adjustments to my harmful behaviors.
    Thanks for your blog.

  2. Just thanks for the site, it’s good to read from people in similar positions to myself.

    I’m a 47 bloke from the UK. It had been said jokingly to me in the past that I possibly have autistic tendencies, but the more I thought I about it, the more it actually made sense. My ex used to complain I was rude because I often interrupted (I didn’t notice I was doing it until pulled up on it). I struggle in social groups, particularly if it’s a noisy environment – I was at a team meal for work last week, and I pretty much had to shut down in order to cope. I hate initiating phone calls, I can’t do small talk, I largely keep to myself at work, I rarely go out, I have a tendency to punch the wall when I get frustrated (although I’ve managed to reign that in over the years). Get me talking about music though and I’ll bend your ears until you pull them off in frustration or boredom!

    I’ve always felt a bit out of place, or just out of sync with other people. I’m actually very good and picking up other peoples emotions through inflection and facial expression – the trouble is I am also very good and not thinking things through before I say them, so I often have good visual feedback when I’ve said something stupid or hurtful!! Wondering now if this was instrumental in the breakdown of my marriage. While I can read emotions in other people, I just can’t deal with them, so I just shut down and ignore it and hope it goes away. Well, it did go away. Completely.

    I’ve suspected it myself for years, but I didn’t really want to face up to not being “normal” (hell, normal is overrated though, isn’t it?!) and now I’m left wondering if that intransigence is what led to my life falling apart.

    I have a small music studio – things on the desk there have to be lined up. If there are two or more boxes from the same range then they have to be aligned perfectly, be in the middle of the desk (or off to one side based on the rule of thirds) and absolutely must be parallel to something (the front of my desk curves – argh!!) Could be rubbish littering the floor, but as long as the boxes on the desk are tidy…!

    I have what I call my mask, which is what I use when I go to work. But I also occasionally play music live and there is another mask there. Another persona, such that it’s almost as if I am watching myself on stage from the outside wondering who that person is. But if I make one mistake then that mask crumbles and I have to really fight myself to stop myself leaving the stage.

    I know some people don’t like to be labelled, but I’d be happy to have that label. Not as an excuse, but as an explanation.

    I told my daughter I had been referred for testing. She wasn’t in the least bit surprised, apparently she’s “known” for ages – bloody kids :-D

    Sorry, this is rambling and unfocused.

    • Wow. I know this is an incredibly late reply, but reading this comment really hit home with me. Almost everything you say is exactly the same except the kids thing (I Have 0). I have never though about anything like this before but in the last few weeks I have been noticing similarities between myself and people like yourself.

      Thanks for giving me an insight to perhaps speak to someone about this.

  3. Hi, I’m a 21 year old female from the UK. I was sent to a special needs unit when I was 6 (for something to do with EBD – although I’m not sure on the specifics), and remained in special needs schools/units until I left after my GCSE’s in 2011. I have just had an initial assessment from Aspergers and they highly recommended that I proceed to further assessments. I haven’t really read into Aspergers until today despite being advised, because I was scared that I would read things about Aspergers that make total sense to me which would then confirm that I do have it. My partners little brother has Aspergers and so does his step dad. His mum constantly calls me Aspie when I do or say certain things and I just don’t get it, to me everything I do or say is just normal. However, it made me giggle because I COMPLETELY agree with the answer “you wouldn’t last five minutes in my head”, that is so true and ive only just realised that now. I’ve challenged people to take a walk in my shoes and see how they like it but that is so different to actually being inside my head, walking in my shoes will just show them the day to day things I do, but it wouldn’t show them what goes around in my mind, nobody will ever know how my mind works but I don’t think people will be so hard on me about things if they did understand me inside out. I asked my mum when did I start having outbursts and mental episodes, and her response was “well, you entered your terrible twos and you never left them”. I mean, when I have bad episodes, I do feel like a complete vulnerable child that needs some guidance and order but on other occasions for EG in school, I was told I was one of the most mature students in the school with a lot of potential so it bugs me that I have two majorly opposite personalities and I struggle coming to terms and accepting it when people mention my maturity or childishness because I feel as though I’m in complete denial and confusion about it. When in my initial assessment, one of the questions was “do you see the bigger picture or do you focus on small details”. To which my response was “well, I won’t remember the exact shape and size of this room but, I will remember those drawing pins arranged in a very untidy squiggly line in the wall up there, also I will remember that stain on the printer up there and I will remember the reccuring patterns in the curtains”. She smiled, looked down at the form and said “well that answers that question, I never noticed any of those and I have been working in this office for 5 years”. And it was then that I kind of clocked that I am a little obsessed with small detail, I actually get frustrated with myself if the reccuring patterns make no sense, and THAT now makes no sense to myself either. Ever since the assessment, all I have been doing is question myself, I’ve been trying to give eye contact more, partaking in new things and just generally going way beyond my comfort zone. This made me realise that I am extremely fond of my comfort zone and I hate not being in it. anyway I think I’ve drifted from my point, actually I don’t think I had a point, just thought I’d share a piece of my mind with you guys, whether you think you may or are Aspie or you’re here for some knowledge about the condition, thanks for reading. I

