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.
You’ve been around my entire life, but I’ve never seen you
until now. Everybody else saw you and christened you
crazy, nerdy, or retarded through their own lenses… But I christen you
different, with a middle name of
(from my poem, “An Open Letter to Asperger Syndrome”)
Most of you who have been following me for the last few months probably know that I was a self-diagnosed, self-identified Aspie. Earlier this year, my counselor and I had discussed the very real possibility that I had an autism spectrum disorder. I proposed Asperger Syndrome for several reasons: 1) because I was verbal before age 3 and never lost verbal ability (most with classic autism either lose verbal ability or don’t have it before age 3 or so), and 2) other symptoms, such as obsessive and narrow interests and difficulty with social cues and interaction, also fit me. My counselor agreed, and thus began my journey to an official diagnosis.
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