Usually, I tend to talk about children and Asperger’s Syndrome, as my son falls into that category. Plus, as a parent, I can’t help but understand what it’s like to go through the process of helping an Asperger child. It’s not easy, and I like to think our experiences might actually help someone out there. So I don’t discuss adults very often.
But adults out there find out every day that they, too, have Asperger’s Syndrome.
For some, it’s a relief. Finally, they’ve figured out what makes them different from everyone else. And that there are others – thousands of others – just like them everywhere. They do not have a monopoly on eccentric behavior or hatred of theme parks. Now, they belong to a community of people struggling with some of the same issues they face every day, from sensory sensitivity to difficulty socializing.
Others, however, struggle with denial and skepticism. Doctors made up “Asperger’s Syndrome” to line their own pockets. It’s a new medical fad. Just because some of the characteristics fit doesn’t mean anything; all sorts of people read themselves into magazine articles all the time. And so on.
Some long to share the news with family members and friends. Some hide it, afraid to be branded with the Aspie label or of how their families may respond (although families tend to have already accepted their loved ones). Some may plain not care what others think. Each response is unique.
It’s really what you do with the information that matters. Learning about Asperger’s Syndrome and finding support are good places to start.
Read up on the subject. Ha, that feels like telling the dancer to practice dancing. Seriously, though, understanding more about the subject will help clarify the matter (see Recommended Reading above, if you like). It will make it easier to understand some of the ‘why’ behind the behavior, as well (for example, as in control issues and bad surprises).
Online, there is a whole community discussing Asperger’s Syndrome. If you’re reading this, you probably already know all about it. But if you’re new, search around. People blog, write in forums, and discuss Asperger issues every day. There is a support system out there, ready and willing to welcome new members.
And these people know from firsthand experience what it’s like to live with Asperger’s Syndrome.
There are also groups that meet in person. The CARD Center has a few adult support groups, for example, and there are probably others out there. Churches often hold support groups for many diverse people, and would probably welcome a new group (if they don’t already have one). My church, for instance, has tried at least once to form an autistic parent support network.
However, just knowing may be enough. If you’ve made it to adulthood without a previous diagnosis, that means you’re high functioning and observant. You’ve probably passed the hardest years – the school years – and are working. Maybe even have a family.
It’s up to you.
Whatever you decide to do, whomever you decide to tell: Welcome to the Asperger World. You’ve joined a fascinating, brilliant crowd of interesting folks. And, most importantly, you are no longer alone.