Finding Ourselves on the Autism Spectrum

Posts tagged ‘Aspie traits’

Helping each other

A few months ago I was at a local support group meeting for parents of kids with Asperger’s Syndrome. It was started by a couple friends of mine with kids on the spectrum, and we’ve been meeting about once a month. One of my friend’s daughters agreed to come and speak to the group to share her thoughts and experiences as a young woman with Asperger’s. I was impressed with how well-spoken she was and with her bravery in being willing to speak with the group. It made me realize that someone being poised and articulate and performing well in school didn’t necessarily eliminate the possibility of that person being on the spectrum, and that led to more exploring of my own life experiences. Starting out on that path has led me to meeting many wonderful people who have helped me to understand that I am not alone and that who I am is really OK.

Soon after reaching the conclusion that I was probably an Aspie myself, I was presented with the opportunity to help this young woman in exploring her own life. She had decided to write a research paper about having Asperger’s Syndrome, which was a huge step for her, and I was asked if I would agree to be interviewed as an older woman who was self-diagnosed. In typical Aspie form, and because of difficulty arranging both our busy schedules, we handled the interview by exchanging emails rather than in person. It was an interesting experience for me and served to reinforce my realization that I’ve spent my whole life using my mind to figure out strategies for coping with situations that didn’t feel natural to me.

This week we had another support group meeting, and my friend read the very eloquent conclusion to her daughter’s 25-page paper, in which she had expressed how much better she was feeling about herself and her future after having worked on this paper. I asked my friend for permission to share the email she sent to me after the meeting and offered to change their names to initials to protect their privacy:

“Hi Diane,

You have no idea how much hope you have given me for L by revealing your suspicions about having Asperger’s. When you first emailed me and said you think you have it – I thought no – you’re outgoing and friendly and socially appropriate and a great mom… you don’t appear to be on the spectrum. But after reading articles about girls and Asperger’s, well, it’s very different than for boys. Girls can hide it so much better or like L says – “fake being normal.” The more I learn about it, the more I see it in two of my sisters and my mom and my grandma.

Your advice to L not only helped her to write a great paper, but also to learn how to tackle her own personal issues. She has used your “cognitive therapy” approach to talk herself down when she is anxious and she says it helps. Knowing how well you have turned out – you have given me hope that L WILL eventually drive, she WILL go to college, she WILL get a job, get married and hopefully be a mom, too. So thank you for trusting me enough to share this information about yourself.

p.s. I liked our quiet little meeting where it was just the three of us!

p.p.s. L is gone for a whole weekend on a Youth Group Retreat and I didn’t have to force her to go. 🙂

Take care,

B”

This absolutely made my day, and I wanted to share J We really can make a difference in each other’s lives.

 

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Figuring it out

I just figured something out.  I experienced one of those “lightbulb moments” that don’t come nearly as often as I’d like.  I just saw the relationship between a particular behavior pattern of mine and the situation in which I find myself living each day.  Kind of like figuring out that I’m on the spectrum, this doesn’t really change the nature of me or my situation.  But suddenly my frame of reference has shifted, and somehow that makes a difference in how I feel about things.

I’ve always been very much a “live and let live” sort of person.  Not only do I not feel a need for others to believe what I believe or act as I do (provided they aren’t hurting anybody), but I actually think it may be necessary and important for them to believe or do something entirely different.  We are each unique individuals with different brain chemistry, skill sets, belief systems, and life experiences.  What works for me may not work for you at all.  We may be at different points on similar journeys, or we may be on different journeys entirely, since we all start in different places.   I enjoy sharing with others and having them share with me so that we can possibly benefit from one another’s different perspective and insight.  I really don’t feel a need to decide for someone else what they should think or how they should feel.  Mostly.  Except there’s this thing with my kid.  

Once again, I don’t feel a need to insist my kids embrace my personal belief system.  It keeps evolving, anyway, so it’s not like it’s something they could adopt and be done.  And I don’t get to decide that for them ultimately, anyway.  I share my views with them, but I also let them know about other people and others ideas.  Whatever decisions they make, I’d like them to do that with information and not out of ignorance.  And I share ideas that I’ve personally found helpful in terms of managing conflicts, dealing with difficult feelings, and coping with physical issues like sensory overload without necessarily expecting that they will adopt them – I can only hope.  I feel pretty good about all that.  But I seem to have this huge problem accepting my kids’ negative feelings.  And I think I’m starting to get why.

