Of all the social situations that occur there is one event that always creates a behemoth-sized level of anxiety. If I know a person long enough the time will come that I will mention this and the reactions are always different. Some are understanding, but others are mixed. Whatever the reaction may be, I will, at some point in time, let the other person know that I am on the autism spectrum.
There is NO easy way for me to say it. When I was first diagnosed in 2003 I had an instantly difficult time as one of the first person's reaction I told that I had Aspeger Syndrome was, "Asberger's, is that a new hamburger at McDonald's?" Sadly, that is a 100% true story.
Since 2003 the public awareness of Asperger's and autism has gone up to the point that I have had no more misunderstandings regarding food, but that still doesn't make the task easy when I let someone in on this little secret of being on the spectrum.
The processing it takes to decide to tell someone is mammoth. There is just so much to think of; Will letting another person know change the way they think of me? If I don't tell someone early on will they think I hid it from them? After they know will they treat me different? Job wise, before where I am now, I shook, literally shook with anxiety at the thought of needing to tell whomever I was working for that I am on the autism spectrum.
Don't take this as I am ashamed of being on the spectrum as I am not. With this slippery slope of letting people know the problem isn't on my end. Some people's reactions are misguided as some people associate autism with just the extreme cases, or perhaps "Rain Man".
I have lost a couple friends, a couple girl friends to this slippery slope. At some point in time I will have to let another person know. It is easier now that I have a book, a job, and this blog, but for people that are oblivious to all three I will still have to say, at some point in time, that I am on the autism spectrum. When I do I won't be looking for sympathy, I won't be looking for a hand out, and I won't be looking for life to be easier. What will I be looking for? A simple nod of understanding and that's it. My life is challenging enough and having people react negatively doesn't help. I have had people look at me differently once they heard I was on the spectrum and this confused me because I had not changed.
Someone once said that I should just hide it and never mention it, but then if I avoid all eye contact, or do a "Dance of the Fingers" the explanation will have to be given. I'm open about it, but it will always be a slippery slope letting people in on what I have. That's all I can do. If a person takes it to the extreme, debates me on the autism spectrum (it's always an interesting when someone says, "you can't possibly be on an autism spectrum, you aren't autistic. What's a spectrum?") or changes the way they think of me the problem isn't on my shoulders, but on theirs.
P.S. I have been wondering about my "Great Sunglasses Experiment" and I don't know if I like the name I have given it. Is it okay, or should I go back to the think tank and try to come up with something else?