Friday, 23 November 2012

Notes on the Neuro

So far my posts have tended towards revelatory extreme, as I have been processing what it means to find Asperger's Syndrome playing a much larger part in my life than I ever imagined it could. In the physical world a small number of close and significant people have also read the posts and some have commented. There are things I need to say in order to maintain balance and realism about these revelations; I suspect others will need to attend to this kind of 'tidying up' also, when they share their status with relatives and friends.

detail of small oil painting by Deb Johnson
Aah, to fly eh?
Asperger's traits are not symptoms of neurosis or mental illness. Nor are they necessarily disabling. In fact the opposite is true for me. Sensitivity, coupled with honesty means I feel certain things acutely and am prone to express those feelings rather than hide them. Sometimes that is unwelcome, but without that capacity I wouldn't have been available to some very important people in my life, supporting them through their own troubles or traumas. I wouldn't have been able to process some deep truths that have come my way, then re-worded them for others to understand better.

My ability to empathise, then to process the feelings I experience has enabled me to provide words and images that further explain difficult concepts for a wider audience. I'll give an example; I have MS and some years ago helped set up the first MS Therapy Centre in Cornwall, my input included this page A little about Multiple Sclerosis, which forms part of the website for the Cornwall MS Therapy Centre. I built the original site, the page is all that now survives, after eight years - hey, but I'm proud of that! Here's another link, in the picture I am fourth from the left, beaming and trying to hide from the camera!

I am deeply curious about life, people, the world and many specific subjects. It's the curiosity which is important here, not the subjects of my interest: curious does not mean nosy! It means a desire to learn, find out or make sense of life through questioning or investigating. It is not a desire to discover someone else's secrets in order to mock or claim foreknowledge. In fact it could be considered complimentary. If I am curious about you, what you do or how you live then I am actively taking an interest in you and your life; is that not enjoyable? Don't you want that kind of attention? Some don't of course and I have usually learned to my cost when I have asked too many questions!
Detail of small oil painting by Deb Johnson
Some determination required!
Others clearly enjoy the interest and trust me with their personal thoughts and concerns, I really love them for that. These are true friends, they are few. This is normal, I understand - and if you are an Aspie reading this, I want to reassure you that in the big world of neurotypicality, most healthy individuals have only a small handful of really close friends. Social circles may be full of friendly acquaintances, slightly interesting folk, work colleagues who are likeable or of others who share a hobby; but still, close and deep friendship is a rare and precious thing. It is a privilege to have a trusting and deep friendship, including with family members and it is by no means automatic!
Detail of small oil painting by Deb Johnson
Joy anyone?
As I seem to be doing some personal mythbusting here, you might be interested in learning a bit more about what Asperger's is not here's where to find out.
Reading the above through, the issue with 'finding friends' in life is something I read a lot among the Aspie literature and social media. Here's a thing: if those with Asperger's are more inclined to honesty than the neurotypical, then be aware that perhaps your one or two close friends are more than many NT's actually have. It is a myth that anyone can have loads of friends, it really is. Another lie from the world of those who frankly are more frightened of being alone than you or I should ever be!

For those of you that would like to know more about Asperger's in Females, visit lovely Samantha Craft's blog here (Everyday Asperger's) and read about the traits as she describes them. Non-clinical and non-threatening, the reality of living in a world that can be utterly confusing finds some explanation for some of us here. Enjoy.