I can remember getting really annoyed with my mom years ago – prior to my son’s diagnosis – when she suggested I was too concerned about making my then-only-child happy.  I considered myself too evolved to try and control another person’s feelings.  Except, I learned later that she was right.  I don’t just want for my kids to be happy.  On some level I need it, or at least feel like I do.  And I think maybe it all comes down to one underlying belief:  that feelings signal something needed to be fixed, and I’m the one who has to fix things or they won’t get fixed.

My husband once called me “Annie Sullivan”, referring to the woman who first helped Helen Keller to communicate.   At that moment I had ten of my fingers on one of my son’s and was showing him what he needed to feel in terms of pressure in order to operate the control for a toy racetrack that was frustrating him.  Hubby had tried unsuccessfully for a while, but I had an inspiration and tried a different approach, and it worked.   That’s happened a lot over the years.  I’m not the only one who ever has an important insight, but the great majority of the time, when something about my enigmatic spectrum son isn’t working and everyone else, including him,  is out of ideas, I’m the one who gets things moving in a positive direction.  It’s my job.  And the ability to do that gives me feel a sense of specialness and purpose.  It’s become a big part of my identity.

I remember actually praying once for God to please provide whatever I needed and to change me into whoever I needed to be in order to help my spectrum son with all his difficulties.  No conditions.  Just give me the tools I need to do the job and I’ll spend the rest of my life doing it.  And to at least some extent, that has happened.  I’m constantly tuned in to my son and to any helpful instincts I might have about what is going on with him, and I am continually being brought into contact with the very people who can help me with whatever situation I happen to be facing at the moment.  I am open to good ideas coming from absolutely any direction, so I recognize lots that come my way.  I see more every day how my son and I are actually alike however differently our issues may sometimes manifest themselves, and that insight helps me to see what others often miss.  I’m doing what I was put here to do, and I feel truly needed.

The downside of all this is that I feel very insecure when a problem arises that doesn’t have a clear remedy, or when I know I am not functioning at my best, because I feel like the pressure is on me to find a solution and to find it quick.  Because that’s what I do.  And because if I don’t do it soon, the problem may grow bigger, and the consequences may be more severe.  The clock is ticking.  Will I find the right button to press?  What will happen next if I take too long?  Why does no one else seem to see that any decision we make has further implications?  However I choose to handle this, down what road will that decision take all of us, and what will we face along the way?

Because of my own spectrum issues, I find the unknown to be extremely disconcerting, and I tend to obsess over anything I feel has gone wrong in the past or might go wrong in the future.  I have the impression that I feel pain out of proportion to what others seem to do over a given event or circumstance, maybe in part because I’m feeling it before, during, and after whatever actually happens.  I carry the pain with me through time and can resurrect it full blown at a moment’s notice even after it appears to have faded.  I’ve seen how things can go wrong in our own lives firsthand, and that doesn’t even begin to touch the impressions made on me by stories I’ve heard from others.  So when someone tries to tell me it will all be fine if I just don’t worry about, I get very frustrated, because I know there’s a good chance that it REALLY WON’T.  At least not according to any definition of fine that works for me. 

So what all this leads back to is that frequently when my spectrum kid is out of sorts or having an issue – or even when another family member is significantly off balance ( because in my mind everything is connected, and because we all affect each other so much) –  I initially become anxious.   I overreact.  I add stress to an already stressful situation.  I sense a problem that needs fixing, when the truth is that somebody is just expressing a feeling or bumping up against a challenge, both of which they should be able to do without having to worry about how that impacts me.   It’s not what happens all the time, but it happens a lot.  We regroup and get a handle on things later, but an impression has already been made that grows deeper each time we end up there.

So figuring all this out doesn’t really fix this particular problem.  But if I can see it and how it came to be, maybe I can start to recognize when it’s happening, instead of being caught completely off guard and wondering how I ended up there again.  And maybe I can make a better choice in how I respond.  At least I can know that I have a choice.

Bless all of you who are sharing your journeys, and thank you for allowing me to share parts of mine.  It truly makes a difference.

