A.J. Mahari, a woman diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in adulthood, at the age of 40, reflects on her experience. Living in the shadows of the light that exists within encased darkness. Trying always to balance a myriad of contradiction. Wanting to please yet wanting to just be. Feeling the pressure of demands from the outside but understanding much more clearly the call from inside to seek quiet purposeful soothing environmental co-existence. The world is not a friendly place to those who are very sensory-sensitive.

Years of difference, being left out and never fitting in no matter how hard I tried. Scars. Wounds. Pain. A deep understanding of where rage comes from. A deep understanding of the meaningless montage of moments that so many try to make mean something so inter-connected. Loss becomes a friend when others refuse to understand.

Bridges burned. Singed by the fire of faking feelings and trying to fit in. Alone, behind a wall of glass that often no one tries to penetrate. Glass that has become impenetrable from the inside. There is so much sound beyond that wall of glass. Enough sound to eat one alive if you let it. There is endless noise, a barrage of colours, smells and unpredictable and seemingly-ever-changing variables.

Great numbers of people know the dance, the dance of socialization. It’s as if they’ve heard the melody all of their lives. I am left to ask why the music wouldn’t play for me. I am left to wonder at the awkwardness I experience, painful awkwardness, whenever I have tried to dance. My dance was to be in tune with theirs but when I stood up to join the music died. The melody changed. The rules changed. Asperger’s Syndrome left me just missing the beat as always. Embarrassed, alone, frustrated, humiliated and left to seek retreat.

Light illuminating the masses as I stand in the darkness of overload. Calm comforting communication they seem to share. They are enjoying each other. Why? How? What does that mean? I am panicked at the thought. I am lost to the ebb and flow. I pull away, always away. Darkness enshrines my efforts to reach out. Ill-timed, awkward and not well-received. Why can’t the light of their shared song light up the darkness that I know so well? I have a strong sense of knowing that I don’t fit. I have a strong sense of knowing that I don’t belong. I know that I am separate. Like shadows cast on the wall of a cave to this void of everything I am a slave.

Wanting to know, sometimes, how they feel. Sitting in my reality with all that I must conceal – watching them look at me with amazement transmitting their anger and resentment as if I am with-holding me from them on purpose to be a pain. Do they run circles around me to lose me? Are they just being them? I sit in the screaming-silence of my inner-world with an eye on their bright noisy-quiet sunshine clouded by the differences, differences that I’m told are mine.

What I experience hurts. What I experience is painted as weird. What I experience is often ignored by others who keep telling me that I am like them and that I just need to try harder. They don’t get it anymore than I get what it is that they want me to share. I don’t get that. I don’t get that. It matters not how smart I am for what it is that I don’t get does not live in my intellect. What I experience is a lack of just that. They are like a dog and I am surely like a cat and that is just that.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari 2001