The guy who sold me my car cancelled the plates the very next week. Luckily, I didn’t know that because there was a November expiration sticker on the plate. So the fact that I was driving the car illegally for three months did not bother me. Until now. But now I’m at the DMV.

I know your first inclination is to say that I’m an idiot for waiting until the end of November. But I really, really cannot deal with bureaucracy. To give you a sense of how much I can’t deal with it, I almost did not graduate college because I had too many library fines. I graduated only because my grandma made some calls.

I have found, in adult life, that bureaucracy only gets deeper and deeper, and for someone like me, with Asperger Syndrome, the rules, numbers and conversations that bureaucracy entails is completely overwhelming: IRS, health insurance, 401Ks, I actually have no idea how people cope with this stuff.

Which brings me to the DMV, to register my car, the day my sticker expires.

I have to fill in my age on the form, but there are numbers all over the form and all over the room and I can’t remember if I’m 41 or 42. I know the math problem is 2009 – 1966, but it would require borrowing and carrying, I think, because the 9 is so much bigger than the 0 and that’s where they will line up: the 9 under the 0. The numbers on top always feel like they are flying and I can’t keep track of them and I’ll never get the math problem right. At least not right now. So I guess.

I tell the DMV lady I filled out my form.

She looks to see if I filled in everything.

She says that I left the second part blank.

This is true. It looked like it was too much. Like, how could they want all that information? I just can’t believe it.

She says, “You need your VIN, color, make, date purchased and your signature.”

“I do?”

“Yes. Do you have it?”

“I forgot the car title stuff at my house. Can you look it up?”

“You came to register your car without the vehicle identification number?”

“Oh. Um. I thought I had it.”

I have to go home.

This is not easy. I can’t read a map, and I don’t know left and right, so I can’t follow verbal directions, so I have three routes I know well in Madison, and if I’m trying to get anywhere, I try to get to one of my three routes. For me, it’s not about the fastest route, it’s about not having to follow a new one.

But I’m on the side of town I never go to, so I can’t figure out how to get to one of my routes. I think I have a straight shot to my office, though. So I tell myself I’ll go to my office and then I’ll do my regular drive home, and get the title.

But I get lost going to my office. I would usually call Ryan Paugh for something like this but he’s on vacation. I review the social norms I know about vacations: usually, if someone is your friend, you can call them for help on vacation. But Ryan probably only helps me because I’m sort of his boss.

So I get lost going to my office, and then I go home, and then I take the same route back to the DMV, but it’s so long that I decide to stop at my favorite gas station.

It’s my favorite gas station for the coffee. Have I told you that now that I live in Wisconsin I have taken to drinking gas station coffee? I don’t know what’s come over me. So my favorite meal right now is French Vanilla coffee and a Peanut Butter Power Bar.

I have told you before that transitions are insanely difficult for me. This is one of those times. I am eating—so nice and easy—and going back to the DMV seems so terrible, and isn’t going to ever work out anyway. So I get another coffee and another Power Bar. And it’s so nice, sitting in my car, alone, with no noise, and I think I’m going to die if I have to go back to the DMV.

I do not die, but I do get anxiety and start picking at my cuticles. I have Googled a million times to see if picking cuticles is associated with Asperger’s because it’s insane that I do it. I mean, it hurts and everyone can see it, and sometimes, if it’s a really bad day, I get blood on a nice shirt. Which is today. Well, not really a nice shirt because I was so stressed about today that I did not change out of the shirt I slept in. But I am bleeding.

The only thing I found out from Google is that people with Asperger’s self-mutilate as a way to focus away from what is overwhelming. So it’s like cutting. That’s what’s going on here. I find Googling that another form of this sort of self-mutilation is anorexia, which I wish so much I could have.

Do not tell me this is not acceptable to say. It’s always the fat people who say that. Because really everyone wishes they could be anorexic for a few days, just to get their weight down. I’m just wishing I could be anorexic for the days that I’m picking at my cuticles. The food thing is so much more socially acceptable.

I bring my VIN number to the window where the lady is.

She says, “Hello again.”

Really. She says this. And I can only think of that part of the book Go Dog Go where the dogs say:

Hello again.

Hello.

Do you like my hat?

I do not.

Goodbye again.

Goodbye.

I always liked that part because I felt like Go Dog Go doesn’t just have work dogs and play dogs, and up dogs and down dogs. Go Dog Go also has Asperger’s dogs.

