Saturday, 25 September 2010
Most people will wonder - Who? A brother? A friend? A Roommate? It's none of the above. I live and deal with someone with Aspergers every day. Who? My husband.
Some people might come down on me for writing this because of the fact that we've never actually been to a doctor to have him diagnosed. But, the reality? Either he has aspergers, or, he is the MOST eccentric person with all of the symptoms of aspergers that I've EVER seen.
People might try and excuse him for eccentric, but, the more that I'm with him, the more that I understand. The more that I speak with him, and try and dig into his mind, the more that I see. He is different. He has four younger siblings, all of whom have similar likes, dislikes, and similar personalities. He's not like them at all. But the difference here is not merely a personality check. It's more than that, and it's obvious
The alarm goes off, and I have no idea what to expect. Is he all there today? Will this be a day when he's basically focused and alert? Or, will he be frustrated and out of it. Sometimes, I can already tell based on how he starts the morning. He's up, and already, he's hurt himself three times on things that have always been there, and never moved. Yet, he trips over them, or bumps into them, or hits his head and instead of simply brushing it off, the way most of us do, he alerts the whole house by screaming "OWWWWWWWWW" when all he did was stub his toe. Or bump into something. He will randomly lose his balance, and instead of reaching out to stop himself, he'll stand there and flap his arms like a bird before crashing down onto the bed, or floor. He is completely clumsy and accident prone, but he also makes a bigger deal out of it than say you, or I would. This makes it very difficult to tell when he is really and truly hurt.
Off we go to the market and once we're in line, he insists on speaking with the guy in front of us. Not only does he insist on doing this, but he insists on speaking nonsensically about cheese. One type, one brand, and telling this perfect stranger every fact and happenstance regarding the cheese. Never once does he consider that perhaps this guy doesn't want to hear about the cheese for four minutes straight, or that perhaps he has a more pressing appointment to get to. He has no ability to read facial cues what so ever. He doesn’t know when a person is uncomfortable, annoyed, mortified, or simply wants to be left alone. Never once does he think to himself, the look on this guys face might mean that he's uncomfortable and that he wants me to let him speak, or perhaps he wants me to let him go from the binds of this totally odd conversation.
Places like Disneyland are worse at times. My husband will suddenly get this idea in his head that the people in line with us want to be clued in to matters of our personal life. He will instantly turn and say, "Sorry, we -" and go off as if the couple cared before he said anything. As if they were listening and were secretly demanding an explanation. In all reality, most of the time they hadn't even noticed us at all. What is TRULY difficult is when said people suddenly decide that they are our new best friends and we can't shake them.
In social situations, he is completely awkward. Which is honestly very sad, because when he and I are alone, most of the time it's very quiet, and intimate, and we are able to communicate nicely, and have a wonderful evening together. But, as soon as people start showing up, there are problems. Not always, but often.
He's done things like fall to the ground trying to be funny. When someone shakes his hand, and introduces themselves, he often responds like a deer in the headlights, not knowing how to make small talk or how to communicate who he is in any way. The words “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Cory” seem to go completely out of his head.
He doesn't know his own volume, which goes from loud, to "I can hear you all the way down the block, and outside." - and he's more animated than anyone I know, which he doesn't realize often translates into "scary". He will often amuse himself with social events by retelling stories that I've heard ninety times, plus, and often word for word in the exact same way. The issue here is that he doesn't really understand that no one really cares. Often, he will tell these stories loudly, and with such animation and sound effects that he himself is making, that he attracts the wrong kind of attention.
Some social situations, he does very well in. But, others he does not. He was actually quite the gentleman, and well put together at a Christmas party for his work several years ago. In which, there were people who were so off the wall, that he probably felt normal. I was truly proud of him that night.
He has times where he insists on doing something the way he is doing it, claiming that it is “the best way” (often very sternly)… and everyone watching him thinks that he’s crazy, obsessed, or just terribly rude.
As a note – it is common knowledge that many children with Aspergers are diagnosed with OCD. Which is interesting, because before we even considered Aspergers (only a few months ago now), Cory was told many years ago that he had OCD.
He can be very pushy and insistent. He will be listening to someone tell a story, and insist that that HAVE to do what he’s suggesting, and it comes off as completely rude, and inconsiderate. He also insists that certain things will happen at entirely inappropriate times. Ex – “Dan has decided that he doesn’t want to get married.” Someone will say, “Oh, don’t worry, he’ll change his mind.” Cory will answer, and with a totally straight face.
