Surprise! I’m Autistic!

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.

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3 responses to “Surprise! I’m Autistic!

  1. i will start by saying i do not have autism in any way but my brother has P.D.D. and i find what you are saying very insitefull

  2. I come from a family where it is very likely that my grandfather, uncle, brother, and father fall somewhere on the Asperger’s continuum. In the case of my brother, his Aspberger’s symptoms were masked by his ADHD. He is 41 now and working to help his 10 year old son, who inherited both conditions from him, to function in the world. Over the past several years, I have done a lot of reading that explains more than it doesn’t about the possibility that I would likely be diagnosed as high-functioning Aspberger’s were I to pursue the possibility. At 44, I am not terribly interested in doing that, but it would explain many of my social issues. I am also highly sensitive to the emotions of others – to the point of almost crippling empathy, which is the one thing that leads me to think that I am either not Aspberger’s or have a really unusual sensitivity. Is there a book that you would recommend that would help me to figure things out?

    Oops… I just realized that the fact that I am a female might be helpful in this conversation. 😉

    • Thanks for reading my blog and commenting! What you mentioned about your sensitivity to emotions of others actually sounds extremely Aspergian to me. Many individuals with Asperger’s, especially females, I’ve found, tend to rebut the argument that Aspies lack empathy because they feel they have too much empathy. My “aha” book was

        Look Me in the Eye

      by John Elder Robison, but based on your gender-specific concerns I also highly recommend

        Aspergirls

      by Rudy Simone. I hope that helps! -Nicole

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