Can You Catch Aspergers?
By Lisa, Maggie’s Mom. Maggie is a 14-yr old young lady with aspergers.
I have come to an amazing realization. You can catch Aspergers. I can’t believe that all of the scientists, all of the studies, and all of the experts making educated guesses about the cause of autism have not figured this out. Of course they only approach their research from a clinical perspective. They don’t live it, they don’t breathe it. They don’t spend every waking moment immersed in it. I do, so that makes me an expert.
I’m sure many of you are thinking I am nuts at this point. And I probably am in a lot of ways. But not when it comes to this. I am completely rational. Well, as rational as a sleep deprived, stressed out, autism mom can be.
All of my life I have been as neurotypical as, well, any other neurotypical. Except for some misguided teen years, I’ve not had any sort of problem navigating my way through life. Until now. After years of spending every waking moment caring for, worrying about, and advocating for my daughter, Maggie, who has Aspergers, I have developed many not so typical traits-that mimic her Aspie traits. I truly believe I may have “caught” her Aspergers.
Prove it you say? When you solve a scientific theory, you examine the facts. Through that you come up with a hypothesis. So here are the facts-
1. Maggie is socially awkward, struggles to follow a conversation, misreads people, and would rather be alone than deal with the complexities of relationships. She won’t answer the phone, and has even hid under the table when someone comes to the door, and I’m not home. Dealing with people exhausts her.
I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with people. Often I find my mind wandering when I am having a conversation with them, and I realize I have no idea what they just said. I avoid social obligations, because they just seem to take too much energy. I have been known to unplug the phones, or ignore it’s ringing. And, yes, there are times that hiding under the table sounds like a pretty good idea when someone is at the door. Dealing with people exhausts me.
2. When Maggie talks, she tends to go on and on about something that she is obsessed about, until people’s eyes start to roll back in their heads.
I tend to talk about something I am obsessed about, until I’m sure people’s eyes start to roll back in their heads. Even my own daughter, my oldest, has told me “I’m so tired of hearing about Maggie, and Aspergers. Don’t you think about anything else, ever?” Um, no, not really. Maggie and her Aspergers consumes me.
3. Maggie has struggled with sleep disorders for years.
I haven’t slept soundly in so long, that unless I drink gallons of tea each day, I can barely function. Often my brain is so foggy and sleep deprived, I become somewhat delirious. It is a struggle to even keep track of what day it is, what was I just doing, what was I about to say? Who am I? Is this my life?
4. Anxiety is the norm in Maggie’s world. Anything and everything is potentially something to worry about, to the point of panic, if need be. Every waking moment, and even in her dreams, the worst possible scenario is the only probable one.
I worry all the time. I worry in my sleep. I wake up to worry. Sometimes I feel on the verge of panic. Deep breaths, relaxation techniques, focal points, positive self talk-all as routine in our house as brushing our teeth.
5. Maggie is very isolated. She has no friends, few people understand her. Sometimes she longs for companionship and acceptance, but the energy it takes to maintain relationships is difficult to sustain. It is easier for her not to bother.
I am very isolated. I have few friends. No one understands me, or my life. Sometimes I long for companionship, but the energy it takes for me to maintain relationships is very difficult to sustain. It is easier not to.
6. Maggie does not view the world the way everyone else does. She truly marches to her own drum, delights in music only she hears, embraces beauty where no one else sees it.
My worldview is also very different than most others. And, through Maggie, I see beauty where no one else does.
7. Maggie is extremely intelligent and creative. She has knowledge stored inside her brain that is far beyond her years. And her photos and art sometimes blow me away, because they reveal such a unique take on life.
These are the traits that I have not ” caught ” yet. But my years of advocating for her, feeling her pain, and lifting her up, have made me a much wiser person, more attune to what truly matters, what is really meaningful in life. I have also become very creative in finding ways to not only survive, but to thrive as we struggle to find our place in a world that has become so foreign.
So those are the facts. And here is my hypothesis-
I know there are skeptics that will say there is no way that one can “catch” any form of autism. As for me, I don’t believe it. The truth lies in the facts. I didn’t use to be this way, before Aspergers became our household word, before I spent years immersed in it, with out regard for my own well being. So if you are an autism parent, or autism caretaker, just be aware. It could happen to you. And like any form of autism-it can be a difficult thing, it can be a beautiful thing.