What Growing Up With Asperger's Was Like for Me

I have always felt I was “different.” Different in the way I think, the way I feel, and the way I act. My life has been a roller coaster, having the anticipation as I climb the hill and the rush of adrenaline as I race down. There have been times when I have been so stressed the world seemed to have ended, and other times when I have been so calm the world seemed to have escaped from me. This has been my life, but there is more to it than just that.

Throughout my life, there has been affection and there has been rejection. Bliss and despair have contrasted themselves so divinely. These memories have both haunted me and delighted me in every sense. And in my short 16 years, I have witnessed many things, some of which no one should ever go through.

My life was just beginning; I was in preschool, and I considered everyone to be my friend. I was naïve, but so were my classmates. No one was quick to judge, and everyone seemed to care. But as my preschool life ended and I was sent off to grade school, my spirit started to change. After that point, I didn’t really have any close friends. I was a loner, independent in my school work and in my social life, whether I wanted to be or not. People may have avoided me because I was different, or maybe because I couldn’t look them in the eye, and it seemed like whenever I started getting into a relationship with someone, my family would move. When I became a second grader, my family moved into the house that we have lived in since. That was the point where I learned how cruel people can be.

Then eventually, middle school came. In middle school there were communities, each a separate group, a separate clan. If, by chance, someone was not a part of a particular clan, that person would be unknown by them, but hated just the same. Because of this, every day was an eternity for me. Everyone was changing around me, and I was finally exposed to the bona fide cruelty that can be harbored in people’s hearts. Judgment came and I was alone, singled out because I was alien to others; some even called me by that name. But middle school came and went; the clans were broken up, and life went on.

Now that I have completed two semesters in college, which occurred while I was in high school, my life is being transformed. All around me, things have been changing, and there are new things to experience. There is still disgust for those who stray from the norm. But despite that fact, my familiarity with being face-to-face with this kind of shunning has made me no longer afraid of what people think about me. I always speak my mind — about injustices, about my beliefs, and about my intimacy with life, not worrying about being judged or about being hated; I just want to be me.

Some people may believe I cannot be successful in life because of “what I am,” without thinking about “who I am.” Growing up with Asperger’s syndrome has been rough. When I was diagnosed in the fall of 2007, all of the pieces finally came together. I desire to convey that those of us with autism spectrum disorders are not a “one size fits all” kind of thing; we are all different and unique. Many people may try to understand what I go through, or what others who are under the veil experience, but, in the words of Emerson, “To be great is to be misunderstood,” and that rings true in every part of my soul.

Image via Thinkstock.

A version of this post originally appeared on The Monty Freak.

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