The gift of Asperger’s Syndrome

Many people think that Asperger’s Syndrome is a disability and to have it somehow makes you less of a person and someone to be sympathised with or treated outside the norms of society.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome to me?

I disagree, to me, my Asperger’s Syndrome is what makes me unique and gives me a different perspective on the people and the world around me. I see things in my own way and can relate to what is going on around me in a way that, my neurotypical friends and family, do not. It is hard for me to explain this because although I was diagnosed at 51, I have had a lifetime of knowing that somehow I was different without knowing why. What has been a “normal” perception to me is in fact a different perception to most others and it has taken a while for that realisation to hold.

Adjustments

There has been a lot of adjustment for me in having my diagnosis, but I have to say that I have embraced it and see the benefits to me in my daily life. The big word for me from my diagnosis is understanding. That simple word sums up all that I have learned about who and what I am and it has given me a more confident way of being around others. Throughout the years I have developed coping strategies to help me get by.

Awareness with friends and family

Also, of importance, is not only the awareness by others that are close to me that I have Asperger’s Syndrome but also the acceptance that it is part of me and is not something I can turn on and off like a switch. It is wart and all scenarios and now that those around me know, we can all find ways to make our time together better for us all. This helps avoid some of the clashes that might otherwise happen because of my sometimes clumsy interpersonal skills and lack of awareness of the unwritten rules of social convention that confuse the heck out of me.

This awareness and acceptance are so important in making me feel a part of friends and family rather than apart from them. This being included on an equal footing goes a long way to making me feel relaxed and looking forward to being with others rather than the dread of what might happen. My brain is constantly on the go 24/7 at a million miles an hour and never shuts down, so I will already have played out dozens of scenarios in my head for any given situation in an instant. Knowing that I am welcome, makes it easier to focus on the nicer things my brain is experiencing rather than the doomsday scenario that can easily escalate to the point of stress and overwhelm that might otherwise take hold.

Embracing my skills

It is also important for me to recognise, develop and embrace the skills that my Asperger’s Syndrome has given me. I have always been an organised person with a place for everything and everything in its place and this is one of my special skills. I refer to my Asperger’s Syndrome as my superpower, I am not invisible, well, most of the time I am not, I can’t fly and sadly I haven’t mastered telekinesis, but my Asperger’s gives me so much more and I include my creative side and this manifests in my writing and the many books I have written that have yet to be published.

When I am writing a novel, it is as though I am seeing the film being played on a screen in my head and I am there as the narrator or overseer to write down what I see. I know I am lucky and am thankful for my gift.

This awareness and acceptance are so important in making me feel a part of friends and family rather than apart from them. This being included on an equal footing goes a long way to making me feel relaxed and looking forward to being with others rather than the dread of what might happen. My brain is constantly on the go 24/7 at a million miles an hour and never shuts down, so I will already have played out dozens of scenarios in my head for any given situation in an instant. Knowing that I am welcome, makes it easier to focus on the nicer things my brain is experiencing rather than the doomsday scenario that can easily escalate to the point of stress and overwhelm that might otherwise take hold.

Joseph K Muscat Consulting

It is also important for me to recognise, develop and embrace the skills that my Asperger’s Syndrome has given me. I have always been an organised person with a place for everything and everything in its place and this is one of my special skills. I refer to my Asperger’s Syndrome as my superpower, I am not invisible, well, most of the time I am not, I can’t fly and sadly I haven’t mastered telekinesis, but my Asperger’s gives me so much more and I include my creative side and this manifests in my writing and the many books I have written that have yet to be published.

When I am writing a novel, it is as though I am seeing the film being played on a screen in my head and I am there as the narrator or overseer to write down what I see. I know I am lucky and am thankful for my gift.

My experience in the workplace

Locking back at my geological career, I realise that my Asperger’s Syndrome brought with it some challenges in the workplace and these primarily focused around communication with others and especially those up the chain of command from me. This was exacerbated when those people were vague or contradictory in their instructions that left me doing what I thought was right, only to find later that it wasn’t. This caused friction and disapproval from my managers when some of the “blame” lay with the person giving me instructions.  It was never seen that way and I was labelled a trouble maker. This is why now when working with clients I stress the importance of good management practice in communicating instructions to others, particularly those on the spectrum.

Looking at the positive side of my Asperger’s at work I was always reliable and hardworking and was frequently used as a troubleshooter for problems that happened on sites. We would get a phone call and I would be sent out to assess the situation and recommend a course of action to rectify the problem and have the works resumed with as little delay as possible. I was given the responsibility to do this because I had the experience and was able to think on my feet to find a practical resolution. I suppose you could say that troubleshooting is one of my superpowers and it has served me well in both my geological career and since.

All of us are unique and have our own special skills that we bring to the world, I am fortunate that my uniqueness comes with the gift of Asperger’s Syndrome. Rather like looking at the film, The Matrix, if you could give me a pill to take it away, I would always reject it. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without my Asperger’s Syndrome and welcome it every day.

And, if you know someone with Asperger’s Syndrome take the time to find out what their special power is and help them nurture it. You might just be helping someone contribute better in the world.

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Special Thanks to  Andrew Marsh for sharing his story with you.  If  you wish to hear more from Andrew and to reach out to him, kindly click here

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Looking to make a change of diversity and inclusion for the neurodiverse in your company?  then click here for a consultations

Listen to other topics like this on my podcast Take A Leap & Transform: A Neurodiversity Journey

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