I Think I Have Aspergers: Now What?
|So-- you think you have Aspergers, or fall someplace else on the autism spectrum. Maybe you've been formally diagnosed, maybe you're just starting to consider the possibility yourself and nobody else has ever said a word.
What do you do now?
Recognizing and dealing with the fact that I have a little bit of autism is that hardest thing I've ever done. Harder than finishing college. Harder than being married or getting divorced. Harder than doing any job I've ever had. Harder than coming out as gay.
Accepting that your brain works in a way that is genuinely different from the majority of the population, and that nothing you do is ever likely to change that, hurts. Even understanding what autism is is hard.
On this page, I have highlighted the resources that have helped me most so far.
These are the books, videos, and online resources that have been most useful to me in understanding my autism. I encourage you to begin with them. This is not an exhaustive list, in part because autistic people are easily overwhelmed. It's a starting place. I encourage readers to offer their own suggestions and corrections in the comments area.
Many of these resources are specific to Aspergers, but I think people with other types of autism will also find them useful.
Why start with picture books if you think you have Asperger Syndrome or autism? Because understanding autism is hard, and is complicated by the emotional responses you may have if you recognize yourself in the traits of people on the spectrum. You don't have to buy either of these books to read them-- one is available in its entirety online, and the other you can easily finish in one quick sitting at a bookstore. But they both offer such quick, complete, and compassionate views of what it is like to have a little bit of autism that many people find it useful to have copies of their own so they can share them with people in their lives who they need to understand.
YouTube is one of the best resources there is for learning about autism. Many people on the spectrum have their own channels and produce quality material on a regular basis. Please check my YouTube channel for a much wider selection of material to choose from.
If you've learned a little bit about Aspergers and autism, and you still think you might have it, then you should join an online community so that you can interact with people on the spectrum. The one I recommend most strongly is Wrong Planet, founded by Alex Plank. You may remember Alex from his Autism Reality documentary. Although it can be intimidating, the Wrong Planet community is diverse and good-hearted.
Movies, by their nature, simplify things and make internal things visible. This can make them very useful when coming to an initial understanding of something as complex as Aspergers, even though they can also paint a false picture. There aren't very many movies about people with autism, but these are two that I recommend very highly.
There is no shortage of good articles and short essays about autism. You can come back to this site every day and find interesting pieces about people on the autism spectrum and the challenges of our lives. The articles I'm listing here are ones that I have found most helpful and inspiring.
Eventually, if you have autism or Aspergers, you are going to want the prolonged contact with the mind of a another person on the spectrum that only a book can give you. And, if you have Aspergers, you will also benefit from knowing the ubiquitous work of Tony Attwood.