Thursday, 13 November 2008

Seven for a secret, never to be told

I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS) quite late in life. As an adult it has been my choice who to tell and who not to tell. It's a horrible responsibility, as information is one way. Once you tell someone something you can't take that back. Having AS isn't just something you might feel embarrassed about…it can have legal repercussions with your employment and might even change forever how people treat you.

To this day only two people know I have AS (three if you count my psych, but she doesn't count). Someone in America that I communicate with via e-mail (how very AS) and my then girlfriend. No-one at work knows, even my parents don't know. The thing is, I've lived many many years like this, so why bother changing? What will it change if people know? I'm sure most people in my life think I'm odd in some way…so I could tell them I have AS and it would answer their questions…but would anything change? Would it stop me being odd? No, so why bother?

If anything it is the fact that things might change that I don't want. I'd hate to feel people are patronising me. I'd hate for people to ask me things, or to do something then pause and add "Is that…ok? You know…with your…'thing'?"

My sister is dyslexic (my family has such great genes) yet she chose to pursue English at university. She made it…but with a lot of help. People had to constantly bend over backwards, give her more time for exams, allow her to resit if she failed, extra tuition etc etc etc. I'd hate that. If my AS stops me doing something I'd rather not do it, than do it only because others make allowances for me.

If I were so inclined, it would probably make things easier at work. AS is a registered disability in my country, and "we" have protection against discrimination. So I could ask my boss that I'd rather e-mail clients than phone them, I could ask for allowances for being taken off one thing and put on something else as I find it hard to switch tasks. There are lots of things I could ask for…if I were so inclined. But it would move me from being "disadvantaged" to being "a victim".

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