Living With Aspergers Syndrome
-Aaron Teel

     I was born with Asperger's Syndrome, a type of high-functioning autism. People with Asperger's (or "Aspies" for short) are characterized by an unusually high level of self-awareness. We are keenly aware of the tips of our fingers, the bottoms of our feet, and other details of our bodies that most non-Aspies are generally not constantly aware of, resulting in our being extremely sensitive to touch. It is also common for us to also have extremely sensitive senses of hearing and smell. This results in difficulty concentrating owing to a constant bombardment of information and sensations that we have to learn to sort and control through a great amount of coaching and practice. When we are around other people, we tend to come across as shy or stand-offish because social settings bring with them the aforementioned bombardment of information. On the other hand, many of us are gifted with superior intelligence and photographic memory that allows us to remember things with uncanny accuracy.

     When I was an infant and a toddler, my parents were able to tell that something was "off". A specialist was consulted and I was diagnosed as having a "Non-Classified Developmental Disorder (NCDD)" owing to the fact that Asperger's Syndrome had not yet been officially labeled as such. Following this diagnosis, I began having sessions with a speech therapist and an occupational therapist until I was around six years old. I was always aware that I was somehow "different" without knowing exactly why. I never felt like I was able to fit in with my peers at any point in my childhood. It was not until I was in high school that I became familiar with Asperger's Syndrome and was told that this condition applied to me. The implications of this did not immediately sink in and I continued on as normal. Then, after I earned my Bachelor's degree, I read "Asperger's From the Inside Out" by Michael John Carley. Carley's description of his own experience with having Asperger's struck home at every single point, and suddenly all of my life experiences made perfect sense.

     To say that I did not handle this epiphany well would be an understatement. My initial reaction was to fly into a full-fledged rage against God, demanding to know why He did this to me and why I was not made to simply die in the womb. After this initial rage I calmed down and thought for a while that I was okay. But one day I was inspired to question every aspect of the faith that I had up to this point been building up within myself through a comprehensive study of Christian apologetics. I ultimately decided to become an atheist, and upon making this decision, I felt like I was high on a very powerful drug. A few days later, I began to wonder if I had committed the unpardonable sin mentioned in Mark 3:22-30, and then I broke down and bawled my eyes out while feeling like I was having knives plunged into my head from all directions. I prayed desperately to God for forgiveness, after which it seemed as though I had achieved peace once more. But soon I slipped back into doubt and became a sort of extreme agnostic who questions why one should believe anything at all. Indeed, I came to the point where I no longer believed that anything written in history books or science books or any kind of book was true, or that anything actually existed at all. The sensation could be compared to Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream", which has been interpreted by some as the reaction of a person who has come to the conclusion that there is no meaning to anything and descends into panic and despair as the world around them begins to spiral into chaos.

     By God's grace I was eventually pulled out of this state, and for the most part I have been at peace, though I would be lying if I said that these thoughts have never resurfaced.

     I have come to the point where I am actually grateful to God for my Asperger's Syndrome. It is true that having the condition continues to create inconveniences, including being apprehensive in social interactions and occasionally "zoning out" in the middle of activities. However, I am able to understand that the benefits of the condition are such that they outweigh the drawbacks. I have also come to appreciate the position I am in to be able to provide help and encouragement to others with the same condition. In the words of the Apostle Paul: "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9)