I’ve known for years I was a bit different, not massively, but enough. Times when I should be emotional I wasn’t I was numb, times when I should slow down or stop, I didn’t I sped up. Something wasn’t quite right, but it wasn’t until a conversation with the Mrs when she said “I’m not 100% sure, but I think you have Autism” that something clicked. I mean, she should probably know, she worked with severely Autistic young adults for a number of years.
Initially my plan was just to accept her diagnosis and pretty much ignore it, I mean, what can you do? There’s no cure, no magic pill I can ask the Dr’s for. But it niggled at me for a day or two, until I though “stuff it, I will see what I can do”. Not liking having my scheduled disrupted(yeah I know, warning signs right?!), I decided to skip the NHS and infinite referrals and go private. So I checked out the National Autistic Society website and found a local private practice who do diagnosis for a few hundred quid. Not bad I thought and I can pick a time that suits me…
So last week me and the Mrs showed up at the Dr’s, I was asked to bring someone who knows you to offer up examples of when they think you’re a bit crazy. In fact my stories went on for so long we didn’t even get to the end of first list of stuff in the 2 hour slot we were given… in fact it went on 2 1/2 hours and we still didn’t get to the end. We discussed my weird fascination with the Apollo space flight era, Apollo 13 and all things space. My love of the vastness of the USA. My lack of emotion at my Dads funeral. My issues when is comes to talking with people I don’t know very well. The fact I fail to see the bigger picture sometimes at home which can cause friction. Why I get twitchy if I can’t follow a recipe to the letter (or maybe I’m just pedantic), on it went. That night I went home and digested it and forgot about it until today when I had to go back for my diagnosis and discussion about next steps.
When I got there we ran through a few more questions and then discussed my diagnosis. The Dr believes I have Aspergers for those of you who don’t know it is, it is a disorder that inhibits social interaction and we have a love of patterns and weird behavioural traits. The good thing about having Aspergers means I have a weird ability to remember stuff and an endless desire to learn new things, which is great for an IT world that is endlessly developing at a huge rate of knots. The other useful thing with me working for NASA means I won’t have to hack it looking for UFO’s, I’ll just ask someone 😉
I don’t believe I have got any worse in my condition, if the Mrs hadn’t suggested I might have a problem I would never have got it referred, but its a relief to know I can put a name to my weirdness. Of course as with all these mental illnesses, there is a sliding scale, interestingly I was told that a number of people who rate lower on the scale come in with more severe issues, so it shows you how lucky some of us are. I don’t think I have many issues that affect my daily life, others might argue differently. Also it has been brought to my attention by a few people that divulging the fact I have Aspergers may affect my employability and recruitability, along with the way people who I work with daily or friends interact with me, it doesn’t bother me particularly. If people don’t want to employ me because of my condition, fair enough, I’ll find someone who does. If people who I know don’t want to speak to me any more, I probably picked the wrong person to talk to in the first place. To all my other friends and colleagues, it is a pleasure knowing and working with you and long may it continue!
So why have I written this blog post? Not because I want sympathy, far from it, personally it will have no effect on my day-to-day life. But I do want to raise awareness because it is important that people who are undiagnosed can get help and also that people without it can understand why some of us are a little odd. If you feel like you have mental health issues, get them checked out, don’t live in the dark. If you come into contact with people like me who have mental health issues, just understand we might be a bit weird, might have issues communicating or saying things maybe we shouldn’t, but it’s not because we’re mean or nasty, it’s just because we are human.
So here are a bunch of links:
* http://www.autism.org.uk/ National Autistic Society
* http://mindchecker.channel4.com/test-autism.html Online Autism Test (if it makes anyone any happier, I score around 70, 32 or above indicates possible Autism….)
* http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asperger.aspx Aspergers information