Back in December 2005, as a result of some astute friends (Cheryl - you are one of them), I was looking into the possibility my mother was an adult with Aspergers. It would explain a lot of her bizarre behaviour, but at the time I couldn't get to grips with it and then life took over and within a matter of weeks I was in contact with long-lost cousins. One of whom is so special to me and then ended up validating stuff that she saw in my childhood so I knew I wasn't making it up. With all that going on the Aspergers thoughts were sidelined.
Until late Sunday afternoon when my sister stuffed a Times newspaper article under my nose. Does your partner have Asperger's? might be about partners but ends with a checklist. On all eight points we can unreservedly tick for our mother:
The Asperger’s profile
Your partner may have Asperger’s syndrome if he (or she) has most or all of the following traits. Does he . . .
- Have difficulty interpreting body language and facial expressions?
- Have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphor and sarcasm because he takes everything in a very literal way?
- Struggle to maintain friendships?
- Become withdrawn and seem to be uninterested in others, appearing aloof?
- Have poor social awareness and find it hard to imagine how his behaviour impacts on other people?
- Love routines and get very upset if these are broken?
- Have an intense and all-consuming special interest or hobby?
- Have sensory difficulties? Is he oversensitive to touch or smell or noise or to a particular taste (people with Asperger’s have a very limited diet). In some cases, there can be an undeveloped sense.
Adapted from the National Autistic Society website: www.nas.org.uk
So now I am digesting. And researching, again, and came across this list from a Conference in 2005 given by Dr Tony Attwood (originally found on faaas.org):
The Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome
• Knowledge of normal childhood abilities and the parental role.
• Lack of affection, understanding and support. (Aloof).
• Criticism not compliments.
• Embarrassment in public.
• Fear of the parent’s mood and not to antagonize.
• Fear of the ‘cold’ touch of affection.
• Disagreements between parents.
• Parent has a monologue on their own problems.
• Intolerance of noise and friendships.
• Egocentric priorities.
• Feeling a nuisance.
• Desire to leave home or move inter-state or abroad.
• Seeking affection and approval.
• Escape using imagination, solitude, alternative family.
• Choice of partner.
• Recognizing the disorder in a parent.
• Resolving past issues.
• Explaining the person to other family members.
I am still working out my position but it seems clear that my mother has undiagnosed Aspergers. But also thrown into her mix is a whole bundle of stuff that created a hellish childhood for me. Any thoughts of mine to seek acknowledgement or even an apology are shot through but that's sort of OK. This might just help me to finally let go.
PS. I love this article I have just read:
Alien Parenting - A mother with Asperger's Syndrome (Link removed as no longer working - 12/2012)
PPS. A post I wrote since writing this, telling a bit about how life was for me Spring Cleaning of the Mind
PPPS. In early May 2011 my mother died very painfully and I was there for her doing what I could in those last days. I would not wish that level of pain on any living creature. Still, the past happened but I feel like I am supposed to whitewash and forget it. I am still processing and will likely continue for some time to come. I am up and down not sure what or why. Your comments here are still relevant and very much appreciated - thank you. 14 June 2011
PPPPS. December 2012: I am starting to add labels to my posts so that other relevant posts of mine might be more accessible, if wanted. I have also added back some of the more upsetting posts (Jan 2006) as they may serve a purpose for others who feel they are alone. Labels include aspergers childhood or see the label cloud to the left. I read all the comments posted and welcome them.