To Tell or Not to Tell: Disclosing an AS or ASD Diagnosis

…You
try to unzip me, and see my eyes fleeing away from you
like startled ponies. Do you really
know me? If you did, you would know that
if I look at you too long, I might burst.

(from my poem, “You Don’t See It”)

Some of you may have already read my last post in which I talked about my road to an official Asperger’s diagnosis. A recent conversation that I had with my direct supervisor at work plus the fact that this last Monday was National Coming Out Day in terms of the GLBT community spurred me to think and write about the topic of disclosing an autism spectrum diagnosis.
 
So far, I have been blessed with understanding people in my family, workplace, and social circles, so I have been relatively comfortable and confident enough to disclose my diagnosis (and before then, my self-identification as having AS). However, I do realize that due to misunderstanding and prejudice, not everyone who has an autism spectrum disorder may be in a position to “come out”, so to speak – so I respect the decisions of those who choose not to reveal, or to reveal selectively, for whatever reasons that they have. I’ll be discussing the benefits and possible drawbacks of disclosing, as well as my own personal experience up to this point.

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Unique Challenges for the Aspie Woman, Part 2: Functioning in a Love Relationship

I consult the dictionary of human behavior every day.
I had to load it into my brain and make it learn
that you open doors with hello and
that you close them with goodbye. I had to learn
the mechanics of when to smile, when to laugh.
(From my poem, “You Don’t See It”)

As a woman, I have been aware (painfully at times) of the expectations that Western society and culture has placed upon us, both past and present. I mentioned some of these expectations in my last post when I talked about Aspie women and our unique challenges navigating the social matrix. Some of those expectations are also applied, along with a few others, to women in the realm of romantic relationships. This week,I will discuss those expectations and the challenges that Aspie women might have meeting them when involved in a close relationship.

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Unique Challenges for the Aspie Woman, Part 1: Navigating the Social Matrix

There’s definitely, definitely, definitely no logic
To human behaviour
But yet so, yet so irresistible
And there’s no map
And a compass wouldn’t help at all

(Bjork, “Human Behaviour”)

In the last three parts of this series on stress and anxiety, I discussed causes and coping strategies which apply to people with Asperger’s in general. For the next few weeks, I will focus on specific stressors which tend to mostly affect Aspie women. I am speaking generally, of course, and offer this information with the understanding that each woman’s situation is unique. In addition to some external research, I will also be speaking from personal experience, offering examples of some of the challenges I have faced as a woman with Asperger Syndrome.
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How Did I Get Here In The First Place?

I don’t mean literally. Yes, I know all about the birds and the bees. What I mean to tell you is how I came to the realization that I have Asperger Syndrome.

The very beginning of the story starts about a year ago. I had been struggling with outbursts, panic attacks, and temper tantrums on and off throughout my life. Somehow, I managed to get to age 26 with only a few major incidents (and this is even through an unstable childhood, plus physical, emotional, and sexual abuse throughout my teenage years — but that’s a whole ‘nother story). By this time, I had already met and been with my fiance for about two years. But some major events in our life began causing a great deal of stress on both of us. This is when the panics attacks and meltdowns began. Continue reading