So what a perfect starting point to this blog…
The 7th February 2014 was the day my life changed, as this was the day I was diagnosed with Aspergers.
I was 20 at the time, I had gone through school and well, unsuccessfully college, my early years had passed and I was going into adulthood. I had a good social circle, I was going out on lad weekends, playing football for the local football team and working at the local Cooperative Food store. Life for me at 20 was very normal, well I perceived it as ‘normal’.
Elaborating more on ‘Unsuccessfully college’, this is where the problems started to arise. I was studying business at college and I could easily find friends, I fit in well with my classmates and got on well with my Tutors. I somehow ended up finding myself on the college Parliament, I’ll be fair with you now, I only did that for the free food, I love a good buffet spread. This all sounds great for the social side, the issue was the work, I just didn’t do it.
The understanding of business wasn’t the problem, I could tell you how to work out the accounts of a business, I could tell you the meaning of business jargon, I could even tell you what you needed to do to start up a business. It was actually writing it down, writing down what I wanted to say, my mind would quite frankly give up. It would wander, I’d be way more interested about what was going on outside than the actual work I needed to do. I understand that no one wants to do work, and so for that I’m no different. But I always got confused about what I actually need to write about and as college was independent learning, this is where I struggled. School was easier as the teachers pretty much told you what to write, whereas college, it was very vague for me, I just couldn’t get the concept of what was being asked.
Working at Coop (Cooperative Food) was in a way the same as college for me, making friends wasn’t an issue, I’ve made one lifelong friend from Coop also, she’s amazing. When I first arrived, I was put on the till, I learned how to work them and well pretty much serve every customer and deal with their issues. This was quite simple and I got to grips with it pretty quickly, well I thought I had the hang of it, turns out I really didn’t, I was making mistakes left, right and centre. The mistakes were not just on the till, it was when I was allowed off the till also. I wasn’t following simple instructions from the team leaders, again not because I was stupid, because I simply didn’t understand what was being asked as I hadn’t been shown or had any guidance. Found out in my later years at Coop that I was very close to losing my job.
There is one person though from Coop that completely turned my life around. One day I went in like any normal Saturday, I walked in at 6pm and went straight on the till, this was my routine. The team leader came up to me and said that I wasn’t on the till that evening and pulled me off there and put Amber on the till instead. I was working the delivery (stacking the shelves) which I had done before, but I didn’t do it right, I was apparently putting the wrong products in the wrong places. This time around the team leader was helping me, she was directing me on where the products go and how to work delivery quicker.
The Team leader who helped me out noticed that I had traits that her son also had, her son is diagnosed with Aspergers and so she rang my Mum. At this time the college were also in contact with my Mum. They all came to the same conclusion that I might have Aspergers, I was unaware of these conversations. I had to fill out a simple questionnaire a few weeks later and that got sent off, I then received an Appointment At Fulbourn Hospital in Cambridge.
This may have been the scariest time of my life, as quite frankly up until this point I thought I was normal. I walked into the Hospital with my Mum, waiting around we were surrounded by loads of posters and leaflets about Autism and Aspergers. It was such a shock for me to start to think am I autistic? I was so ignorant to the disability, I remember thinking, I’m not one of them I’m normal. The more I thought about why I was there the more the tears tried to come out, I was so scared.
My name got called, me and Mum walked into a room and there sat two psychiatrists, they were lovely by the way. They asked me and Mum loads of questions about my life, about me growing up, what my interests and hobbies were, what my relationships with my family and friends were like. They went into so much detail it was mad. My life was literally being pulled apart, we were talking about how rude I can come across, how blunt I can be, how my concentration is poor, everything was under the microscope. Coming out of this I basically had a biography of my life written out.
The appointment was over, it took about 2/3 hours, they needed to do some things on their end so me and mum were instructed to wait outside for around 30 minutes, I’ll be honest I still didn’t know what was going on. Either way we got called back in, and the psychiatrists basically sat there and told me that they are diagnosing me with mild Aspergers. My feelings at this point were so mixed it’s ridiculous, am I upset? am I happy? what is life? Walking back to the car, I remember turning to Mum and saying, ‘what do I do now?’ her reply was ‘nothing, you’re still you’. I told my friends in the group chat and got many jokes back as mates go, ‘Ass burgers’ got thrown about a lot. They were fully supportive, they really didn’t care, which is the best thing to come out of it.
So, let’s go back to the ‘What do I do now?’ I knew I wanted to change; I knew I could use this diagnosis as a positive. I feel after writing this blog post at 26 and looking back at the past 6 years, while it has been difficult and there have been testing times, I 100% have used this diagnosis as a positive. Asperger’s to me is a gift, and hands down one of my best days of my life was when I got diagnosed.
“If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” – Dr. Stephen Shaw
FYI – if you’ve made it this far well done, i appreciate it, this is my first blog and i would like to write more, if you have anything you feel i could write about please contact me, or leave a comment.