The tale of an Aspergian's childhood in Sweden

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Fedaykin
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22 May 2007, 2:32 pm

My name is Daniel, I live in a medium sized town called Sundsvall in Sweden and I'm 30 years old. I've not been diagnosed, but I'm pretty certain I do have this syndrome - I guess the reason I've not been diagnosed is mainly that I grew up before AS became a household name within the shrink community; I displayed some autistic behaviour, but had no delay in learning(quite the opposite).

Ever since my late teens, I've noticed that something is different about me, but since I thought all autism was on the Rainman(the movie) level, I ruled out being autistic. It wasn't until recently after failing yet another relationship that I decided to have another look at the spectrum, and I found I matched just about all symptoms listed under the AS Wikipedia entry. At the time, it didn't feel that important getting an official diagnosis, but I probably will get one now due to the condition that made me decide to become a member of this community. For a few weeks, I've browsed posts here on this site, but didn't have any plans to become a part of it until now. I must say it's been nice being able to read about other people's experiences, so I guess I should provide some as well just in case it ends up being of some use to other Aspergians.

So, to tell the story about me(sorry if it starts out with a bit of bragging, it does get humble towards the end though)..:

I think I seemed pretty normal during the first few years of my life, but apparently I had at least one odd hobby - when I was something like four or five years old, before I had even learned to read at school, I wrote some kind of newspaper with an alphabet I made up by myself. Yet, when I started school, I wasn't too interested in learning our real written language, it wasn't until I wanted to be able to sing Christmas carols during first grade that I learned to read, so after the Christmas break, I was able to read at school in spite of my teacher having struggled with teaching me it earlier. I also had quite an affinity for math; when we received a book with extra exercises, I worked it through in one sitting the first evening I had it.

I was pretty lucky in where I grew up - when I was six years old, we moved to a rural area where my family had built a house sometime around 1900, and I was immediately introduced to several friends. Amusingly enough, the first friendship I made there was because of their cat having eaten at our place(they lived like 400 meters away) while they were on vacation - my grandpa walked me there while we carried the cat back, and kind of let this feline get me my first friend in the area. This friend then showed me around the place and introduced me to the other children - quite a lucky break when you're not the kind that bothers making friends yourself. Hence, I had several friends there when I started school. We were several people sharing the same interests, and we all ended up getting C64 computers, so it was kind of nice.

Looking back, I do realize that some of my behaviour was odd. For example, when I was like nine or ten years old, and my sister took me shopping for a birthday gift for my mom, I thought steel wool(what's called Svinto here in Sweden) would work well as a gift since my mom did a lot of household work. The rest of my family were quite puzzled, however - I couldn't for the life of me understand why the gift wasn't appropriate, but being familiar with this syndrome, I guess we can all relate to it. Another occasion was when a few of us were playing during the winter; the guy whose house we were playing at was hurt when he got hit in his face with a snowball that another guy had thrown. He told the guy that he shouldn't make iceballs like that. I then pointed out that it surely can't have been ice, but merely a squeezed snowball. He then told me that I was like that, I might as well go home - and again I misunderstood and went home. In spite of this being a bit peculiar behaviour, it didn't lose me my friendships though, I kept them in spite of being a bit awkward.

I wasn't quite that lucky when during my 7th and 8th grades we moved to a suburb outside Stockholm, where I had to endure a bit of bullying. I do however have quite a fond memory of the games our math teacher there arranged during his classes. At first, we were divided into teams, but since I was the first one solving it all all the time, he had me make a team of my own - and when I still kept winning, he gave the others further handicaps. The class was quite amazed at me, but sadly I couldn't capitalize on it very much, since the school system didn't allow skipping ahead and taking more advanced classes. The math tests that we had an hour to do, I always aced in five minutes.

For 9th grade, we moved back to the family house, and once again I was lucky with friends, no bullying at all, I felt quite welcome in spite of not combing my hair in the morning and not really putting any thought into how I dressed. I also fell in love for the first time when a girl showed interest in me, but I sadly found myself completely unable to understand how to proceed, so I didn't achieve any relationship in spite of both parties appearing interested. When I reached high school, I found myself less interested in studying - the slow pace without any challenges had gotten to me and made me spend more time programming my computer instead. At the same time, my parents developed drinking problems and split up. Hence, when I graduated high school, I was quite confused about what to do - parents unemployed and without any money for a driving license or car for me, and I wasn't very interested in studying, and on top of this I was told to move out by the authorities because of the drinking problem at home. I'm not quite sure what their plan was - I was just barely able to manage.

