So last week, my family and I went on vacation to Disney World. We drove all the way to Florida from upstate NY, which wasn’t a major deal considering I work midnights and I’m usually awake at night anyway. Then again, it was a near-24 hour drive, so yeah it kinda sucked. Sleeping in the car was no picnic with my kids singing “Let It Go” over and over again for thirteen hundred miles.
Yes, I am fully aware that you are one with the wind and sky.
Considering my aspieness, you would think that being on vacation and messing up my normal routines would put me in a bad mood. And yes, I will admit that I end up missing my video games so much that by the end of every vacation I consider bringing my Xbox along on the next one. But it’s actually not that bad for me. I don’t mind being in a weird place because I know that the point of the trip is to experience somewhere new.
The one thing I do really need when I’m on vacation, though, is a “nothing day.” I’m fine with having lots to do on vacation; I just can’t have every moment of every day filled up with activities. If I don’t get any time to relax, then it just feels like work. And when I’m on vaca, bumming around in a cramped hotel room watching non-HD local sports and eating vending machine food is relaxing for me.
I am so there.
So, as I said, the family and I went to Disneyworld. I don’t know if you know this, but it seems to be a very popular place to visit. My GOD was it crowded. And it was in the middle of the school year! What terrible parents these people must be, pulling their kids out of school to go to an amusement park! Excluding us, of course. 🙂
Anyway, yeah, LOTS of people. But you know what? I handled it fine. My daughter handled it fine. See, it’s not really people themselves that freak us aspies out, it’s the social interaction that goes with being around people. Most aspies are perfectly fine if they can blend in anonymously with a crowd. That’s what Disney felt like; it felt like walking through Times Square in New York City – tons of people around, but nobody paying attention to anybody else around them. It was great! We had a great time. The kids really enjoyed the rides and stuff, and my wife and I enjoyed being able to act like kids without looking creepy.
Shit like this don’t fly anywhere else.
The vacation was practically stress free, except for the Disney germs we all came down with when we got back home. I didn’t expect the most stressful part of my trip would be going back to work and having to talk abou my vacation with my coworkers. But that’s another post entirely. 🙂
I have written in previous posts a little bit about the history of my Aspergers and what it was like for me growing up, but I haven’t really gotten into it in great detail yet. Every aspie is different, comes from a different background, and has a different story to tell.
This is my Aspergers. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
I only became aware of my Asperger-ish tendencies a few years ago when my daughter was diagnosed, but the roots go back to when I was very young. When I was in preschool, I remember bouncing back and forth between friends, trying my best to connect with whoever was within proximity of me at the moment. I tried my best to mimic in order to be accepted; this works pretty well as a child, however I can remember not really having a sense of who I was. I would absorb the traits of those around me in order to blend in.
The defining moment in my young childhood came at age 6 when I was hospitalized for a severe kidney condition. I got sick on the first day of school, was rushed to the hospital, and nearly died. I was in the hospital for 6 weeks, subjected to blood draws and regular dialysis treatments. My family was devastated that I was so sick and scared of losing me.
The thing I remember most vividly is all the cool toys I had in my hospital room.
Coming up next on Pimp My Pediatric ICU…
Granted, I was only six, so my memory of the experience shouldn’t really be picture perfect. But don’t you think it’s a little strange that I have absolutely NO memory of the horrible medical procedures that my mother tells me I had to endure, yet I can remember with great clarity the Lego kits my dad and I worked on and the inflatable Superman doll that hung in the corner during my entire stay? I think my brain decided that it wasn’t going to connect itself to what was going on, and I must have checked out and gone somewhere else mentally during the rough parts. I still use this skill to my advantage from time to time. I don’t know if the stress caused my brain to adopt an overall emotional disconnectedness – virtually “causing” my Aspergers – or if it was my aspie brain that allowed me to get through it. All I know is that the experience had a profound effect on me and my mental processes. It’s like my super hero origin story.
Able to create soul-crushing social awkwardness in a single sentence!