  4. I first came across the subject of Aspergers when my younger sister was diagnosed with autism at age 5 (and we were told that it was very similar to Aspergers). I went through the 5 stages of grief, including a long period of denial. I had a cousin with autism, and my idea was that she was going to turn into a carbon copy of him. This scared me, because he was train-obsessed, could not speak very clearly, and would throw fits for no discernible reason. After doing some research, I found a very good book called NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity. This book let me know more about the history behind autism, including the citing of probable historical examples. It also let me know more about what it was like to have autism, and the more I learned, the more it resonated with me. I started to understand my antisocial tendencies and my bizarre lack of social graces. I’m a happy self-diagnosed aspie that may or may not end up with a formal diagnosis, as needed. Reading other people’s stories, I understand how lucky I am to realize this at 13. I am no longer a failing normal person; I am a succesful aspie.

  5. Hi. I’m 18 years old and female. My older sister, she’s 24, just recently got diagnosed with autism. However, because it affects her so highly, in every part of her life, no one in my family ever really thought she didn’t have it- it was just a matter of finding a doctor who would take her seriously. When she got the news, she was so happy that she got an official recognition that it wasn’t her fault she did so badly in social situations, was a poor student despite being smarter than some of her teachers, couldn’t hold a job, and was generally uncomfortable being in public in any big way- she even failed gym on purpose b/c she didn’t want to change in the locker room in front of other people.
    But that’s not the reason I am commenting. Even though it is seriously awesome that she got the recognition, even as an adult female, she’s not the reason I’ve been researching autism or taking quizzes to see if I could possibly fall on the spectrum. I don’t like drawing attention to myself, so I’ve haven’t told anyone (even my brother, who I’m so close to our family jokes we share a brain) about my feelings. Probably because the only personal experience I’ve ever had with acknowledged autistic people is my sister, who, as I said, we never had any doubt about, even without a diagnosis. I feel like, because I’ve gotten this far In my life without many of the challenges she faced openly, my parents wouldn’t take me seriously. As other people have said, I feel like they might brush me off as wanting attention or something of that ilk. So I turned to the Internet.
    That’s not always the best idea, I guess, but I feel more comfortable finding answers when I don’t have people looking at me and judging- something the Internet is generally great for. And what I’ve found has only really brought more questions, instead of the answers I was hoping for.
    Most of my “symptoms” are sensory related. For instance, I can’t stand to listen to others eat, or rather, chew. The sounds make me feel physically ill, but my mother knows about that and brushes it off, saying she has the same thing. There are other things, though. Like, I can’t stand the feeling of my toes brushing against each other. It’s such a terribly small thing, but it just about drives me to tears sometimes. And there is this thing I’ve been doing as long as I remember, usually when I’m in the car, where I feel as if I can’t move if the light touches part of my body. I can move whatever isn’t touched by the light, but nothing in the sun. This probably started as a game, but I often can’t control it anymore. Same thing with touching skin- if I touch skin (and sometimes just about anything else, if I’m tired), I have to brush my hands off on my clothes. I never noticed it until my brother pointed it out. Another thing, which is apparently really common with autistic kids, is that I beat myself up when I’m overwhelmed. If I feel overwhelmed by everything, like if I’m stressed by homework and the sun’s too bright and the tv’s too loud and there are people talking to me and I can hear people shouting outside, and, what’s more, I don’t feel particularly well (this exact situation taken from yesterday afternoon) I will feel like I’m about to cry and start tensing up. I dig my nails into my palms, usually, though sometimes my arms or legs, pull my arms closer to my body, tense my shoulders, sometimes kick whatever is in front of me (yesterday, I was using my feet to lift and drop the chair in front of me to distract myself from everything). Other times, I’ll run up to my room and sit on my bed, crying and actually punching things- usually my mattress, but regularly my legs or even chest. I wear three certain rings constanly, I never take them off except to shower, and when I’m stressed about anything, even just getting to class on time or a stupid thing I did a few minutes ago or even a few years ago, I’ll spin them around my fingers. If I’m holding something that’s hard, I’ll scratch the surface of it. If I have a pen, I’ll spin it around my fingers as well.
