You would do better attending a “special” school. You would never go away to college. You will always have troubles making friends. These phrases have been told to me by many doctors over the course of my life, causing me to believe that I would never achieve what other people my age could and never have a “normal” life. I was “quirky” and that was simply unacceptable. This is simply untrue.
The social challenges that Asperger’s introduced were the least of my problems given that I also had a myriad of other so-called “mental impairments.” It took me a while to figure out why people would get annoyed when I made repetitive movements or sounds that I found to be soothing. Spinning, rocking, rubbing my head, pacing the floor and flipping pencils were all deemed unfit behaviors to be considered “normal.” But what is normal? This was normal to me. This was my normal. Why is my normal unacceptable while are accepted? Because I am not the norm, I’m quirky. I am not status quo. I am not a sheep in the flock. I standout, but am learning that Asperger’s can help me to standout in a way that sets me apart from other’s, not because I’m “special” but because of the special gifts and talents it has provided me. I have learned the “normal” behaviors that society and social etiquette dictate so that I can appear “normal” like the rest of the population, whom I feel are winging it too. Does everyone have it all going on? I doubt it.
I look back on my journey since I was diagnosed at age 10 and am now 16 and see my former behaviors in hindsight. I had troubles with those I interacted with. I was unyielding and had strong desires for control and things to go a certain way. I was relentless and focused when I wanted something or wanted to do something, which of course needed to be my way. I would hyperfocus on topics I found fascinating like astrophysics or string theory while boring the socks off of those listening willing to chew their own arms off to get away. In short I had a drive and motivation that was also unyielding determination that was driving people, mostly my peers, away. Through the last six years I have worked hard at mitigating these behaviors and developing strategies to utilize that drive and determination to not only make me socially acceptable but successful in all areas of my life.
I developed the ability to step outside of myself, something else Aspie’s (that’s what we are called) are told we can’t do. The frustrations of those around me motivated me to find ways to break the habits that had plagued me for so long. The beauty of being stubborn is not believing I can’t do anything. My parents are both stubborn which is where I get it from. Neither ever believed I couldn’t do anything and they never allowed me to accept my own behaviors as being acceptable because I had Asperger’s. I was always encouraged to set the bar higher because they knew I could attain it even thought I was the outsider in any group. This is a story of how I met that challenge and raised the bar for myself. This is about my journey of how I have made Asperger’s work for me and how I became “quirky.”