Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Autistic Mind: Searching and Standing Alone

The Autistic Mind: Searching and Standing Alone | Dec 7th 2012

My middle school and beginning high school years were a glorious time of carefree oblivion. I was unenlightened, and off kilter but assumed it was not me who was “off” but the world around me. I had been searching for something, something I could never place my finger upon. Even when I was unaware of my search, it did not go unnoticed by my friends.

They didn’t understand me, or what I was looking for. The fact is, neither did I. I barely knew I was searching at all. The truth of it is, I was, I was searching for me.

Recently an old friend of mine stumbled upon my Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and writing blog. She made this comment, “You seem to have found that thing you were always searching for and could never grasp…” My searching had not gone unnoticed by others in my life; I just failed to notice I was searching. Doesn’t everyone search in this manner? I’d never considered that others would not think, experience, and see life as I did. They confounded me with their thoughts and actions.

I had never shared my diagnosis with my friend, or with anyone for that matter. My own siblings have not been privy to what I had discovered about myself—to my diagnosis. I’m not hiding it, I just don’t share; it doesn’t come naturally.

My journey has always been a solo one, with little need to include others. The truth is it is also a journey with little thought of including others.

On the outside this looks like I am running around haphazardly jumping into situations without thinking, but that’s not true. I think about situations probably more than I ought to, weigh choices, endlessly analyzing possible outcomes. The fact that I don’t share my thoughts, ideas, or interests with others does not mean that I do not have them.

I have often been insulted by such accusations as, “you don’t think before you do something.” Or, “you should have talked to us about it.” Why? I truly could not fathom why I would share my thoughts, or discuss my actions prior to executing them. To my mind this makes absolutely no sense. I have thought something through, came to a decision, and acted upon my decision. Isn’t this the way everyone functions? Shouldn’t it be?

My failure to share may have been an integral part of my immunity to peer pressure. I never asked for anyone else’s input, nor did I want it most of the time. I worked out what to do on my own, without the need for others to validate my reasoning. To me, this is normal. Finding out what a group thinks before I make a decision, is not me thinking for myself.

In order to stand behind a decision I make, I must make it myself and have the confidence in that decision to act. This confidence is what defined my adolescence—my need for no-one, my ability to think for myself, and my confidence to stand behind my decisions.

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