I have Aspergers – Part 1: Who I am

I started my autism blog with a very specific focus, which is why I named it “Autism From a Father’s Point of View.” It was to be a place for me to write about my son, Cameron, his growth with autism and what I’ve learned along the way.

It was never meant to be about me.

But things have changed.

I now have an official diagnosis.

I have Aspergers.

In Retrospect

autism tag cloudShortly after tucking our boys into bed one night, my wife and I talked about our son’s traits and which were due to him having autism and which were due to him just being an average little boy.

During a lull in the conversation, my wife said to me: “You know, that sounds a lot like the way you are” and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I have autism!

In that instant, I remembered events from when I was 2 and hurt myself or was scared, times when I was bullied, times where I said or did something wrong and the guilt still haunts me, times where I smelled or tasted or felt something so strong that I couldn’t stand it, all the times I’ve beat myself up for not being more social with people, all the years I stayed in my room, by myself rather than be with people, the way I’ve never really fit in with my own family, the way I’ve obsessed over things… my entire life hit me in a flash.

It was at that point, a couple of years ago now, that I became a “self diagnosed autistic” but I would never dare tell anyone. Not because I was afraid of what people might think but more so because I could never tell someone something what I was not absolutely certain of.

Who I am

I am the father of two wonderful children and a really great wife. My oldest son has autism. And thus, this blog was born.

That’s who I am.

Even though I was totally convinced of that and content in that knowledge, I still had lingering questions. Did autism explain so many events and experiences in my life that still stick in my mind as clearly as though they had happened just a short time ago?

It sure seemed to fit. But could I tell anyone?

If I became a “self diagnosed autistic”…
Would it define who I am?
What if I was wrong?
What if I got a diagnosis back and it said I did not have autism?
What if it did?
Would the diagnosis define who I am?
Would it reshape, in my mind, who I’ve been all along?
Would it make any difference at all?
Would it change who I am in the eyes of others?

And so I kept it to myself… well, to myself and my wife. She was the first to make the connection, after all. Which helps… having someone to talk to about it.

But for a long time, or so it felt anyway, I kept it to myself. I think it felt like a long time because I have been so active in the autism community. Often speaking up, often speaking out… and holding back the one thing that I felt should be the most important thing to share.

I saw other self diagnosed autistics speaking up all the time.

Why couldn’t I?

Because I wasn’t sure who I was. I felt it, but I couldn’t be sure.

Then came the diagnosis.

Now I know who I am.

Will my message change?

Now that I know who I am, or at least, am more confident about it now, will it change what I write or how I write?

Well, I already write about understanding and acceptance (I have a Facebook fanpage and an ebook by that name!) and have always written from my heart, how I’ve always felt and believed… so no, I don’t see how anything would ever change.

I’ve always written as though I had autism anyway, because I try to be as true to my son as I can… pushing for acceptance, community unity… and the good as well as the bad of autism.

My blog will retain it’s title. This is about experiences between a father and son. Always has been, always will be.

My diagnosis cements many of the things I’ve believed, it opens up my eyes in a lot of ways that I’m not sure I could ever truly explain but at the same time… it doesn’t change anything.

I’ve always been me. I have always said and written what I truly want to share.

Will it change how others see me? Treat me? Think of me?

Only time will tell.

Tomorrow:

Part 2 – Getting the Diagnosis.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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13 Responses to I have Aspergers – Part 1: Who I am

  1. Alicia Hendley (@AliciaHendley) April 23, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    I found this post to be honest and true. It can be summed up with what you said here: “My diagnosis cements many of the things I’ve believed, it opens up my eyes in a lot of ways that I’m not sure I could ever truly explain but at the same time… it doesn’t change anything.” I look forward to reading more!

  2. Chrissy (bratmom) April 23, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    You are you… a diagnosis doesnt change who you are. It adds a different dimension. 🙂

  3. Jim W. April 23, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    While I share many Aspergerian traits, I can’t honestly say that I require any accomodations, so while it might be interesting to see. . . I’m not sure what good it would do me apart from getting me out of the intolerably endless uncomfortable hugs and PDA i get from friends of family. Whoa! Back off! I have Aspergers!

  4. Kellie Lipe April 23, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    As a mother to a little girl of 4 years of age that has Autism, it is great to see you & Natalie working together for your children and for you, Stu. You two are great parents! Great blog.

