- Posted October 11, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
In my own world: Confessions of a woman with Aspergers
I was born on January 22, 1976 in Cleveland, Ohio. Asperger's Syndrome was not widely known about until the late 80's. I was a failure to thrive baby and had a near death experience when I was two year old. When I was old enough to speak, I never did and if I did my words were so jumbled you couldn't tell what I was saying. My mother enrolled me into the MARCA Headstart program in Marion, Ohio. It was here I learned how to speak.
Life was hard for me during my school years. Although I enjoyed learning I hated school. Academically, my language arts skills excelled three grade levels higher than my peers yet my math skills remained on a fourth grade level. By the end of my eighth grade year I was reading on a college level. I was obsessed with Shakespeare and my favorite book in High School was Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Although I had an advanced reading ability my spelling was horrible. I had, and still have to this day, trouble with spelling. As for my verbal skills, I can talk but I still have a hard time some days trying to get my words across. I do better when I am able to write down what I am trying to say.
My main dislikes about school were the social situations that I often found myself in. Let's face it; I hated recess, gym and lunchtime. Lunchtime was always hard for me because I am a loner. There was a part of me that wanted to sit with everyone and make friends but I didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t understand the social rules on how to acquire and keep friends. Once someone did make an attempt to be my friend I didn’t know how to respond. I had a tendency to smother any new friend I had made and then lose them for reasons I didn’t understand. So for most of my childhood I spent lunchtime by myself. I envied the popular kids and wanted to be just like them.
Recess and gym were hard for me because I lack the hand/eye coordination needed to participate in many of the physical activities. I am very clumsy, too. Once again the social environment did me in. I always felt like I didn’t fit in my classmates’ world. I was chosen last anytime teams were picked. I would try to fit in but oftentimes my efforts were futile. My mom was a jock in High School and she couldn’t understand why I never excelled at sports. I wanted to make her proud of me so I would try hard to be just like her. It never worked no matter how hard I tried. I just didn’t have the skills to be athletic.
Another reason I struggled in school was because I never felt like I fit in with my peers. I always tended, and still to this day, want to be friends with those who are older than I. I couldn’t understand if I was at recess why I couldn’t have free time with my teachers or the high schoolers. It was my free time, wasn’t it?
Like most children with Asperger’s Syndrome I was behind my other classmates in age appropriate behavior. I continued to have imaginary friends until upper Elementary years. I played with my toys and dolls until I was in eight grade. I still sleep with a stuffed animal, even though I’m married. I also love to color in coloring books. Some of the kids I grew up with made fun of me for these behaviors and it hurt. I didn’t understand that there could be cruel people in this world. It just doesn’t make sense in my mind for someone to treat another person so harshly.
When I was in school I always had problems making friends. I learned quickly in order to survive any social encounter I would need to copy people's faces, language and actions. I never understood that other kids could be cruel. Sometimes I would think someone was my friend only to find out they were making fun of me. Despite these problems I was very active in all my afterschool activities. I became obsessed with Girl Scouts when I was in Kindergarten and that obsession followed me throughout my childhood. I strived to earn ever badge at ever level in scouting. I wanted every honor and I wanted to be the best Girl Scout in the country. My other obsession was the library. One time when I was younger I got in trouble just so I could be placed in Saturday School. I thought Saturday School was fun because you had to do research and write reports in the library for punishment. I would rather sit by myself and study then play outside. I would also get to school early and stay late just so I could read in the school library. Like most Aspies, I have a career in my fixated interest. I am an author, screenwriter, publisher, blogger and reporter. I can't stay away from the written word. Sometime my obsessions would be for a brief moment of my life like the time I was obsessed with soccer, archaeology and geology. When I was a kid I had a rock collection and a toy car collection.
When I married my husband the father figure in my life had told Delfin "Allison does some strange things. Don't be bothered by it. It's just the way she is." I never quite understood what he meant by that because to me I am not strange. Everyone else is. My husband has always told me he knew from the time he met me there was something "off" about me and he was intrigued. He had caught early on what most people don't when I am in public - I don't know how to act when placed in a social situation and am often hurt because I don't see it coming. I will mimic everything everyone does. I try to fit into this world by pretending to be something that I'm not. He calls me his "Space cadet" because I am always in my own little world unaware of my surrounding and people. My mom use to call me her "absent minded professor."
A few years ago, I was reconnected with aunt and uncle in Ohio while I was researching for my book, Elsa. My uncle told me he had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and that he suspected his mother, children and grandchildren had it as well. My aunt had approached my husband during that visit to let him know she had noticed some of the same attributes my uncle had in me. She had asked Delfin if he had ever noticed them as well. My husband said he had. She urged us to get me tested for Asperger's Syndrome from someone who knew about the disorder. A month later I was tested by a center that said they knew all about Asperger's Syndrome. When I received the results the doctor informed me that she had diagnosed me with OCD, Depression, Anxiety and ADHD. When my husband asked about her findings she informed us it was better that I had not been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. A year later I went to a different center to be tested. This center also told me that they could diagnosis Asperger's Syndrome. I was excited. I went to the testing and when I was given the diagnosis I was once again disappointed. The doctor had diagnosed me with the same thing the first one had except she added Borderline Personality Disorder and Anxiety. She told me husband I had been faking the math test because I had an above average intelligence in spatial reasoning and someone with that high of intelligence should be able to do math. When he questioned her about my social skills and other problems she told him she was not qualified to diagnosis anyone with Asperger's Syndrome. We were outraged. I still continue to have problems with my Asperger's Syndrome and have only overcome some of my difficulties through the love and support of my husband, aunt, uncle and best friend.