Open letter to Script Shrink and scriptAutistic
Disclaimer: this is all stuff that I thought and experienced. Not everything I believed at the time was true, or nice, or pleasant, and for all I know there may still be incorrect information in here (sorry about that), but it is honest.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s back when it was a diagnosis, some time in high school I think. I never looked up much information on it. I didn’t look up info on Tourette’s or ADHD either. I didn’t want to feel like there was anything wrong with me, so I avoided it as much as possible.
The first time I went to university (long story, not relevant here) I met someone who’d also been diagnosed with Asperger’s. I loved being around him – looking back, I can tell that I loved him, even if I hadn’t yet understood that it was in a non-romantic way – but sometimes I felt bad, when I compared myself to him. He had lots of friends. I had him, and whoever wasn’t telling me to shut up at the moment. He had a roommate that he got along with, and lived comfortably with the other people in his residence. I’d known from prior experience that having a roommate would be a Bad Idea for me, and I ended up getting kicked out of the townhouse-style residence after less than a month. We had the same diagnosis, so what was wrong with me, I would wonder, that he could function so well with others, and I couldn’t?
Skip ahead a few years. I hadn’t seen him in a while (and still haven’t) because of unrelated reasons. I was at a different university, studying linguistics, and took out a copy of the DSM-V from the library for the lulz. I ended up finding out that Asperger’s was no longer a separate diagnosis because one of the qualifiers had been “no difficulties with language” and pragmatics was a part of language. From my linguistics courses, I knew what pragmatics was: knowing when and in what manner to speak, among other things, which is something I definitely have problems with.
Skip forward a bit. Due to different unrelated reasons, someone was looking at potential alternate living accommodations for me, and mentioned a group home for people with autism. I had an automatic hell no I’m not disabled reaction (despite that I receive Disability from the provincial government), and my second reaction was that it was a bad idea to gather people together whose shared feature was problems with social interaction. The person looked it up anyways, and said that I wouldn’t be a candidate for that place anyways because I was too high-functioning. I mentally looked at my life, and how much of a mess it was, and assumed that anyone who functioned at a lower level than me, would be completely helpless, and also a bunch of other things that I’m not going to put here, but they’re all derogatory.
Skip forward to a few weeks or months ago. I saw posts on my dash about autism. I had never even heard of some of those terms, but what they described sounded very familiar. I started to gradually accept it, not as a brokenness, but as a difference. I think the most important information was that there is no such thing as “high-functioning” or “low-functioning” autism, just a bunch of different elements – like under categories of social interaction, sensory processing, executive function, meltdowns – that are at different levels for everyone with autism, which can be more or less problematic, depending on the person and their situation.
There are two things I found particularly reassuring, odd as they may seem. The first is that clumsiness (or whatever the technical name is) is common among people with autism. Now, my mother has a type of “hell if we know” nervous system disorder, and has gone from walking with two canes (when I was little) to being in a wheelchair full-time. Whenever I would drop my keys or trip over my own feet, sometimes I wondered if I’d inherited that from her as well, along with my nose shape and skin that sunburns stupidly easy. But now, I don’t think I have to worry about that.
The second thing is hypersensitivity to sound. I can hear people talking across the apartment, and what they’re talking about, and pick up quieter sounds than others; but I can barely understand what someone’s saying if there’s a lot of background noise. I did a paper on auditory neuropathy once, so I know there’s more to “hearing impairment” than just detectable sound threshold, so I’d been worried about that. Now my hearing hasn’t been formally tested lately, but there’s a likely non-clinical explanation for my problems with background noise, which is quite a relief.
In conclusion, I’ve learned more about a part of myself from just seeing scriptAutistic’s reblogged posts, in the past few months, than all the years previous. Thanks for that.