What’s it feel like to have Autism Spectrum Disorder as an adult?
Posted on October 22nd, 2014 by Beth
I am pleased to introduce Aaron Likens as a guest blogger today. Aaron was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (now Autism Spectrum Disorder) at age 20 and is now the Autism Ambassador for Easter Seals Midwest. This guest post was originally published on Aaron’s personal blog, Life on the Other Side of the Wall.
The island problem
by Aaron Likens
I’m sure at some point in time I’m made a metaphor or two involving an island and, once again, I’m coming up with yet another island metaphor. It’s going to get difficult to remember all these islands I’m creating….
In the midst of this period of feeling down I’ve done a lot of thinking, too much probably, but I’ve noticed an unique pattern that I can only explain using an island as an example. I don’t know about others with Asperger’s, but for myself I feel like I’m on an island. I used to say a deserted island but I have come to learn that this island actually has two bridges connected to two mainlands.
These two mainlands represent two different worlds. On the bridge leading to the right we have normal. Now remember I don’t believe anyone is normal, however wanting to be more normal is something I feel and there is an illusion of normal, all of which are on that island.
As we turn to the left and see that bridge, it leads to a place that is rather uninhabited. It’s a place that often times I feel I want to be and herein lies the problem; both mainlands don’t feel right and I spend my time on the island in the middle always thinking that the place I came from isn’t as good as what lies on the other side of the bridge.
This island in the middle is a place of deep thought. When I spend too much time in the land of normal I get tired with the constant conversing, socializing, and random encounters so I look across the sea and think back to the mainland that is empty and yearn for it. I mean, how great is it to go through life without interactions? When I’ve spent too much time on the land of normal this is how I feel.
When I get frazzled from normal, or not fitting in within the land of normal, I make the trek across the bridge and get to the island where I quickly cross the second bridge to the land of emptiness where I am sure I will find happiness. Each time though the happiness is fleeting and I look back across the bridges from which I came and think about how great it would be to be a part of the land of normal.
After a while this journey across the bridges gets tiring and this island in the middle feels like home. I’m not on either land and yet I’m a part of both. It becomes difficult to decide if staying on the island is the surest bet or if I want to venture out into the world of normal.
When I think about how great the land of emptiness would be I think about how much I would have missed had I stayed there. I certainly wouldn’t be presenting, I wouldn’t have met such wonderful people within the SKUSA and USAC series, and my life wouldn’t extend much outside the walls of my house.
However, when I get exhausted, when life gets overwhelming, or when a major social disaster happens I think about how safe the other place would be. Hence why there is this island problem and staying on the island often times isn’t so much a choice rather a necessity.
This metaphor has been made in so many different ways, but as I was thinking last night about a new way to present it. I came up with this and I could visually see this island in the middle and it felt perfect, and writing this — I hope I did a good job of writing it because it sure made sense as I thought about it — has just confirmed just how apt this is.
For others I’m sure it is different but for myself this is the best way I can describe to you the feelings that go through my body and how I see the way my life is.