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When are you going to grow out of it?

It's a simple idea that causes so many problems: people expect you to grow out of Aspergers.

When you are little you can be naughty, difficult, loud, challenging, excitable and run into the door frame as often as you want. That's just you being you.

When you are a teenager you likely calm down a bit and there is less excitability or running around or being traditionally naughty. You might still be difficult, loud and challenging but all teenagers are so charming! And you still bounce off door frames.

Adulthood beckons, then usually has to beckon again. Are you taking any notice of it? Doing what you should to grow up and be successful? Have you outgrown all your funny little ways? Do you still bounce off door frames?

Adulthood beckons a lot and some aspies rush into it - I know I did - then look around, realise they are in the wrong place and rush right back out again.

Money has to be made, school is left behind and responsibilities are waiting to be claimed. Who wouldn't want to be an adult?

Family start to expect more from you. Yes, they know you have Aspergers but...

If you can manage this, why not that?

If you can do this small step, why not try the big one?

Cajoling, they persuade you into the adult world, expecting a light bulb moment where you will finally see past the Aspergers and know what has to be done.

All right, not all families are like this but quite a few are. If an aspie child grows into the teen and then the adult, surely their behaviours and quirks can be shaped and controlled when they step into the real world.

Except, look at it again. The world is small when we are small and as teens the world opens out, becoming bigger and more complicated than before. Why do you think teenagers can be so difficult? It's not all hormones, some of it is the bleak, terrifying realisation that Life is enormous and none of us really gets to grips with it before it's over.

To an aspie, who already felt the bigness of the world in the first day of Nursery, this sense of imminent discovery, the idea that the world just keeps growing, is always there. All the way through childhood and the teenage years it is hammered home that we have a lot to learn - all the usual stuff and then all the unwritten rules that other people seem to know without learning.

Once you're an adult you have more understanding, more sense of that absolute depth of mystery in the world, in life, in all the many people out there. How is a person supposed to feel this every day and not have some anxiety? How can we cope with this feeling and still train ourselves to undo what Aspergers does, to push forward without knowing if today we can move at all?

The trouble with Aspergers is that it gives this hope almost every single day. New skills are learned, new challenges conquered so when they come round again there is the justified expectation that they will be learned and conquered again. It doesn't work like that.

As fluid as the wind on the meadow, Aspergers gambols over life, stopping where it will, starting if it feels like it, leaving the aspie to cope with some experiences and not others. Could any of us explain the Do days with the Do Nots? What is so different between the days the world is small and the days it is so big it pushes at the sides of the house as it tries to come in?

'I can't today' is spoken out loud only when forced: usually the feeling is enough to make us repel from life, bounced off it by the unseen force which sends us into the comfort and safe places we have woven through these many years.

Growing out of Aspergers is a hope not often spoken but very much felt, by aspies and their families. When he is older, he'll be able to do it. When she is older, she'll feel differently. When I am older, it will be easier. As if the mere fact of aging were enough to change us as people.

Now I am older and some things are easier, I can do more, I do feel differently.

I feel that I can be myself and not worry about it; I can worry about other things. I can look at them and wonder how I will cope with them but now I am older I see I might or I might not cope. There is no rule to growing older, we all age in our bodies and the rest is an unknown. One known is that sometimes I Do and sometimes I Do Not and by listening to how I feel on both those types of day I have become a lot happier.

Aspergers does not get left behind, it is not grown out of like a little sock found behind the sofa. It carries along with us, a fierce friend who knows our innermost secrets and revels in them, leading us astray, laughing at our follies, bouncing us off door frames and making the word No seem like a safe place.

Growing out of it would be no fun, believe me. What would we do with all those amazing skills we have learned? With that ability to talk to complete strangers about random subjects they never expected or to ask them questions they answer without thinking?

A life with Aspergers is so full of questions, often questions with no answer. Living life normally without questions is something that would pay the bills and make everything much less bumpy at times but being able to pause everything, to stop every single thing you are doing to consider a question for which you have no answer, is why I would never want to change.

Where would we put all those wonderful thoughts and feelings carving a creative ravine through our whole lives, making us shining, spectacular, dangerous, metaphysical creatures who still can't work the key in the front door.

Why would we want the simple ability to always be able to set a foot outside that front door when we can be paused in the very act of leaving by the way the light hits the glass, just so.

Why would we ever want to grow out of it?


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