Since I wasn’t actually living with anyone who’d been diagnosed, I really wasn’t aware of the whole gamut of symptoms, especially those exhibited by high-functioning adults. Then I got married, to an old boyfriend who had long since moved to another state. Our last round of dating was long-distance. We never lived together before we married. (Yeah, I’m that Catholic.)
I’d always known he was different, but then so was I. Why else would we both be nearly middle-aged and still single (besides the whole Catholic thing)? After months of pure agony in the new marriage, I was still wondering what was wrong with him. The marriage counselor said it was prolonged depression left over from a traumatic youth. But how could that make a person eat the exact same meal every single day? How could that make a person utter the exact same phrase every morning (I’m not talking about “Good morning”)? How could that make a person live in a state of squalid clutter? How could that make a person remember minute details from months or years past? How could that make a person go into a giant funk when it was time to go somewhere ostensibly pleasant, like on a vacation or a visit to relatives for a holiday?
I finally got brave enough to suggest that perhaps depression wasn’t the only factor inhibiting his happiness. When I dared suggest Asperger’s, the words were met with a familiar roll of the eyes and snort of derision—and later on, a recitation of my own quirks.
Would a normal person shout curses and grumble audibly and repeatedly at an inanimate object (hardware, software, etc.)? What about being startled by loud sounds? Or insisting on eating at local restaurants in a regular sequence instead of repeatedly at the same place week after week? And what about feeling anxiety in crowds? Or finding particular voices, songs, or actors to be incredibly obnoxious and irritating? Or preferring to work alone and having to force herself to go outside after a long winter?
Who has Asperger’s syndrome here? At this point, it doesn’t really matter.