April 11, 2016

How functional am I?

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:35 pm by merelyquirky

My family are quiet people, so my lack of interaction was not noticed. But also, my change of behavior as a toddler was received with disinterest. I’m the youngest child, and though I’ve always heard stories about my sisters when they were little, somehow no one could ever remember any involving me. No first words or steps, no amusing vignettes. I was an afterthought, and I felt it even then.

My sisters, both older, obviously knew more than I did about anything. But my parents also thought of me as the dumb one. My voice wasn’t heard, my opinions generally disregarded or scoffed at. If I dared to offer a fact they didn’t already know, I was instructed to cite my sources in order to have a shot at being believed.

When the middle school called asking to put me in a program of special classes, my mother replied that that was a Good Idea, since I seemed a bit slow. When the school corrected her misunderstanding, clarifying that, no, these were advanced classes for the highest intelligence kids, Mom replied Oh, you must have her mixed up with one of her sisters.

I never knew this story as a kid. My mother thought it was a funny story to tell me at a party 35 years later. It was hard enough to go to the thing in the first place, but after hearing this story, everyone was starting at me. Staring at me. Staring.

I hadn’t driven my own car there, so I was stuck, an hour’s drive from home. I excused myself from the room, found my bag (and it’s ever-present book) and hid in my sister’s bedroom with the pile of coats, and read until my ride was ready to leave.

Nowadays, I don’t go to gatherings without my own transportation, a warning that I might have to duck out early, and a book.

It is strange to me, that my family thinks I’m dumb, weak, and untrustworthy, but everyone else thinks I’m smart, strong, and ‘too honest’. I’ve had folks ask me to be their body guard, their interpreter of local customs, their legal advisor, social service conduit, and to diagnose that weird sore on their shoulder. Clearly strangers’ high opinions of me are a mixed blessing.

But after a lifetime of being adamantly told who/what I am by all around me, it is exhausting trying to weed out their self-interest, insecurity, or sociopathy, to find a grain of value. In myself or others.

Aspergers and Me

I’m told I’m high functioning.

As far as I can tell, mostly this means that for short periods of time I pass for normal. When I’ve saved up my spoons and I’m not overloaded, if a random stranger glances at me they don’t see anything unusual. So, to the people who use phrases like “high functioning” and “low functioning,” I’m high functioning.

Now, intellectually, I know that’s full of bunk. I know that “high functioning” means “we’ll ignore any help you need” and “low functioning” means “we’ll ignore any strengths you have.” I’ve seen it in practice many times, and I’ve had people deny my difficulties or insist that I’m just “quirky” based on nothing more than their idea that I’m “high functioning.”

But turns out that as much as I know this way of thinking is incorrect, as much as I understand that functioning is not linear, it turns…

View original post 454 more words

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