Something strange has been happening to me lately. Instead of underestimating my age (at first glance, my 13-year-old sister admittedly looks much older than me due to her sophisticated style and her make-up) people have been mistaking my age to be around 20. I was taken aback at first–I am still offered the occasional kids’ menu, but I began to think about what might make people think that I am older than I am.
Asperger’s is a funny disorder–it makes me more mature than my peers in some aspects, yet it leaves me immature in many other aspects. Aspies can often appear much more mature than others because of our special interests. People will generally assume that a five-year-old who knows his periodic table is more mature than a five-year-old who can’t build a block tower. I have always been very analytical. When I was four I wrote a book report about Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz” comparing and contrasting the book and movie. This can leave people with the impression that I am very mature.
However, I have many many immaturities due to Asperger’s. I love cartoons and kid shows such as “Spongebob” and “Phineas and Ferb” and would prefer them to dramas any day. I get upset during intense movies, and even though I am old enough to watch R-rated movies, I would rather watch children’s movies. My immaturities are especially evident in a lot of social activities appropriate for kids my age. While most of my peers like to go out on Fridays to movies or to parties, I would rather stay home and practice bass clarinet. While most girls my age love to go shopping for the latest fashions, I have worn the same “uniform” (Delia’s “Bailey” jeans, a cotton graphic T-shirt, a Hard Rock Cafe hoodie, and my Chacos flip-flops) for around 5 years now with minimal alterations.
My biggest social immaturity, though, is in the dating scene. I struggled a lot with dating throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school before I really understood what it meant to “date someone.” Because of my Asperger’s, I had to literally teach myself every social rule necessary for survival. However, some rules got lost in translation. I thought that in order to be happy and to be socially successful I needed to have a boyfriend. I also believed that if a boy liked me it was because I liked him. It took me two “relationships” to realize this.
I use the term “relationship” loosely because I realized rather recently that I didn’t know what a relationship really was. I am rather sensitive to touch, and so I was surprised whenever my boyfriends tried to touch me. We rarely made contact and the most contact we made was holding hands. I also didn’t realize that being in a relationship meant going to hang out places. If I remember correctly, I had two to three “dates” with my boyfriends, all of which included ice cream or movies.
After ending my “relationships” I realized that I am very immature sexually. I think that kisses are icky and am very uncomfortable with the concept of anybody touching me. I also realized that I am not attracted sexually to boys in any way (For the record, I am not attracted sexually to girls, either). In these regards, I am not resentful for having had two “relationships.” However, I do recognize that my “boyfriends” and I were on completely different pages, and I resent the fact that I probably hurt them with my immaturity.
A lot of the time people say to me “There’s no way you have Asperger’s; there’s nothing wrong with you!” Obviously they’ve never been in a “relationship” with me.