So I say, “Hello.”

I hope we are going to do the Go Dog Go script. I’m giddy with anticipation of having a real connection with the DMV lady.

She says, “Do you have proper identification now?”

I panic. I was expecting “Do you like my hat?” I thought she only needed the car stuff. I worry she needs a phone bill with my address on it or something.

I show her my stuff. She helps me fill in the form. She talks slowly for me, and it’s comforting.

She gives me a number and tells me to wait until it’s called.

I look around for people looking at numbers being called. I don’t see a crowd of people holding papers like mine.

Also, I hear a lot of stuff being called. I mean, there’s the Wisconsin ID department, and the driver’s license department, and the car registration people, and you can even get a passport photo taken here. There’s a lot going on. There are a lot of numbers here.

I worry that I’m going to miss my number while I’m trying to figure things out. So I go back to the woman and ask her how long she thinks it’ll be.

She says, “Not long at all.”

I say, “Not long like an hour, or not long like a minute?”

She says, “Five minutes.”

I go back to looking for where people are listening to numbers. I tell myself I have four minutes to figure out where the numbers are coming from. I look around and the place is full of sixteen-year-olds who are handling all the paperwork for their driver’s licenses. Their parents are reading books, taking care of young siblings, not paying attention to the forms and the numbers and the lines. The sixteen-year-olds are doing it.

Is this the DMV for the gifted-and-talented? Is it normal that all these teens can navigate the DMV? How do they know what to do? Where do they get their information?

I cannot figure out who is supposed to call my number. I am not hearing numbers. I so so so do not want to go back to the woman at the desk. I stare at the wall trying to figure out what to do.

The wall at the DMV is, actually, overwhelming. There are videos about immigration and posters about drunk driving, and there are LCD displays of numbers and letters and I have to find the only blank spot on the wall, in between the bathroom doors, to stare.

I tell myself that it will be fine to ask the lady at the window for help again. I remind myself about the airport. For years I was too scared to ask for help at the airport even though I could not read my boarding pass. I missed so many flights that Ryan Healy was not even surprised anymore when I called him from an airport to tell him I was stuck. Sometimes I’d be right there, sitting at the gate, watching the clock, but the clock is just more numbers, and still I’d miss the flight. Or, if I did not miss my flight, it took so much concentration that I would lose all my stuff; there’s too much commotion to navigate for me to also read numbers.

So I started asking the person at the counter to circle the gate and the time on my boarding pass. I say, “I’m dyslexic and I can’t read my boarding pass.” The person always has a moment of surprise but usually they watch out for me.

So I pretend I’m at the airport and I go to the DMV lady again. I say, “Can you tell me what to do with this? I can’t figure out how to know where to go with my number.”

She says, “What number?”

I hand her my slip.

She says, “These are all letters.”

I look. And it’s true. They are. But they are tricky letters for someone thinking numbers. Well, the H is not tricky, but the I and the O really threw me off.

I say thank you, and then I see there is an LCD above each window in the whole place that shows the number and letter sequence that is almost like mine but not really mine.

I watch. And then it’s my turn.

I go up to the counter. The woman looks over my form.

I am so nervous that I’m not going to have the right information that I have to look away. I look at the customer at the window next to me.

She has a folder of information. Everyone has folders for their car stuff? How can the whole world be so organized? How can the government require that you be this organized to get through life? Why is no one protesting?

My new DMV lady looks up stuff in the computer. She tells me I have a ticket.

This does not surprise me. I get tickets a lot and I forget to pay them. So I sort of think of all tickets, when I get them, as the amount on the slip plus the inevitable late fee.

I say, “Can I pay it now?”

She says, “No. You need to pay at the police station at the Capitol.”

I don’t know why I say this, because just getting the words out gives me so much stress that I think I’m going to have diarrhea right there on the spot. But I say, “Can I go pay it at the police station and then come back?”

“No. It takes up to seven days to clear in the system.”

“What?”

“The system here needs to show you have no tickets before I can register your car.”

So I settle in for a week of surreptitious, unregistered driving while I wait for the system to clear.

Luckily this is not a day I have to drive to the farm. The farmer drives to my house.

And right when I am trying to get dinner on the table, he says, “Do you have a stamp?”

My first thought is, “It’s so annoying that are you are talking to me when I am trying to get dinner ready because it’s too hard for me to do dinner and kids and stamps.” Also, I think, “Who is still using stamps? What do we need stamps for in 2009 besides letters to Santa?”

