We have just come out of May, Mental Health Month; and I think it’s an appropriate time to state a fact about myself: my psychiatrist has diagnosed me with Autism Spectrum Disorder, also known as “Asperger’s Syndrome.” (Officially, the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t use that term in the DSM, but it’s used outside the country.)
It’s a level of autism where a person’s cognitive functions are fine, but they have problems with social interactions, such as picking up social clues or react appropriately to what goes on around them. They take statements literally when they are meant figuratively or as a joke, their conversations may not be appropriate in a group, and their motor skills, like catching a ball or handwriting, may not be so good. They need to set a routine, a regular patters for the day, to alleviate anxiety, which is another symptom. They may have trouble empathizing with people. Other symptoms include talking to one’s self (I do it all the time), fixating on particular topics and sensitivity to odors. Neurologists believe this stems from fetal development, and how the brain develops in the baby before birth.
However, Asperger’s patients are known to have great skills in Math and the arts; some famous people diagnosed with Asperger’s include Charles Darwin, Stanley Kubrick, Robin Williams, Dan Aykroyd, Michelangelo, Abraham Lincoln, Andy Warhol, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Bill Gates, James Joyce, Issac Asimov, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Jefferson, among others. So this means I’m in good company, and so are many of us.
Why did I write this? I’m pulling myself out of the closet, to give encouragement to others in the boat with me. I continue to function well in society, and I’m overcoming whatever internal obstacles are in my way.