The next step

Over the years I’ve let go of a lot of my attachment to goals and deadlines.  We get to things when we’re ready, and we don’t always get to decide when that will be.  Sometimes we don’t seem to be moving forward much at all.  Sometimes we lose some ground, but we try to remember that the overall trend is upward.  It’s just not a straight line.

Today has been a decent day so far.  Middle son came back from a sleepover  and has been enjoying his new Rockband for the Xbox.  He’s the only one of the three to take much interest in music so far.  My youngest had a playdate at a friend’s house and put a lot of effort into trying to clear a light layer of snow off the driveway to impress his dad before he got home.

My oldest has been a bit stressed today.  Nothing along the lines of a full blown crisis. At least not right now.  You never know what the day may bring.  But he woke up restless and not happy about the homework still remaining to be done before tomorrow, and he had it in his mind to escape his worries for a while by attending a local weekly Yugioh tournament.  He never does as well as he thinks he will at these things, but he gets a bit better each time, and he no longer falls completely apart in frustration.  So if we have time, as we did today, it’s nice to indulge him.

He did good by finding the website of the place where they listed the time of the tournament.  Then his dad asked him to call the place and confirm that it was actually happening today.  Not strictly necessary, but a good way to get useful information about any last minute changes.  And not a big deal for some people.  But my guy?  Hmmm.  Phone call.  Yeah, he wasn’t exactly comfortable with that.

This is the part where I have to figure out what he can actually manage today, because often he doesn’t know himself.  It doesn’t always work trying to base it on what he’s done in the past.  Since puberty hit, he manages some things a lot better, and some things have gotten more difficult.  He can stay in the classroom during every period on a pretty regular basis now and consistently participates, and he doesn’t refuse to do his assnments.  He can attend after school clubs in his areas of interest on his own. That’s all tremendous progress. At the same time, inviting a friend over happens much less frequently and only when we have just the right combination of mood and circumstances.  And he does NOT want to do phone calls. 

There was a period of time when I just would have pushed.  We’ve done a lot of pushing over the years, and it’s mostly turned out to be for the best.  He’s all about inertia and getting started, and once he gets past that, he’s usually fine.  It’s exhausting, but it’s worked.  But as he’s gotten older, sometimes the pushing just makes things worse.  Also, this kid is 15 and over 6 feet tall now, and I don’t look all that intimidating anymore, if I ever did.  He finally has some investment in wanting to accomplish things himself, though, and the best situation is when I can appeal to that.  But sometimes, he’s just not up for something, and it’s not a big enough deal to make into a Thing.

So here’s what I’ve been trying lately – with him, with the other kids, and with other situations that I need to address in my day.  I just ask myself, what’s the next step that we can handle?  What’s something to get us moving in a positive direction, if only moving slightly?  If he can’t manage the talking, can he look up the phone number? Can he dial? Can he sit next to me and listen to both sides of the conversation to get a feel for how that goes and what words get used?  Rather than bailing on the whole thing or handling it all for him, how can we help him move forward even just al little?  And often, once the pressure of having to do the whole thing is removed – because the anxiety that accompanies his autism is more debilitating than any other aspect of this condition for him – he finds he can do more than he thought he could.  And then he gets to feel like he accomplished something.

So he did everything up to sitting with me to make the call, and then they didn’t pick up at the other end. We  decided it was probably fine, anyway, and made preparations for him to go.  He handled his dad leaving him there on his own, us missing his initial phone call home, losing all his matches (including one to a little kid which produced a brief period of understandable swearing back in the car), and now he’s moving forward on his homework.  There’s nothing remarkable about the day, but we helped our boy get past being stuck, and he is handling his frustration without it overwhelming him, and to us that makes it a Good Day.

Nothing in particular

I want to post something today, partly because I’m all about momentum and don’t want to lost what I have going, and partly because I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy about finding this wonderful community and just want to say hi and I’m very grateful you are all here.

Just us Aspies

The neurotypical family members have all gone out to a hockey game, and my oldest and I have the place to ourselves.   Other than me checking in with him once in a while to make sure no surprise problems have developed, we’re mostly off in our own spaces doing our own things.  We both enjoy our alone time and the peace and quiet when no one is trying to get us to do something interactive that’s supposed to be more fun than what we actually want to do.

