“Even as a child, Iris Gray knew she was different. Her parents always told her she was bright, but she still felt out of place.
She had few friends and was chronically clumsy. Other children would delight in loud noises, such as jets flying overhead. But Gray would run into the house, hands clamped over her ears, crying “too loud.” One night she even overheard her parents discussing whether to get her psychiatric help.
So it was a big relief to find out eight years ago, with a clinical diagnosis, that she has Asperger’s syndrome. It refers to a disorder on the autism spectrum characterized by problems with social interactions, difficulty with non-verbal signals or obsessive, repetitive behaviours.
“I always knew I was different,” said Gray, now 45 and living in Esquimalt with her three cats.
“I just didn’t know why I had so much trouble making friends, or why I always said the wrong things, or why things bothered me that didn’t bother other people.
“So it was such a relief” to receive the Asperger’s diagnosis, said Gray, a provincial civil servant.
October is Autism Awareness Month. Also, from Oct. 1 to 6 on the Sunshine Coast is the fourth annual International Naturally Autistic People Awards convention and festival.
Gray is also an organizer with the Asperger Meetup Group, a support group for anyone, diagnosed or not. Friends and family are always welcome.
She said the group has proved such a relief, a meeting place where people won’t judge or be turned off by behaviour that others might consider inappropriate.
Rose Guedes is also a member. The Victoria writer and mother of boys age 7 and 5 is in the running for a literary prize at the Naturally Autistic People Awards.
Guedes writes prose and poetry, blogs and maintains a website. She has a book, A Girl Outside the Box, expected in print in the coming months.
Unlike Gray, who presents as extremely introverted, Guedes is almost manic in her personability. It’s different but no less awkward.
When a co-worker, for example, complains of a headache, instead of offering simple empathy, Guedes said she is more likely to deliver a long harangue on the common causes of headaches and an equally long discourse on naturopathic cures.
“I want to try and fix things,” said Guedes, 28.
She didn’t learn she had Asperger’s syndrome until her eldest son was diagnosed as autistic. With that came questions and queries and the realization she was affected with the same disorder.
Growing up, especially in her late teens, Guedes said it was difficult because she found herself unable to set boundaries in social situations. At times it was altogether unsafe, especially for a young woman.
She held jobs, but they could be tricky.
As a young teen she worked at McDonald’s, which was easy since the work was routine, and movements and responses were pre-established. But working in retail, she found it difficult to establish an effective rapport with customers.
As she grew older, she found herself over-coping, obsessively demanding perfect social performances from herself. She even needed medication to keep herself calm.
“I was on the verge of a collapse,” Guedes said.
But with her diagnosis, she has learned to set boundaries and abide by her limits. For example, Guedes now doesn’t allow herself anything more than three tasks in any one day. And if she finds her emotions running too fast, she gives herself some quiet time.
“My writing these days is very therapeutic for me,” she said.
To learn more about Guedes’ writing, go to agirloutsidethebox.com. Information about the Asperger Meetup Group is at meetup.com/aspergers-209. To learn about the International Naturally Autistic People Awards, go to naturallyautistic.com.
Richard Watts / Times Colonist
September 9, 2013 © Copyright 2013
Sourced from http://www.timescolonist.com/life/women-with-asperger-s-syndrome-at-peace-with-being-different-1.618024
At last a good news story on Women with Asperger’s Syndrome that I just had to share.