Lately, I’ve been posing this question to myself: is it really necessary for me to tell people what my “condition” is? Is it some kind of a curse or should I use it as an asset and take pride in having it? Maybe perhaps in this country we have a stigma when someone has some sort of a mental disorder you could be crazy.
However, I have already accepted who I am and now preparing to take on the challenge to use this to the best of my ability to inspire people like me and show the world that we can do remarkable feats which can make the world a better place.
What exactly is the condition I am having?
I have what you call Asperger syndrome, named after Austrian pediatrician, medical theorist, and medical professor Hans Asperger. This is part of the wider autism spectrum disorder, which means a person having this is not having autism but could be having symptoms of autism. This can be further complicated by similar disorders like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and others, depending on diagnosis. It is also a type of high-functioning autism, where children or adults with this kind could be having potentially high IQ levels and could excel in areas such as mathematics, reading comprehension, or others, depending on the person.
What are its symptoms? How am I coping up with this?
A brief introduction
In 1944, Asperger observed four children with common traits: lack of empathy or understanding what people might feel, physically clumsy, social awkwardness, and lack of nonverbal communication skills. He called these children “little professors” because of their obsessive interest in one particular area. For easier understanding, please refer to the infographic below. These can be mitigated by social skills classes (in groups with kids of similar traits), speech therapy, or occupational therapy.
On coping up
I was made aware of this since I was around 3 years old. Even with a young age, I’ve had a particular obsession with broadcast media (especially television) and politics which I further developed as I grew up. This is the reason why I chose communication as my course.
Growing up, I’ve had a particular problem with socialization, struggling with the feeling that I have to be left alone or the need of someone to talk to. Coming with that lack of socialization is the exposure to sorts of bullying. I worry a lot that I might be doing something inappropriate or unacceptable to norms or expectations. You may even think we’re angry most of the time because we speak in a monotonous manner.
There’s also this curiosity which compels me to do the most stupid of things, though I try my best to control myself. I also feel that whatever pops to my head, I must share just for the sake of giving myself peace of mind but perhaps I am just making things worse.
I am thankful however because along the way there are friends and family who helped me along the way.
College life has given me the freedom to be myself, although along the way I also learned how to know my limits, which of course an area with problems because I get excited most of the time.
Acceptance is a two-way process. For my part, I already accepted who I was, even my flaws. The only thing I can do is embrace them and use them as tools to better improve myself. For the rest of the world, we need you to accept us. Because of that lingering stigma you may feel you have to do everything in your power to make them “change”, “behave”, make them “normal”. But is that necessary? Based on my experiences, I think not. We do acknowledge we won’t be able to control other people’s feelings, emotions, or what they think about us but this is what made us, us. You don’t have to make us “change”. Just accept us for who we are, and help us cope with the challenges of living in this world. Help us be equipped. When we make “mistakes”, let us be. That’s how we learn, by experience.
May this help each and every single kid or adult with special needs, may this inspire the teachers and parents who shower us with love, acceptance, and affection, and may the world see through our eyes and embrace us into this world. We’re different in our special way.