Limited attention

I haven’t yet figured out what time setting my blog is on – I can only handle learning a little at a time, but I’m writing in the middle of evening, and my deeper thoughts processes just don’t function by this point, especially when I was up early this morning getting the oldest up and ready for an all-day activity.  I have trouble convincing my husband about this time of day thing about me, as he seems pretty much the same all through the day.  If you want to discuss something important with me, it had better be before I mentally shut off  for the night. Also when there aren’t too many other things going on at the same time.  You may think I’m taking it all in, but it’s likely that I’m really not.

The thing that happened

I did something silly last evening.  My ASD oldest son was waiting for a turn on the basement PC and decided it might be fun to beat mom in a friendly game of Blokus.  We bought this for the 7-year old, because the teenager wouldn’t like a gift in a box that said ages 5 and up, but we knew it was more along his line.  He commented on the fact that someone had restuck the sticky parts on the sides of the box that keep it from opening when it’s still in the store.  Odd, but life around here is usually odd, and I don’t ask too many questions about things that don’t seem to present a significant problem.  The little plastic pieces were still sealed in baggies inside the box, too.  This was surprising and we both commented that we thought the game, which was a Christmas present this year, had already been played by the other family members on a previous evening.  I especially remembered this, because as I was leaving to take the oldest to another activity, the comment was made by my middle son that he’d enjoy a chance to play the game and maybe even win once while his big brother was away.  My oldest doesn’t lose many games of anything, especially when there’s a definite strategy to winning 🙂  So we decided maybe we were mistaken and moved on.

Playing games

So we played our game, and since I had never played and had no idea what was going on until I could already see that I was way behind , he crushed me.  I did get better towards the end, when I knew more of what was going on.  I have to actually see a strategy played out to get it.  Middle son requested a bit more time to finish what he was doing on the PC, so the oldest asked to teach me a simplified version of a  game he really likes, which is called Go, while he waited.  At first I refused, because even my hubby gets completely frustrated trying to play this kid in Go. (Hubby doesn’t lose many games, either, and is having trouble adjusting to the fact that he just can’t beat this kid 🙂  If Hubby can’t take him, I’m just going to get pummeled, and we already did that once.  But he really seemed to want to teach me, and we actually end up having a very nice time, because he’s really quite pleasant in teaching mode.

Remembering

Fast forward to today.  I was straightening up just a little – because I’m the only female in the house, and it’s the only way anything is getting picked up EVER – and I noticed the Blokus game sitting out.  As I put it away, I noticed another Blokus game sitting under a pile of our other games.  And Then I Remembered.  Hubby had bought a second Blokus game weeks ago, because the price was just So Good, and he planned to hang onto it as a possible gift for someone later.  When my oldest was opening the sealed up Blokus game, it somehow never dawned on me that maybe this was The Second Game.  Understand, the males in my house are packrats, and I long ago stopped being able to keep track of what all is in our home at any given time.  Also, I’m going to go ahead and blame my husband for not stashing the second game somewhere that the kids wouldn’t come across it.  But still, this doesn’t reflect particularly well on my mental faculties.

Amusement

It was over an hour before I sensed the right casual moment to tell both my Aspie boy and my husband what had happened.   I couldn’t even say it without cracking up when I was only partway through.  At first Hubby just stared at me.  Then, in a disbelieving voice and with a quizzical look, he says “You didn’t.”  And Aspie boy and I both started cracking up.  Hubby was perfectly accepting of the whole thing, but we both know he’s going to be giving me a hard time about this for quite a while to come, because that’s what we do.   Once again, just because I  look like I’m with you, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am 🙂

I’m tired, and the guys are  back from their game.  Good night all.

Different kinds of friendship

I want to thank everyone so much for the extraordinarily warm welcome I received yesterday upon starting my little blog.  I was all set to run and hide like a scared rabbit, because I’m overly sensitive to criticism and rejection, but you made me feel interesting and accepted.  It really makes me want to write more. Part of me is still a bit nervous, though, and I’ll tell you why.

(Inserting disclaimer here: In real life I’m usually much less serious than I am finding myself here as I write this.  Humor is the main coping mechanism for most of life in our family, but for now I seem to be working through some things.  Please bear with me. )

To be honest, a part of me is wondering just how far this acceptance will go and how long it will last if I keep sharing what’s going on in my head.  I’ve developed this concept of myself as someone people only like as long as they don’t look too closely, and as long as I keep up appearances.  I’ve gotten better over the years at knowing the standard things people find acceptable for me to say.  It goes along well enough for a while.  Then I gain more confidence, start to relax more and filter myself less, and somewhere along the line the atmosphere in the room changes or someone makes a comment, and I realize again that I really am some sort of other and not part of the group at all.  At least that’s how it seems to me.

