This is the essay I sent in with my National Merit application back in high school. In it, I talk about how Asperger Syndrome has affected me. I wrote this this before I thought up my "simple explanation" of what it's like to have AS: "...like having a Macintosh brain in a Windows PC world; not wrong, but different enough to cause conflicts sometimes."

If you want more information, there are some links at the bottom of this page.


Asperger Essay

by Aaron of Minneapolis
October 9, 2000

      "Help! Iím kind of stuck here. How can something so easy be so hard to do? Iím just this far from doing it." This is what itís like when Iím trying to write an essay. Iím just this far away from doing it, but I just canít quite get it started. I donít know if the fact that I have Aspergerís syndrome makes it hard for me to write essays, but I do know some of the other ways Aspergerís affects me.

      Aspergerís syndrome is a mental condition related to, but quite different from, autism. Higher brain functions arenít impaired, as they often are in autismóin fact, they can often be better than normal. I tend to be smart intellectually and knowledgewise, but I can be kind of dumb socially. This was especially true when I was younger. I tend to miss social cues and to not pick up on the unwritten social rules as fast as others. I also donít have as many friends as most people. On the other hand, Iím really good at math and reading, and Iíve had a lifelong interest in architecture, especially old buildings. I also have some artistic abilityóI draw mainly old buildings and maps of fictional cities. I can pay great attention to detail, although details donít always register immediately; sometimes, someone else has to mention something in order for me to realize I noticed it. I can be a perfectionist sometimesówhich can be good or bad, depending on what Iím doing. If Iím proofreading a document, I can breeze through it and find nearly every error; but if Iím writing an essay, I often get stuck, because itís hard to write a perfect first draft. I also like routine and knowing exactly what Iím supposed to do. To some people, it may seem like Iím asking too many questions sometimes, but Iím really just trying to be absolutely sure about what I am supposed to do. I can also be honest almost to a fault.

      People with Aspergerís are often said to lack empathy, but I think thatís not quite true. I do notice what other people are feelingóin fact, sometimes I almost feel it myself (which is why Iím not all that fond of violent movies)óbut I often donít express my feelings in quite the same way as other people. Sometimes I can be a little insensitive to what other people are feeling, but, if they bring that to my attention, I usually try to be a little more sensitive.

      Aspergerís also affects me physically. I am not as athletic as other people and can be kind of a klutz sometimes, but I do like some physical activity. I like walking home from school rather than taking the bus, because it is more relaxing. When I get stressed out, going for a walk or something like that can help me calm down. If thereís a lot of stuff going on around me, I tend to get on sensory overload and sometimes yell. People often misunderstand this; Iím not necessarily mad at them. Iím just overloaded and need to calm down. Doing something like walking releases endorphins and calms me down. Iíve gotten much better at controlling outbursts. I try to take a deep breath and not let stuff bug me.

      Aspergerís has also affected my grades. Long, multi-day, outside-of-class projects tend to be too open-ended for me, and I donít get them done. If I feel like I have a lot of homework, I tend to get overwhelmed and stressed out, so very little of it gets done and my grades sufferóbutóif I do my homework and get it in on time, I tend to get straight Aís. (First semester of my junior year proves that.) Class work and any homework I do at school do get done, because I have the time in class to do it. I tend to do well on tests, despite my struggle with homework, because I pay attention in class and do the class work. I have been thinking about college and I believe that, with the right support system, I will succeed. My future goal is a career in architecture. However, I do have a lot of math and science to fall back on, should I choose a different career.

      To sum up, I donít think Aspergerís is a disease to be cured or conquered. Instead, itís a condition to overcome and use to my advantage. I wouldnít give up my condition for anything, if being normal meant Iíd lose my interest in architecture, my interest in science and history, my honesty, my love of learning, my love of museums and intellectual discussions, or anything else that enriches my life and my mind.


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Last updated September 23, 2008 (2008-09-23).

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