I remember when the movie Rain Man came out. Suddenly autism became cool. I remember one of my school mates telling me they wished they were autistic. This was many years before my diagnosis, but I still recall being stunned. Why would you want to be autistic?
The other day I went to see a psychologist – he had been recommended to me for his effective work using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I know there are some who say CBT is useless for Aspergers, but I figured I’d give him a go and see if he can help me in some areas. After chatting with him for a while, he commented that I was very lucky to have Aspergers. I was stunned. Lucky? Lucky to be an alien in a human world? Lucky to live in a parallel universe where everyone seems to know the rules but me? Lucky is not the word I would use. He explained that aspies have a greater focus that can take you to the top of your career. That would be all well and good, except that I haven’t been able to make a career out of my “special interests” aka obsessions. And really, how many autistic people ever do? Trains, for example, are a common obessession. How many people are able to translate their consuming interest in trains into a successful career? For myself, my special interests can easily turn into all-consuming obsessions, much like an addiction, and like addictions, they can ruin my life if I let them.
I guess it’s easy for people on the outside to see the pros, but they don’t have to live with the difficulties. I can’t divide Aspergers into pros and cons, because for me, it’s just life. I don’t know exactly which of my difficulties or gifts are due to autism, or natural pre-disposition. Does it really matter? I can’t divide myself into autistic traits and NT traits. I’m just me.