Isolating Aspergers versus accepting Aspergers

In my years of living with Aspergers, I have come across a plethora of attitudes towards the condition, both from people on the spectrum and others who have varying levels of experience with the condition. One aspect of attitude towards Aspergers is whether or not you isolate it or accept it as part of you/the person with Aspergers you know. Isolating it is a term I use, rather than a generally recognised one. What I am referring to is treating Aspergers as a separate entity, something that can easily be distinguished from one’s personality and, as a consequence, usually something that is easy to blame when things go wrong.

I am the first to admit that, depending on my mood, I swing between isolating Aspergers and accepting Aspergers. During a highly emotionally charged meltdown, I once even posted on Facebook that, if my Aspergers was a person, I would punch it in the face. However, once I had calmed down the next morning, I could see that this strength of feeling had been impulsive and provoked by the meltdown I had been in the midst of. The simple fact is that Aspergers is a significant part of who I am-always has been and always will be. Yes I sometimes wonder what I would be like if I didn’t have the condition but, as I have gotten older, that has decreased a lot because I realise that it is a somewhat pointless exercise because, no matter how many hours I sit there wondering how different I would be if I didn’t have Aspergers, my neurological makeup and the way my brain is wired is not going to change. It influences the way I think and the way I perceive language every day which is why I consider it a significant part of my life and why, when I am emotionally stable, I accept it.

I often find that accepting it is the happiest option. When you can accept Aspergers as part of what makes you you, it becomes one less battle to fight. We have enough struggles in life without being constantly at war with our brains. I also think it’s important to remember that everybody faces their own issues and struggles in life, whether they are autistic or not. Try not to blame everything on Aspergers, which I have seen some desperately unhappy people do. I suppose that brings us to one main point in all of this-depression makes it so much harder to accept Aspergers as part of your life. I have often found that, when people list why they would want to be cured from their condition, the things they list are often associated with depression-an overwhelming sense of hopelessness and despair. Depression is something I would say, from experience, a lot of people on the spectrum struggle with. The world favours sociable people and most of us are not all that sociable. Plus we see the world differently and the way we view the world is not usually catered for. If it was, certain noises, sounds, smells and textures wouldn’t exist and it wouldn’t matter if people looked at you when they were talking to you or not. I have often found that, with other people on the spectrum I know, once the depression is under control, their outlook on Aspergers is much brighter. It’s the depression that needs to be treated.

Aspergers is not a monster or a demon. It is simply a different neurological makeup. It brings unique strengths as well as weaknesses. Yes, if I didn’t have it, I might be a bit more sociable and a bit less socially awkward but I might also have lost my ability to speed read, which I have always found to be a real strength. The truth of it is that I can’t tell what I would be like because Aspergers is so intertwined in my life that I can’t tell which aspects of my personality are down to Aspergers and which aspects I would always have had. What I guess I’m trying to say is does it really matter? I am not against self improvement but there is a difference between wanting to be the best you can be and the type of self hatred that I see all too often in the autistic community. I often find we bully ourselves more than anyone else has ever bullied us. Sometimes I find that evaluating the situation logically is the best way forward. Yes we have our issues but everyone does, whether autistic or not-their issues may be different but they still have their battles to deal with. Our lives would not suddenly be perfect if we woke up one day and our condition had vanished overnight. Everyone has little blips now and again but, if you feel like you hate your condition all the time, please seek help as it is most likely influenced by depressive thinking which DOES need treating. Remember the positives and remember your strengths-everybody is unique and the world needs all different types of minds.

A book that’s worth a read!

I know it’s been a while since I last posted and I apologise for that but I’ve been so busy recently. I have been keeping up with people’s comments though. I love to know what people think of my blog so it’s always nice to receive comments, especially when I know that the blog has helped someone to accept their diagnosis or to realise that they are not alone in experiencing a certain trait.

A good friend of mine, who also has Aspergers, has written a book primarily aimed at professionals in the education sector who work with children on the spectrum. The link is here

http://www.lulu.com/shop/angela-goodwin/how-to-teach-autistic-children-more-effectively-using-educational-psychology-and-my-own-experiences-and-knowledge/ebook/product-22522601.html

This book deals honestly with the issue of teaching children on the spectrum in a way that motivates them to learn. Obviously every person on the spectrum is different but, sadly, a common theme among children with autism, particularly those in a mainstream environment, is underachievement in an educational setting. I have met many incredibly bright people on Aspergers forums who dropped out of school because they struggled to keep interested in what they were being taught.

Of course, people who aren’t on the spectrum can also become disillusioned with school and drop out before completing their education. Learning in a mainstream environment can be tough for lots of people, including those with no neurodiverse diagnosis at all. I have 2 close relatives who are teachers so I know just how hard they work and how they differentiate to take into account the needs of every child in their classroom. This is by no means an attack on teachers. I simply think that the more good resources there are out there for people teaching children with autism the better. I also think that learning from someone who is on the spectrum themselves is the best way, hence why I set up this blog two and a half years ago. I cannot fault most of the professionals that specialise in the autistic spectrum and they do bring a much needed awareness and understanding but I always think it’s best to get advice from somebody who lives with that mind and has grown up with those traits.

I hope the book is helpful for people. Please let me know what you think if you do buy it so I can pass the feedback on to my friend. Thank you everyone!