To recap: on my last post, I mentioned that, as part of my internship, I am doing a Christian Discipleship course. Which, last week, involved going on a weekend away. I often enjoy these things more than I anticipate, and knowing that this one involved a lot of socialising and outdoor activities, I needed explain to the group leader about how Asperger’s affects me.
Hence my parents persuading me to write this letter. For anyone getting to know me, or someone else with the condition, you might find it insightful. For my fellow aspies out there, feel free to use this as an example or template* when explaining your own needs. Here goes:
I’m writing to explain how having Asperger’s Syndrome affects me. Asperger’s is on the mild end of the autistic spectrum, and is less obvious than other forms of autism. I am gentle and articulate, and communicate best through writing. I’m looking forward to getting to know people, and would really like to get the most out of being a part of this community.
My main struggles include social interaction, physical co-ordination, and taking in lots of information from different sources or with a lot of distractions. In a group setting I struggle to keep up with what’s going on. I may either keep asking or lose focus altogether. It helps if someone discreetly updates me on things I need to know, one to one. I am more likely to understand instructions/explanations that are a concise summary of the main points, rather than too much detail. I like being on top of schedules, so I hope I don’t seem pushy if I keep asking what is going to happen
Lively group situations can be overwhelming, and I don’t present myself at my best when I don’t know anyone. I tend to be more at ease and outgoing with a close friend. Once I am used to people, I am co-operative, friendly and motivated. I am better at mingling than I was, but I still sometimes drift towards the edge of the group without trying. I also find it hard to remember names and faces at first – just bear with me when this happens.
Despite this, I do want to connect with people. I try very hard to treat others well and care deeply for my close friends. Contrary to the autism stereotype, I am empathetic and intuitive to people’s emotions. It’s on-the-spot, face-to-face interaction I find harder, not to mention draining! It’s not that I don’t want to be with you personally, it’s just that I often need time to myself.
Being autistic means that I show signs of dyspraxia (impaired physical co-ordination). I’m good at long walking, running and lifting heavy objects, but have more trouble with team games, walking on uneven or unstable terrain and learning directions. My fine motor co-ordination is much better, meaning I am good at using my hands for small, precise tasks.
I know this sounds like a lot, but apart from where specified, I don’t expect anyone to do anything drastically differently. Usually I just want others to understand and be patient. When in the right place (literally and emotionally) I am intelligent, mild mannered, witty and a deep thinker, and I hope that I can make friends and contribute to the fullest.
Hope this helps, and thank you for reading!
*but not publicly as if it was your own!