He says, “I got a ticket today for parking in front of your house, and I want to pay it before I forget.”

Then I put down my pot, turn off the stove and walk over to give him a kiss. The important thing when you have Asperger’s is not to be able to do stuff you can’t do, but to surround yourself with people who can.

230 replies
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  1. Belinda Gomez
    Belinda Gomez says:

    AAA will let you register your car in their offices or even online. Perhaps getting a membership would be a good idea.

    GPS is perfect for those who can’t or won’t read a map and have trouble with directions, even when printed out.

    But I’m very interested in PT’s Asperger’s diagnosis. Seems to be so conveniently timed.

    • Melania Rosseau
      Melania Rosseau says:

      Belinda,
      I agree, you can register your car online, or send somebody to do it for you.

      This story is so inconsistent with the image of a businesswoman who is a critical thinker, and knows how to plan ahead, set priorities or delegate, that it must be a work of fiction (well-written, btw).

      Oh, and using a developmental disorder as a crutch is not cool either. Instead of showing creative solutions on how to handle her challenges, she presents an entertaining story that sounds like an episode of a wacky sitcom, or a reality-TV show.

      Now, the good thing of the post is that brings attention to the life on an Aspie for people who are not familiar with this syndrome. For me, and others that are interested in career management, the post is dissapointing.

    • Eponine
      Eponine says:

      I agree that GPS is a lifesaver. I don’t know how I managed without it for so long. I’ve had it for about a year now, and it has definitely improved my quality of life. Anyone with navigational difficulties needs one. They’re pretty affordable now.

      There are situations, in my state at least, in which you cannot register your car online. That includes registering a car for the first time since you bought it. I had to do the very same recently. I cou;dn’t send anyone else to do it, either (as I had in previous years) because nobody was willing.

      As far as the OP’s diagnosis, I can’t comment, really. This is the first I’ve read of anything here. But it sounds plausible.

  2. dale
    dale says:

    @William You sound like an insufferable %$&@*. Nice post PT, you always make me appreciate the little things in life.

  3. Ibrahim
    Ibrahim says:

    Great post. Its times like these when I thank God there is an internet, and I can book flights without an agent, pay bills without sending mail or writing checks, do the 401k thing without a broker, buy stuff without dealing with a crowd/salesman….

    And have google by my side.

    I just wish I could change my drivers license address online :(

  4. Gavin Bollard
    Gavin Bollard says:

    I can relate. I don’t have quite the same problems – I’m not dyslexic but I can’t fill in forms. I have problems when people give me the wrong size spaces for the address and when people ask for information.

    I often give too much information.

    For example: I used to go to the doctors and before they prescribed medicine, they’d ask me if I was allergic to anything… I’d talk about cats, dust etc… maybe a few childhood allergies such as milk….

    One day, my wife was in the room with me and she said – “look, the doctor isn’t going to prescribe medicines containing dust or cat-hair. You don’t need to tell them those things.”

    “Oh, I said”, quite stunned, “Why didn’t they say do you have any allergies TO MEDICATIONS?”

    Forms are like that. Not specific enough and I often can’t cope. Luckily I have my wife to help me get organised (and to frequently do things on my behalf).

  5. Sabrina
    Sabrina says:

    @ Ibrahim,
    In Florida, you can change the address of your driver’s license online, so feel free to move here :)

  6. L
    L says:

    I’m a little neuroatypical and I’ve just come to accept that it’s ok to arrange my life so I can deal with things. It took me two years and having to take a sick day to change my license from one province to another. I can only go to the grocery store once a month, it’s waaaaaaay too much stimulation.

    It’s so true that you have to surround yourself with people who compliment you. It’s also important to set boundaries. If you need the day to deal with the DMV, you need the day. That is just the way it is.

    Thanks for writing about Asperger’s. It’s so needed.

  7. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    FYI – picking at your cuticles is Dermatillomania (Compulsive Skin Picking). That should get you some good google results ;)

  8. Angie
    Angie says:

    This was a really interesting post to me – I haven’t had any experience with Asperger’s before.

    What I really don’t understand here though is why are people so unecessarily critical of Penelope, and why some are seemingly deliberately mean and rude.

    It is possible to make a point people without being a total asshole about it. And it takes more skill.

