When I first realized I definitely qualified for a spot on the autism spectrum (Asperger’s, to be specific), I wasn’t going to call myself an “Aspie”. I figured that although I definitely fit the female version of the definition (to a T, I might add!) I wasn’t going to plunge into Aspie Mode, identifying as an Aspie, with an Aspie-related blog, Aspie-isms and Aspie culture, letting my Aspie-ism color my whole life, and all that. I didn’t have anything against any of that, I just figured that I had been Me for 38 years so far, and nothing had changed, so why plunge in now?
But very quickly, I realized…I am an Aspie. The Asperger-type is not something I have, it’s something I am. I’ve been operating in Aspie Mode all my life, even though I had never realized it. Because the Aspie neuro-type involves the brain, which is the center of who we are, my neuro-type does color my whole life. It makes up my core, defines who I am.
It engineers, with a heavy hand, every single thought, feeling, idea, talent, stressor, memory, experience, preference, goal, desire, task, and relationship that I have. It influences how I sleep, care for myself, handle stress, spend my time, talk to people, and perceive the world. It directs everything I feel, say, do, want, wear, eat, and think.
Being an Aspie is why I
want need to spend time alone. It’s why I collect things, why I must make lists in order to be productive each day, why I trip over things or knock things over. It’s why I can’t handle screeching children at my airport gate or on my flight without getting a little really antsy. It’s why I can’t tolerate the texture of mashed potatoes or the smell or taste of Parmesan cheese.
There is no way to separate my Aspie-ness from myself. I can’t choose to sidestep Aspie culture because I wouldn’t be able to. (And actually, given my recent discoveries and insight, I don’t see why I would want to. I see absolutely no shame in being an Aspie!) I make up part of that culture. That culture includes me.
And given all the intelligent, sensitive, incredible people out there in the same boat as I am, it is refreshing to have (finally!) found my tribe.