I am clever. I can pick up a new language in a nano-second. I can see patterns where you can’t and deduce new conclusions where most people won’t. I am also diabolical at Maths. Seriously awful. I can’t even hold strings of numbers in my head, my column adding will take ten times longer than yours, I have trouble adding numbers over 100, I cannot long divide, I can only memorise phone numbers containing a majority of even numbers. It’s called Dyscalculia – it’s a numbers form of dyslexia, more or less.
I am proud of being clever as it is my only asset. I am ugly (and believe me I’m not eliciting sympathy, I really am ugly, having been told it by many people in round about ways, including twice yesterday and including by my own children) so in my mind, possessing intellectual talent evens me out in the gift-lottery a bit. I am horrendous at controlling my appetite which, I am told, may be part of the ASD – you can draw the conclusion from that that I am chubby.
I am also socially disabled. As I cannot tell anyone, particularly my co-workers, that I have Asperger’s Syndrome, unfortunately they all think I’m stupid, based on their impressions of my social skills. Sometimes jokes take me longer to understand than other people so I look stupid. Sometimes, in crowds, so much stimuli attacks my brain that sensory overload kicks in, and even though you’re stood right next to me talking directly to me, I won’t be able to understand what you’re saying because my brain can’t process the stimuli fast enough to keep up. So I look stupid.
This has been a lifelong problem. People always, always consider me to be of lower intelligence because my social responses are incorrect/gauche/unsure/immature, whereas my I.Q is actually 146. I could go to South America and pick up Guarani to conversation level in 24 hours.
What this means is that people talk down to me, tell jokes about me, talk about me, don’t bother to include me in conversations or mentally include me as part of their circle, or even consider me worthwhile getting to know. Worst of all, in my opinion, is that I’m often not even worth small talk: the kind of talk people engage in that means nothing, is just fluff and is just to pass the time. People will ignore me, even if I speak to them. Another consequence is that somehow however stupid people perceive me to be, they also pair this up with how mature they consider me. For some reason, being stupid also means being immature … I will confess to not being the most mature for my age, gladly. I think I’m stuck at twenty for some reason I have not yet worked out, and I am well aware I do not act my biological age, but I am not a child. And yet even teenagers (who know everything :P) deign to interact with me as if I am their inferior. One of my children has taken to this recently too. So annoying.
It’s humiliating and I can imagine that if I actually did want to increase my social interaction in a more Neurotypical way, I would be devastated and lonely, apart from feeling as I do – merely left out and irritated and small. I constantly second guess myself, always considering my words and actions before they leave me to decide whether I am acting “correctly” or not. If I were public with my condition, I would hope that people’s treatment of me would be more appropriate, but as it is, I am seemingly considered both stupid and immature.
The chief culprit is my ex-bio father (I say ex purposefully): he thinks I’m so stupid that none of my accomplishments can possibly be true. He thinks I lie or exaggerate my achievements. In the past I have developed ideas about particular subjects that are new and bold: he will insist he gave them to me, that I couldn’t possibly have come up with them myself because I stole them from him. I realise that this small-minded man is too afraid of being out-done by a daughter who is cleverer than him, and that it’s all ego, but it still rankles. He cannot be proud of me like my mother was, and like I am about my own eldest daughter for being a genius far beyond my abilities. I haven’t had a relationship with this man for years so there are no ongoing issues to worry about.
I wish I knew how to fix this. I have noticed that over the years my age-appropriate behaviours are improving slowly. I seem to be progressing but much more slowly than everyone else – I can live with that. Additionally, I recently took a job where most of my team is older than me or within a few years of my age, and it’s been a revelation. I have learned more about age-appropriate social interaction in the past few months than I did in the previous ten years. It has been very, very good for me indeed to be around people older than me. I can’t tell you how good it feels! I fit in among this team better than any other team in my working life. For the first time EVER, my colleagues have been on my side during some recent issues, defending me, fighting in my corner, speaking up for me … I’ve never experienced this in my life. No one has ever been on my side before – not even family.