Yes, I am on the autistic spectrum. I have what used to be referred to as Asperger’s Disorder. No, you can’t tell by looking at me. In fact, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell even by spending time with me.
Women/girls are harder to diagnose and recognize with Autistic Spectrum Disorder than men/boys.
That is a fact.
Here are some things that have been said to me when I have disclosed my disorder:
- No you don’t [have Asperger’s]. My [male relative] has it and I know what it looks like.
- (After I smiled at a joke.) See? You’re social!
- Oh, is that the diagnosis-du-jour?
And even after hearing that I have a disability, harsh words have been used to describe me rather than understand a lot of what makes me appear to be difficult IS the disability.
“But do you really see something if you don’t have a word for it?” An interesting article that also links to the Radiolab program that discusses color and how humans may not have seen blue until after we’ve developed the ability to see so many other colors. When I read that sentence, I had a sudden epiphany.
One of the constant and most consistent statements (feelings) among persons with Asperger’s Syndrome (now known as Autistic Spectrum Disorder) is that we are invisible. I have felt this way my entire life, and this has been witnessed by my husband over and over, where people just bypass me completely as if I am invisible. It’s terribly frustrating, and completely devastating to one’s self-esteem. And why are we invisible? Could it really be that NT (neuro-typicals, or, persons not on the autistic spectrum) have this sense of us, but without a word or other means to describe us, simply ignore us?
These next few winter months are going to be fantastic for me and my music playing! I just finished a show in which I played flute/piccolo and a little bit of oboe. I took a handful of lessons to tighten up my embouchure and confidence, and what a world of difference. I also have been experimenting with new oboe reeds until I begin making my own again, and have found a superb reed from Forrest’s Music. So hopefully between that and lessons when I can will bring my oboe playing up another level. My goal: to do many shows on just flute/piccolo or oboe/Eng horn. Not that I don’t want to double, but I also want to be able to play an entire show on just these instruments. I also want to be able to play anything and have people wonder which instrument is my “main” instrument. It’s quite a challenge, but I think with some focus, I can do it.
Of course, in between practicing those instruments and taking lessons, I am learning the bassoon and have already switched to 2nd bassoon in my regular orchestra! I have a fabulous teacher and am renting a really excellent Fox Renard.
But do not think I’m giving up clarinet anytime soon! I still play principal with a band in Reading (again, I am so lucky) and will be playing with a couple of orchestras too, including Romeo and Juliet on bass clarinet again.