    I feel more comfortable communicating with people indirectly, like through text, instead of on the phone or in person. I’ve always been very socially awkward- I would make a friend or two and stay close to them, maybe picking up a few of their friends just because I’m there. This is actually basically the only reason I have friends in high school, other than the people In my choral voice group. I have always been happier talking to people older than me, which makes people feel I’m very mature. The stuff In my locker all has to be In a certain place, and my books at home have to be in alphabetical order by author’s last name or it doesn’t feel right, which makes some people think I’m neat/organized, which one glance at the state of my room would disprove. Reading, and reading anything at all, is my escape from reality, and I was reading at a college level by the time I was in 6 grade. We often joke that I’m ocd about a lot of stuff, like how my food is put together. I can’t stand certain foods and their textures (for instance, just the thought of consuming shrimp can make me sick to my stomach). Watching my older sister wash dishes drives me mad and is actually something that causes me to physically tense because she does it wrong, I swear! Another joke we have is that I have no pain receptors, no nerve endings, because it takes a lot to make me feel any pain- like when I broke my wrist while skiing a few years ago and then got up and tried to ski the rest of the way down the mountain- only reason I didn’t is because I couldn’t force my hand to hold the pole correctly. I’m way, way out of touch with modern culture but can tell you whatever you want to know about Sherlock Holmes or Bilbo’s unexpected journey. And most of all, I hate drawing attention to myself in any way. Public speaking is actually torture for me, group projects are my own personal hell (especially if the groups aren’t assigned), and when I have a chance to be recognized for doing well, like when I win a spelling/vocabulary bee or get an 800 in critical teeing on the SAT (twice), I would prefer no one to mention it and to be left to fly under the radar.
    On the other hand, I don’t have a lot of the most commonly accepted signs of autism. I never really had any problem developing speech, that would be my brother, who I translated for. I dislike numbers and math in general. I am continuing into a college education to become a teacher. I can drive, and do so easily. I can usually multitask fairly well. I have emotions that are usually very obvious and can understand where other people are coming from, generally empathizing easily. Despite hating social encounters, I can usually carry a conversation (as long as the other person establishes a topic). I have a job where I regularly interact with random people, and actually kind of like it.
    I don’t know what I expect to happen by posting this. I have no idea. I don’t know whether to hope for someone to tell me I’m silly, there’s no way I’m on the spectrum and I have something else instead of that I’m definitely on the spectrum and here’s a site that would be good for me. I hope to God that I made something resembling sense here- not red earring because it already took me an hour to decide to write this at all. I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. I have always felt different and distant from other people- I used to actually wonder whether people would prefer me not to be with them, because they seemed to have more fun when I was away. Still do, though rarely. One of my friends was sharing videos about how autism looks and feels from an autistic person’s view and I felt oddly connected, as well as seeing my self, not necessarily in a good way, in the way a little autistic girl acted while having a meltdown- it looked awfully similar to when I hide to escape the world and start crying and hitting myself for no really good reason- something that has actually scared me, because I don’t feel like I’m In control at those times. I know I wrote way too much, but I couldn’t stop once I started. Sorry about that!

