Friday, May 16, 2014

Neurotypicals won't always understand certain elements of Asperger's, and that's okay

It's starting to dawn on me that people in my life who aren't on the spectrum are never really going to fully understand what it's like to be on the spectrum. They can try, certainly, but they won't fully get it, and that makes it a bit more difficult for me to explain things I do to them.

My kid brother thinks I focus too much on my Asperger's and says so every time I mention having it. The problem is that I only mention it if we're talking about disabilities at all or if I happen to see something related to it. According to him, I talk about it constantly, which I don't because as anyone who actually has Asperger's knows it's much more fun to talk about your special interests constantly.

It hit me tonight at dinner when I made a joke about my Asperger's and he implied again that I discuss it too much that he must not understand how much work I have to do just to survive in a world that he can navigate without thinking. He was born with a normal brain that allowed him to naturally develop social skills, make friends, and avoid being mistreated. I was not. I had to struggle just to make friends. I had to develop a highly sophisticated, self-deprecating sense of humor to fight off bullies from the moment I entered kindergarten until the moment I graduated high school. I didn't even know I had Asperger's until I was 20 years old.

As an adult, I need to actively make sure that I don't put myself in situations that would be overwhelming for me. I need to manage my condition constantly to keep myself safe. I need to overthink social situations so I don't say the wrong thing or embarrass anybody - naturally, this is extremely tiring, and the social anxiety I developed from being bullied doesn't help matters.

And all that work is just to make sure I don't have a panic attack or a breakdown whilst going through an average day. My brother will never have to worry about that, so he can't possibly understand why I have to do this. And I've accepted now that he can't understand and that I can't explain it to him - and that's okay. Even though he's my best friend because we grew up together and always had each other, there are going to be certain things that happen to one of us that the other one can't comprehend.

I should probably just discuss the Asperger's stuff with my parents and not him, though, just to be safe.