Why I’m totally OPEN about having Asperger’s Syndrome
By John Counsel
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome on Christmas Eve, 24 December 2002. It was the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received, and I celebrate that date as “Liberation Day”, because I was finally able to begin to understand myself and take control of my life… and get on with living a low-stress, positive, productive, happy and fulfilling life.
Note that I did NOT say stress-free, worry-free or negative-free. Life is still full of unexpected surprises, good and bad. People are still unpredictable, uncontrollable and good, bad or ugly by nature. But I can choose how I respond without worrying about not being in control of my emotions or whether I’ll be misunderstood, bullied, ridiculed or ignored.
I was so relieved to have that diagnosis confirmed that I made the decision, that same day, that I was not going to hide the reality of my neurological status. Instead, I would be what I’d always been — an educator and positive communicator — an influencer.
Each year, when Autism Awareness Month comes around, I’m often asked how I plan to support the promotions taking place. My response is always the same… I share the sudden avalanche of articles and images on my Facebook Groups and Pages and on My Aspie World blog.
But I actively promote awareness, education and acceptance of autism — and especially Asperger’s Syndrome — every single day of the year!
For me, the very best way to build communities to LIVE in — communities that are aware and accepting of me and my Aspie children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren — is for people in those communities (neighbours, shop keepers, pre-school centres, school teachers, students and parents, clubs, sporting teams, churches, police, etc) to KNOW just what people who have Asperger’s Syndrome and autism are REALLY like… through practical, personal LIVED EXPERIENCE and REGULAR CONTACT — or, in other words…
The Pros and Cons of being OPEN about your neurological condition
The Pros have been mostly self-evident for me…
No stress or exhaustion from having to mask my condition.
Openness means less awkwardness and embarrassment — both for me and for the people I talk with. They know they can ask me questions and discuss my condition freely and I’ll be totally honest and brutally frank in the information and answers I give them.
If I misjudge or misunderstand someone’s question or comment, I can comfortably ask them for clarification — or correct their misperception, misunderstanding or ignorance — in a non-confrontational way that expands and improves their awareness and understanding and typically gives them a more informed, positive attitude and responses to ALL Aspies and autistics they meet or deal with.
Because I now listen to UNDERSTAND — and to RECOGNISE — the person (or people) I’m talking with, instead of listening in order to protect myself from being exposed and potentially bullied or belittled, I experience dramatically less stress and anxiety.
Instead, I can focus on making sure that they understand what I’m telling them and on asking them relevant questions to identify any incorrect or misleading information they’ve heard, seen or read.
Beware of the Cons — and booby-traps!
There’s an ever-present risk of me doing an “Aspie Info Dump” on strangers in answer to their questions — Aspies typically have encyclopædic knowledge, but have no idea what value other people place on our knowledge, so we tend to “dump” everything we know about the subject on them — and leave it to them to decide what value it delivers for themselves!
But because we struggle to read facial expressions and body language, Aspies often don’t notice the other person’s eyes glazing over and their polite excuses to escape… until we experience that familiar, horrible feeling of rejection in social settings like this.
So the logical solution, for me, was to reduce that risk in sensible, manageable ways that put the choice of learning more about me and my neurological condition in the hands of the other person or people… without me having to do all the work and run all of the risk!
That meant some kind of modular solution — a solution that minimised the chances of social rejection for ME, helped to spread awareness, understanding and acceptance of Asperger’s Syndrome and autism more naturally and organically, and made everyday life and social interaction measurably LESS stressful for ME.
So that’s what I did… and it worked! 😀
Like to know more about my personal modular, risk-reduction system?
Better still, would you like to know how YOU can make use of it for YOURSELF?
Best of all, would you like to be able to do so RISK-FREE and basically COST-FREE?
Click here for details!
©2019 John Counsel. All rights reserved.