As I got older, I began to show more of what I realize now were classic autism/Aspergers traits. I memorized the bus route home from school, including street names; I even helped a substitute bus driver find the correct route on one occasion. I had a very rigid tv routine, watching my favorite cartoons every single day; I knew by heart when each was on and in which order. I would spend hours “racing” my Hotwheels cars, which actually meant lining up 30-40 of them one behind the other and moving them one at a time for a few seconds each. I would throw tantrums if I didn’t win while playing board games with my sisters. I would play ball in the living room by using a mini-bat to hit a foam ball aroud the house, completely oblvious to the risk of breaking things. I often played 2-player sports games by myself, switching between controllers to play both teams; I even kept stats and charted out seasons that I scheduled myself, long before games like Madden featured their own season modes.
The list goes on…
I actually hid the social aspects of my Aspergers pretty well during school. With the benefit of hindsight, however, the cracks begin to show. Bullies were constantly trying to get to me, only I was so socially clueless that I didn’t even notice. Eventually, thye pretty much gave up and moved on. One of my best friends (even to this day) was with a group of kids who would brutally make fun of me on the bus. One day the other kids weren’t there, so he invited me to his house to hang out. Oblivious Aspie Me said, “Sure!” I continued with my “blending in” strategy, getting along with many types of people but never really connecting to any of them. I had a small group of close friends, but even they were distanced from me; I very rarely hung out with any of them one-on-one.
“Thank God you guys are all here! I’m terrified of each of you individually!”
When I went to college, my isolation became official – I’m not exaggerating when I say I did not make one new friend during my four years in college. I tried a few times early on, but I just couldn’t make it work. In my mind, I had nothing in common with anybody at all. I had already figured myself as an outcast. Most of my social interaction came via the internet – where I could be whatever I wanted to be, take my time to measure my responses, and avoid the intensity of face-to-face contact. I actually met my wife over the internet during this time, and somehow she wasn’t completely turned off by my behavior when we met for the first time.
It was slightly less awkward than this was.
At the time, it wasn’t so obvious to my parents that something was up with their son. Autism spectrum disorders weren’t featured as prominently in the news as they are nowadays. But looking back now, and with the benefit of the knowledge I gained while working to get my daughter diagnosed… it’s pretty clear. My childhood is no doubt different from the stories of other spectrum children, but I’m sure it also runs parallel to them in many ways. I worry about my daughter a lot – will she have friends? Will she be happ? Will she be successful? Looking back on my story gives me a sense of peace. If I made it this far in the face of this challenge, then the potential of my daughter is limitless.
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Tags: alone, antisocial, anxiety, Aspergers, Aspie, Autism, awareness, bullies, bully, children, daughter, diagnosis, family, fear, friends, happiness, history, internet, isolation, parenting, self awareness, Social Anxiety, son, stress, tantrum, uncomfortable, video games, wife
It’s a phrase I hear from often at home. It’s a phrase I’ve used myself from time to time. When you hear it, you know exactly what it means.
“I’m feeling a bit aspie today.”
Yeah, totally. We all have days like that. But what does that really mean? What does Aspergers feel like?
“I LOVE it when he uses the title of the post in the post!!!”
Aspergers is a unique condition due to the fact that no two people who have Aspergers are the same; there are very few unifying symptoms. What one Aspie experiences will not be felt by another, and vice versa. So it may seem pretentious of me to write a blog post about how Aspergers feels. To avoid coming off sounding like a complete asshole, I’ll make this post about how Aspergers feels to me.
To me, Aspergers feels:
Awkward – this is pretty much the default, base line feeling of Aspergers. It always seems like everyone else understands what’s going on except for me. I’m doing my best to keep up, but I seem to do everything the wrong way. And everyone’s looking at me because of it.
Stressful – I’m often very aware of the fact that I’m not quite with it, that I’m a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit into its space. I want to be able to follow along, to get with the beat, to approach some sort of normalcy. But it’s not easy. It takes effort. And when that effort fails, I get stressed that I’ll never be what I want to be.