    • Anthony
      Anthony says:

      I think the issue is that she waited so long to reveal that she had Asperger’s. I used to come on here and bash her. She has been saying shocking and callous things for a very long time. I had stopped reading this blog months ago because of it, and then only came back because I loaded on old copy of my bookmarks onto a new PC and found out about this. She’s burned a lot of people in the past who believe she is using this as a cover. My brother has Asperger’s, so looking back her behavior makes perfect sense.

    • Belinda Gomez
      Belinda Gomez says:

      “What I really don’t understand here though is why are people so unecessarily critical of Penelope ”

      Because PT’s all too eager to find a trendy reason as to why she’s a fuck-up. People who really do have Aspergers need the support and empathy of society in general, but someone who claims to have it for purposes of self-aggrandizement and/or blog hits is all too deserving of scorn and criticism.

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        Belinda
        I don’t know what to make of Ms.Trunk but she writes well, and with humour. I don’t agree with every post she writes but they are interesting and thought provoking.

        Your commends seem indicative of a mistrust of her writing and even her persona. Yet, you come back or at least in this post, appear quite often.

        I’m curious why you appear to spend this amount of energy and time on a woman you’ve decided is a “fuck up”

  9. Green
    Green says:

    “Is this the DMV for the gifted-and-talented?” BEST. LINE. EVER. !!!

    This may be my favorite blog post I’ve ever read, because it made me laugh, cry and think. I have totally gotten overwhelmed this way. I always get turned around in airports and malls.

    You asked who still uses stamps. That’d be me. Because my dyslexia only really shows up when I write numbers (or the words that are numbers, like four), I can’t pay bills online. Doing it online goes way too fast and I wouldn’t have time to catch my mistakes and fix them, whereas when I hand-write out a check I can see the mistakes.

    Next time you’re in SF, I’d love to get together with you. I’m excellent at socially awkward conversations and there are tons of places to buy power bars. :)

  10. Bonnie
    Bonnie says:

    Thank you for writing these recent asperger’s posts, Penelope. I just love them and I’m learning a lot.

    I have just started to really deal with my ADD. Though I’ve always been somewhat aware of it, it is amazing how, once I started talking about it to those who do not have the same issues, I really saw how much of my time and energy just goes towards compensating and working around.
    So I really enjoy reading about what you deal with. Very different, but interestingly– some overlap. For years I did some mild self-mutilating and nothing seemed to help until I understood that, like you, I was doing it to focus on something less overwhelming.

    Please write more of these.

  11. Trish
    Trish says:

    Up until I retired last June, I was a special education teacher for fourteen years, supporting students with learning disabilities in the regular classroom. My greatest frustration with my job was not working with the students (they were the best part of the job). . . the frustration was the lack of understanding for the challenges that students with learning disabilities dealt with every single minute, every day. Many of the comments posted to this blog were exactly the comments that I confronted day-to-day in school. Your experience at the DMV would help anyone who wanted a real understanding of the daily trials of Aspergers. Unfortunately, Aspergers is an invisible condition just like ADD and if you don’t look strange or aren’t in a wheelchair, your disability doesn’t have much credibility. Keep writing, perhaps someone will learn.

  12. Lee
    Lee says:

    PENELOPE HAS NEVER BEEN DIAGNOSED BY A MEDICAL PHYSCIAN OF HAVING ASPERGER’S. IT IS A SELF-DIAGNOSIS.

    I DOUBT THAT SHE EVEN HAS ADD OR WHATEVER THE LATEST POLITICALLY CORRECT ACRONYM IS. I IMAGINE 80% OF WHAT SHE WRITES ARE HALF TRUTHS AND EXAGGERATIONS….SHE’LL DO ANYTHING FOR THE TRAFFIC.

    • Jan
      Jan says:

      Dear Lee: Let me sum up your comment for all of those who do not enjoy to read all-caps text: “…I imagine…”
      Have a wonderful day :)

  13. Spleen
    Spleen says:

    This made me feel less alone too. I’m constantly overwhelmed by things that don’t seem to bother anyone else. I also find cuticle-picking soothing.

    My favorite thing that you wrote about (that no one else mentioned) was how easy it was to stop for coffee and sit there peacefully eating, how you couldn’t imagine going back. I do this kind of thing all the time.

    Thankyou. I needed to feel less alone today.

  14. Robin
    Robin says:

    Is your birthday in December? If not, a 1966 baby’s gonna be 43 — not 41 or 42. Sorry, I know that’s impolite to tell a lady. Or so I’ve been told. But I know you need help with this stuff!

