As I look back over the generations of our family on both sides I can now appreciate what was termed' eccentric ' as a description of various relatives may now have another explanation.
Coming as I do , and my husband did, from extended families heavily involved in academia there are various instances of highly intelligent but insular individuals . Certainly my father was very focused and communicative on his area of expertise but little else.
It was not a situation my mother was happy with but with two daughters gradually farmed out to boarding school her loneliness eventually found solace in alcohol . The gulf between my parents widened and remained unresolved up till their respective deaths.
To this day I remain ambivalent about single sex schools and boarding schools in particular. The warmth that was absent in my home was not to be found in my school.
I suppose I should be and am grateful for the emphasis that the school placed on academic achievement. My success in that area did bring approval at home and it gave me strong goals and interests to pursue .
What it didn't do is prepare for me for wide social exposure and the adult world. Consequently when I met my husband at University I was literally a sitting target.
We were both 'loners' but where I shied away from the social life my husband threw himself in with gusto. I suppose I admired that , his enthusiasm and the very obvious attentions he paid me. Failing to see what could have attracted him , flattered yet confused by his overwhelming protestations of love I , the unloved , was eventually worn down and agreed to marriage.
Only from the intimacy of married life could I appreciate that what I had took for confidence was a lonely arrogance. My husband had acquaintances but no friends. Understandable in a way as his approach was to reject and criticise others rather than have them hurt him.
And so family life began , very insular and even more so for me when our first child was born a year later. My husband had graduated well and threw himself into his work. It involved a lot of field work and trips away so having sole responsibility for a young and increasingly difficult child began to affect my health .
A second pregnancy didn't help nor did the arrival of the child , another son. Where my first child was a handful , the second was a nightmare. From the start the anguish, the continual crying , the unresponsiveness , the failure to clock up the developmental milestones caused me concern and confusion.
It took two years of reproach and misery before J was given a diagnosis of Autism. In the light of that D was assessed as his behaviour at school was problematic and giving concern . It was not a surprise to learn that he too demonstrated Autistic traits.
My husband was by now a troubled and morose man .The boy's diagnosis seemed to increase his growing depression. He would discuss neither with me and I was numb, distraught but not wholly surprised when a night visit from the police brought news of his death from a fall whilst away on a walking trip in the Lake District.
It seemed there was little lower to go at that point but somehow the realisation that now it was only myself who could determine the childrens future gave me new strength.
I poured my energies into them and every available treatment I could research. Some helped , others were worthless but just to be actively involved in improving their prospects and determined they should achieve the best quality of life possible drove me on. Through my activities I met other parents in similar situations and bonds of support and friendship developed.
After a time my health problems returned and reluctantly I conceded that J , by then nearly 10 , should go into a residential school situation. It took a long time to make the decision but now I look back on it as one of the best moves I could have made. He received such a breadth of care and education there. That was then followed by a move into a 'college' situation and now he lives a full life , in his terms , in a sheltered village community where he is able to be part of family life, has a close friend and work he takes pride in.
I visit him regularly, its a real pleasure. As for D he did struggle through his adolescent years but the pain he went through then seemed to strengthen him. His very obvious intelligence , focus and enthusiasm took him into IT work .
He made rapid progression in his studies and career but two years ago he suddenly announced he had finished with computers . After a year volunteering abroad he is now actively involved in development work and enjoying every moment.
When I consider what an unpromising start he had I can only marvel at and be so proud of his compassion, humour and intelligence.
We talk often and he makes me laugh. I sometimes reflect that , with diagnosis and understanding , his father could maybe have had a better life and lived to see his sons grow .
With both boys now independent I now work as a freelance fundraiser with a leading Charity.
I'm developing creative hobbies to balance my 'head' side and through my painting classes romance has come along so the future looks good for us all.
What to suggest:-
1] No matter how black life seems treat each day as a new and fresh experience. No matter how many times you fail , dust yourself down and try again. Though maybe with more wisdom and perhaps from a new or different direction!
Learn to accept and work with the personal issues , good and otherwise , that Aspergers brings for you.
2] After turning my back on religion I am cautiously opening the door to exploring spirituality. I have no doubt that there is a purpose to life and that what we have thrown at us , whilst often difficult, gives us opportunity for personal growth.
3] After seeing the huge changes in D when he moved away from academic work I would venture to suggest take a risk. Volunteer, challenge yourself through creativity. Look for challenges . I'm experiencing that growth and development can happen at any age.
Confidence arises from tackling challenges head on and surviving! Treat life as an adventure and you'll probably find others will be more willing to share it with you.