  6. Is anybody still here? I’m only 13, but I need somewhere to speak.
    I found out about Asperger’s by accident actually, but some of the symptoms seemed so… familiar, l kept researching it. I took a quiz and got a ‘score’ of 36. It said that about 80% of people who got over 31 were Aspies.
    Antisocial tendencies was the biggie. I am terrified of social situations; any converstaion with more than two other people makes me want to cry. My parents sent me to a therapist about it, but she didn’t really help. Not her fault… It’s just that I’m not a social person.
    The quiz I took said something about playing pretend with little kids. I’d actually rather do that than talk to people my age. Honestly… I try to escape converstaions with peers.
    I’m not that overly sensitive to stimuli, but certain noises do cause me physical pain. Like things being zipped too quickly, or 3D things being scratched by nails.
    There was also something about going on and on about what interests me, even if people are bored by it. It’s true. I tend to go on and on, and I often talk about the same topic multiple times to the same person, almost verbatim. I can’t really tell when they’re bored, but I try to make up for it by interrupting myself and saying “Is this boring you? Sorry if it’s a bit boring.” …And then I continue talking.
    I’m not sure if I’m just trying to give myself a… reason or excuse for being like this. I’m worried that I might be… That’s why I haven’t mentioned it to anyone I know. What if they think I’m faking, that I want attention…? I don’t know if anybody’s reading this, but, like I said, I just needed to say it somewhere.

    • I am going threw the same thing I am 14 and I feel as tho I do have aspergers.I have taken a bunch of tests and they all say I Have aspergers or some form of autism.i am extremely socially awkward and I think my parents would not understand. I think I need to tell them but i just don’t know how.
      Have you told your parents yet if so how did you tell them

  7. I’m 57 years old, and just coming to grips with the possibility, almost the surety, that I have Asperger’s. Everything said here is something I’ve already said to myself: that I’m faking it, I’m just trying to get attention, I’m making excuses for myself, but for the first time that I’ve learned to put up my defenses I’m now willing to step out from behind them, and I’ve been in and out of tears ever since I made the decision. I was just now sitting at the gas station crying in my truck thinking that I didn’t know it would be so hard to live without the facade I’ve put up, and that I now know why I put it up in the first place, but I really want to learn to be myself, and learn to cope with the real me rather than burying him away. Thanks for the opportunity to share a little.

  8. Hi Leigh,
    Thank you so much for writing this blog. I’ve always known I was not ‘normal’ and struggle with so many things – and always have done. I remember as a kid I used to ask my mum if I’d been good, because I got told off so much I wasn’t sure what ‘good’ was. My sister has always been the ‘popular’ one and I just cannot grasp how to converse with people properly. However, give me something to write and I’m all over it.

    I recently saw a clip on Facebook about a girl with autism having a meltdown and a dog comforting her. I cried watching it as it’s happened so many times in my life. My immediate response to anxiety and frustration is to want to run, hit my head (with or on something), scream, cry etc. There have been some moments in my life where I just couldn’t take any more. This made me feel worse, as I knew rationally that my response was unwarranted and would appear selfish and ridiculous to others.

    I then did an AQ test and after several tries got the same result. I decided to talk to my GP and to my surprise, she was amazing. I think the things I’ve been through like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, perfectionism, social phobia etc. just seemed to click – along with a whole heap of other problems. The doctor recommended your website and has referred me to a psychologist, with the hope of being tested officially. I’m 42 and a (failing) English teacher. I say ‘failing’, because I cannot go into school without a meltdown so am currently off ‘sick’. I’m fine when I move away from the school and know it’s not the children that I can’t handle; it’s the adults. I plan for hours on end and mark books so thoroughly I get behind. I’m a ‘perfectionist’, apparently. But I feel I have to spend so much time, because I don’t want to make mistakes and can’t cope with criticism. I can’t understand what I’m doing wrong, because I’m not the same as other teachers. Ticking the boxes and ‘playing the game’ to me is tantamount to lying, which I cannot do.

    I’ve always had certain ideas about people with Asperger’s and as a teacher I’ve been given guidance about it. However, after the possibility arising that I may not have been diagnosed, it’s made me realise that my preconceptions were indeed misconceptions.

    Anyway, in short: thank you so much for this site and apologies for the lengthy message. I could go on…(and often do) but will spare you! ;)

    I look forward to reading more and regardless of a diagnosis or not, I hope I can help raise more awareness in my profession.

    Miss H.

    • I’m in bits. Tears are streaming down my face. Leigh’s blog felt familiar but reading Miss H’s reply was like looking into the mirror clearly for the very first time.

