Sunday, 13 November 2011

One of the questions I’ve asked myself is why do I have Aspergers? Why me? What could have caused me to have Aspergers? Is it hereditary? In my genes, something I had no way of avoiding and whatever happened to me whilst I was developing in the womb, nothing could have prevented me having Aspergers? Or was it something more? Something that whilst I was developing in the womb caused my mum to be under so much stress and pressure that I developed Aspergers?

For me this is a very interesting theory and one that many professionals and academics have debated long and hard over. Is Aspergers or for that matter any mental health condition a product of nature or nurture? My own personal belief is that it is a combination of the two, and whilst the condition is in the genes, how far that condition develops depends on many different environmental factors, that come together at the right time for the condition to develop and manifest itself.

Now I will stress again at this point that it is my own personal belief that Aspergers and other forms of autism are caused by nature first and then other environmental issues come into play which can determine the severity of the condition when the child is born. I do know that the nature vs nurture debate is something of a ‘hot potato’ within certain parts of the academic community and do not want to go any further into this because it can go on forever and never be resolved.

But what of myself? If as I have already said I believe that Aspergers is hereditary and in the genes, but that is only half the story for me and other environmental factors must have also played a part. I don’t know too much about my mums past and she died a long time ago so I cannot ask her, but I do know some facts and can surmise on the effect this may have had on her.

I was born in September 1967 and she was 42 when she had me. My biological father left my mum as soon as he found out she was pregnant and she had recently moved from London to Bradford. So how can all of this have had an impact on my development in the womb and increased my chances of developing Aspergers?

The move itself from London to Bradford must have been very traumatic. My mum had to leave all her friends and family behind and move to a new city, very alien to her, very different to what she knew and crucially without the support network of people she had back in London. This must have been a very stressful time for my mum, especially as back in 1967 not everybody had a telephone and my mum didn’t, there was no mobile phones, no internet and no email. The world was a very different place to the one we live in now with instant communication available to the majority of the populous wherever they are in one form or another.

Finding yourself pregnant and a single parent at the age of 42 will have caused even more stresses and strains. Back then for someone to get pregnant at such an age was the exception not the norm, and this brought many complications with it that women of today don’t face. The medical profession has made enormous strides in the care of people since 1967, and especially in the care of pregnant women and this has pushed back the boundaries as to when it is deemed safe for a woman to get pregnant, and now we see more woman opting for a career and establishing themselves in a company before they choose to start a family.

Having a partner leave you is another very emotional and stressful time when you may want to ask them so many questions because of the natural desire for so many answers to an often complex and subjective situation. When you get either limited or no answers it merely increases the frustration inside of not having answers and not knowing why your partner has left you. This can add to feelings of worthlessness, lack of confidence and low self-esteem that you may already be feeling.

And what of society at the time? Whilst it may have been the swinging 60s and the ‘summer of love’, not all sections of society shared the same morals and values, and many older generations felt that society was in a moral decline and on a downhill slope to societal degeneration. At my mums age it is highly possible that she will have been frowned upon and even shunned by many people around her for being pregnant again at such an age. Not having a support network around her will have only added to the feelings of alienation she may very well have experienced.

Whilst much of this is only speculation and conjecture on my part, it does help me enormously to come to terms with why I am the way I am and be able to draw a line under it. I am apportioning no blame on anyone, because everyone of us is different and we all react in different ways to the situations we find ourselves in and find ourselves full of feelings and emotions that we may not understand and be able to deal with effectively. The emotions and feelings my mum went through I can only imagine, but they must have had an effect on my development in the womb, and increased the effect that Aspergers would have on me in years to come.

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