In January of 2021, I made the decision to go back to therapy. I knew that I needed to work through some childhood trauma, but I also wanted to be assessed for anxiety, ADHD, and perhaps even Autism. I had always felt different and struggled with, maybe even slightly obsessed over, interpersonal relationships, devoting a large portion of my spare time to reading books, watching TED Talks, and listening to podcasts on romantic and platonic human relationships.
I knew my best friend, Rose, had just started therapy again, so, while at the gym one day, I asked her where she was going and told her what I was hoping to work on. She immediately responded with something along the lines of “I have something to talk to you about, but not right now.” Internally, I began to panic. I was nervous that Rose was going to tell me that I was a hypochondriac, that I was just projecting unrealistic differences on myself, and that I was completely normal.
We get home from the gym and after about 20 minutes or so Rose comes to my apartment. In my living room, sitting across from each other, she starts with “I love you and this doesn’t change that.” At this point I am beyond nervous! I have no idea what she is going to say, again thinking along the lines of everything that I’m feeling is just made up and that I need to get it over it.
Rose then proceeds to say that she thinks that I have Asperger’s – I literally laughed out loud as this was something that I had felt for a long time but never knew how to talk about it – and told her I agreed. She then began to tell me about a coworker of hers who self-diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum and that she and I have similar mannerisms. Rose asked her coworker for some resources a few months earlier and as Rose read through the characteristics of women with Asperger’s she began to cry, feeling like she was reading an almost exact description of me.
Rose had the resource pulled up on her phone and we began reading through the lengthy anecdotal descriptions and traits typical of women with Asperger’s provided on Tania A. Marshall’s website (Australian psychologist and author of Aspienwoman). Though some characteristics often typical of females with Asperger’s did not apply to me, many did and sometimes uncanny how true some were. As we read through the list we often stopped to exchange a glance of acknowledgment, shed a tear, or recall a memory that highlighted that traits. Recognizing the female profile of Asperger’s Syndrome was both overwhelming and comforting.
Armed with the acknowledgment of someone who truly knows me (Rose and I have been best friends for more than a decade now) and identifying with approximately 75% of anecdotal traits or characteristics typical of females with Asperger’s, I felt confident looking deeper into and talking with a professional about potentially having Asperger’s (now part of Autism Spectrum Disorder).