I touched on, in my last blog, some of the difficulties that are on-going for people on the spectrum. That post related in-part to eye contact, facial expression and communication issues. It touched on the non-verbal communication that is really quite a challenge for us.
In this post, I would like to explain a little about how I am trying to cope with these difficulties by re-framing how I see myself and my Asperger’s. I realise as I get older that my Asperger’s remains quite constant, as do the difficulties I have. What has changed is how I frame these difficulties and in turn how that makes me feel about myself.
Writing my blog and using twitter has helped me gain a sense that I am good at something. I can, through writing, explain what it is like to be me. I have always written and have always wanted to find a way to value myself. Writing about my Asperger’s has helped me make sense of who I am. By sharing I am learning to value myself more. Asperger’s as we know, can make us feel isolated. Writing and most importantly the feedback and comments, has helped me to realise that it is ok to be open and honest about how I see the world. When I write and someone is kind enough to comment, it means a great deal to me. When they say they can relate or that it has helped them to understand themselves or a loved one better, I feel a sense of acceptance and achievement that I haven’t felt before. The value that others appear to have in reading my posts and tweets is magnified ten-fold in how it makes me feel. I am finally beginning value and accept myself. It isn’t that I am just accepting having Asperger’s rather I am accepting myself, for all that I am.
For some reason, and I would suggest that it is, in-part due to my thinking style, I take any negative comment relating to my Asperger’s and use it as a stick, with which to beat myself. As though these difficulties negate any positives. This, ‘all or nothing’ thinking is so much part of who I am, it can be hard to see through this view to find that acceptance. I realise that my own sensory sensitivities are a little like NT’s sensitivities to the subtleties and nuances of non-verbal communication that I struggle to notice. In the same way I hear, see and notice things NT’s appear blind to. Without sharing these differences in a kind and compassionate way we will always struggle to understand and accept ourselves and each other.
If we do not share with others how we experience the world, we cannot accommodate each other equally and in-turn truly accept ourselves. It is our unique view of the world, from the position where we stand that have enabled us, as the Differently Wired, to create great art, make beautiful and useful things and go on to develop much of the science and technology that has changed the world. It is not my fault that I don’t see many of these subtle nuances in communication, no more than it is yours, that you seem blind to many of the sensory wonders, amazing interconnections and patterns that we see.
If we do not tell people what it’s like to be us, they will not know. So, I for one, plan to continue to try and share as openly and as honestly as I can what it’s like to be me. I am learning finally to accept myself, both the good and the not so good. I hope that by sharing with others they can begin to do the same.
© Paul Siebenthal April 2012
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