Going public

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I finally found the courage to bring up the subject of Asperger’s with my husband this week. His reaction? “I’ve told you before that you’ve got that,” he said. “Don’t you remember? It was when we had that massive argument, when I told you that you were like Margaret Thatcher.”

I can certainly remember the Thatcher bit. She may have had her admirers, but I certainly wasn’t one of them, and being compared to a hate figure didn’t go down too well. I think it was meant as an objective comment, referring to my frequent refusal to listen to other people (which is, I gather, a bit of an Aspie thing). But I couldn’t remember him saying anything about autism.

Anyway, we had a good chat about it, and it was pretty positive. He says that my Aspie traits are generally endearing, which I guess is good. He also said that it wasn’t obvious at first to people. However, apparently it would be picked up by anyone who I interacted with over a period of time – friends, work colleagues, and so on – which I suppose I’d already guessed, given things that have happened over the years.

I also came out as Aspie on a blog I write on a running forum. I’ve met a couple of people off the forum, and had email exchanges with others. These include another PhD student who’s researching a topic related to mine, so a peer and potentially someone who will cross paths with the same academics I do. I had responses on the blog from her, someone I’ve met once who works with special needs children (which I suspect would include children on the spectrum), and someone who has offspring on the spectrum, including a very academic daughter. They were all reassuring, saying they wouldn’t have guessed it from my blog, and giving some constructive advice.

The most salient points were (1) that psychology departments (I’d like to get a job in one) were ‘full of fruit-loops,’ so I would be unlikely to stand out as odd, and I guess I can think of a couple of people in mine who might not be totally NT, and (2) that I need to focus on the positive things about my Asperger’s, which I’ve not been doing. On reflection, many of my achievements have been helped by it, particularly my study at the moment (being happy as a recluse is a huge help!). So that’s what I’m going to concentrate on.

 

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