A comment on yesterday's blog brought up a great point. In yesterday's blog I mentioned that I do everything I can do blend in and not really be noticed. The comment, however, mentioned the fact that most things in my life have me out there in the spotlight so what gives.
This is one of the paradoxes of Asperger's Syndrome in the way it plays out for me and also this is one of the trickiest things to understand. I explain this in my book using the chapter of "Alias" to explain it.
I used to talk about Alias a lot more on my blog so it's been a while so here's a refresher; I love rules, and with certain things I do there are very defined rules. Within these rules comes knowledge of what is expected of me and what could happen. Over time a role begins to develop and I call this Alias. At presentations I'm not really Aaron Likens, but rather I'm simply the Autism Ambassador for TouchPoint Autism Services. At race tracks I am the most visible official displaying the flags that keep order to the race. There isn't a brighter spotlight than that, but once again this is Alias in effect.
Now outside a presentation or a race track I don't have an Alias established. The rules, for me, are often unknown and the better I am at blending in, or being invisible, the safer I feel. Now, can you see why this can be confusing? The fact that I can speak to a thousand people at once without fear and yet walking into a store creates an anxiety to the core on whether or not a staff person is going to say, "Can I help you?"
It can be frustrating living this duality. On one hand certain things, like working at a hectic race track and having the gift of public speaking is easy, but other things like small talk and simple conversation can be a challenge. That being so, would I trade this to be normal? My answer is a firm "Most certainly not!" This won't be the answer each person with Asperger's would give, but I understand my gifts and I understand my challenges. My challenges have shaped me and have allowed me to become the person I am today. If you would have told me eight years ago that I would proclaim this I would have just shaken my head and told you "you just don't understand" but now I know it's the truth.