Friday 15 December 2017

Having Asperger's is like living in a world not built for you

Picture posed. Thinkstock Images
Picture posed. Thinkstock Images

Adam Harris

I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum, at the age of five. Those of us with Asperger's are of average, and even above average, intelligence but can struggle with social interaction, social imagination, sensory processing, hyperactivity and often have other other learning difficulties.

A hallmark of the condition is a specific interest. Generally people with Asperger Syndrome have a particular area of interest – it might be a particular academic subject, a genre of television or a sport – and many of us will be experts in our area of interest. Expertise is something society needs now more than ever, no? I often describe to people who don't have personal experience of Asperger's or autism that it is like being put on a space shuttle and sent somewhere several galaxies away. You are living in a world not built for you, surrounded by people and a society you want to socialise with and contribute to but don't necessarily know how to, and as a result life can be difficult.

With the proper support, people with the condition can go on to live normal lives, reach their personal potential and achieve the level of independence they are capable of. However, due to a lack of awareness around the specific needs of people with the condition and by virtue of it being an "invisible condition", many with Asperger Syndrome are labelled as "odd" or "weird" and are frequently the target of bullying at some point in their life. When school, and the various safety nets and supports that go with it, ends, often problems such as unemployment or social isolation can ensue and in recent years this has been proven to have a very negative impact on the mental health of those with the condition.

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