Some days, he says things, and it is honestly and truly difficult to make the connection that he’s making in his mind. This is often seen as him being stupid, or un-educated, or not thinking before he speaks. He will make totally outlandish claims, at times, seemingly just to speak or just to be right. Ex: “but he looked really young…” I will say, he’ll say, “Maybe he has that disease that makes someone really old even though they’re really young.” To which everyone will go “huhhhhhhhh???”
Some days, he’ll use words that no one else has ever heard him use. For a long while, everyone saw this as him trying to look smart, or piss everyone off, because he knows that we neither know, nor use those words. Or, we’ve heard them before but don’t quite know the definition. This has sparked many fights amongst not only he and I but he and my family. In these situations, he becomes angry and frustrated with “us”. He will say things to the effect of “Well, it’s not my fault if the rest of you don’t know the English language.” But, what he doesn’t realize is that often, he doesn’t even use the word in the correct context, or pronounce it correctly himself.
Often, he will say things that are entirely inappropriate, or at the entirely wrong times. At times when the rest of us would be going, “what’s the matter with you? Why are you talking about that here?” with honestly no clue that it is sensitive material, offensive, or even hurtful. He was nearly let go from a job for making an offhanded comment about a woman’s nose. (Remember what I said earlier about him making odd connections that we don’t see? This was one of them) His grandmother was Jewish, and he loved his grandmother to death. He commented that the woman had a very “Jewish” looking nose. In HIS mind, he was complimenting her. Why? Because he loved his grandmother and he thought that the woman he was speaking with was beautiful. Not only did he know that that was a horrendous comparison to make, he had no idea from her facial expression that he’d offended her at all.
While, we would all be sitting here going, “WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU DO THAT, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!” I guarantee you, he had absolutely no clue that he had said anything offensive what so ever. (In fact, the innocence on his face in the matter was actually heartbreaking.) He didn’t know in fact until half of the Jewish community called to have that anti semantic nazi fired. Trust me, it looks even worse when you know that Cory is 6’5, white as paper, has red hair and blue eyes.
Some days, I want to break down and cry, because I can see the struggle that he is having. He doesn’t understand “himself”, which makes him frustrated and feel hopeless.
This particular dysfunction has made his social life a living hell, has made him feel unworthy, and un-special at times (or perhaps, a little too special?) and lead him being very lonely. He hasn’t had a whole lot of friends growing up. One or two that I can think of, have been able to look past the outward awkward-ness to see a real and true person in there. (As I have)
Because, here is the upside to all of this.
The truth? I wouldn’t love him as much (or at all) if he didn’t have this particular issue.
I grew up being a very animated person myself. I was often outcasted from the “normal” girls. Because I was silly, and animated, and didn’t wear pinky pink, and tutu skirts.
He’s utterly brilliant. I’m not just blowing smoke either. His focus on his work is intense and straight forward. This has made him one of the top 20 in his field, in the ENTIRE WORLD… Again, not blowing smoke. He’s been listed as one of the top twenty go to guys if someone has a problem. Receiving calls from even places like Italy.
It makes total sense. He’s very visual and spatially minded. His field is cabinet design and construction.
His mild obsessive behavior due to this syndrome has made his focuses very important to him. One of his main focuses is… ME! :D Let me tell you, there is absolutely no problem with that. I honestly was someone who needed attention, and he gives it to me. In spades. In fact, all I need to do is say, “I need attention right now” and he puts what he’s doing down to give me some.
He is totally concerned for me, my health, and my well being. He will pack things that he knows that I might need just to take care of me.
Oh yeah, and what’s the best part? When I’m feeling silly, and loud, and he is too, we have a lot of freaking fun! It’s like we’re best friends who are small children. Sometimes, we will lay in bed and laugh for hours, which, I can tell you, I totally need somedays. Hahaha. Because we are both emotional, we can share emotional moments together. We don’t have to try and be “bold” for one another, if we are crying, usually it’s together. If we are laughing, usually it’s together.
The honest truth? God knows exactly what he’s doing. I needed someone like Cory. I needed someone who would treat me the way that he does, and love me the way that he does.
I honestly don’t care what everyone else says about “him” and who he “is”… I love him. I love him soooo much that I can’t possibly fathom even being with someone else most of the time. I can’t think of anyone who is better suited for me than Cory.
I love you-