We received this insightful piece from Ruby Aspie (pen name), which gives us a great insight into early adult life with Aspergers as well as her moment of realisation that she has Aspergers Syndrome, and how this information has affected her.
I am a 19-year-old self-diagnosed Aspie. In Dec 2011, I was prowling through the internet in search of an answer to my weirdness when I came across the term ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’. From that point on, my life changed forever. Still here? Give a minute and I’ll tell you my story from the beginning.
I was a rather unusual child from the start. I didn’t cry very often, I slept most of the time and I didn’t start talking until the age of two. Fast forward a couple of years…I was lucky enough to be placed in a small, close-knit primary school where I considered all the girls to be my friends. With all due modesty, I was the cleverest student in the class and the teachers constantly fawned over me. We were more or less twenty pupils but my best friend was the most popular girl in the class. I became a prefect, received numerous certificates and awards, wrote several school plays and even started my own school magazine. Opportunities were plentiful and life was good.
Too good to last, it turned out. Most of the girls went to the same secondary school as me but I couldn’t maintain my close friendship with them. It seemed that my best friend had changed into a completely different person overnight. I was depressed and lonely till I made friends with an extremely caring and loyal girl who became my soul mate and confidante. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know how I would have survived my first three years of high school. The other girls were kind and friendly but I just didn’t fit in with them. Nevertheless, I thrived on my reputation as the ‘’brain’ of the class. As someone who loves studying, I worked hard to earn medals and awards. Nothing motivated me more than being recognized for my writing skills and academic achievements, Most importantly though, I was lucky lucky lucky to have a superb friend by my side every day for three years.
But the luck ran out. We moved to a new country, a new house, a new school. New everything, which didn’t go so well for me. I went to a very expensive private school where the girls had no concern for anything that didn’t involve fashion, hair, make-up, exotic vacations, fancy food and endless gossip. Don’t get me wrong, my old classmates were typical teenagers but at least they cared about their grades. In my new school, I was seen as the class nerd for the first time in my life. Being smart at school didn’t endear me to anyone. To them, I was unfashionable and geeky. The librarian knew me as the girl who camped out at the library every recess and lunch. I made friends with a friendly and funny girl but she left two years later. And anyway, we didn’t always get on. So I was nearly always friendless and alone, for four LONG years. In this school, if I didn’t make an effort to adapt to the class, the class refused to adapt to me. If I didn’t try to make friends, no one tried to make friends with me. I wasn’t accepted into the class without question; I had to earn their friendship. But I didn’t know how to do that. So for four years, no one asked about me at lunch. No one cared.
Those four years, from beginning till end, marked the worst time in my life. I honestly thought they would never end. I suffered a breakdown in the third year but managed to pull myself together in my final year to pass my exams. After the graduation ceremony, I closed that chapter of my life.
But I couldn’t close it firmly enough. My first semester at university was marked by a complete lack of close friends. I could talk to other girls and get to know them, but it was exceedingly difficult to go beyond that. Then there was a breakthrough; I found out that I had Asperger’s! In my second semester, I was befriended by a sweet and trusty girl who insisted on being my close friend. She invited me out everywhere and introduced me to all her friends. No matter how boring or awkward I may have been, she never ever hurt my feelings in any way. She pulled me out of the depth of despair and gave me a reason to carry on. I also renewed my friendship with a past acquaintance who had a great sense of humour. All in all, I passed my freshman year with relatively good grades.
I spent my summer holiday trying to identify and ‘fix’ my weaknesses. I tried to learn as much as possible about Asperger’s Syndrome but not much changed in semester 3. My friends and I took only two courses together so I was alone for the other three courses. I don’t know if loners stand out in a lecture hall but my university lectures take place in small classrooms where loners stick out like a sore thumb. For the fifth year in a row, I had no social life to speak of. In the end, I managed to get top grades in two courses, average marks in the other two… and a D+! Not good, I know.
And that’s where my story ends. I would have like to go into more detail about the signs of Asperger’s that I exhibited during my childhood and teenage years, and that everyone missed, but I’ll stop here. If you’re interested in hearing more about my story, let me know. And remember this… growing up, I always knew deep down that there was something different about me. Now I realize that it wasn’t just something different, it was something special. You’re special. Remember that.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net