Just Apples To Me!
This conversation took place on the 6th November 2010, less than two years after my diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome in 2008 and it is myself and my Mother. She struggled to accept my diagnosis, and this is relation to me further suggesting that both my Father had it, and his Father, my Grandfather.
Hello darling, l have been giving this Aspergers thing some thought.
I think you are right , l think your Father is Aspergic!
Yes l got a book from the library on the subject.
I can see now that from around 4-5 years of age you started to show signs of this disease, but that doesn’t mean you have it dear.
Oh yes, btw mum, it’s not really a disease as such!
Well anyway darling, your Father had it, selfish bastard that he was! Unloving to the hilt that man!!
Oh right, don’t hold back will you!
Well yes, you are right to say he was an Aspergers, but l was a victim to this you know.
Yes l understand.
You will never have a proper relationship now will you?
He gave me his diabetes you know?
What? Mum, he did not give you that, it is not a contagion.
So he told me, but l itch! And now l am asking you, do you think he passed this Aspergers thing onto me as well?
What?? Mum, l don’t think you are getting it.
Anyway darling lovely to hear from you, l think l am going to read more to see if there is a cure. Take care, love you. Bye
There is a lot of humour in this conversation, and even now all these years on, Mum is convinced my Father has ‘it’ , but probably not me, because l don’t look it!!
We live in a society that feels the need to not only just chastise others, or judge them but make huge misguided assumptions based on very little if at all any difference. A long time ago l remember meeting someone and they were absolutely astonished at my height and said “You sounded taller on the phone!” [l am 5’9″] Which admittedly made me stop and wonder why? Did l speak in a tall manner, did l use longer words which made someone else think and believe l was bigger than l was? How can anyone tell the difference over the phone of someone’s height?
It makes me wonder if l am to meet other people in the future if l should tell them in advance my height just so as to stop their assumptions? “Oh hi, by the way l am five foot nine, have a nice day!”
After my diagnosis of Asperger’s l called my Mother and told her – instead of her saying ‘Oh that makes sense’, all she could say was ‘Are you sure, you don’t come across as or sound autistic? People who know you would not have said you looked autistic either darling, l don’t think so either l would have known!’
When pushed for what she thought ‘autism’ should look like – she like so many others brought up very early overly commercial images of autistic children; ‘screaming, kicking, spinning, punching or making loud inappropriate noises in public places and added “and they are just odd aren’t they?”
Ten years on from my diagnosis and only in the last eighteen months has my Mother accepted things and acknowledged that she admittedly could see autism in my early years, but not as she had believed it to be. Constant am l in my statement to her of ‘you meet one person on the spectrum; you have met one person on the spectrum, not all of us’.
My Father on the other hand is completely indifferent to it. He doesn’t deny or agree to my own Asperger’s but categorically rejects the concept that he may have it. Whilst he has not been officially diagnosed l can ‘now’ recognise traits in him, that l have. He doesn’t insult me by saying ‘l don’t look it’, he insults me by insinuating that l don’t know what l am talking about with regards the whole topic.
It is relatively insulting for this to be said ‘equally as much l should imagine if someone remarked to another about their sexuality ‘Well gosh you don’t look heterosexual!” Which would mean what exactly? That you can tell a person’s preference just by looking at them? People therefore are further suggesting that they can pick out autism in the street just by glancing around the crowds.
My Mothers’ initial description of autism suggested that her Son could NOT be autistic based purely on the basis that he did not look like the others. Meaning that the others looked autistic in the first place? Her statement suggested that l was in her eyes ‘normal’ in comparison to those who were not normal and in so thinking this, her idle remark that l was normal in many ways caused a divide. She had separated me from others she considered autistic in the first place. When prompted to ‘define normal’, she simply says “Well you know, normal, normal!” Which still leaves me none the wiser!
I have a theory as is concerning autism, and the others in so far as there are not any specific others, for everyone has autism anyway, it is purely down to varying degrees or balance if you wish – ask a Libran about balance. Some are more balanced than others! I have met a lot of people during my years both pre and post diagnosis and l am hard pushed to say hand on heart with the knowledge l have now of autism spectrum disorders that there are ‘others’ out there that don’t already have some form of ASD.
Of course there are many that would scoff at this notion equally as many who would agree; that what you are suggesting is that everybody sits under the umbrella of the spectrum is outrageous. That would mean that there were no others in the first place, and if there were no others then no one could take offence or insult to being awarded with the phrase ‘You don’t look autistic!’
When l hear it l have to concede to not being insulted, it takes more than that to really worry me. No, all it truly does is open up the fascination department of my brain. Like a logical formula in some respects – the ‘others, the US’s, the Thems of this world is an absorbing subject.
As autism, DOES NOT have a particular styled look to it, how can anyone tell the difference anyway? I guess that those who suggest this perhaps mean it as a compliment and are not specifically being negative with their comments – but if that is the case then that is most assuredly insultive. But l can easily understand why others might take some umbrage to being challenged to their autism presence and not looking the part.
They could be forgiven for thinking that those who question the authenticity of their autism may be thinking less of them for suddenly discovering that they have something that was not visible to them, and perhaps they now need to fear the hidden. When someone proposes that they didn’t see what you have are they implying that you are less the person they thought you were before the sudden arrival of new if not astonishing and revelational information’s, or are they as certain medias hint offering you a compliment?
It can be troublesome a thought to ponder on. My Father would be insulted if someone was to directly refer to him as autistic or Aspergic because in his eyes he is being referred to as less than ‘normal’ which is what he regards any flaw as in the first place! But so many diagnosed under the spectrum prefer to not even come out about their autism in the first place for they too fear the stigma attached as well as the taboo issues connected to autism. In my Father’s eyes he is better than autistic, because he is normal. In his eyes being autistic is not normal, irrelevant that his Son believes him to be under the spectrum. But my Father is NOT alone; many prefer the sanctuary of normalcy.
When l was diagnosed it was welcomed for finally l could attribute my identity properly and align it with my soul. Sure l still had many questions, but now at least l knew l wasn’t going mad as the medical professionals had hinted at for years and years!
As much as l am a dog owner and walker, or a gamer or a gardener, a writer, a poet or whatever else that formulates my identity l could finally say that l was Aspergic and proud, so it mattered not to me if someone said ‘Oh you don’t look autistic’ for l could equally answer ‘Oh you don’t look stupid!’
It all apples to me,
Autism …can you tell the difference?
Rory Matier – The Tee Shirt Blogger
Ps: These posts are my views on my autism/Asperger’s, they may not be everyone else’s who is on the spectrum.