It was several years ago when, yet again, I was involved in an uncomfortable, badly-ending social situation that was utterly baffling to me. Normally, after situations like that, I would puzzle over them for a time and then I’d move on. Usually moving on involved making the conscious assumption that it couldn’t possibly be me since nobody bothered to tell me that I’d done something wrong or, if they did, they never told me what it was.
It had been easy, as an adult, to conclude that there were other things at play in these people’s lives – stress, pain, frustration – that was unrelated to me. People have all kinds of things going on in their lives and I had probably just interacted with them clumsily at the wrong time or in the wrong place.
But that specific time was different.
My good friend, who was also my boss and who had been present during the incident, contacted me via text later that evening and spent about an hour, as I thought, making certain that I wasn’t angry or upset with the other person involved in the aforementioned uncomfortable social situation. I finally, very bluntly, assured her that I wasn’t upset at all and suddenly the conversation changed to something like this:
My friend: “Um, I was talking about you – what you said was insensitive to and upsetting for the other person.”
Long story short, that was the first time as an adult that there had been an uncomfortable social situation that I had to address directly as being my fault instead of either ignoring it as best as I could or, in extreme situations, completely cutting ties with the people involved. We successfully worked through it, which was even more uncomfortable than the initial encounter, but it ended up being fine and working out in the end.
Then, a few months after that, my boss/friend suggested to me that I look into Aspergers (this was when the DSM IV was still in use) and sent me a link to an online test for Aspergers. I knew very little about Aspergers/autism at the time. In high school my best friend specifically babysat autistic children; I’d heard of Sheldon Cooper, but had never watched the Big Bang Theory; I had read, on a message board, that Dr. Temperance Brennan (Bones) was likely an Aspie, which confused me because I considered her to be the most relatable character I’d seen on TV since Spock and Data; but aside from those indirect little tidbits, I had no idea.
Anyhow, I clicked directly through to the test without doing any research first because I wanted to get an accurate result. I answered the questions as authentically as possible and figured that nearly everyone would’ve answered them the way I did. I couldn’t imagine anyone giving different responses than what I gave to most of the questions.
So, consequently, my results were shocking to me. I got “160 ASD, 55 NT – Very likely an Aspie.”
At this point, desiring an immediate control subject, I recruited my husband to take the test.
His scores were pretty much exactly the opposite of mine and my journey into the possibility of being autistic had begun at the age of 28.