      I’m so tired of being a failure, a perfectionist, the odd-one-out, the loner, the trouble maker, the difficult one, the negative one, the anti-social one, the one who’s always left out and excluded. So tired of being told to pull myself together, to get to the point, or asked why I can’t just get over it or fit in like everyone else.

      A work colleague suggested that I might be Asperger’s (or is it have Asperger’s – forgive my ignorance), so I went to my GP and asked for a referral. I was working in the dark. I hadn’t prepared. I’d done no research. You don’t know what you don’t know, right? Wish I’d found this site first. The GP referred me to the Community Mental Health Team. It’s taken over a month for them to advise that it is an incorrect referral but, by the sounds of what I read on here so far, perhaps that’s more efficient than it sounds. As my GP’s not contacted me, looks like I’ll have to start all over again. Think I’ll take someone with me when I go again and do some more research and preparation.

      A formal diagnosis would be a godsend. Finally, proof in writing that I’m ok as I am, that there’s a good reason why I’m different from others and why, maybe, people will have to make an effort to accommodate me a bit more instead of making my try and fit into the box they want me in.

      I’m scared too, though – to accept I’m not normal, never will or can be, will be tough. But, worse than that is the fear that I’m not Asperger’s after all – that I am just a difficult, negative, unlovable failure and fraud. That, I don’t think I could cope with at all.

      Thanks Leigh and the others who’ve contributed to this site. I can see some light at the end of the tunnel now. After 40+ years, it’s so good to know that I may not be alone or a freak after all.

      • To Me too! – your second paragraph = my life. Make sure they send you to a specialist AS diagnostician, preferably for mature females. That is not manipulation of outcome; a specialist is as qualified to say “No” as “Yes”, and that means you can be confident of the result, whichever way it goes. Good luck.

        Since DX at 54, I have made some drastic changes and can feel the threads pulling together at last. Left me run a bit late but hey, with all our enforced practice at starting again from scratch, who better to pull it off than a clever mature female aspie, finally pulling FOR, not AGAINST herself!!!

        • me too tears streaming kind of relief too …not sure now what i’ll do with the confirmation of a long suspected realisation.. don’t think i’ll mention to many but hopefully will help me view myself in a better light… im wondering if there is anything i can DO or practice which will help me going forward or is it most just recognising and acknowledging my differences from others and being understanding compassionate and gentle with myself knowing now i’m doing quite well considering?

        • Hi Kate. You replied on my birthday. I can relate to a lot here. I did the online test and scored 40. Sorry, I’m tired after plenty of meltdowns this week. I’m joining a group (scary) and going to approach my GP for a referral (very scary). Do you have handbags full of stuff? I do. I’m 50 years old and life has been exhausting.

  9. Hi everyone, I have to say this site has fascinated me. I have an 8 year old aspie son and since his diagnosis I have looked at myself as I see so much of me in him it’s scary. I’ve long suspected there is something different about me and just assumed It was my dire upbringing.
    I have watched the way others behave and have tailored my own responses to mimic others. For example I can see someone upset and feel no sympathy or empathy for them but from knowing what I ‘should’ feel or respond will give me a forced reaction to that person. Is this making sense?
    If there’s a joke I’ll laugh even if I don’t get it and pray no one notices. I am highly
    Anxious in situations that I’m not expecting especially social Situation. I go red head to toe if ever such an occurrence happens. The only places I feel comfortable is at work because I know I k ow everything I need to so nothing is a surprise. I also work mainly independently In my own ofoffice (people often think I’m strange as I hate things out of place) I really don’t like people to touch me or get to close to me I feel eextremely uncomfortable even my partner (he doesn’t really understand) I love him and try showing him by cooking nice things or buying thoughtful things when shopping. I find it difficult to maintain friendships it confuses me so I prefer not to bother. I’m very black and white on everything, I don’t like other ppl to cook for me as I want to know exactly what is going on with the food. And the list goes on. It’s exhaustin. I have a friend who says she notices there’s quirky differences about me but could never pin point what it could b. It would be nice to have ppl who understand me but then I hardly understand myself anyone get thi?

  10. I have been going through your posts and they are all so very relevant to my life. This page especially!

    I got my official diagnosis last year – age 39.

