Adventures in a Neurologically Mixed Marriage

Archive for July, 2015

Can You Have Asperger’s Syndrome and Not Know It?

DuckThe other morning over eggs, Tom confessed that he thinks I have Asperger’s Syndrome.

Now Tom’s not a mental health professional, but after he received his adult Asperger’s diagnosis, he might have developed a tendency to see a little bit of Asperger’s in everyone. Or, who knows? Maybe, he’s right.

I tend to be very sensitive to energy – to sights, sounds, touch, texture, taste. I have trouble with eye contact. I don’t understand why people will pretend to be something they’re not. I develop special interests and get lost in episodes of time-suspended hyperfocus. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but perhaps it is enough to start considering the possibility that the premise of our blog could be fundamentally flawed.

After all, I’ve been the NT, the neurotypical component of the Aspie and the NT since we started. Are we going to have to change our domain name? Call up GoDaddy and explain, “Well, I thought I was an NT, but as it turns out, I might have been wrong. Is still available?”

So out of an abundance of caution, I have already located a Groupon code for us to get a new GoDaddy domain name for 99 cents, because as it turns out, Groupon has free coupons for bloggy type services like that now:

I love sleuthing through search engines to find discount codes and coupons. It’s an area of insatiable interest for me, and it makes Tom smile and say, “That looks a lot like an Aspie special interest, hon.”

But despite my excitement at finding a good discount, I really do understand that maybe the cost of a new domain name shouldn’t be your top priority when your life partner suspects that you have a serious, previously-undiagnosed, incurable neurological condition.

The thing is, we’ll probably never know. As I understand it, Asperger’s Syndrome can manifest differently in girls and women. If we’re smart and quiet and reasonably socially successful, we can fly under the radar at school. If we’re not on the more severe end of the spectrum, we might be called unique and quirky instead of flat out weird. And by the time we reach adulthood, we’ve already learned to navigate the previously incomprehensible social scenarios that we’d likely be tested on during a clinical, diagnostic interview.

I am analytical by nature, but still, I wonder how much it really matters if I avoid a big party because of introversion, or because of anemia-related fatigue, or because of a possibly undiagnosed developmental disability. Do we all need to describe ourselves in terms of a verified syndrome in order to justify our choices and actions? How much do labels really matter, now that we’re grown ups? In fact, how much are these fancy labels being used, not to help heal the parts of us that are hurting, but to ensure that we continue feeling separate and inferior?

So at this point in my life, I’m not sure that a diagnosis, or the ruling out of a diagnosis, would really make a bit of difference. To me, the far more important challenge for Tom and me is to love and accept ourselves, the way we are, at the age we are, in this particular moment. Maybe we’re Aspie; or maybe we’re NT. Or maybe our specific patterns of mood and behavior will one day fit into a nice, neat category that hasn’t been identified yet.

Inside our bodies, we’re all made of the same thing, the same molecular components, and the same driving desires to love and connect. And inside our souls we all carry the same spark of the divine that connects us to every other sentient being and transcends all those scary-sounding labels that we’ve accumulated over the years and given so much weight.

So maybe I’ll keep being the NT, or maybe I’ll join Tom as a self-identified Aspie. Or maybe we’ll just keep the domain name and keep this blog, and change the focus of the discussion to relationships and self-acceptance. I’m not sure. The jury’s still out. Maybe Tom and I will talk about it more tomorrow, in the forum where all our important decisions are introduced and considered, at the breakfast table, over eggs.