I found myself giggling with joy throughout this interview. Giggling at the amazing ways the questions I asked, were answered. They were answered in a way I had never thought of before. They were literal, out of the box, quick-witted and wonderfully different.
I opened with, what I thought was, a general question: “What do you think about when I use the word connection?” To which the reply was “a hose connection.” The response was quick, as if he was answering what colour the grass was. It was literal, practical and far away from the general idea of human connection. Another discussion topic that reoccurred during the interview was the idea of FOCUS. Unparalleled, unwavering focus! This theme was established through discussion of his strengths in Maths, organisation, boats, cars and actually whatever he sets his mind to: where his results were brilliant. So when this was highlighted as a collective strength centering on focus, his reply was “for that I would just put my glasses on.” His reply was not that he did not understand the compliment or that he missed the point but that his mind needed more than that. In a split 100th of a second he had realised what I had said, but the notion was so obvious to him it became mundane and very much matter of fact so he added humor and thought outside the box. Some may interpret his response as being literal and missing the greater picture and maybe it was, but maybe it was a way for him to extend on what was “not enough” for his mind, a mind which is constantly searching for chosen stimulation.
The interview delved into conversation around social interaction and engagement and his responses highlighted that there were a number of subconscious strategies he had employed. He had a great love and participation into his footy club where he would socialise with “his groups” and he would do so at the same location and at the same time each week. He commented that he had partied hard his whole life but as the conversation became more in depth it was noted that without alcohol he would not have enjoyed this at all. I am not one to condone or pass judgment at the use of alcohol to experience social connection and pleasure but it was his reality. He, along with many his age without Asperger’s, were drinking in their social haunts and for this time in his life he was the leader that they all looked up to. This led us into the discussion that he would not go anywhere he felt uncomfortable and that he enjoys environments more so when he is assuming a leadership role. All of the aforementioned discussion points led to one conclusion and realisation; predictability within social contexts simplified his life and allowed him to enjoy himself.
“What about if something became out of the ordinary or changed the way you expected something to go?” he was asked. “It wouldn’t bother me” was his reply. Knowing the interviewee the way I do, I probed a little further. Stating that he had looked at the clock twice to check it was not 4pm as that was the exact time his Tuesday movie must commence. He had checked the clock twice and on the second occasion at 3:52pm he asked how much longer the interview would go for? To which the interviewer replied, “no more than 8 minutes” and they shared a smile. So I repeated the question about how he feels when things are out of sync. He offered comments that highlighted a way he could reestablish control. His insight into how he copes or experiences change may have been reduced but at the end of the day, in this moment, he had indirectly posed a question to the interviewer. The question being, why concentrate on what upsets us, why not concentrate on what fits with our good feeling thoughts. What a great way to live! When asked if he had experienced any difficulties in his life secondary to having Asperger’s he commented it does not bother him in the slightest. His summary was black and white in nature but possibly and unintentionally profound, he said; “be positive about something you like and not positive about something you don’t like … just spend more time on the things that you do like.”
From my perspective the interview was fun. Questions were answered in a way, which added lightness and let me see a little into the world of someone living with Asperger’s. Sure it highlighted that there is not always the same self-realisation and insight but this was only from the assessor’s perspective and at the end of the day this does not matter at all. The observations and opinions I took home do not matter AT ALL (just for reference these were all good opinions). This brilliant mind had his own perspective and for the purpose of discussing and living his life this is ALL THAT MATTERS.
A need to fit in is a false notion, which only carries weight when we want it to. Fitting in will not make anyone happy, being happy with whom you are and focusing on the positive aspects you want to focus on… that there is the power that creates happiness. Living with Asperger’s gives people the power of focus so through logical thought we are left to assume those with Asperger’s can experience great happiness. In my irrelevant opinion on this, that there is how this brilliant mind has mastered the art of contentment. By being himself and owning who he is, he found his groove and he lives there permanently. This mind … this man, is my Dad and he is the benchmark on how to own Asperger’s and embrace all the greatness that comes from the diagnosis. At the end of the interview Dad queried, “Did I pass?” and my answer to your question Dad is you don’t pass or fail a test that you have written.