I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was three years old. Asperger’s is related to autism, but is not the same. Symptoms and behaviors are often very different in girls than in boys – which made school hard, because the special education teachers were more used to working with male students. My main issues are intense anxiety and overthinking, episodes of depression, sensitivity to loud noise and lots of activity, trouble with socialization (it’s taken YEARS to develop the level of social skills I have now), and feeling like I never fully belong in groups, even if I do. Something that seems perfectly normal for a neurotypical person could be an absolute nightmare for me. Every day feels like a battle against a world that wasn’t designed for people like me.
Even though these parts of being “Aspie,” as we call it, are difficult, there are positive sides too. My “different” brain has given me an active imagination, a talent for writing, an excellent memory, a sense of perfectionism (although that often goes too far!), an intense love of music, and lots of compassion. I realize that just because someone looks put-together on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t have their own daily struggles.
For years I hid this large part of who I am. I was ashamed and worried people would make fun of me because I’m not “normal.” But you know what? Normal is boring. Asperger’s is just as much a part of me as my red hair, and I am finally okay with that.