…Then you’ve met one Aspie, or so sayeth the saying (which is completely true). It doesn’t take too long to realize that although there are many deep, unusual common threads, there’s as much diversity among Aspies as there is among the rest of the population.
While I’m not necessarily a fan of the limiting aspects of labels, I do find it helpful to use them to give concise, quickly-understood descriptions. For example, it’s easier to say, “I’m a biracial Euro-mutt” than it would be to say, “well, I’m a quarter Cajun-French, a quarter Belgian-French, a quarter German, and the rest is made up of English, Irish, Austrian, and…well, I think there are two Native American tribes in there somewhere, too.” So, I use labels when it’s convenient. Here are a couple that apply to this Aspie…
Pagan/Pantheist: Like many Aspies, I think nature rocks, and since I feel a deep connection with a creative force and the universe in general, I decided to take things one step further and connect the dots. I see a universal consciousness in everything around me, from the animals to the flowers to the thunderstorm to the people to the steel buildings (although admittedly, the last two sometimes require a greater stretch of mind). There’s something about that common creative force that seems self-evident to me when I look around. Just think of the philosophy used in Star Wars, where Yoda is telling Luke “feel the force…flow through…it’s in the tree…the rock…”, etc; it’s kind of a version of that. Living in Texas makes this interesting, but at least we’re a fair distance south of the true-blue-blood Bible Belt. (Not that I have anything against Christianity, but I might prefer to feel less guarded/self-conscious about keeping my spirituality so tightly under wraps, if given the chance.)
Self-Employed: It saddens me that the job environment can be so incongruent with Aspies and that Aspie employment statistics are so bleak, because Aspies have so much to offer, if only the world would listen. I lucked out in this aspect: like many employed Aspies, I’m self-employed also. The stress often gets to me, but the payoffs bring benefits that I need, one of which is the ability to have a say in most aspects of my work. There are some excellent blog posts by others about Aspie self-employment, and I may contribute to the inventory of those with one of my own in the future.
Bi-romantic Asexual and Married: The term “bi-romantic” refers to the concept that I can form romantic/affectionate relationships with either gender (although I do find females slightly easier in this regard), and the term “asexual” simply means that I don’t get visually “turned on” or aroused when I lay eyes on a person and I only choose to be intimate in order to indulge my partner. Although I’m indeed married to a member of the opposite gender (and yes, we have been completely intimate), I don’t view sexual intimacy the same way that much of the world does. Up until my Aspie-ism came into consciousness, I just figured I was confused, or maybe somewhat bisexual or bi-curious. I only came across the more accurate terms a couple of years ago, which had been another powerful moment of self-realization.
Child-Free: This is a term used to differentiate between those who don’t/can’t have children but want them (“child-less”), and those who have consciously chosen not to have children (“child-free”). Although I like children, being a parent is absolutely not for me. Hearing a child laugh is golden; changing diapers, cleaning up regurgitation, being woken up in the middle of the night, or dealing with swinging moods is not so golden.
Cat-Mom: Although raising human children children is not my thing, raising and caring for cats comes as naturally to me as my own hands. I do love them like I imagine I would human children. They play; they fight; they make messes; and yes, sometimes they wake us up in the middle of the night. But they snuggle against you, leaning against your hand so hard that sometimes they fall over. They purr, something human children don’t do. We spend quality time. We have conversations, sometimes for several minutes (I have to speak their language, of course, even though I don’t know what we’re saying). They litter-box-train themselves, which is definitely something human children don’t do. And there’s never any worry about a curfew or a 3am knock on the door by law enforcement. Nor is there a dirty diaper, a college tuition fund, or an “I hate you!” Nope, just fetching a Nerf-ball, rubbing up against my hand, or even the occasional attempt to nurse on my neck as though I were a Momma Kitty, which cracks me up, but sometimes feels kind of creepy.
