By Ali Browning
By Ali Browning. 27.10.2010
"I'm not being horrible" said a girl at school to me when we were playing netball "but is there something wrong with you?"
I was 11, clumsy, awkward, antisocial, odd and a victim of bullying – but what she said did not offend me, normally such a comment would result in me crying or slapping them, but I knew she was right, she was not a popular girl herself but could see I was not like the others and she did not like the others bullying me even though she noticed I was very different.
I was a weird child, lived in a dream world, distant. I soaked knowledge up like a sponge and yet I could not do maths and was called a “drip” and “one of the thick kids" at school. I could recite the Kings and Queens of England, tell you anything about the Tudors or cats – but making friends? Fitting in? Coping with day to day life?
I finally got diagnosed at age 36 after years of being thought as mentally unstable, depressive, anxious, awkward, fragile, childish, stubborn etc. I am unable to hold down a job although I am trained learning disability nurse, a teacher of adults with LD and hold a degree in Peace studies. I was highly politically and socially active in my late teens and 20s, very creative and knowledgeable, I just wanted a normal life, to get married and have kids.
Anyway to cut an epic story short I got my diagnosis of Aspergers syndrome, I was also found to have Mild Dyslexia and severe Dyspraxia (two co-morbid conditions linked with Autistic spectrum disorders)
On the positive I am creative, extremely intelligent (IQ of 140) very knowledgeable about history, legends, cats and the art of potion making. I have little interest in modern things and no interest whatsoever in things like celebrities, soap operas and parties. perhaps the one modern thing that helps is the internet for enabling me to make like minded friends, I am a very poor mixer in ‘real life’ so going on line helps as I can find fellow Aspies or ‘odd balls’ to make friends with and that is good.
On the negative, I get overwhelmed by noise, crowds, bright light, too much going on, heat, form filling, admin and paper work. A day out can leave me shattered and in need of sleep the next day as over stimulation leads to what is in Autism circles is referred to as a “melt down”, i.e. I just loose it, cry, become hyper and cannot settle or just crash.
I like organising things, folding things and routine, I love routine and need it; I hate spontaneity and must have a week planned out and things to go as they are written on my calendar. I also think being AS makes me have a strong sense of justice and I simply do not care what others think if something is wrong or bad I challenge it and fight for what is right. Sometimes having AS means I am very prone to depression and anxiety and I am almost like someone with bi polar, one day giddy and non stop talking like a kid, and the next day is a black dog day, to coin the words of Winston Churchill, “and on such days I pray for death and am so dark and unhappy it is like a big, black shroud around me”.
I would admit that I would like a cure for Aspergers but to keep my creativity and refusal to conform and my originality. For I am 43 going on 13, and to be honest, I quite like that.