    I always get frustrated with bureaucracy. As a Canadian citizen residing here as a Permanent Resident, a new business owner, a father of four (including a college student), I have tons of opportunities to deal with various arms of the U.S. government. When I recently had to apply for unemployment, I was amazed at how complex it was. I can’t imagine how hard it is for people who are somewhat illiterate or, in your case, process info differently.

    Then again, maybe I find it difficult for the same reasons. Someone I highly respect claimed I am ADHD recently. “You’ve never been told that?!” he exclaimed. Sigh. Maybe I am.

  15. Katy
    Katy says:

    Some people are just compassionless jerks. Thank you for sharing your experience Penelope. After I got lost on my way to WORK twice this morning (I go to this same office four days a week!) and felt like a big moron over it, it was nice to come to the office, share the experience with the other ADHD-er in the office and have a good laugh where she said “I have totally done that”. I do not wish difficulties on others, but I do appreciate that if we are having them, would should be able to share them with others, and maybe be able to laugh instead of beat ourselves up over them.

    As for the jerks…I remind myself that I’m a higher achiever than most of them anyway. Not to be jerky myself but in my experience, I think the fact that I DO have a few extra thought processing obstacles has made me a really hard worker, and hard work gets you way further in life than wasting your time picking on others.

  16. Annie
    Annie says:

    I pick my cuticles too! Primarily when I’m nervous and it’s almost like the pain is soothing? Wish I could figure out a way to quit doing it besides getting acrylic nails (ick).

  17. alicyn
    alicyn says:

    You know, your description of your behavior sounds a LOT like the way I act in public settings where I have to do something by myself. When I go to the post office I am totally overwhelmed and I don’t know where to go. I’m pretty good at navigating the subway station in Boston, but one day my line was shut down and suddenly I forgot where anything was.

    I also have a problem with counting change when I pay for something. I feel like there is so much pressure to count the exact change amount in less than a second. So I usually either drop the coins on the floor by accident, or I just give them dollar bills and then I walk around with 10 pounds of change in my pocket that I never use. It’s very embarrassing.

    I have always thought I just had a problem with anxiety but sometimes I wonder. People often think I act strange or clueless…and it makes me feel very unintelligent…even though I know I am intelligent in so many other ways.

    I took a test to see if I had Asperger’s but it said I didn’t. I don’t think I am dyslexic either. Maybe I will just tell people that I am so that they don’t think I’m so out of it.

  18. Cheryl Morris
    Cheryl Morris says:

    I recommend at least looking at GPSes in a store, maybe renting one to try out.
    I was told that Garmin has the best USA maps and is headquartered in the USA.
    I have a Garmin nuvi 1490 and I love it.
    It tells me when I’ll arrive at my destination.
    It has real-time traffic info on it, and tells me if there’s a delay or not, and how long the delay will be.
    I can use it to find an alternate route if my current route is closed (like recently, part of my route home was closed–probably due to a fallen tree after a heavy rainstorm).
    I can save many locations to it and give each location a name.

    Otherwise, I have to get the From Address and To Address entered into a site like MapQuest, and print out the results.
    But that doesn’t help me find an alternate route if the road is closed.

  19. CrazyGirl
    CrazyGirl says:

    I can’t stand bureaucracy either! Or anything “boring” that eats up my time and attention. That includes cleaning, paying bills, and other grown-up responsibilities. However, one recent wonderful surprise happened when I went to get a MA ID. I was in and out in 10 minutes! It made me that much more at ease about graduating and going into the “real world”. I think that’s also why I want to work for myself. I feel like I’ll have plenty of time to get all my terribly annoying errands done–and I won’t need a sick day!

  20. Bubbles
    Bubbles says:

    You are wonderful, Penelope. You make me laugh with your honest, human, approach to life. Most people are very good at pretending they don’t think the way we do. I’m mildly Aspie myself (mild now, not so mild growing up) and I can relate to much of what you go through. Thanks for writing it all down and helping make sense of it all, in such a hilarious way.

  21. Eponine
    Eponine says:

    Thank you! At least I’m not the only one with issues in this area. I linked to this post in my most recent blog post, so I’ll let you read that instead of retyping it all here. In short, I can relate. I can definitely relate.