Biochemistry Nerd: Like many Aspies, I’m interested in science. (I like art and theater, too, but science is where life took me this time.) The only scientific subject I couldn’t “get” in school was Physics. In order to pass, I needed individual private tutoring; luckily we had a former college math professor with whom my partner and I became friends. But I liked Chemistry OK, and I really dug Biology, especially Cellular Biology and the human biology-related classes that came afterward. Plant and animal biology, however, was not as strong an interest. But the academic love of my life is Human Biochemistry. One day, I’ll probably write a separate post on that. I promise I’ll exercise my “filters” so that it doesn’t get too long.
Musician/Composer: I generally taught myself to play the piano when I was nine, bored at home for the week with chicken pox. Drawing on the basics I had learned in elementary school, I taught myself to read music more fluently. I began writing short, basic songs shortly after. I began to come up with songs of decent quality within two years, and within the next two years I was working on my sixth “album” or grouping of songs (none of which have ever been officially recorded or released). I drew “album covers” for each grouping and everything. By the time I was 14, I was seriously considering a career of writing soundtracks for movies and TV shows. My primary instrument has always been piano/keyboard. It took me forever to learn to play with two hands, but I “trudged uphill” and finally broke through. Secondary instruments included flute, saxophone, and guitar, although I lost interest in the flute and sax with a few years. I would like to return to guitar someday soon, though.
Hearing-Impaired: Unlike many Aspies, I don’t have acute hearing; in fact, I have the hearing ability of someone almost twice my age. What I do hear, I am indeed sensitive to and it can be an annoyance and sometimes painful or overwhelming. This may be due to the fact that my hearing loss isn’t across-the-board uniform; in fact, my very upper and lower ranges (think treble and bass) are almost normally-intact; it’s the mid-range the bottoms out. Unfortunately (or fortunately), that’s where the human vocal sounds register, which means that while I may (or sometimes may not) hear that someone is talking, I often don’t understand what they’re saying, especially if they’re not talking directly at me. I have hearing aids for important events where I must hear every word, such as a crucial class or meeting, and let’s just say that I’m very “brain-fried” by the end of a hearing-aid-wearing day and although I’m thankful to have them, it’s also a relief to take them out and be able to “turn the world off” for the night. Upon reading what many other Aspies have written about the agony of auditory over-stimulation, I began–for the first time–to not feel devastated about my hearing loss, but–to a small extent–be thankful for it.
Co-Morbid Health Issues: Like many Aspies, I have a couple other issues that I’m dealing with. They include autoimmune disorders (two of them so far: Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease) and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD). I also deal with a lot of anxiety, but I think that’s mostly attributable to the neurological effects of being an Aspie-type. The same goes for severe clumsiness. I do deal with random histamine issues and insomnia/irregular sleep cycles. Interestingly enough, I have a few food issues: gluten, of course, and definitely monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Libertarian: This is a minor-but-quickly-growing political party that, in my opinion, combines the best characteristics of both the conventional Right and Left under one label, while trimming the B.S. from those conventional parties. Basically, the tenets are (my paraphrasing): live and let live, with rights come responsibilities, everyone is equal, make your own decisions, act like an adult, government’s role/powers should be extremely limited, victimless “crimes” should be decriminalized, violence/aggression only used when absolutely necessary for self-defense, and one’s rights end where those of another begin. I rather like that. It’s hands-off, giving special rights to no one, and taking freedom away from no one without due process, and not forcing anyone to pay for the unearned privileges/benefits of another. No agendas, no bias, just reasonable freedom.
Looking at these, I can see where my Aspie-ism/autism really did influence some of these. In general, Aspie/autistic people are a pretty independently-thinking lot, which means we’re going to march to the beats of our own drums a fair amount of the time. As I look through the writings and musings of the rest of the Aspie-blogging community, I can see many commonalities and differences among the different Aspies; we’re not about to be roped into one pen and although we might be Aspie/autistic, that’s not all we are. 🙂