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Author's selfieI enjoyed my morning commute today. I dictated the start of a story for Drive-By Stories. I’d wanted to finish it in a single drive, but that didn’t happen. This was the first morning I used the Post-It note method I wrote about yesterday. It helped. It gave me a reminder just by sticking it to the dash.

Picture of a Post-It note on the dashboard of a car

Yes, that is a tape deck. The car is old. Not as old as I am, but old enough. I’m sure that some of the content dictated today was simply finding the story, learning about the character and the situation. It’s an exploratory draft but I’ll cut it down and reshape it as I do the redrafting.

Cyborg Life

Praise makes me uncomfortable. I know many people feel the same way. I don’t see anything that I do as extraordinary. I do my best. I try to approach any task with the plan to do my best. That’s it. I’ve learned to accept praise, but sometimes it’s interesting because I  don’t know how to take some comments. Is it praise? Something else? I don’t know. Today a co-worker, I believe in jest, called me a cyborg. I joked back about trying figuring out how offended to be and needing another processor.

It isn’t the first time that I’ve heard such comments. In the past few months, I’ve come to realize that my brain really does work differently than what is considered neurotypical. I don’t have any official diagnosis. It’s a realization that has arrived both from watching my son develop and recognizing behaviors, sensory processing, and other commonalities we share that don’t fall on the neurotypical side of the graph. From my readings, and results from the Aspie Quiz, I’d say that we both are Aspies, people with Aspergers. Or, under the modern diagnostic standards, Autistics, on the high-function end of the spectrum.

Could I be wrong? Of course. I don’t think so, but it’s obviously a possibility.

Be Different

Cover artOne of the books I read a few weeks back was Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian with Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers by John Elder Robison. I really enjoyed this book! Robison didn’t get diagnosed until in his forties. I’ve read a few books now about people that have had that same experience.

It isn’t easy to share such experiences. People may reject the diagnosis. You might be concerned that a diagnosis would impact your job or employment options. Each person has to make that decision for themselves.

For me, I think it’s good to talk about it. For one thing, reading about others who have had these experiences helps me understand the range of the spectrum beyond the common ways that ASD is portrayed in TV shows or movies. In being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I didn’t realize at the time the connections that may exist between that and ASD. It’s helpful reading accounts such as Robison and others and seeing the similarities in my own childhood and life.

That doesn’t make it easy. Our society stigmatizes ASD, depression, and basically, anything that doesn’t fall neatly within what is considered normal. I haven’t posted about this until now. I hadn’t planned to until that innocuous comment today.

I work in public libraries. I interact with the public every week. I’m good at my job. Even so, several years ago there were two positions open at our headquarters. One in our IT department, and one working with the public and our employees in the library. More than once I had people express surprise that I didn’t apply for the IT job. Partly, I believe, based on my skills and knowledge in that area. Also, because I’m not seen as a ‘people-person.’

And I’m not. At least not in the way people think. I can be friendly, calm, professional, and effective. As I said, I do well in my position, and I feel strongly about the role libraries play.

Outside of work? I’m as socially isolated as I was as a kid. I don’t tend to have close friends outside of my family. I’d rather stay at home than go out and socialize (which I don’t do). Though I have learned to be better at reading people, I still struggle at times. I focus on my interests, read a lot, enjoy the activities that I enjoy. Socializing (including work) can leave me exhausted. I don’t gain energy from it the way some people do.

Maybe I am a cyborg. I don’t think the same as neurotypicals. Not less, different.

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This blog post by Ryan M. Williams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.