Thursday, 6 December 2012

Women Who Think Like Me!

Anyone seen the film production of 'Fiddler on the Roof'? The actor Topol leads, playing Tevye, the patriarch - known as Papa - of a Jewish family living through the Pogroms in Russia during the reign of Tsar Nicolas II.

It is a musical, with a truly beautiful score. It's also a warm and colourful picture of family love and loyalty in the most testing of times. If you have, you may know what I'm going on about as this post continues, if you haven't then find a way to watch it. The joys of the music, Topol's fantastic dancing and a story that uplifts, hurts, warms and challenges the heart are well worth seeing.
Topol as Tevye, 'Papa' in Fiddler on the Roof

So, that's the review, here's why I mention it: Tevye has a constant dialogue with God, which is sometimes depicted as him speaking aloud to camera, or as a voice-over when his thoughts become important for us to hear. His constant reference throughout the film, is to one view of a situation over another. He says 'on the other hand...', then talks this through and again 'on the other hand', a different viewpoint. Always trying to do his best by God, his family and himself. I love it, I do this too.

Here is a clip from the movie, it is Tevye's personal discourse following the news that his daughter Tseitel wants to marry a tailor - not the perfect match Papa had imagined... But on the other hand...!

On the one hand, I have recently - about three months ago - found myself to have some of the traits of Asperger's Syndrome. In particular a woman with these traits, which is how come it has taken until my early 50's to find out. Women on the Spectrum can be hard to spot unless you know what you are looking for. I'm going to repeat a link, unashamedly, to Samantha Craft's Wordpress blog where she has listed ten traits of Asperger's in women. The list is the result of her research and reading, it is written from a personal viewpoint, but continues to serve hundreds in providing information very necessary to many worried and often deeply unhappy women. These are women, who seem to think like me. It was like reading my own history, giving me an explanation for many difficulties I have experienced and squirmed about in life. So, on the other hand... I am only half-aspie. Or thereabouts.

Anyone interested in or wondering why or how I think this, you can do a quiz online here, called the Aspie Quiz. The final outcome will tell you whether you are mainly Aspie, or NT (neurotypical aka 'normal') and if you are in-between too. That's me, I'm an in-betweenie-Aspie. Both sorts of traits. The quiz itself is not frivolous, it is well designed and considered to be quite accurate, though of course not an official 'diagnosis'. Have a go, you might surprise yourself. And you get a pretty picture of your results, with a full explanation of what they are about.

Here is my last test, taken October 2012 with these scores:

Your Aspie score: 115 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 107 of 200
You seem to have both Aspie and neurotypical traits
I'm not going to explain all the headings, they do look weird but actually describe simple human behaviour.

So, half-Aspie and on the other hand, half Neurotypical. From the inside, it seems this is how come I can look people in the eye easily enough and have good facial recognition skills. Also, executive function that serves me well in terms of managing money, shopping lists and planning events for other people. Less so in terms of punctuality - see my previous post Executive Re-Style Please for how this affects me sometimes - the 'faff' factor has dogged me since childhood.

Very recently I have had two lots of feedback from people I regard as friends relating to my self-outing as an Aspie. On the one hand, it seemed that friend A. (who doesn't think like me) felt it provided an explanation for some stress I'd suffered as a result of a neighbour dispute at my home. In fact, this is not the case. Perfectly fully-functional completely neurotypical people also have horrendous neighbour problems sometimes. It can leave individuals scared, exhausted and depressed, as they feel unsafe in their own homes. Explaining this made for acceptance, I think mainly because the police accepted it too! I was taken seriously, the local community policeman was very keen to support me. A well spoken, obviously educated middle-aged woman. I come across as totally together... Ah, that's because I am! Both halves, totally together in my whole, newly refreshed with understanding.

Friend B. was sorry that I was now 'condemned to suffer' from being 'other'. My explanation was, and is straightforward: I've always been 'other', only now I know why. The relief in finding a relatively simple explanation for years of anxiety, self-doubt and irritation is enormous. We discussed the point, my view was accepted - that the advantages of this knowledge far outweigh the possible issues of disability - there was concession and a little understanding I think. But she doesn't think the way I do, so it was not easy to explain the positives.

You see, I am not 'condemned to suffer'. My recent life has been enhanced by self-knowledge plus enormous personal support from online contact with, get this: Women Who Think Like Me. I love that! There are other people I can talk to about the vagaries of existence, about important things, about space, science, art, health; especially health! Lots and lots of it! I love talking health! I am using too many exclamation marks! And I don't care.

I like real issues, deep subjects, people who trust me with their thoughts - the essence of friendship - so that some meaning is shared, rather than bare trivia. There is a lot of truth spoken among us. On the other hand, it is always kindly said. There are deeply personal issues raised, while on the other hand there is a great deal of humour.

 I love having found lots of Women Who Think Like Me.

There are plenty of online resources for people who think they may have Asperger's. For women only; affected by, partnered to or caring for anyone on the Spectrum, here is the facebook group called Everyday Asperger's  of which I am a member. It is a moderated, closed group for women only, which means it is a safe place to ask questions or share ideas.