The Aim of this Series
I'm often asked by other parents for my thoughts on telling children about their aspergers. Will knowlege of the condition help or hinder them? In fact, taking things one step further... will the knowledge of aspie characteristics actually cause the differences between the aspergers and neurotypical children to become exagerated?
To know the answer to this, we must first examine adults who were diagnosed with aspergers late in their lives to determine whether they felt "different" as children.
Having been diagnosed at 37, I guess I'm as good a subject as any.
There's no doubt that my parents knew that I was different from a very early age and there were lots of things that I did which were considerably different to other children.
One of the most obvious differences was that I formed an unnatural bond with a blanket which lasted far longer than it should have. My mother still tells stories about how she couldn't take me shopping without the blanket, how it took up most of the space in her shopping trolley and the emotional anguish that blanket separation, and even wilful damage by other children, would cause.
The blanket fascination lasted far longer than my parents ever suspected. I went through several blankets, all of them with names, and often with an imagined "blanket pedigree". That's right, most of my blankets were "related" to eachother in some way.
Long after it was "shamed" into hiding, it continued way into my teenage years. In winter, I would often be wearing it in front of the television and in summer, when it was too hot to have it on me, I'd often fall asleep with my entire body hugging it like a body pillow.
Truth be told, I still like to keep a blanket and can often be found to be watching TV with one wrapped around me - even in the 30 degree (celcius) heat of Summer. It's that feeling of being tightly wrapped (hugged) without being stroked or tickled, that a blanket can do much more effectively than another person can. Of course, these days I'm not so possessive and the kids often take it off me with no complaints. At least all the stuffed animals are gone. (I've got my wife for that - just kidding).
Above: A picture my parents snapped of me sleeping in the hot Australian summer aged about 10. Note that there are six stuffed animals sharing the bed as well as a blanket.
Knowing I was Different?
In terms of the behaviour described above, the fact that I hid it from my parents in my teenage years suggests that I knew that there was something "wrong" with it. I certainly perceived a difference but whether that detection was entirely due to my parent's complaints or whether I genuinely understood that other children didn't have the same fascination remains to be proven.
There's much more "damning evidence" in my early interactions with my peers.
I'll cover this in my next post.