I’ve been putting off writing this because brain is never in the right place. (This is actually a good thing, even if not good for writing personal posts) and because I want to put things in order but I can’t remember enough to do that. I’ll see what I can do and, once I’m done, I can get onto the interesting stuff.
So there was part I was mostly a mini-bio. Now I get to where I was 41 and reading something Asperger’s Syndrome in teenagers and one line, I can’t remember it, something forming relationships, made me think “That sounds like me”. Now, I’ll add here that I was reading things because my sister was in the process of chasing up diagnoses for her kids.
The thing is, and I bet this sounds familiar, there’s always been this feeling that something in my head was different, the wiring or the chemical balance or something. Things over people find easy, I can’t do. Things over people find hard, come easy to me. I’d been to counsellors and psychologists. Been told that everyone is an orange but some people are bananas. Treated for depression. Diagnosed with “General Anxiety Disorder”, followed by a year of “help” wherein I got asked things like “What do you think causes you anxiety?” and how do I feel when I’m anxious (apparently you’re supposed to have a bad feeling your stomach. Need more sun. More exercise. Sleep better. Circles! (That’s CBT for the unformed).
None of which really helped. By “really” I mean not at all. So this was an idea worth chasing up, right?
Now where it gets fun is if you going looking on the web you’ll get all sort of medical and professional sites with lists of trait or symptoms that you can compare yourself against! This is the first one I came across when I did a search just now:
* unusually intense or focused interests – NOT REALLY
* stereotyped and repetitive body movements such as hand flapping and spinning – NO
* repetitive use of objects such as repeatedly switching lights on and off or lining up toys – NO
* insistence on sticking to routines such travelling the same route home each day and doing things in exactly the same order every time – DEFINITELY NOT
* unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects or staring intently at moving objects – NO
* sensory sensitivities including avoidance of everyday sounds and textures such as hair dryers, vacuum cleaners and sand – NO, or actually YEAH, I hate(d) the noise of vacuum cleaners and I don’t like light in my room at night
* limited use and understanding of non-verbal communication such as eye gaze, facial expression and gesture – NO and YES. I had to teach myself the eye-contact thing and I still try to avoid looking at people I don’t know when they’re talking to someone I’m with. Hand gestures though, I use them a lot.
* difficulties forming and sustaining friendships – I GUESS SO
*lack of seeking to share enjoyment, interests and activities with other people – NO
So you get the idea, more No’s but the occasional Hmm. I was reading one day about stimming (the “stereotyped and repetitive body movements such as hand flapping and spinning” bit above) which obviously I don’t do and realised I was rubbing the bit of my chest just below my neck over and over. I do this a lot, often until it’s red. Guess what?
Here’s a thing, if you keep reading beyond medical and “professional” web pages, you discover some things. First that they’re usually talking about kids and most of this is based on observations of boys, and, oh yeah, it’s observations. That is, by experts looking at things from outside. As one psychologist put it, in older adults the corners have been knocked. Also, girls “present differently” (which is a whole long complicated topic in itself but to keep it simple, they’ll learn to mimic people don’t exhibit some of the expected/stereotypical behaviours of boys, they’re often diagnosed with depression, general anxiety disorder, OCD, schizophrenia). So in a, for example, 41 year old women, stimming might include things like fiddling with hair or jewellery, neck rubbing, foot rocking when sitting, fiddling endlessly with bits of wax or blu-tac, biting nails.
Anyway, long story short, I went to see a psychologist. She didn’t know much about this Asperger’s thing but she knew someone in Melbourne who did, and I was just shy and that’s OK. Then I got a name of a psychologist who did know something and went to see her, and she said, Yep, and also writing SF is probably a big indicator of ASD.
Also, she pointed me to the Launceston Adults Asperger’s Support Group, which met once a month. Well it still does, but we also have a drop-in every Thursday, where I usually open up, except when I’m a bit late. And that gets new people turning up with the same story: they’re in the late 30s, 40s, 50s or older, they’re felt like an outsider all their life, they’ve struggled with work or relationships, had problems with anxiety/OCD/despression etc. but then they realised/a medical professional told them…. So they come along and find people who they relate to, who understand them when they talk about things. Who don’t expect them to make small talk, or look at them when they talk, or even talk at all if they don’t want to.
Anyway, in the process of talking to people and reading and talking about the reading, I have learnt things. So it is those things I want to write about. I’ll try setting myself a goal of one post every weekend to help ensure I do it.
(Image: Sarah Island, Macquarie Harbour)