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My Life as an Aspie

Date:
2/27/2013 8:00:00 AM
Written By:
Katie Brazier

My name is Katie Brazier. I'm 32 years old. I've lived in Williamsburg for almost 16 years. I graduated from LHS in 1998 and from BC in May 2002.

I love Politics and have worked in 4 presidential campaigns and many state & local campaigns. I love going door to door and meeting people and talking to them about the issues of the day and the candidates I support.

I love ballroom dancing. I've been dancing for 6 years now and have gotten quite good. I go to social dances at least once a week and I'm always taking lessons. Who knows, I might become an instructor.

I also love to cook; I consider myself the ultimate gourmet home cook. I have attended technique classes. I've converted most recipes I use to the WW point system so that I eat and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I've incorporated this interest into a food blog and in 3 years have over 19,000 hits.

I love acting and have been in half a dozen productions around Williamsburg. I love music and at one time was an accomplished flutist. I played in Junior District in Mass. I especially love to travel and have been lucky enough to have been to many foreign countries and done some adventurous things such as horseback riding around the pyramids in Egypt at sunset, walked the Great Wall of China, scouted the medinas of Morocco and rode an elephant down the mountain trails in Thailand.

I am a devoted fan of the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and BC Eagles.

I love reading. I love the movies.

I sound like typical person. But I am not. I am different.

I am ASPERGER! Asperger's makes my life journey through the neurotypical world very confusing and tiring. It depletes my energy, overstimulates me at times and frustrates me on a regular basis.

Asperger's Syndrome is a neurological disorder/condition on the autism spectrum, often referred to as a high-functioning autism. We are usually normal to above-average intelligence. It affects in some form 1 in 150 people. Some statistics claim 1 in 75 people exhibit symptoms.

This disorder in the brain affects a number of abilities:

The ability to communicate.

The ability to make and keep friends.

The ability to carry out every day social situations.

The ability to deal with change.

We often have problems with abstract thinking, motor and

coordination skills and recognizing and coping with emotions.

We experience life differently, often behave differently and

have different attitudes, interests, needs and value.

We have problems

Maintaining eye contact

Standing a comfortable distance

Regulating the volume of our voice

Reading nonverbal cues of the other person

Aspies (individuals with Asperger's Disorder) do well following explicit rules - rules that are well formulated, detailed and written specifically.

Aspies have trouble in social situations because the rules are

unwritten and vague. In contrast, a Neurotypical has learned intuitively

to understand the relative importance of social rules and

tend to follow them automatically.

Aspies, unaware of the rules, fail to recognize the

consequences of the actions and create a whole new set of

problems for themselves.

Aspies do very well with one-on-one communication because

there is less stimuli and less information to process at once.

An Aspie's ability to think abstractly is very difficult. We think

in concrete terms and take language literally.

We have difficulty with figures of speech, inference and sarcasm.

We differ with Neurotypicals in the way we perceive and express emotions.

Since many neurotypicals base friendships on sharing

feelings, this creates a barrier to successful friendships.

Aspies are unaware of their own feelings, confused about them or do

not know how to communicate them to others.

Being unable to vent and process feelings, the Aspie tends to

get stuck in a feeling.

Some Aspies have difficulties related to strong sensory reactions

such as light, sounds, touch and become overstimulated.

Aspies can be clumsy or have trouble seeing themselves in space.

How Asperger's has Affected My Life:

I'm an only child born to parents in their later years. I was 3 years old when the principal of a Montessori school diagnosed me as autistic. My pediatrician (who was one of the leading doctors at Children's Hospital in Boston) completely dismissed this claim. I didn't attend Montessori after that incident.

However, every school year there was an issue with children and/or teachers. My mother constantly sought a diagnosis and was discouraged by all.

This was the 1980's and there was no Asperger's diagnosis. Other children sought me out at school but I really had no interest in them. At first they were fun but I quickly got bored with their lives and wanted to go back into my own world.

My grades varied from A's and B's in 5 years of Latin to failure in English literature.

My parents were frustrated, my teachers were frustrated and most importantly I was frustrated. Teachers became impatient with me and this gave some kids permission to be incredibly cruel.

But I was a happy person. I got up every morning happy but almost every day your neurotypical world would wear me down and send me to bed crying.

I was FINALLY diagnosed as a "textbook" Asperger at age 23 I had graduated from college at this point. Finding out that I was not stupid, not inferior - only DIFFERENT. A lot of social skills can be learned. People that annoy me can be avoided and SCHOOL WAS NEVER COMING BACK.

I've learned to de-stimulate myself if the world becomes too overpowering. I find people I can trust to help me navigate the social world.

I accept myself. My world is black and white - no gray areas. I do not understand nuance (shades of difference). I have no ability to put myself in other people shoes but I have learned social niceties to get along. There are areas of the world that will never interest me and there will be areas of employment that are not within my brain's function.

The last ten years in the neurotypical world of employment has been very challenging. I have chosen not to disclose my Asperger to employers for a variety of reasons. This makes it difficult when I begin to show symptoms. I am currently working part-time for an employer who has a member in her family on the spectrum. Her understanding makes it so much easier for me to be successful on my job.

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH US. WE DO NOT HAVE TO BE FIXED. WE ARE DIFFERENT. WE CAN LIVE IN THIS NEUROTYPICAL WORLD AND BE SUCCESSFUL

We must be careful not to let society or others define success for us. We must define ourselves. My favorite poem was written by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What Is Success

To laugh often and much

To win the respect of intelligent people

and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty;

to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by

a healthy child, a garden patch

or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed

easier because you have lived;

This is to have succeeded.

SO LET'S FIND OUR HAPPY SPOT! BE SUCCESSFUL! BE HAPPY. LOVE YOURSELF.

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