By Julie Frank • 18 March 2020 • 14:05
I HAVE a condition called Asperger’s. Most people know, it’s on the Autistic spectrum. But high functioning. I refuse to use the word ‘suffer’ because I don’t. I just have it. There are a few things I struggle with. But I’m generally happy and perfectly able. Apart from my odd sense of humor and becoming engrossed in certain subjects, you wouldn’t know there’s anything ‘wrong’ with me.
Greta Thunberg famously also has Aspergers. I do get annoyed when people call her disabled. Or say her parents are exploiting a mentally ill child. I really don’t consider it a mental illness. Yes, a few things are challenging. But we can excel in our chosen specialized subjects/obsessions. Her’s is the planet. Whether you agree or not with her views. We should all agree that it is great she has found her purpose and confidence, so young. Because for many of us girls, teenage years can be the most difficult and confusing. The social norms that are expected of us don’t come easy. So, we tend to ‘fake it’. Which is exhausting to keep up. That causes a lot of anxiety.
This got me thinking about other social norms I find odd because of my condition. Small talk is one, it seems so pointless. British etiquette too. Why are their unwritten rules about how you should eat and talk at a dinner table? It doesn’t make the food taste any better! Also, people invading my personal space.
One of the things that the Coronavirus has forced us all to do is ‘social distancing’. Standing apart from each other. I think it’s great! I’ve never understood why random strangers feel the need to invade your personal space if they’re not forced to. People who walk too close behind me really irritate me. It’s not that I think they will do something bad to me. I just don’t want them there! It’s just a shame the virus isn’t forcing people not to tailgate on the roads here too! That’s another thing that winds me up. It’s so rude and dangerous, regardless of my Asperger’s!
Because of my condition, I also have a few sensory issues. Smells and sounds can be heightened. Another silver lining of the virus is that people are wearing masks. Bad breath is one of the things I hate the most!
Anyway, Coronavirus, or not. We should respect each other’s boundaries and health. Don’t cough and sneeze into the air, ever. Wash your hands regularly too. Brush your teeth too! We shouldn’t have needed a pandemic to remind of these simple things! Quite frankly, people seem to have lost their manners!
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