So. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in the middle of July of this year. I decided that it might be worthwhile to start a blog about Asperger’s, my journey with Asperger’s, and maybe anything else related. I have no idea whether or not this is a good idea, or whether or not I’ll actually do much blogging, and if I do, how much I’ll blog. It’s all very up in the air at the moment. To add to this, I have never used blog.com before, so I’m still sorting through what everything is and how to best use all these features. And seriously, there are a lot of features. Wow.
I figured I might talk about the process of getting this diagnosis. It’s something I’ve been talking about a lot lately, what with my new diagnosis and everything, so having it all laid out in print might be nice. Digital print, but still.
I’ve always been a little (well, a lot) weird. I hate being lightly touched by anything or anyone, ever. I cannot stand mushy food. I get overwhelmed in crowded places with too much noise or flashy lights or people bumping up against me. In fact, I am not exactly a huge fan of being touched by people I don’t know, and sometimes I get in moods when I can’t stand to be touched at all, by anyone. I could probably continue like this for a while, but I don’t think there’s much point. Suffice to say, I was weird. I had (and still have) sensory issues, odd obsessions/fixations, and – most importantly – huge problems figuring out how to socialize. Have you ever had trouble telling the difference between a joke and the truth? I have that problem very frequently. It’s difficult for me to tell people apart without distinct clues. This made certain school years very difficult when nearly all the boys were tall, skinny, brown-haired, with goatees, and nearly all the girls were shorter with blonde hair they put in ponytails.
I first got wind of the idea that I might, maybe, have Asperger’s when I was 18 years old. I was talking about one of my oddities, I don’t remember which one, and someone suggested that I might be and Aspie. I thought it might be an interesting idea, and I did seem to fit, but I didn’t really pursue it all that much. I came from a conservative Christian family and I was attending a conservative Christian college, and looking for a diagnosis for mental illness just wasn’t done (nevermind the fact that I was having SERIOUS issues at the time. but we don’t need to get into that).
Over the next many years various people speculated that I might be an Aspie. Slowly, over time, I warmed more and more to the idea of going to a professional and finding out for sure. Actually finding someone to diagnose me was really difficult, though. It turns out the Penn Medical has an Adult Social Learning Disorders program, but finding that program took a long time and a lot of help. Eventually I found a psychiatrist, and she told me about the Penn Medical program. So, I went ahead and did it.
That was terrifying, by the way. All my life I had been weird and odd and not-right, and this had caused me many, many problems. I had suspected for 12 years what it might be, but suspecting is not the same thing as knowing. Plus, what if they told me no? What if I went through all that, got an assessment, and they said I did not have Asperger’s? Then I would have to start over at square one, wondering what’s wrong with me, why I’m so weird, without even the benefit of an idea of what it might be.
Luckily, it didn’t turn out that way. I filled out tons of paperwork, called my mom and interviewed her, and two people went with me to the assessment itself to also get interviewed. So much stuff! And after all that, the psychologist told me that I do, indeed, have Asperger’s. Not “mild” Asperger’s either, but really all-the-way totally Asperger’s. That was such a relief! Since then I have had additional confirmation that suspecting is not the same thing as knowing. Now that I know, for sure, for real, it’s… well, I’m still figuring that part out. Mostly so far it’s been like permission. Yes, I’m weird, I’m not like everyone else, and it’s ok! This is just the way I am; I am neurologically different.
I have my first therapy appointment for early September. I do have any number of issues and problems which would be very useful to address with someone who works with Aspies as a career. I figure we could work on addressing certain problems I have, work on capitalizing on my Aspie-strengths, and maybe a little bit of integrating having Asperger’s into my overall identity. Or maybe I’ll do that last one on my own.
In any case, there is it.