  22. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Anxiety alone can cause symptoms like these, and take a normally highly competent person and reduce them to infancy. Worst is the way you then feel about yourself because it doesn’t seem logical. And when paperwork is what causes the anxiety. . . anything related to government becomes paralyzing.

    Imagine the problems of the people who can’t afford to hire help.

  23. Curran
    Curran says:

    This article is a really interesting insight in to how aspies cope. My wife is very similar to Penelope with things such as figuring out left and right, social intelligence and difficulty with new things.

  24. Mia
    Mia says:

    Great article! I’m the mom of a 20-year-old Aspie, and this is so ‘God, I hope I can teach my son how to do all this kind of stuff before I die and leave him to the wolves.’ Moms of Aspies have panic attacks about such things at least as much as their young adults do. If you’re an Aspie who can drive a car independently in the first place, pat yourself on the back, because for my son the prospect of doing such is waaaaayyyy in the future, if ever. I’m good with that. I am just as sure as he is that driving involves far too many quick decisions and judgment calls. My son would be like a panic-stricken squirrel on the road, looking and turning this way and that, while going nowhere, and hoping he won’t get killed. So, we’ve decided to work on helping him navigate the city bus system, which is confusing and scary in itself, what with all those numbers, routes, colors, maps, connections, transfers, exact change, and people who smell funny and get too close to you.

    Aspies reading this may find it comforting to know that we NT’s are almost as confused and dreading of the DMV processes as they are. We wait until the last day. We have to figure out which line is for what, and often get surprised at the window that we don’t have everything we need to make it easy on the first go-round. We pretty much expect it to be exasperating, and for the clerks to be less than patient and pleasant. In general, people who work in such places forget that the general public has no clue about the processes that they think are obvious. I often want to say, “Look, lady, I realize you do this all day every day, but I DON’T. So, fix that attitude, fix that look on your face, and explain what I need to do here!” I have often said exactly that in such situations. It startles them, and they shape right up, for fear that you’ll ask for their supervisor. And sometimes I do just that. I refuse to be condescended to by someone with a secure job and great benefits for life who’s there to serve ME.

    As for those 16-year-olds who look as though they know what they’re doing, they don’t. They just go stand where they see other kids their age standing. Or else their parent said, “I think you should go get in that line over there. That looks like kids getting their permits and licenses for the first time.”

  25. Laura
    Laura says:

    OMG. I read this… and yeah it is spot on. My son has reactions like this, and after reading about the cuticle thing, I think I have it too. I know my ex does.

    I started my own blog about living with my teenager and how my husband and I are attempting to cope. Most days he likes us a little bit, but some days he is a typical teen and wants us our of his way.

    Nice work!

  26. C.
    C. says:

    I really like your blog. I just found it the other day. I have dyscalclia which is like dyslexia but it is a math learning disability. They have many similarities though, and I can see myself in a lot of things that you write about-like the going left instead of right, or sense of direction. It’s comforting to read what you write, because I can relate to it. I love the sense of humor too. Thanks. :)

  27. Maria
    Maria says:

    I can’t tell right from left either – none of the mental tricks work except for one thing. If I shake my hands, i can immediately “feel” which one is my good hand (I’m right handed) and know that side is right and the other is left. I do this all the time, even with driving, most people don’t notice – even moving my hands a little I can tell which is the right one. Have you tried this?

    P:S: I can totally relate, I always feel anxiety whenever I have to do anything for the goverment – passport, driving licence, and have to bring someone with me.

  28. MamaMia
    MamaMia says:

    You thought wrong, Ian. Not all Aspies are math whizzes, and what’s mentioned here doesn’t even have to do with math, but numbers, which are nothing more than characters that represent something. At any rate, don’t be nasty, because you seem to have a grammar/punctuation disability that I’m sure you wouldn’t enjoy being sneered at about. You’ve made statements, not questions, so don’t use a question mark unless you put it within parentheses, which would indicate uncertainty.

  29. Christie
    Christie says:

    I think you’re doing just fine. I have to deal with the same sorts of things, and I manage fairly well. I can’t live completely alone, but I can do so many things for myself. I’d say just do what you can.

  30. marie
    marie says:

    Penelope, I sympathise. When I first had to go and get an ID book as a teenager, my older sister left me in a queue while she went to renew her passport. She came back half an hour later to find me in a complete panic and unable to fill in anything other than my name. Today I can’t imagine what frightened me so much (what was the worst that could happen?), but as a recently-qualified lawyer I have endless patience for clients who don’t understand something, especially filling in forms. I don’t think I have Asperger’s per se, but I have a lot of empathy for people who sometimes have to invent their own ways of fitting in in the world.