Carefree – Then again, Aspergers gives me the ability to be blissfully ignorant of the annoyance I’m causing other people in some situations. As long as I’m feeling good and having fun, I can completely block out everyone and not even give a shit about being the weirdest person in the room. It’s these times when Aspergers becomes – dare I say it – fun!
Powerful – Aspergers gives me the ability to do things that most neurotypical people are not capable of. I’m able to think through most situations rationally, setting aside any emotions I may have and avoiding the biases that come with them. I’m able to process information faster than most people, which gives me the illusion of looking smarter – when in reality, my brain is simply more efficient at learning. I also have the ability to burden myself with painful situations and push through without falling apart mentally.
Weak – On the other hand, sometimes the smallest annoyance can seem like the biggest pain I could ever experience. A fold in my sock becomes an immediate emergency. I can’t cope with simple everyday situations that almost everybody else shrugs their shoulders at and moves on. I end up melting down over the smallest thing that doesn’t go my way.
Alone – I haven’t made any new friends since I graduated from high school. I don’t know how. The sad truth is this: I really DO want friends. People with Aspergers (and autism as well) may seem antisocial, but it’s not because we don’t want to be social. It’s because we have no fucking clue how to be social, so we’d rather just avoid the situation instead of failing miserably.
Loved – I can be such a pain to deal with, I know for sure that the people in my life truly do love me and care about me. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother putting them through the shit they go through to be connected to me. It’s not an easy thing to love an Aspie, or even to be good friends with one. There’s a lot of take and sometimes not that much give. But when someone gets to know me and understands that there’s a person inside who wants to care about people, soemthing magical happens… they actually like me.
Passionate – The things I’m interested in, I jump in full force. I want to know everything about it. I’m competitive, high spirited, I love knowing things, and I love being right. There’s no better feeling than being completely engrossed in a subject to the point where every new detail is a gift.
Bored – The things I’m not interested in, I couldn’t give less of the square root of a shit about. God help you if you want to have a conversation with me about something that bores me, because I’ll tune out faster than you even realize it and two days later I’ll insist that the conversation never happened. And to me, it didn’t… because I was off in my imagination doing something else that I care infinitely more about than your stupid thing.
To me, Aspergers feels like life. This is my life, and these are the difficulties that come with it. Everyone has things they deal with in their life, whether you are on the spectrum or neurotypical or whatever you want to call yourself. We learn to live the way we are.
My Aspergers doesn’t make me any less or any more human than anybody else. It just makes me who I am.
In honor of the culmination of the year 2012 (WE SURVIVED A MAYAN ALIEN ATTACK, OR WHATEVER THAT WHOLE THING WAS ABOUT!!!), this is a countdown of my top 12 favorite posts I made during the past year.
Yes, this is my blog’s version of a clip show.
12. The Self Aware Aspie (12/23/12) – how a diagnosis helps an Aspie and others understand their situation.
11. Feeling Out of Place (8/15/12) – I get the feeling that I don’t belong.
10. Friday Night Anti-Socialite (11/3/12) – I am EXTREMELY uncomfortable at a social gathering.
9. Like I’m Not Even There (4/6/12) – Nobody listens to my awesome ideas.
8. Perfectionism (7/15/12) – Why can’t everything be right?
7. The Dentist (1/25/12) – I suffer through a trip to the dentist.
6. Dunkin Donuts Ruins My Day (1/10/12) – It’s the little things that drive me mad.
5. Hi, Nice to Meet You. By the Way, I Have Aspergers. (10/15/12) – How does one drop the Aspie bomb?
4. I’M NORMAL!!! (for once) (10/16/12) – I surprise myself with my unexpectedly rational behavior.
3. The Challenges of Being an Aspie and a Parent (6/28/12) – You think being an NT parent is hard?
2. Unseen Health Risks of Aspergers (2/23/12) – A doctor’s office can be a scary place.
1. Facing the Truth (8/6/12) – Aspies will save the world!