    I – for awhile – wore a badge at work that read “If I didn’t tell you… would you know I had autism?” My way of trying to raise awareness for us woman :)

    I can’t believe the judgement that came down on me for that. I heard all the things you posted and more. I am not so sure I answered as well as you did though lol :)

    I have one customer that has avoided me like the plague since she has insisted I can’t possibly be on the spectrum because I am nothing like her “obviously affected eight year old grandson” lol

    I had even tried to explain how someone – especially female growing up undiagnosed presents very differently… er… I think I made her angry :)

    I would like to pose a question here though… never seem to see anyone talk about this and I am curious about it… Does anyone else “feel” certain words as a physical sensation? For instance when people say my name.. I get a shock sensation.. it happens with many words. Is that weird? Or is it common?

    Anyhow.. I am loving this blog and appreciate it very much.

    • Yes I feel words have a unique resonance that I am very sensitive too. Have become more and more aware of it. SOme are solid, some cut, some fill me up. :)

    • I react with disgust to certain words – not sure if it’s anything like you. It’s like the word sounds disgusting, which probably doesn’t make sense to others! (The meaning of the word can be anything, even totally normal things).

      Also I saw this mentioned elsewhere, no idea if it’s a ‘thing’, though, but I feel weird using people’s names. Always have. I’m better at it now, though, and actually use names now.. Hahaha.

    • I hear you, but hadn’t made the connection before: I get exactly that shock reaction from micro-sounds when falling asleep. No other interruption to sleep does that, certainly not larger sounds, and nothing elicits quite that reaction at any other time even though I have high sensitivity to sounds in general in a waking state. It took forever for me to perceive that as a “thing” – even to the extent where I said “No” when the question about sensory issues first came up in DX, so I can certainly understand your asking that question.

  11. Thankyou so much for making me laugh.

    I really hope that doesn’t sound like I’m trivialising. At age 44, I am finally being referred for a diagnosis after my current counsellor (for yet another bout of anxiety/depression) realised that CBT and SSRI’s were getting us nowhere, and that my behaviour and history are remarkably consistent with AS
    It’s been a bit of a bouncy ride since then – not that I have any difficulty with an AS diagnosis; I’ve suspected for a long time – but this whole issue of getting friends and family to take the suggestion seriously (but not TOO seriously).

    I’m quickly getting rather tired of yet another classic ‘silly observation’, that I’ve no doubt many here will recognise…
    “You can’t be autistic, I’ve seen you laughing, making jokes even!”.
    To be fair, one or two have twigged that I don’t really do leg-pulling, mickey-taking and the like (ow! – cruel), and maybe find nonsense verse etc. rather more hilarious than the average “grown-up” (How I wish Spike Milligan had lived long enough for me to invite him over for dinner).

    Anyhow, I just wanted to post to say that it has been such a dose of fresh air to read the articles here after my first personal experiences of this stubborn incredulity from the people I have finally decided to allow into my strange little world.

    The more ‘clinical’ websites, of course, have been a god-send (thankyou NAS) – but after reading all those case studies and formal lists of symptoms, all written in the dour tone of a medical textbook, it has been a breath of fresh air to find somewhere that talks about Asperger’s with humour, and where it’s not taboo to maybe laugh a little at our strange quirks (or maybe the “strange quirks” that so frustrate us about the NT people in our lives – nowt as strange as folk!).

    And having read people’s experiences here, I can take some weird kind of solace from knowing that all the disbelief means I possibly do a slightly better job of “simulating” an NT person than I give myself credit for (though the “race-track” of worn carpet in my “den” tells a rather different story – hey, even recluses need their exercise!).

    Best wishes.