I ended up spending a few years exploring the dark side of this Internet thing I had just recently been exposed to, namely breaking into computers. It was a bit fascinating gaining access to systems around the globe, but I just found it boring doing the tedious work of covering my tracks, so eventually I was caught and sentenced to a fine. After this followed a few years of education that I wasn't that interested in, as well as attempting to find a job, but interviews just didn't work out for me so I stopped trying after a while.

During this time, I had picked up lifting weights, and ended up competing at an amateur level in olympic-style weightlifting(the snatch and clean & jerk) and strongman, but I was never really able to compete for any medal or victory, so I lost my motivation after a while. My knees started to hurt a bit as well, so when I read about this game called Everquest, a fantasy world where you make your own destiny, I found myself a new hobby in spite of not really having been much of a gamer for ten years or so, I had almost stopped playing games completely during my teens and instead learned about various OS's and programming on my computer.

My adult life hasn't been the happiest one I can imagine, but I got by half ok and at least didn't run into any depression in spite of not being able to land relationships or jobs. Sometimes I felt anxiety if something like my computer wasn't working, but the feeling subsided when I got it working again. Hence a bit low, but not really depressed. This all changed this spring though, when I encountered the girl from hell while playing the game World of Warcraft. After a few months of knowing this American girl, I eventually developed feelings for her and tried to get a relationship going for the first time in a few years. I was really unlucky this time, however, she just kept playing games with my mind, and when I realized the time and effort I had spent helping her with stuff was all for nothing, I found myself in an actual depression for the first time in my life.

I guess I had been setting myself up for this with the way I always tried to do everything myself, and valued being completely correct over winning the sympathy of people. I've not been too worried about losing friends since I figure there's always new ones to be had through some more of the earlier miracles, so I didn't have much in the way of emotional support, most people just annoyed me with their flaws. This left me at a managable low that I felt was ok even though not ideal, but this last episode tipped it over for me, now it feels like I can't live like a complete soloist any more but instead I have to give and recieve emotional support to live. I've always made sure to do at least as much for other people as I get from them, but I didn't bother when it came to emotional needs since I assumed I would be able to do without that.

I got myself a doctor's appointment next week and I assume I'll need some medication, but meanwhile I'm in the process of attempting this lifestyle change, actually going to be social for its own sake. I sent E-mails to a few people I've known in the past and I'm going to see if I can make some aquaintances here on this forum too. In the past, 100% of my activity on Internet forums has been about hobbies and advocating my views on different subjects, something that made me avoid such socialization even on the Internet since you tend to get frustrated at other people in the process, something I won't repeat here. I suppose I should hit the gym again too mostly for the social aspect, but I dread seeing how much strength I've lost from not training regularly for a few years.

That's about it, I guess.. Hope you found the story worth reading.



Tim_Tex
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22 May 2007, 6:14 pm

Welcome to WP!

Tim


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larsenjw92286
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22 May 2007, 8:49 pm

Hi!

Welcome to Wrongplanet!

I hope you enjoy posting here!


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tomamil
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23 May 2007, 3:20 am

thanks a lot for posting the story, it was very interesting.
if you feel like reading another aspie's story:
http://my.opera.com/tomamil/
but it's too long... so don't read it :)



Fedaykin
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23 May 2007, 3:32 am

Thanks for reading my story and finding it interesting - I'll read yours when I get back from another stroll in the forest to try to shake this depression.



tomamil
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23 May 2007, 3:37 am

Fedaykin wrote:
Thanks for reading my story and finding it interesting - I'll read yours when I get back from another stroll in the forest to try to shake this depression.

thanks, man. stroll in the forest? hmm. i used to live in small city before where i found myself in forest after few minutes walking from my place. now i live in capital of Portugal and if i wanted to get into forest (which is not really forest, just bunch of eucalyptus trees and cork trees), i would have to take a bus and travel. i envy you! good luck with your depression.



Smelena
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23 May 2007, 5:07 am

Hello Daniel and welcome to WP! I have a soft spot for anyone called Daniel because that is my second son's name. He is 7 and got diagnosed with Asperger's just before he turned 7.

We got an IBM computer in about 1983 - it cost Mum and Dad a fortune but they figured it was important. Mum was a primary school teacher. She couldn't get us interested in the computer though. Some of her students would come over and play on the computer.

Regards
Smelena



9CatMom
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23 May 2007, 8:42 pm

Welcome, Daniel!

I liked reading your story. It was interesting how you said a cat helped you make a friend. That was really touching to me, since I'm a cat lover.