Tomorrow is the night of my high school prom. Hundreds of girls from my grade will go out together for hairdresser’s appointments and for manicures. Their dates will meet them at the door of their houses with corsages and matching boutonnieres and they will together meet the rest of their group for a photo session. They will load up the limo or bus that they made arrangements for months ago and arrive at the venue with the eager expectations of prom that they have had since childhood.
Witnessing the excitement around me as the event rapidly approaches has caused me a certain sense of frustration and jealousy as the prom for me will never exist. Though I am abstaining from the dance by my own accord, I cannot help to feel a little irritated by the fact that I am not able to find the same joy that others find in dressing up with friends and dancing together all night long. As my fellow seniors pack their suitcases and duffel bags for weekends at their friend’s shorehouse I can’t help but to feel jealous that my peers are independent and trusting enough of each other to work together to make these events happen.
I often become frustrated when I am hindered by my Asperger’s Syndrome. It is very obvious to me from experience at previous dances that it would be impossible for me to enjoy prom because of my various hypersensitivities and my distastes for dressing up and for dancing. Though I felt guilty about submitting to the downsides of my disorder, it would have been silly to put myself through a few hours of torture (not to mention weeks of planning and money that would have gone to waste) just to be able to say that I went to my high school prom. I was shocked to discover that my friend, a fellow Aspie, would be in attendance, but reminded myself that his needs are different than mine.
When applying for a scholarship recently for students with disabilities I was forced to question whether I qualified as disabled. I am able to perform well in school (though not as well as I feel I could) and I can support myself with a job and can drive myself to a few select important places (such as my students’ houses, school, and, of course, to the diner for curly fries), but it is limitations that make me unable to function socially like my peers that qualify me as disabled.
Though I am proud to be an Aspie and normally take advantage of my abilities, there come some times when I am forced to face the symptoms of my beloved disorder that do make it difficult and sometimes impossible for me to do things or experience emotions that I wish I could do or experience. I do not and will not regret not going to prom, but the tinge of being unable to share in the happiness and excitement that the majority of my peers have felt and will display tomorrow night and this weekend is going to cause me some pain for a while as I begin to process the often-forgotten truth of my disability.