While I was in bed last week with some obnoxious form of stomach flu, I had a lot of time to contemplate my life, the paths I have taken, the roads less traveled, the blockades barely crawled over, the stumbling blocks I never did climb and my childhood as an undiagnosed person with Autism / Asperger's Syndrome.
Growing up, I always felt different than my peers, uncomfortable in my own skin, a puzzle piece that didn't fit. I didn't know about Asperger's Syndrome until my littlest was diagnosed with Autism at age 2 and my oldest was diagnosed with AS at age 8 so growing up, it was flying without a parachute diagnosis-wise.
These are some of the reasons / self-justifications I felt like such an outsider:
1) I was adopted. -- This made the most sense. Although my parents were / are amazing loving human beings who I will always consider as Mom & Dad, I was missing a biological connection with my birthmother and birthfather. In fact, when my birthmom found me when I was 18, puzzle pieces in my life did start to fit together... it just wasn't the fit I was anticipating.
2) I was an only child. -- As such, I didn't have older / younger brothers and sisters to play with and show me the ropes socially.
3) I was smart / had a high IQ / genius (you know the drill) - When I was young, I was pulled out into special programs like Mentally Gifted Minors (MGM) & Gifted And Talented Education (GATE). Because I was already one of the youngest in my class due to my birthday being in late November, skipping grades wasn't considered a good social option. (Thank goodness for that because I already was way behind socially!) As a female who supposedly had a propensity towards math, I was pushed into advanced classes, although quite frankly, I enjoyed my writing and drama classes far better!
** In the future, I'll talk about how I deliberately tried tanking certain classes to try and draw attention away from myself... or perhaps as a cry for help. I'm wondering if other Aspies did/do this? **
4) I was a tomboy. - I liked bowling, kickball, baseball, nation ball, tennis and hanging with the boys. I did play with girls too in elementary school but for the life of me, I can't really remember what we "did" when we played.... I'm thinking we played together but I still sort of played individually. Does that make sense?
** Incidentally, although I had an affinity for sports, bowled in college and even toured professionally for a short while with the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour, that doesn't mean I don't have other coordination and sensory issues! I never could do a cartwheel or handstand. I had trouble tying my shoes growing up, twisted an ankle, knee or two at least once a year and to this day, I still often lose my sense of equilibrium!
5) I was overweight - Oh man, this is a big one... I was a very picky eater as a young child. My favorite food was peanut butter sandwiches (no jelly). I liked my food plain. (Still do.) I didn't drink anything carbonated. (Still don't, except an occasional alcoholic drink.) Vegetables were not my friend.
** Emotionally eating became my vice and my disorder when I did not feel good about myself. I can remember as young as middle school starting to binge eat. I did it away from my parents. It continued through college. My weight has been a struggle for as long as I can remember and although I am now 120 pounds lighter than my heaviest, I still have a long way to go before I reach where I'd like to be. I no longer binge but I fight the emotional eating almost every day of my life. I wonder how many Aspie girls / women are like this and probably men as well?
6) I was naive / uncomfortable when it came to talking about the body / sex - I cut health class in high school because I couldn't listen to the talks about the birds and the bees. The first time I ever cut class and it was for that, what a rebel! I subsequently cut class because I couldn't bring myself to put my mouth on a dummy for CPR training. That totally freaked me out. (Still does!) I didn't get why then.
** Now that I am an adult, I want to be able to help other girls, young women and their parents in this area. My "innocence" in school (how can one be so "smart" and yet know "nothing"?) led me to many awkward social situations in my college and early adult years with guys / men that I could not fathom how to deal with other than on a purely academic level. (i.e. when I smiled at a guy, I didn't realize I was flirting. I was the queen of sending and receiving the wrong signals.)
Apparently I came into my own "attractive" wise at some point in my late teenage years although for the life of me, I didn't see it then. In college, among other awkward social situations with guys, I found myself sexually harrassed by a university professor and also became the victim of a stalker who caused so much havoc for me, I eventually felt forced to leave school.
After leaving the university and trying to make it in the "real world", I became a survivor of both rape which took my virginity (I was dating someone 4 1/2 years at the time and as a result, my relationship dissolved because I could not deal with the pain) and date rape subsequently thereafter (when I still didn't know how to say no.) Although I would like to believe it was not my fault, my naivety and trusting nature with men and not being able to read appropriate social sexual cues may have been a contributing factor. (It's hard for me to type this, please bear with me...)
My nagging suspicion is that there are more female Aspies / Auties in this quiet club than anyone ever talks about. I want so much to find the courage to be able to speak publically to the Autism / Asperger's community and be able to have this topic explored.... to talk with parents... to talk with teens and young adults.... There is so much unspoken... but I am willing to share if it will help others....
I am going off on a tangent now... lots of memories just flooded through me and I'm having trouble processing where I want to go. That happens a lot! It's so easy to start writing about one topic and then get sidelined by another. I'm tempted to delete this whole posting....
But right now.... in this moment....
I will leave it.
I believe God wants me to share of myself so that I might be able to encourage and help empower others to do the same. If I share some of my thoughts and stories, however uncensored, unedited and painful they may be and tell them without worrying about mistakes, typos or editing, perhaps then my Aspierations of letting my light shine and being the person I was meant to be will come into fruition.
I think the point I was originally leading towards when starting my list of reasons why I felt like such an outsider was that I knew something about me never seemed to connect with most of the world but I could never pinpoint exactly what that was until I learned about Asperger's Syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder.
Although the label doesn't define me as a person and dictate my goals and dreams, it sure explains a lot. I wish I had known about it growing up because I had a lot of deep depression, self-hatred and emotional eating that might have been able to be prevented or treated at a younger age.
As a Mom of two boys on the spectrum, I can now use my insight to help them along their paths and it certainly isn't too late at age 42 for me to make positive life changes as well. I can be a better person, a finer wife, a more understanding mother, a kinder daughter and hopefully a better friend to the very few that I consider close.
I realize this has been a bit of a ramble but if you've made it through this far, THANKS! What you are seeing is a caterpillar beginning to come out of her cocoon and transform eventually into a butterfly....
Until next time...
Come As You Are....
Let Your Light Shine....