Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Name


So we got our tentative Aspies diagnoses.  Pretty much before we walked in the door.

The counsellor is asking me if I need a hug.  (Uh, yes please!)   And I am thinking, at last, some support and understanding about how difficult it is to parent an aspie child.  They get me, they really get how hard it is.

We sit down and the counsellor starts talking to me about high functioning aspies slipping through the cracks and masking their differences by overachieving and struggling and just working oh so darn hard to do everything right until they just have a meltdown.

Which I was in the middle of having.

And I'm thinking, but what, my child is NOT overachieving and not working so hard and not having any meltdowns at all.  She is apathetic and withdrawn.

I look over and she is in fact smiling at the counsellor.

It doesn't take me long to figure out the counsellor is talking about me.  I AM quick on the people skills.  Quick enough that I can't have aspies.  Right?

I'm a little embarrassed.  Uh, yeah, we're uh here for my daughter.

High functioning aspies often come across as very gregarious and exciteable.  But it isn't mania, it's just overstimulation, sensory overload, compensating for the exhaustion.

Yes, thanks for that.  But my daughter is shutting down and not at all exciteable.

Uh uh.  The counsellor keeps going.  You're having a meltdown.

Exactly, I say. The kid is driving me crazy with her apathy.

Often it's the undiagnosed aspie parents who are the toughest on their aspie kids. 

Well, she needs to suck it up at some point.  Get with the friggin program.  Oh booh hooh I'm special needs, I just want to play with my horses.  Life doesn't work that way.  I don't get to do what I want.  I have to push myself.  I make it work.

You're working really hard, aren't you?  she asks.


You are struggling.


You are exhausted.

No kidding.

Burned out.

Keep going.

Having a meltdown.


Isn't it time to stop working so hard and figure out why it's always so hard?

Oh shit! 


We start talking and it all starts to fit together.  The depression.  The anxiety.  The exhaustion.  The pushing myself day in and day out just to get out of bed and do things I can't bear the the thought of doing - like facing the kids at school, like going grocery shopping, like going to a mums and tots play group.  Not only have I done all this stuff my entire life, I have done it exceptionally well.

I would like to think that writing - and words - and brutal honesty and a high social conscience are my aspie traits.

But no, I think it is pleasing others and exceeding expectations.

This was easy at school but tougher once the expectations became my own.

The feeling of relief though - OH THANK GOD I CAN FINALLY GET SOME HELP FOR THIS - turned into second guessing.  Should I be chatting with the receptionist at the gym or is that overkill?  Am I being weird?

And, hey, wait a second, how can Ryan and I have the same diagnoses?  We are total opposites.  She is the child I least relate to.  I don't get her at all.

Or do I?

Or might it be that we both see things differently from others?  In part because of our diagnoses.

But also in part because of who we are.

We are two very different people who face challenges in two very different ways.

We are unique.

I wanted to pursue a diagnosis for Ryan in order to help us both understand her better, in order to help her learn and cope and thrive in a world that isn't going to be easy for her.

Don't I owe myself that same understanding? 

The few people I have told I might have Aspergers are not at all surprised.  It's been a joke since I was a kid that I was a bit of a psycho, a little odd, kind of a spaz, crazy Christine....even now friends joke that I am a little off but they like me that way.

I've always felt different. 

Lately, I've been driving Damon crazy asking him how other people see things, asking him why other people don't remember the stuff I do or make the connections or JUST DAMN THINK.  This is the first time in my life I have been in the real world.  I grew up in Germany, the Asperger nation of the world, as a close friend calls it.  I excelled.  In the USA I learned to hide my academic aptitude and fit it.  Then I went to highschool with the NYC Super Jews - half of who are probably highly functioning aspies themselves.  Sure, I was a bit weird but...hey, I was a decent looking blonde and I was getting straight A,s on the cheerleading squad, student council and yearbook.  I won academic achievement awards.  Who was really going to argue with that?  I went to an Ivy League University.  Two in fact.  Again, who was going to notice?!

And then Germany.  Uh yeah.  Love ya guys, but social isn't exactly Germany's strong point.  And any quirkiness there was attributed to me being American.

But it adds up.  Black and white thinking.  High moral standard.  Unwilling to bend it.  Black and white thinking.

Black and white thinking.  Which I might as well admit up front I feel is better than yours.

Admitting I might have Aspergers would be a real relief.

On the other hand, I shouldn't need a label to finally allow myself to be myself.

And cut myself some slack.

I'm more than a little embarrassed that a session I had booked for Ryan turned into a session all about me.

See, Lori, sometimes it really IS all about me!!!

Next week we have two separate sessions booked.  One for me and one for Ryan. 

Because we might both have Aspergers.

But we are still two entirely different human beings.


  1. Wow, what a realization! I've been researching Asperger's for the novel I'm working on and had a moment, myself, where I wondered how it would feel to find out I had it. Hopefully whatever you find out will help you figure out how to navigate things better in your own life as well as Ryan's.

  2. If I have it, it is high functioning enough for me to mask it all these years. There are signs though - one of them being Jim talking to me about those unwritten social codes of conduct that he guesses everyone has to follow or pay the consequences...and me thinking, now, in retrospect, that me not getting them has been a lot of the source of my trouble with typical mommy groups - women are TOUGH! If only someone would write them down! AND FOLLOW THEM. There are a lot of books out there written by people with Aspies....good research. HOpe to post more on our journey...maybe it will help your with your novel! IN any case, CAN"T WAIT TO READ IT!