Monday, 31 October 2011

Well where do you start!! For me it’s with my childhood and some background information on what Asperger’s is to me. Asperger’s is an autistic spectrum condition and is at the very top of the spectrum. Having Asperger’s means you have difficulty with social communication such as body language and facial expressions, and this can lead to difficulties forming and maintaining relationships and understanding others in a social situation. Understanding the unwritten rules of society can also be a major problem, and this can lead to childlike behaviour, tantrum’s and even anger, when the person with Asperger’s doesn’t understand what they have done wrong and why it is considered wrong. For them the world is open to interpretation on a large scale, without the inbuilt mechanisms that so many people have. It is only learnt through rote learning and making many, many mistakes, that the unwritten rules of society are learned, and then you have to learn that for each individual and each situation they may be slight, subtle differences! This can lead to mental overload as you try and process all this information, far, far quicker than you are capable of and this leads to withdrawing from situations because you are fearful of how you feel and the feeling of inadequacy and of feeling lonely in a room full of people.

But what of my first experience of Asperger’s? Well as a child it is very difficult to separate an atypical child from an Asperger’s child, because they both display the same kind of behaviour and understanding of the world as each other. It is not till adolescence starts or later that the behavioural and intellectual differences begin to become apparent and the atypical child seems to develop into an adult, whereas the Asperger’s child stays just that, a child.

My first memory of Asperger’s is a reflective one as at that time I didn’t know I had the condition. I had completed my first year of upper school and I would have been around fourteen years old. My parents obtained a job, with free accommodation, but across the other side of the city. This was a massive upheaval for me, far more than I realised at the time. I was moved away from my familiar surroundings, my friends, my school and my memories, to another place, which was so different, where I didn’t know the surroundings, didn’t know the people, a place that had no memories for me.

I decided to stay on at my current school on the other side of Bradford, but this didn’t work out for me as I found the journey difficult to make, and it was a wrench everyday being with friends who I had developed close relationships with and then having to go home to a foreign place and feeling left out when they told me of the fun and excitement they had, had the night before, that I had missed out on, and the feeling of no longer being a part of their lives, but just another stranger to tell stories to of teenage dreams, teenage play, teenage fun.
I did make new friends in my new surroundings, but they were never the same as the friends I had made before. These friends were different, not interested in school or learning, only interested in wandering the streets, playing football and hanging in the local café. But for me it was a new and exciting culture, so very different to what I was used to. My parents had no control over me, and I was swept up in my new found freedom of being able to do what I want when I wanted. I would stay in bed most of the day only coming out at evening to meet up with my new friends to do the same thing day after day after day.

The big question was where would it lead me? Would I regret my decision to leave the education system later in life? Would I ever see my old friends again?

If you would like to read more about Aspergers and Autism here are links to the National Autistic Society:

For Aspergers Syndrome:

For Autism:

Understanding behaviour:

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