I have read a lot of books about Asperger's Syndrome (AS), trying to get some idea of what's happening to me. I've also been looking for ideas about the way other people have coped with it, to see if any of it helps me.
The greatest conclusion I've come to is that all Aspies are different. We all seem to react differently to having AS, we all seem to have different problems with it, we all seem to cope with the problems in different ways, we all seem to be so different that I sometimes wonder if we are all talking about the same thing!
One of the problems that I have with most books about AS is that they are highly personal accounts of one person's experience. Rarely do the writers include information about other people's experience to help broaden the reader's understanding. While this approach is, perhaps, understandable, it does, at times, make the experiences recounted seem remote and too different from one's own to be relevant..
Most of the books that do provide a more general coverage of AS are written by psychologists. While this information is useful, the necessary clinical detachment with which they write sometimes makes it seem very remote and impersonal. Often the technical language can make it difficult for the lay person to properly understand what is being said.
This book is my personal account of how I see myself as an Aspie, how I deal with it, the way I am affected by it and how I have evolved a way of living with it. I also introduce some experiences from other people's books that have helped me, as a contrast with my own, to provide a broader perspective. My experience may not be the same as yours, but I hope that in describing my experience in this book I can help you in some way.
This book is my answers to my questions and my problems. It may not be yours. Rather, consider it to be an introduction, somewhere to start looking in your own personal quest to understand yourself as an Aspie.
One of the traits of many people with Asperger’s Syndrome (Aspies), like me, is that we spend a lot of time looking for patterns in the numbers all around us. For some reason, to do with our disability, we are fascinated by patterns, particularly in numbers. Pointing out patterns that I have seen sometimes gets me odd looks from non-Aspies, but I’m not worried. I look on pattern seeking as one of the interesting and intriguing points of being an Aspie.
My favourite occupation, when out walking or driving, is looking at car registration numbers. Most, of course, have no patterns in them, other than the simple pattern of letters and numbers that depend on where you live. For instance, here in Australia, many of them are a series of three letters followed by three numbers: Nothing much interesting in that! I keep looking anyway, and sometimes I find one that interests me. Mostly I just admire the pattern, but sometimes it starts me thinking about other things that might also be related to it or the chances of it happening.
One day when I was out driving and stopped at traffic lights, I noticed that the two cars in front of me, in adjacent lanes, had consecutive registration numbers. I had never, in forty years of driving, seen that before. I wondered: What are the chances of it happening again? I don’t know what the chances would be, and wouldn’t know how to work them out, but I would think that they would be very, very low. Perhaps it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will never happen to me again.
Shortly after buying a second-hand car a few years ago, I realised a similarity between the registration number and my sister’s phone number. Both have 888 in them. I wonder if I noticed it before I bought the car and it influenced me to buy it? I don’t know. I don’t think that I noticed the registration number before I decided to buy the car, but I may have done, unconsciously. I had known my sister’s phone number for many years, so it might have been lurking at the back of my mind looking for something with which to form a pattern, and thus caused me to buy the car with a similar pattern in the registration number. I don’t know and I don’t suppose that I’ll ever know, but it intrigues me to think that it might have happened. Perhaps being an Aspie has more influence on my life than I think.
I saw a car recently that had the registration number YBD.08X. Not much of a pattern there, you might think. But it struck me, while looking at it, that there is a ’hidden’ pattern. Consider: Read the number from both ends towards the middle. Y is like X with the bottom legs squeezed together. B is like 8 with one side squeezed in. D is like 0 with one side squeezed in. In other words, it is, with a little bit of mental manipulation, a palindrome, the same backwards as forwards. This is the ‘hidden’ pattern that I saw in the numbers and I found it most interesting and intriguing. When I told the owner of the car about the pattern I’d found in her registration number she looked at me as though I was mad. Ah, the perils of being an Aspie!