I’ve been getting a different reception here, and I enjoy so much exchanging ideas with people who have their own perspectives on things that matter to me.  It’s such a breath of fresh air, and I keep wanting more.

The relationships I have with people in my daily life mostly seem to revolve around whatever it is that we have in common.  I guess that’s normal enough. Usually it’s kids.  Occasionally a hobby or pet or a common life experience.  And there’s Facebook, where I can momentarily connect over a difficult or amusing moment in my day or someone else’s, and then we drop right back out of each other’s lives again. 

I actually do enjoy being in touch with more people this way than I would otherwise.  I can’t manage long phone conversations or evenings out very often, so it’s a way to keep up on what people are doing and to share what I’m doing without having to have dozens of separate conversations.  I also sometimes enjoy the brief exchanges I have with other parents on the school playground or at the door at the beginning or end of a playdate, although that tends more to be  if I’m having a good day.   Still, it’s all very limited involvement and within pretty “safe” subject areas. 

Once in a while there will be a longer conversation while the kids play in the neighborhood pool, or when we lose track of time waiting for them to finish some activity they are doing together.  It seems like those longer conversations mostly happen with parents who have at least one child with special needs.  Even if the issues are different, we can talk about something real and meaningful to us, and we can share at least some of those moments that other parents aren’t likely to experience or understand.  Plenty of people in my neighborhood or on my friends list will be happy to listen to a story about my car troubles or my kids’ last visit to the dentist.   They just don’t know what to do with a story about my teenager having an anxiety attack that takes up my whole afternoon or not being able to get himself dressed in the morning because he can’t stop staring into space long enough to put something on. 

I’ve had one good friend for most of my life who loves to bounce ideas back and forth with me , and I treasure that relationship.   We can talk about spiritual things and practical things and even autism things, because she has spent much of her career as an exceptionally insightful special ed teacher.  This friend is actually the one I credit with taking me under her wing and helping me to fit in and find friendships as a lost adolescent Aspie girl.  She has always thought I’m funny and interesting and unique in a really positive way, and she’s never asked for more than I have to give.

I told this friend pretty recently about my deciding that I am on the spectrum, and she responded with love and respect for my feelings.  There was also a certain amount of disbelief that I could in any way have something that’s considered a disability.   To her, I’m wonderful just as I am, and I truly love her for that.  At the same time, it helped me to realize that much of my life experience has really been kept all to myself.  Over at Life in the House that Asperger Built there’s a discussion going on about challenges and  limitations, and I especially relate to a comment passed along from a friend of hers by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg about having to “pedal harder than other people just to get to the same place”. (Thanks, Rachel).  Because I end up looking like I’m doing OK – at least for the periods in which I am out “performing” – nobody gets to see how much effort it took to get me there or the limit on how long I can stay before turning back into a pumpkin.

It’s hard to share with people things about myself that I know they just don’t feel.  Come to think of it, I’m not exactly sure why that is.  I suppose it just emphasizes to me how different I am.  Even if they are being kind, I feel self-conscious.  It’s so unburdening to be able to say that I’m depressed or anxious or I just can’t think right now because the TV is too loud or the kids are all talking at once or I just need to be away from people for a while and to have that be OK and not something anyone feels a need to worry about or to try and fix for me. 

I’m not looking for anyone to pity me.   If you look closely enough, everybody has their challenges – some that truly make me wonder how people even manage to get up in the morning –  and I wouldn’t trade mine for someone else’s.  I would just like to be able to say how I’m feeling and what I need to do to accomodate that and to have that be accepted without anyone telling me how I could change things or make things better.  A need to fix something would imply that I’m a broken version of a “normal” person.  I’m a perfectly fine version of me, and I’m really enjoying getting to know more of the fascinating people in this corner of the blog world. 

This is one of my favorite concepts from old school Star Trek:  IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination.  Who wants for us to all be the same, anyway?

Aspergirl?

