Monday, September 17, 2012

Aspergers unmasked | Postcards from the edge of the Spectrum

Aspergers unmasked

by spectrumscribe, postcardsfromtheedgeofthespectrum.wordpress.com
November 30th -0001

by in Aspergers Tags: ADHD, alcohol, Anxiety, Aspergers, Autism, Autistic, intellect, IQ, poetry, self medicating, social anxiety, social communication

My posts to date have described my somewhat traumatic childhood.

They have also discussed my ongoing development of gratitude, my continuing journey towards full acceptance and my growing relationship with and love of poetry.

While my posts and tweets remain faithful to the truth, there is an important aspect of my life on which I have thus far remained silent.

My current daily walk/struggle with Aspergers.

The comfort of intellect

I have had a love of books from a very early age.

  • Initially Science and atlases.

I then developed a limited interest in literature, particularly books of intrigue.

  • I was reading Frederick Forsyth in 3rd grade.

Although I was intellectually hardwired for this kind of reading material, my obsession was clearly in part a response to my social isolation.

At school, withdrawing into the comfort and safety of my intellect and being a champion swimmer were my survival skills.

  • They reminded me that I existed!

But 30 years after graduating High school, intellect and exercise are still my security blankets.

  • They are what I have instead of ‘in real life’ friends because

Outside of my family, my friends are to be found exclusively in my social media networks and I am grateful beyond words for these friends.

  • Most of whom I have never met!

But I still cling, often quite desperately, to the intellectual rock that has always, in large part, defined me

But the fact is that despite all my love of linguistics, statements of gratitude and exaltation of Beauty I am a clinically disabled individual.

  • I am Autistic which places my social intuition abilities in the bottom percentile!
  • Against which, tragically, my IQ in the top percentile is of little help!

Living with Aspergers

My life with Aspergers is quite different to my private intellectual life and my business life.

  • It is often also quite different to how I present myself here on social media

I find people, in real life, very confusing and experience them as jigsaw puzzles, with missing pieces and no puzzle picture.

I’d like to share with you what it feels like when I try to understand and participate in social communication.

Pick 2 Nursery rhymes, any 2 will do.

  • Now recite them alternately, from memory
  • Nursery rhyme 1, word 1 – followed by – Nursery rhyme 2 word 1
  • Nursery rhyme 1, word 2 – followed by – Nursery rhyme 2 word 2 etc
  • See how far you get!

That is pretty much how I feel most of the time when interacting ‘socially’ UNLESS there is a very strong intellectual element to the discussion.

  • It causes me considerable anxiety at a social gathering, having to adopt the persona of a Zoologist, knowing that everyone else is managing to interact socially in a way that requires no more effort than that needed to breathe!
  • So since discovering I have Aspergers, I now mostly avoid social gatherings
  • When I was still trying to ‘fit in’, I would ‘self medicate’ with alcohol; common behavior for many undiagnosed Autistic people
  • I would have just enough alcohol at the social gathering to numb my anxiety
  • Eventually I needed a few drinks at home, before going out and facing the horror of another ‘social’ evening!

I stopped drinking alcohol after I discovered I have Aspergers.

  • It seems that the Autistic mind is usually better off without alcohol
  • This is certainly true in my case and is something with which my Doctor concurs

I stopped drinking alcohol overnight, with no unpleasant effects.

  • By the Grace of God, I seem to have been blessed with an immunity to physical substance addiction
  • Or as one friend recently described it, we have undeveloped or missing addiction receptors

But the social anxiety remains and not just with ‘outsiders’

  • I can and do experience the same level of anxiety when misunderstandings occur with my wife or my children

Since being clinically assessed with Aspergers and ADHD I have been prescribed a number of different medications.

  • The Aspergers medications of course treat only the effect/symptoms, without treating the root cause

In consultation with my Doctor I am now relieved to be taking just the minimum number of medications, being

  • ADHD medication – taken daily – which treats the root cause
  • Medication for acute anxiety – taken only when needed – but more often than I would like and more often than you might guess

Epilogue

Some of the kindest and most generous people in the social media Autism community, who appear to suffer the least, may suffer tremendously.

  • I have learned this first hand from those who have been open and brave enough to share with me
  • In the context of the Autism spectrum I am probably one of the luckier ones!
  • Those with Classical Autism and many, many with Aspergers suffer in ways that I cannot even begin to imagine

Please also remember that my most inspired tweets and blog posts may very well have been penned on a day that I was hanging on by a finger nail, in despair, even if I make no mention of it, which I usually won’t

Original Page: http://postcardsfromtheedgeofthespectrum.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/aspergers-unmasked/

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