  12. So much talk talk talk… from so many people…
    “Would it kill you to run a brush through your hair?” “Do you really have to wear such baggy clothes? You’ve got such a nice figure.” “Didn’t you wear that yesterday and the day before?” “Why can’t you just relax and enjoy shopping like other girls?” “Why do you hate being a girl so much?” “You must have at least one friend. No, cats don’t count.” “You can’t hide in your room ALL day.” “Stop tapping your pencil.” Stop clicking your pen.” “Nice move, grace.” “Just get those feet today?” “Cat got your tongue?” “You can’t eat the same thing for breakfast every single day.” “Why do you eat all of each thing on your plate before moving on to the next?” “You’re not going to die if your peas touch your potatoes.” “Why do you hate family outings so much?” “Do you have to be such an oddball all the time?” “Why can’t you play nice?” “What is it about you that pisses people off?” “Can you just try a little tact?” “Why can’t you just be normal and mingle with the others?” “Why do you have to be so radical, so justice focused?” “You know, you’re not right ALL the time.” “Yeah, I know. Practically perfect in every way.” “I hate it when you’re right.” “What’s wrong with you? Normal people don’t act that way.” “You’re really socially inept.” “Normal people don’t think that way.” “Sorry honey, but you intimidate people. They just don’t ‘get’ you.” “Your talent and intelligence scares people.” “I wish I could take your pain away.” “It’s funny. Laugh.” “It’s a joke. Laugh.” “How is it that someone can be so brilliant and so ignorant at the same time?” “Your world is an odd, but oddly interesting, place.” “Why don’t you wear girl clothes, Mom?” “Why do I always have to drive?” “How is it that you can remember the names of over 2000 people and phone numbers from twenty years ago, but can’t remember the words to a single song?” “I think you’re manic-depressive.” “You’re OCD, aren’t you?” “You’re really depressed. You need to see a doctor and get some meds.” “Why don’t you like to be touched?” “I’m just licking the envelope. Why does that bother you so much?” “You broke your hand, and it didn’t hurt?” “Do not walk away from the kitchen when you’re cooking. You’re going to burn the house down yet.” “You’re crazy.” “You need to stop letting people walk all over you.” “What? No filters?” “Think before you open your mouth.” “You’ve got to stop being so trusting.” “Stop pacing. You make me nervous.” “Stop rocking.” “Why do your hands shake so much? Are you anxious about something?” “It’s cool how you can connect with animals.” “You’re amazingly talented.” “It really, really scares me when you have a meltdown.” “Hello, can you hear me?” “You couldn’t possibly be autistic. You seem perfectly normal.”

    I am normal. And incredibly good at masking. But it’s extremely exhausting. Please help me. I’m really tired.

    • The only thing missing from your comment is my father’s favorite: “Why don’t you learn how to act right?” Ironically, I think that he passed this along to me with his other genetic material. I do not plan to seek a formal diagnosis because for one thing, my GP has already foisted a load of psychiatric judgement onto me, not to mention that, thanks to previous experience, I no longer trust psychiatrists to any degree whatsoever. I think that I might be moving past the grief stage because it occurred to me that I had yet another battle to fight, and that at least gives me something to do. I am, at age 69, far too old to do anything to counteract the endless list of failures characterizing my life, but perhaps I can at least educate a few people along the way.

  13. 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?)

  14. 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 :)

  15. 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 !

    • “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.”
      YES YES YES YES!!!!! The world needs to be educated, or simply needs to open up their minds to the possibility that communication, and existence happens in many different ways that are all valid. I am tired of the shame I have carried through life… it is time for others to see the real me :)

  16. 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!!!!!

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

    • One option might be to make up an innocuous excuse to go see your doctor, and then bring up your symptoms with the doctor in private. It will be harder for your parents to wave off the doctor.

      • Great idea. My parents also ignored me whenever I reported symptoms. I was finally diagnosed with a seizure disorder after living with it (ignored and undiagnosed) for some seven years) when I had to see a doctor for a physical the first time I tried to go to college. Start taking charge of your own life now, before you end up being convinced that your concerns are trivial and worthless; the only thing you will learn from that is how to be unable to ask for help when you need it.

    • Are you still here Hannah?
      I’m 13, and I think I may have Asperger’s. The symptoms… make sense. I’m nervous to tell my parents, like you were. I’m assuming you’ve dealt with that problem by now… Can you help me? ‘Cause I don’t know what to do.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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…?

  23. 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:

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

  24. 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?

    • 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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…’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 : )

  28. 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!

    • “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.

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

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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

  34. 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 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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!

  37. 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.

    • 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.

  38. 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. . .

    • 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.

  39. 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


    • 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

    • 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?

  40. 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.

  41. 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..:(

  42. “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…
    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…”

    • 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

    • 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.

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

    • 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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