My parents never told me because they never knew nor would’ve made any difference to them and the person I am today. I think the school, a city appointed shrink and the guidance counselor was worried about the possible consequences for me as a young child being labeled in front of other kids and I think they were worried my parents would’ve put me in a special school thus possibly making the problem worst for me.
Though they would’ve been dead wrong given what I know about my parents. My parents would have did the same thing and they would’ve been right. The school told my parents I had a “Learning Disability”, which was half-true. I was very clumsy, had a lisp and had terrible motor skills in my hands which all fit that diagnosis. My parents fought the NYC Public School System (and Won) and I got the best possible help while living a normal school life.
I also was diagnosed with “Aspeger’s Syndrome”. Though it seemed to confuse them because while I did display most of the signs, my ability to show empathy kept throwing them off in trying to figure out what was wrong with me. All four different criteria diagnostic tests that are used for classification, pretty much classified me.
Asperger’s Syndrome in laymen’s terms means I have “high functioning autism”. Though it’s debatable if both mean the same thing.
The medical definition is a “developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others”.
When I was in high school at Xaverian, my freshman year I was in the “Reach Program” which was a program for learning disabled students. When Dr. K, one of my favorite teachers and one of the heads of the programs left her desk after proctoring a test. I saw my profile on her desk that’s when I found out what I had.
I, as a young kid was admittedly off. Sometimes I could be funny and talkative with others. Most of the time, I couldn’t talk to anyone without being scared or being completely awkward especially around girls. I also tended to follow certain patterns of activity and routines some which I still do, that I had to do. I still revert to this some days especially at work.
It was very frustrating growing up. I really only had a few friends as a young kid except my friends I played sports with because playing and talking sports was always easy for me. I really focused on reading books, watching TV, creative writing and watching sports.
By the time, I got to High School I started to figure out ways around my problems. I deep dived more into Sports and played on teams to be more social. I came up with tricks to calm my nerves when I speak to. I made it a point to be very conversational with my female teachers at school about the work as a way to speak to girls finally because they were mature and easy to talk to unlike High School girls. One in particular was very close to me (in a student to teacher way, before you think it was a Mary Kay Letorneau kinda thing), Ms. Harrington. She always talked to me about literature because she knew I loved to read books. I had really good friends I had a table with Lunch, who I pretty much always hanged out with. Great guys who I am still close too.
When I got to College, a lot of what worked @ Xaverian didn’t work there. It was really bad my freshman year to the point I debated quitting because of my loneliness and frustration to make friends.
I decided a way to fix that was to not worry about making friends in College, seriously. I decided to focus on culturing myself and improving myself and the friends will come as opposed to seeking them out. I purposely scheduled my classes to have a lot of time between classes so I could go to museums, try new restaurants, etc. While making friends was still tough in College, I felt I took massive steps in my development by experiencing more things. It’s why I love to try new places today.
Without that, I don’t think I could’ve survived the work environment. When I interned at Sirius, I started to make friends, mainly because I knew where all the good places to eat and go in the city and 90% of the interns were from out of town. Then when I got hired at Grey Direct, my first job. My new found confidence helped me meet some of the best friends I ever had who accepted me for me with no questions and the funny thing, THEY WERE GIRLS!
My closest friends currently are girls. Girls, who opened new doors to me in my life. One that got me to believe in myself more. One that got me to be honest with myself more and the one who finally got me to quit the fears and get my ass to London.
At work, it sometimes still comes out but like always I figured ways around it and it’s never really hurt me at work. Though I wish I could be more confident and not be scared of some people. I still feel bad I am scared of a certain someone who has been nothing but nice to me especially on FB, she’s great but I am just scared of her. I am actually more closer to the girls at my job now than the guys with the exception of a few guys, though 1 is a Cowboys fan.
I was ashamed when I found out what I had, but I can honestly say I am not ashamed that I have Aspergers. Yes, I still struggle with it sometimes, but I think I am a better person to have went through the struggle because it gave me an understanding of myself and others.
In short, Asperger’s did not change me, it made me better.
-V. for Vinnie