This if for the July Carnival of Aces.
As a young teenager, I had assumed that I was heterosexual, since I wasn’t particularly attracted to females (though there was that one time). I was not developing much special interest in males either, and I’ve already talked about these years of wondering whether I was really hetero or possibly ‘asexual’.
What really cleared up these doubts was reading about asexual people’s experiences, mainly on blogs. That made me realize that I am more like ‘asexual’ people than ‘heterosexual’ people. The more I learn about the experiences of people on the ace-spectrum, the more certain I am that I belong here.
My doubt about my sexual orientation is not the only doubt which I cleared up by reading about people’s experiences online. It also cleared up my doubt about ‘having Asperger’s Syndrome’ (NOTE: I understand there are problems with referring to it this way, but since this was the way it was framed for me at the time, I am going to use this phrasing).
Once, someone I trusted isolated me, and, without warning, told me that I must have Asperger’s, that it’s the cause of all my social problems, and that she can save me. She also told me that my parents also have Asperger’s, so they could not help me. At the time I knew very little about Asperger’s or autism, and I was so unprepared for this conversation that I didn’t spot what, with hindsight, were obvious red flags. When I tried to question her assertions, she ran right over them (unlike me, she was prepared). I didn’t even have the mental space to wonder, if I really had Asperger’s, why didn’t any of the child psychologists who had observed me when I was young notice it?
I came out convinced I had Asperger’s, that it was a Terrible Thing, that I coudln’t talk to my parents about it, and that I would have to turn my life over to the person who had convinced me of it. I cried that entire night.
What snapped me out of this … was reading about people who identified with Asperger’s describing their own experiences.
I then realized that these people are very different from me, and that my experiences are much more like the experiences of ‘neurotypical’ people. I also learned that some of the ‘facts’ that person had told me about Asperger’s … were false.
I support neurodiversity, and now I think that being any kind of austistic person is okay (aside from the effects of neuro-normativity, which is a problem with society, not with autistic people). The point is that I got out of the grip of that person who wanted to manipulate my life.
I am grateful to the ace-spectrum people who have shared their experiences over the internet, and I am also grateful to the people who identify with Asperger’s who have shared their experiences over the internet. They have both been a great help, albeit in very different ways. One of the reasons I keep this blog going is that, perhaps, sharing my experiences will help somebody else.