Friday, June 7, 2013

In the Right Light

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.


  1. I love your description of your alias person. I believe it applies to my 8 year old. He is terrified going to school every day and I think it is because the teachers often change the rules and kids approach him to talk to him. He can't reciprocate their conversation with him. Yet, he can state his lines in the school play without any problem and actually seems to enjoy it. He can give a presentation in front of his class without hesitation. It baffles his teachers the ease at which he does this yet he can't seem to answer their questions one on one. Thanks for helping us understand him more!

  2. I can totally understand how the rules and guidelines of certain situation can make what seems like chaos on the outside, actually be a subject to a rigid, structured ordered. A race is a perfect example. It may seem like total high speed chaos but, in reality, it is a very tightly choreographed dance of rules and regulations. And, in your position as flagman (is that the correct term?) you are actually a lynchpin in that order.

    I really appreciate you addressing my last comment with this entry. Every day I work here at TouchPoint I get a little more insight into the lives of those we serve (and those, like you, who serve us.) Thanks for the great articles.