In one of the most ‘loved’ traditions of television, the time has come where the laughter (what laughter there was) stops, while I talk about a subject that is understandably close to my heart.
When I was little, I was put on the special needs register at my school, I never quite understood why. Now I know, through talking to my parents about it, that I am on the Autistic Spectrum, and that I have ‘Higher Functioning Asperger’s Syndrome’. In a nutshell, it means that I am technically disabled. Why do you say technically, Scott, you incredibly clever and handsome man? I say it because several people have expressed surprise that I am autistic.
It is not obvious from looking at me, like some other disabilities that I have seen over the course of my relatively short life span, but the autism is there. It is mostly internal, with very little effect on my body. There are quite a few mental effects, but thanks to the way I am around other people, these mostly go unnoticed. For instance, my heartbeat gets quicker whenever something out of the norm happens during my day, like getting a phone call (even one that I’m expecting) or going somewhere other than college or staying home. I occasionally get panic attacks, which I thought I’d got over in secondary school but apparently not, as I found out a while back.
I spend a large amount of time being undermined by my own insecurities, or staying awake either imagining or replaying bad moments of my life. I spend a lot of time thinking that I’m a horrible boyfriend because I can’t remember anything that anyone tells me, but it’s my tolerant girlfriend (who I’m very lucky to have) who notices this most of all. This is part of why I can’t get to sleep very often and why I am even now lying awake typing this while talking to a friend about this subject.
I crave social contact above nearly all else, but the asperger’s makes it hard to establish friendships and relationships. Even then, I’m quite withdrawn from the few friends that I make. Fortunately, college seems to be going quite well in this regard, in that I’ve found a core group of friends whose company makes me never want to leave.
This was actually one of the reasons why I left my secondary school early, as I was both being bullied and being unsupported by the staff, who took me off the special needs statement much to the outrage of my mother.
I continually feel ashamed of pretty much everything that I have done over the course of my life, and there are rare times where I wish I could just die. Not turning towards suicide (because rather contradicting what I just said, I have a fear of death), you understand, but the thought is sometimes there.
It’s not all doom and gloom, of course. What my brain has lacked (and I believe, started to build) in the social department, it more than made up for by giving me the capacity to enjoy reading and a good memory for facts, figures and knowledge. It has also given me a distinct personality that sets me apart from other people (although never superior to others, I’d never be that much of a wanker to consider myself better) and I’ve developed more of a humorous personality and jocular nature.
In a way, I’m fortunate to have been given a perspective into the lives of disabled people that others don’t often see, due to spending a year or two on a college course with them.
Plus, I’m a budding writer with a girlfriend and quite a lot of friends. Life is not that bad. Whether this is the kind of person I would’ve become without autism will probably never be known (unless we get some kind of Star Trek mirror universe stuff going on), but I’ll live with this version of myself.