There is a great short piece on 10 Symptoms of Asperger’s that everyone should become familiar with. However, this list tells you what it’s like to view people like me from the outside. What’s it like from the inside?
When I wake in the morning, it takes a long time for me to get started. I slowly wake, my eyes can take a half hour to focus correctly, processing the world is slow, thinking is slow.
The chaos caused by three children is confusing. I would often forget things I was supposed to take to the babysitter’s on the days I worked. The chaos of traffic overwhelms me and I simply cannot think about anything. I don’t even try. I just listen to the radio. I feel a need for time to myself, time I rarely ever get.
Everything is distracting. I notice every little thing. My mind jumps from one thing to another. I think about
- Papers I need to grade
- Papers I need to write
- Things I need to read for class
- Books I need to read to write book reviews
- An upcoming conference, make that two conferences
- I have to pick up the kids by 5
- What am I going to make for dinner?
The heck with all that—I’ll just browse Facebook. I need to grade papers. Looking through Facebook instead. Facebook changes. I can jump from one thing to another; you never know what you may find. I have to find distractions so my mind doesn’t distract itself. If I need to write, I need enough background noise to allow me to concentrate. Nothing I can actually listen to—no T.V., which I’ll watch, no radio, which I’ll mentally sing along with—something approaching white noise.
I love going to Starbucks for that reason: enough low noise I cannot differentiate to allow me to concentrate. Without it, as I read or write, I am thinking about other papers, poems, short stories, plays. I am making notes, thinking about new things. I cannot work on the thing I have decided to work on. But I also need quiet to come up with these new ideas to work on later. I stack up notes and notes and notes. Some of them actually get turned into papers or stories or poems. Everything’s distracting, and I even distract myself.
Constant demands on my attention are exhausting. I’m always thinking of things, ideas, but rarely ever people. It’s not that I don’t care about people—especially certain people—but ideas and things are what my mind is focused on almost all the time. I’m always thinking about something:
- Spontaneous orders
- A play I’m working on
- All the papers I need to work on
- The nonfiction book I need to work on
- The novel I need to work on
I think of my writing all the time. I do not and cannot relax. I am tense, but not stressed. I am very focused on my interests, and I cannot focus on anything that does not interest me.