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You're special, yes you are.




I don't mind people being kind to me. It's nice to be treated well, isn't it? To have someone think of you and sometimes do things for you that you might find difficult.

I don't mind when people are grumpy so-and-sos either, as long as they are like that with everyone and haven't just decided to make my life cloudy and grey. The grumpiest of people can become a good friend, to the point that you no longer see the grump and only the friend.

I do mind being treated as if I'm Special. You notice the capital there. Not special, you see. Not like a person who might be showered with gifts, boxes of choccies, small dogs in  hand baskets or guinea pigs in bandannas. Special...

Special like Aunty Millicent when she couldn't be trusted near the Tesco trolleys anymore. Special like that little dog down the road who thinks all other dogs are space aliens coming for it. Special like that old pair of shoes you refuse to get rid of even though they let in at the heels and have changed colour.


Now, don't get me wrong. The vast majority of people who treat you as special are probably transient actors in your grand play of life and you can bear it when they coo over your ability to cross the road as well as temporarily hold down a job.

What worries me are the people you see more often, close or simply nearby in life, who treat you as special all the time.

They are liable to fall into one of two main types (I know you can't apply two types to everyone, but bear with me).

Type One: Your standard loving relative who wants what is best for you and wants you to achieve all you can, given that you are crippled by the stigma of rainbow-fuelled specialness.

Type Two: Your standard loving relative who knows how damn special you are and wonders when on earth you're going to get over it already and start living life like a normal person.

I must add here, right here before we go any further, that having people take account of your Aspergers is not the same as being treated as if you are special. It is quite possible for loving relatives and friends to know you inside and out and expect you to carry on being the awesomest, most wonderful person they ever met. And they mean it too. And the Aspergers? To them, it's a feature, not the main event. Person-first thinking!

So, being treated as special can have real drawbacks. People tend to see the Aspergers first and then either nod kindly as you fail or glare until you get it right. Somehow, this amalgamation of who you are with the Aspergers itself makes them see you differently than other people they know. It becomes a tinted lens they cannot see past, even though they have the choice to use it or not.


To one relative, your latest kitchen accident is proof they were right to buy a metal tea pot this time; to another relative, this is the latest in a long line of accidents and either you should be supervised so you can be looked after or you should have learnt by now how to handle a pot of tea without spilling it all over the place.

I don't diminish the impact of being an aspie in a world full of breakable chinaware, but I would like it to be part of the whole and not the reason why things happen. It might be the reason why things happen, but so is my innate ability to daze off into the realms of magic and forget I'm holding anything. It's a blurred distinction as to where the Aspergers starts and my dazing begins.

If I fail, I fail and it might be because I'm an aspie. Or it might be because of a myriad of other things. Or it might be chance and you would have failed too in the same situation. If we could know exactly why we do or don't do things then we would  be as little gods, each in our own universe.

If I succeed, I would like it to be a success coupled with Aspergers and not despite it. I don't mind you saying I've done well but don't say I've done well considering.

And if I sometimes storm off in the middle of a conversation, please consider this time might not have been my social anxiety, need for freedom, distraction by life or incipient panic attack. It might have been because your face changed in a way which signals how special I am, one way or the other.

If I am special, bring me presents and leave them at the door so I don't have to open them in front of you. But if I am Special then you'd better be prepared, sooner or later, for a show of Specialness brought on by expectation and demand.

Amanda




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