Friday, April 27, 2012

April is Autism awareness month.

I thought I would talk about a subject other than baseball or baseball cards for one post.

April is Autism Awareness month.  The goal is the bring more well.. awareness and understanding to those that have it. The problem is so many articles tend to be told from a neutral viewpoint (from someone that doesn't have it, or doesn't know anyone that has it), or from an experts or parent's viewpoint.  What you don't tend to see is the actual people with autism or with Aspergers   and I think that is just important, if not more  to get what they have to say out there.  This month is about them after all.

I touched on a previous post that I have Asperger’s syndrome, but didn’t really go into a lot of detail.  Asperger’s is on the Autism spectrum but on the more mild end.   Rain man I am not.    I’m the type that brings a book to a party.  The type that never knows what to say and whose conversations often dies minutes after they have begun.   The one who still has to remember and often forgets to look people in the eye.

Over the last several years Asperger’s have become more prevalent in society.  It has been talked about in the media, there are characters with Asperger’s on TV and in books and everyone seems to have an opinion on it.  Some are saying it is the new ADHD and the diagnosis is being tossed around like beads at the Mardi Gra.  Some even say it is made up and the kids are just brats.  

It is because these kinds of ignorant comments that I decided to make a post, because even with all the talk about it, few people actually understand what Asperger’s really is.  If I can make just make one person see that I am not just some “shy” kid or make one person understand a little bit more about Aspergers then that will be good enough for me.

Growing up   I never really fit in.   I was different.  I was awkward. Even my family knew there was something off about me but they never could tell just what it was.   That wouldn’t happen until I was nearly seventeen, but I will get to that later.

School was the worst time of my life. I was made fun of just about until I graduated.   It wasn’t so bad the first few grades.  I think partly due to kids not being as socially aware as the older grades

 In fourth grade I transferred to a private school and that was when the shit hit the fan.  My differences started to come to light and my classmates jumped on them and me.   Those were the worst two years of my life.  I vividly remember being told to jump from two stories up because it would be “fun”   I was ten and eleven and I talked about killing myself. My fourth grade teacher recommended I see someone because she could see something off with me as well.  The guy saw me once and told me that I needed  to get some self esteem and to get a “hobby”.

I transferred out of that school in the sixth grade, but even at different school things didn’t get better.  I was still me.  Middle school was some of the worst years of my life.   I was called ugly constantly.  I remember guys coming up to say their “friend” liked me just to embarrass the friend.  I guess because I was so hideous. I did manage to make friends, but I was still that weird girl, the one nobody wanted to sit with or partner up with.  

As high school rolled around things got a little better.  I was still made fun of though and I was still the odd duck.  It was then though that I would finally get diagnosed.   I was in the eleventh grade and having issues.  I was talking about suicide and having bad anxieties about school so my mom took me to a psychiatrist.

On the very first visit she brought up the term Asperger’s Syndrome.  Until that day we had never heard of it.  The list she gave my mom of the symptoms fit me to a T though.  Finally there was a name for why I never fit in, why I hated tags on my shirt, clasped my hands over my ears and why I did the things I did.   Finally we had answers.

Unfortunately  nobody else had any idea what Asperger’s was either  Sadly even today there are family members that don’t accept that there is anything  “wrong” with me.    By the time I get a diagnosis, I was in the twelfth grade.  I was put in a resource class for one period but that was more study hall than anything.   In the end I had to take a math course in the summer to graduate and my GPA was dismal. 

Today I am twenty seven and still live at home and likely will for a while.  I don’t drive and have never had a job before.    I am currently on SSI for my Asperger’s and Anxiety.  It took three tries to get it.   I actually remember being told if I was pregnant I could get help.  

 We have actually tried to get me help in getting a job.  Sadly in a small town options are limited.  One place we tried was for so called normal people out of work and another was for people with severe autism.  People like me were stuck being the preverbal rock and a hard place.   I know that I can work the only problem is finding the work and understanding employers.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had been born ten years later and diagnosed earlier.  Could I have gotten more help?   Would I be able to work or drive? Or live on my own? Taking money from the government wasn’t something I want or am proud of.  I need help though. Asperger’s is more than just social issues.  It is more than being socially awkward.  It reaches into nearly every aspect of my life.

 I have sensory issues.    I hate being touched, even by my own family.  I have never willingly hugged or kissed anyone on my own.  I’m asexually and a virgin.  A touch on the knee or arm makes me jerk out reflexively as if shocked. Loud noises startle me and make me clasp my hands over my ears.  I cannot wear certain fabrics.   I’m what you call a “picky” eater.  I will always try something but a lot of foods will make me gag

My fine and gross motor skills are shall we say... lacking.  I still can’t hold a pencil correctly.  I have trouble with sports.  Dancing is near impossible for me.  I’m drop things a lot and stumble and trip on a daily basis.  I cannot cut straight with scissors.

I also have issues with executive dysfunction.    In other words…. I’m messy disorganized and scatter brained.  I’m forever losing and misplacing things.  My room seems to make messes.  My short term memory scares me and if my own head wasn’t attached I would lose it.  I get confused with more than three or four instructions and I am easily overwhelmed and have trouble making decisions.

 Emotionally and socially I feel a lot younger, more like fourteen socially and ten emotional wise.  This is slowly progressing as when I was in high school.  I read a report where my maturity matched a six year olds.  I like toys and reading YA fiction Things like paying bills or other adult duties are beyond me.  My room looks like it belongs to a 12 year old boy.  I tend to get along with people a lot younger than me.   I relate better with them and can put myself in their shoe more so than I can the adult characters.

I have trouble controlling my emotions a time as well.  Simple frustrations overwhelm me at times and I have tendency of self-harming by hitting myself in the head with my fist or even scratching myself with my nails.  I have thrown things and broken things and even kicked at a pet.

I tend to have interests I obsess over.  I drive my mom crazy and I am constantly bringing up Chipper Jones or my cat Buffy, every day I bring them up and multiple times day at that.  She is the only one I have to talk to like this and I know I over-do it. 

 Boy did I ramble and whine, but there you have it, the effect the Asperger’s has on me. I hope that I made you just a little bit more aware of Aspergers, after all that is what the month is for


  1. I was never diagnosed with it but all the experiences you talked about happened to me as well(no private school)and I'm sure most of your fellow blogger have had a few instances of things they weren't happy that they did.

    I grew up the same way. forgetting to make eye contact-yep. Saying more than 3 words to someone before looking to the ground-always. Throwing a baseball through my tv-yeah.

    But, I grew out of that over time.

    It gets better.

    And you got this person thinking about it so your post was a success.

  2. Wow. Thanks for opening up. You taught me a few things about Aspergers that I will keep with me. Although I don't have it, I could relate to a couple of the things. You're in my thoughts.

  3. Very well written, it is a great thing you did by shedding light on something people know very little about. I knew a few things due to my son's friend who has Aspergers but you have taught me other things I did not know. Thanks for such an enlightening post.

  4. First off, a Braves fan i am not. But i am a fan of yours, to read your post about Aspergers and the everyday struggles you go though must be tough. But yet you seem to take everyday in stride and helping others understand about Aspergers, which in my book is mad cool. People sometimes make funny of things they don't understand which sucks but thats the world we live in. But with your post hopefully some of those people will come to an understanding of what Aspergers really is and what it is to live with it. I wish you all the best in this fight with Aspergers and just remember to never ever give up!!