Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Isolating Factor

Having Asperger’s is a challenge few can understand and empathize with and this point I want to make will illustrate it because, I ask, how can one feel an iota of sympathy for another when the other person appears to have it easy? What do I mean by this? For myself, the problem I’m about to lay forth began all the way back in the early years of school.

Certain subjects in school were excessively easy for me and I became accustomed to being the shining star in those subjects. I don’t mean to sound the least bit egotistical when I say that, when I excelled, I was years beyond my peers and my teachers noticed this as well. However, to balance how the seemingly apparent ego here I must say that when I struggled at something I was almost a lost cause so I either got something instantly and was the best or I was one of the worst. As with so much with having Asperger’s the middle ground quite simply did not exist.

Now, what does this have to do with anything and where does the hardship in understanding come from? From the things I could do in amazing fashion at a young age this became the “first” (reference to Film Theory from my book) and to be the best simply was expected. However, no one can be the best at everything but this is the bar I set myself to and I realized a couple days ago that it’s hard to recognize where the part of me that is looking to impress and be the best because that’s what is expected and the part of me that’s simply myself coincide. Confused? It’s more confusing living with it, trust me.

I must also restate the fact that if you’ve met one person you’ve only met one person with autism because this, depending on the person and the firsts, will play out differently, but in myself being excellent in the select subjects I was excellent in has been both equally good and bad. Bad? How can being good at something be bad? This is where the disconnect comes in because others would think, “surely he has it made, look at him, 2nd grade and the teacher is giving 10 by 10 math problems to the other students 2 by 2” or to today, “surely he has it made, how can anyone that can travel the world and present in front of audiences have any issues at all?” and it’s this mentality right here which is the problem.

We live in a one size fits all society, from my vantage point which means it’s hard to understand that people have peaks and valleys in their skill sets and just because a person is good at X doesn’t mean they will be good at subject Y. However, if one is excellent at any given one thing others will expect a certain level of competency at other tasks or subjects and having a lack of middle ground this often isn’t the case. For teachers, parents, peers, and coworkers, and I’ll say even people with Asperger’s this has to be one of the most frustrating things to understand and for myself one of the things that makes me feel isolated the most because I don’t want to put myself out there; I don’t want to get into a situation where a person has seen me shine only to see just how fragile I am and the struggles I face. I can rattle off racing historical facts, I can captivate an entire student body, I’ve reached the pinnacle of the racing world, but handling small things in my life, handling random eye contact, and trying to maintain some sort of balance within the midst of my life is the reason why the world impossible exists. Again, unless you know the autism spectrum, how can anyone feel an ounce of compassion or empathy? This is the problem with having Asperger’s and excelling in certain fields. Often times this area of excellence will be within in their Kansas and even if their Kansas is something of a narrow range of knowledge such as Pokemon, or Minecraft variants there may be a thought from others that, “okay, that person is great at that why can’t they just be as great and motivated at everything else?” and that, right there, is the disconnect and for myself, well, for myself it is my fear that others will see the real me, the fragile person, the person that can do a few things great but struggles immensely at most everything else.


  1. I see this a lot in my little boy. He, too, excels in some subjects well beyond his years. However, I see that as a double edged sword too. I'm so very thankful for his ability to do wonderfully in some subjects but hate that it makes him feel the need to be perfect in everything and if he can't be, he just won't try. I love reading your posts!!

  2. Aaron, thank you very much for articulating the often perplexing and vexing contradictions of navigating life as a 'high-functioning' adult on the Asperger's side of the Autism Spectrum, and then attempting to explain to a general Neurotypical audience just what this daily struggle often feels like from the inside out. Thank you for pursuing your writing and public speaking. You have no idea how many lives you may touch from sharing your story.