Oftentimes the struggles of high-functioning autistic individuals are overlooked by the general population as we are not only considered to be “lucky” enough to be able to go to college, drive, and have jobs, but also because the general population does not realize even that we are autistic. This is true in the cases of most people I meet, as most people will never know that I am autistic without me telling them.
The brunt of my problems are a result of the fact that there is not a sufficient amount of Asperger’s Syndrome awareness. Some might argue that shows such as “Parenthood” (and let me make it clear right now, the character Sugar Motta on Glee is an egotistical idiot, not autistic) are advancing the exposure of AS to the general public. However, characters portrayed in the media as having Asperger’s usually follow one certain typecast of the condition: First of all, they are almost always male (Again, girl-on-Glee is far from being autistic), and they only display symptoms which one would think to attribute with AS such as severe social awkwardness, friendlessness, tantrums, and obsessive tendencies. In other words, autistic people in the media are clearly autistic because the media tells you to look out for their condition.
My form of Asperger’s is very much out-of-context. Because I am a girl most people would not think to consider that I may have AS, as boys are overwhelmingly more likely to be diagnosed. Thanks to years of social conditioning I have taught myself, my symptoms are very subtle. This is not to say, however, that I am cured of my condition. Every day I continue to struggle to interpret social cues and rules, especially now, at the beginning of my college career, when I am meeting many new people whose tendencies are unfamiliar to me. Sometimes I even make a social slip.
When entering a new world such as the college world, where I am faced daily with hundreds of new faces, my condition becomes painfully more obvious to me as I am more vulnerable to stress. This does not mean, though, that I am more clearly autistic to anybody else. Social slips that I suffer, which include (but are not limited to) involuntary interruptions, blurting, averting eye contact, and general social awkwardness, occur more often than I would like and are frequently misinterpreted by others to be signs that I am annoying or rude. When rapidly forming new relationships, which occurs notably in situations such as, well, college, I have found that people are very quick to judge and decide on whom they will choose to be friends with, and the slightest social missteps are enough to eliminate me from the qualifying rounds of friendship. Patience is a virtue indeed, but I recognize that I cannot expect people, especially strangers, to adapt to my deficiencies. All I can do is hope that perhaps they will value my strengths enough to do so.