  5. Jen April 23, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Your blog is a favorite of mine. Thank you for always being so open and honest. You help put things in perspective for me. I also have two sons, my oldest has classic autism, my youngest does not have autism (or so we think at this point). I identify with much of what you wrote. My husband and I both have traits that looking back I think “We both have Asperger’s!” I remember asking my mom if she would take me to a psychologist at the age of 13 because I always felt “different” and didn’t understand or have any use for social conventions. I was diagnosed with depression and started counseling but it never helped at all- I didn’t have some sort of “issue” going on that I needed to process. My life took interesting turns and I ended up working in retail, restaurants, bars, etc. and through this natural “exposure therapy” which was very anxiety producing for me (so much so that I had to be under the influence of some kind of depressant (alcohol, pot, xanax) just to go to work and function like a “normal” person all through the college years). Somehow, somewhere along the way it was like I “got it” and learned the how and why of fitting in (be nice to your boss and make stupid casual conversation in order to make people like you which helps you keep your job, for example) and now I have been told I just seem like a very intellectual and even outgoing person (I now work as a professor and counselor). I know how to interact with my son instinctively based on my own struggles. I don’t think I am going to pursue diagnosis or self-identify to the public, because for the most part I don’t have those struggles anymore (although I still really have to keep my stress levels manageable or I have meltdowns- this is a challenge with my sons lol!) I just wanted you to know there are many of us out there who identify with you and I applaud you for coming out about your experience!

  6. Katrina Moody April 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    Stuart — I know when Jim started writing a bit at the Cafe, he was so afraid to put himself out there. Still takes it hard when folks think he “not autistic enough” … but at the end of the day, the diagnosis made his life make more sense, it helped HIM make more sense of the world. While the diagnosis doesn’t change the person, it’s an obvious way to feel like you understand more about yourself. I look forward to reading more. When Jim’s out the hospital, I’ll definitely refer him on to this post.

    You’re a good man, a good husband, a good father. At the end of the day, that will count for more than any label you might have in the meantime. But it will still help you understand yourself more so that you can more easily be that good man, that husband, and that father.

  7. Stuart Duncan April 23, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Thank you everyone. The support is most appreciated.

  8. Neo Aspieside April 23, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Congratulations!! I can’t even find anyone local to even look at an adult for an autism diagnosis. Like you I was wary of saying anything since only self diagnosed but so many other adults said A) dude you totally are B) diagnosis doesn’t matter because if you feel it you are C) It is hard for an adult to get a diagnosis and unless you are looking for services just accept it and move on. But part of me really wants that confirmation from a professional. So I completely understand your need to get one. Maybe some day. So I really look forward to reading about your actual diagnosis. But I have not come out in real life to to many people. Maybe not having a diagnosis is part of why I don’t. Anyways sorry to ramble! I clearly don’t judge you & very happy for you. It has helped me to understand so much more about myself. And next time you are on twitter check out #aspiechat sometimes we actually remember to add that to our discussions 🙂 It is great to openly talk about quirks with others that completely understand.

  9. Cinder McDonald April 24, 2012 at 5:59 am #

    I am 45, I am a mother of a 19 year old daughter. I am also a sibling. My journey to self diagnosis came several years ago as I began to know more and more autistic adults and heard their stories. I had the same questions as you did.

    Knowing I have Aspergers hasn’t changed me, but it has changed my outlook. It’s put my personal history, my understanding of things into a perspective that makes sense.

    There’s a graphic I’ve seen online that says, “This is a cat. Not a defective dog. It’s very happy being a cat. Autism is a difference, not a disease.” Now I know I am a cat, not a dog and my world has better for the knowledge.

  10. Rachel April 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Congratulations at finding greater self-knowledge, Stuart. My diagnosis came at 50 and it has been life-changing.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I have Aspergers – Part 2: Getting the diagnosis | Autism from a Father's Point of View - April 24, 2012

    […] For more on this series, go back and read part 1: who I am. […]

  2. I have Aspergers – Part 3: Life after an autism diagnosis | Autism from a Father's Point of View - April 25, 2012

    […] more on this series, go back and read part 1: who I am and part 2: getting the […]

  3. Diagnosed as an adult, recalling my childhood, reaching out to other adults on the autism spectrum | Autism from a Father's Point of View - April 7, 2013

    […] when I was officially diagnosed, I wrote about it in a 3 part series, you can read part 1 here, but I also promised that this blog wouldn’t be about me. It’s about my son, plain and […]

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