After years of working to help my Aspie son, I have decided, in the phrasing that my husband has adopted, that I am “dealing with” Asperger’s Syndrome myself. No official diagnosis – just my fairly well-informed opinion. I have a teenage boy on the spectrum, the ways that he and I differ made me think for a long while that I must just have shadow symptoms of autism, like many family members, or be trying too hard to identify with the boy I love so much. The main difference between us is that he’s mostly an open book. More like a radio station continuously broadcasting whatever he’s thinking and feeling, often at an uncomfortably high volume to everyone within a large radius. I’m quiet. For the most part I’m disguised or hidden away. I’ve developed a whole arsenal of coping strategies that have become so automatic that it’s hard to tell what’s me and what’s not.

This year I met some girls and women with Asperger’s at a parent support group that I attend, and I began reading about females on the spectrum. Out of the scattered pieces of my life a pattern began to emerge. Old memories and more recent experiences started to make sense in this framework. My constant compulsion as a child to be in a rocking chair. A period of unexplained isolation and bullying as a teenager. My extreme academic ability coupled with a general lack of common sense about the world around me. A preference for being in the company of boys rather than girls, because it just seemed easier. Mimicking the behavior and conversation of people around me, because I didn’t know how to generate my own. Approaching problems with my intellect, rather than my emotions – which were usually confusing and difficult to regulate. Pretending my whole life to know things I didn’t actually know, because I always had a sense there were things everyone else knew, and I didn’t. Always feeling when I was young that I must be from someplace else and wanting to know how to return there.

For most of my adult life, I’ve felt a compulsive need to follow rules even when they serve no practical purpose. People often misread my moods and misunderstand my words, even when I think I’m being perfectly clear. I notice myself sometimes feeling more comfortable talking with people for whom English is their second language, because the conversation is more straightforward. I suffer from multiple forms of sensory overload, most notably with sounds. I have tremendous difficulty shifting gears once I’m engaged in an activity or a particular thought process. I get completely lost in whatever is going on in my head and losing track of the world around me for extended periods of time. Despite extreme social anxiety, I can be extremely talkative on some subjects that genuinely interest me and almost unable to generate any conversation at all in the absence of those subjects.

I did make a brief attempt to get a diagnosis a few months back. I couldn’t find a specialist on my insurance plan, so I settled for a well-meaning young mental health professional who at least thought it seemed like a reasonable possibility. However, he was much more interested in discussing my anxiety issues and thought I should come in for therapy. The thing is, I don’t really want therapy, and certainly not from someone who has no idea what it’s like to be an Aspie or a parent of an Aspie.  I don’t especially want to change who I am or to be more like everybody else.  I just want to have a clearer understanding of what makes me tick and why I respond to life the way that I do.  It also helps me to understand what makes my kid tick, and that helps me to be a better parent and a better advocate for him.

My child’s diagnosis isn’t really as official as it could be. He started seeing professionals and receiving various therapies and assistance when he was only a year old, and no one felt a specific label was all that important, because he was clearly somewhere on the spectrum, and because it wouldn’t change the recommendations for what would be helpful or even the availability of the services. When he was in first grade it became necessary to be labelled by the school district in order to receive the help he needed, which was an IEP with accomodations and a full-time paraprofessional. We resisted the label for a long time, because we thought it would make our child stand out more or become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we didn’t want to limit his potential. The label has actually turned out to provide much more benefit than cost over the long run. With the help that he receives and the increased understanding of the people around him that he’s gotten as a result of having a label, our son has made tremendous progress in all areas of his life.

For me, the help and understanding I didn’t even realize I needed has come in the form of wandering into this community of people who are either on the spectrum themselves, or who love and accept someone who is on the spectrum, or both. I’m so grateful to so many individuals who have been brave enough to share their experiences that let me know I am truly not alone. In that spirit, I recently agreed to be the subject of an interview for a friend’s Aspie daughter who was writing about Aspie females for a school research paper. I found that sharing some of my experiences with her also helped me to clarify my own thoughts.

I’m not sure I want to share this view of myself casually with the world at large, since most people don’t seem to understand much of what it means to be on the autism spectrum unless they are living with it. Even in my son’s case, we are blessed by his ability to function well enough that we can tell people about his ASD when we feel like there’s a reason to do so, and at other times we don’t feel a need to bother.  I do feel like I want to officially introduce myself to the rest of this community.  Hi. I’m Diane, and I’m a self-diagnosed Aspergirl.

 

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