I have never thought about my diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome as a label. But I know that there are people out there who wont get a diagnosis for themselves or their child because they view it as a label. That they or their child would somehow be more different and stand out if they did. A person with Asperger’s IS different. Having a diagnosis or not is not going to change that or make it worse. If anything it will give them the answer why. Why they are the way they are. Why they do things the things they do the way they do them. It gives answers to a whole host of issues that that could be making their lives miserable. It wont fix the problem of course. This is the way we developed. Our whole makeup is different to a Neurotypical’s makeup. But with the answer in hand, tools can be found to help with the issues that are part and parcel of being Aspergian and living on planet earth. There are books, there are sensory tools, there are groups, the list goes on. And with the growing understanding of ASD and people on the spectrum by the day, there is more and more support. So no one has to be alone.
From my point of view as being Aspergian and not knowing it until I was almost 17 years old, I can say quite plainly and confidently, its hell not knowing what is going with you. When you know in the very depths of your being that you are different, and the people around you are arguing with you about it telling you are not, that it is all in your head, but making you feel like your retarded or something because instead of helping you they just turf you in to all the “vegie” classes at school and leave it at that. Yes I have issues about that. I still carry it with me even after all these years. But my parents were told not to tell me. And instructed to tell the school to not put any pressure on me. I knew I was different. I knew something was going on. And no one was telling me. When my mother finally told me at the urging of Tony Attwood, I felt such relief at the knowledge that I wasn’t stupid after all. But even with the knowledge, I didn’t do anything about it. Because even in the by then early 90’s, not much was known about it. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t acknowledge it. I was sure that if I did tell anyone, I would be right back to how it was at school. I would be the odd one out. What I was ignoring unknowingly was that I was still different. And everyone around me knew it. I made people uncomfortable. But I was always the loner at school, because quite frankly no one wanted anything to do with me, I didn’t know how to be around people. So I went from disastrous group of friendships after another. And relationships. My Mother would tell who ever I was seeing at the time why I was different, and that would spell the end of it. I wasn’t seen as being human after that. So instead of being treated as such, I was used instead. Its not Mums fault. She was only trying to protect me. She had no idea what those guys did to me after that. I was an easy target. I was naïve. And it got to the stage where I thought that that was how all relationships were supposed to be. So imaging my surprise when after years of being alone, I find a man (a real man yes) that shows me what it is to be treated the right way. I’m still in shock when I think about it sometimes.
But I think of how much all the trauma I suffered from over the years could have been avoided if I had known earlier about it. How much easier it could have been if there were more tools and help available at that time. And if I had something about it myself earlier. When I did finally know about it. But I didn’t. Not until after my son was born. There is SO much out there now to help. Asperger’s is being seen more and more as a neurological diversity. I’ve heard more than once that Asperger’s would be a good thing if not this planet and most of the NT’s on it. Again, I’m not saying that life automatically becomes better with the diagnosis. You have to work at it like anyone else. But the help is out there. There is nothing to be ashamed of. The bare facts though, is that, most people will have family members and friends that will make them feel horrible about it. Will belittle them, and make their lives miserable. Family you cant do anything about I’m afraid. But friends you can do something about. There are groups in most areas that have meet ups. And there are also online groups on places like Facebook. Where you can talk to others like you. Where you can be yourself. I have one such group. Planet Aspergia. There were occasions when we had coffee catch ups. Though there hasn’t been one in a while. We even took over a coffee club once 😛 Good times.
So don’t be put off by the whole “label” thing. Its all in the mind. Don’t let anyone make you feel wrong by wanting to find out why. Or make you feel bad afterward when and if you take that step.
These are just my thoughts on the matter.