Thursday, November 13, 2008

All Things Considered

For the last week, I've laid my cupboard bare. I've willingly exposed many of the weird and different aspects of my behavior and personality. In and of itself, this is yet another classic symptom of Asperger's Syndrome (AS). People with AS tend to share too much personal information, particularly in situations in which such is highly inappropriate. The reader will have to decide how appropriate/inappropriate this venue is.

Now I will be the first to admit that even the healthiest of individuals has personal tastes, preferences and quirks. Each of us is a unique creature and we each view the world around us through a personally subjective lens. So, one question that must be entertained is where does the line exist between a person afflicted with AS and the person who is just plain quirky?

For me, the answer is twofold: areas of quirkiness and the preponderance of quirkiness.

As I've illustrated over the past 6 days, most of my quirks and overall weirdness falls along the spectrum that has been identified as Asperger's Syndrome. These problems entail difficulty with social interaction, a lack of capabilities in interpersonal communication, a longing for sameness and an unnatural interest in repetition.

It is because of the number of these specific types of maladies and peculiarities that I believe that AS is the best way to convey my overall situation to the world.

One question that pops up frequently on sites that deal with AS is when to seek an "official" diagnosis. Many people with this array of symptoms simply self-diagnose. It is often suggested that an individual should only seek an official diagnosis IF the array of problems is causing serious issues in one's life.

I am moving down this path as my symptoms are, in fact, causing me great difficulty in navigating this world. I've never held any one job for longer than 3 years. It seems I always come into conflict with my superiors which leads them to give me the boot or me to walk away.

Due to my continued problems with interpersonal communication and fear of social situations, I have significantly withdrawn from the social world. I rarely leave my small rural county anymore and I avoid any type of social event in which more than a few people are expected.

I don't even talk to that many people anymore. Many days go by each week when the only human (beyond myself) who I have any contact with is my wife and there are many days in which I don't talk to her very much either.

Consequently, an official diagnosis is very important to me. It would put me in a position to get some needed help. While counseling has not been shown to be particularly helpful in cases of AS, social and behavioral training has. Maybe I can learn enough techniques to be able to reintegrate myself into society on occasion.

I will never be a social gadfly. I will always prefer solitude to chaos. But there's a world out there that I'm choosing to avoid. My hope is that with some training that I won't continue to avoid the world altogether.

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