I thought that how I experienced the world was pretty much the same as everyone else.
I knew there were some things that I just couldn't understand no matter how hard I tried. I knew I have failed at every job I ever held because I couldn't understand the "politics". I knew my mind worked in a way that was different than most people's.
Yesterday, my world collapsed and was rebuilt when I read a blog by Tania Marshall describing life as a woman with Asperger's. In her short blog I saw my life. All the fuzzy unknowns were brought into crystal clear focus. For years I had thought that I shared some of my son Gabe's autistic characteristics but I had never once truly thought of myself as being even remotely near a diagnosis.
Autism is a spectrum disorder. There are a wide range of characteristics and many of the traits are typical to all people. The intensity of the trait is the variant. In my job as a substitute teacher, I have meet hundreds of kids. In many of them I see traits that are similar to Gabe and his autism. I recognize them and adjust my interactions accordingly.
My focus has always been on Autism and Gabe. I studied everything I could about it in order to help him become the best and most he could be. His diagnosis at 36 months of age was definitively "Autism". There was not a shred of a doubt. Nor was there any leaning towards the now outdated (but still valid in my opinion) diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. For this reason, I never read much specifically related to Asperger's. I also skipped over anything related to girls. I was only concerned about Gabe.
Yesterday, for the first time, I seriously considered my life and Asperger's. As I read Ms. Marshall's post, I saw myself. What shocked me most was the fact that these things were being described as "not normal" for everyone. I thought they were. They were normal for me.
I shared the link on Facebook and mentioned my thoughts about possibly having Asperger's. A friend shared another link describing more about Asperger's (http://www.help4aspergers.com). I read with growing understanding all of the problems I have faced in my life and how many of them are because I truly am different.
I am unique. I now know my uniqueness has a label. That label will help me understand myself and how to better interact with others. It does not change me nor do I want to change me.