    • Andy
      Andy says:

      I was applying for a college grant before. Looking through it there were pages and pages of forms. It involved getting tax certs, proofs of address, birth certs. lots of things that needed forms too.
      Then when a read all the way down to the bottom. I spotted a check box, the most beautiful checkbox I have ever seen. It said something like “would you like us to contact other departments to get this information on your behalf, for this form only”
      I ticked the box, signed it and sent the form off. It could all be like this.

  31. Katie
    Katie says:

    Wonderful post. I can totally relate to so much of what you have written, not from my own personal experiences, but from raising a son with Aspergers. He is now 17.

    From an early age it was apparent that although very intelligent, and possessing an incredible memory, his social skills, concentration and organisational abilities lagged way behind. He also has motor skills problems and when he is interested in a subject, he becomes obsessed with it not understanding that others do not share his obsession. His speech was also different and people would comment on his ‘accent’ and he talked in a sing-song type of voice. other kids would just say ‘Blair talks funny’. He has always been obsessed with time – ‘How long will it take?’, ‘When will you be home?’ – even now at 17 years old he gets anxious if things take too long, especially if we are in a waiting room of some sort.

    I waited a long time before getting him professionally assessed as I did not want him ‘labelled’ and pigeon-holed. I knew my child, recognised the things that confused or upset him, or made him anxious. I was criticised by family, friends and professionals for way I would deal with certain situations. But I knew my son better than anyone and I knew the way I was raising him was the best way for him and our family as a whole. However my greatest frustration was always that other people (particularly teachers) would not accept that he was ‘different’ because he was not different enough. He did not have an obvious physical or mental disability so people expected him to be the same as everyone else.

    Finally when he was 12 he was given the ‘official’ diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome – and only because I could not get him the help he needed within the education system unless he was diagnosed. And by help I don’t mean special education teachers or anything like that. All he needed was for teachers to be aware of Aspergers, how it presents, and what HIS triggers were, so they could treat him as an individual and recognise his strengths and weaknesses. I do not believe this to be too much to ask… for ANY child.

    I am not sure what he would say his greatest challenge has been, or is. I know that mine has been the ignorance displayed by some people, and there have been many examples of that in the comments on this blog post.

    And Penelope, I have never read Go Dog Go. But I have read ‘The curious incident of the dog in the nighttime’. It’s worth a read. Written by an adult, but he writes it in the first person as as a young kid with Aspergers. Precious.

  32. Jeffrey Deutsch
    Jeffrey Deutsch says:

    Hello Katie,

    Good for your son and you! I’m glad he’s starting to get the help he needs.

    I’m an Aspie myself, and I went through K-12, college, graduate school and several years after that before I even heard of AS. Furthermore, I graduated college when it was still legal for most institutions to give no accommodations whatsoever, let alone for invisible disabilities like AS.

    Meanwhile, some people still seem to have trouble wrapping their minds around the idea that someone can be very smart in some areas yet not in others. Mind you, the areas in which Aspies are not always smart include behaviors which mimic insensitivity, rudeness and even creepiness.

    So, I’ve dedicated my career now to helping fellow Aspies get along better in an NT (neurotypical) dominated world…and also helping NTs understand us better.

    Good luck to both of you, Katie!

    Jeff Deutsch

  33. Karen
    Karen says:

    Gosh, I only know one other person with Asberger’s, if I spelled it right, and have never been able to connect with him enough to get to really know him. After reading your post, it makes me wonder about myself. I’ve wondered adhd, at times. All I know is your post is an extreme of something I can totally relate to! I was right there with you in this whole circumstance, and I could feel everything you’re talking about. I’m 51 and find it hard to do things like call doctors, or go to the bank, or make appts., stuff like that. I’ve always been told I was just blonde lol. Seriously, I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I love to know people.

  34. Scott
    Scott says:

    You remind me of my ex-wife wife. All your quirks sound utterly charming and whimsical – endearing, even. And that is usually how they appear to the world at large. Having to actually live with them, day in and day out, however, is quite another story. Quite a nightmare, actually. Your husband must be a truly amazing man.

  35. stevebit
    stevebit says:

    hello there any one from leeds in here as im working there next month and need a bit advice on best hotel my boss is pays the bill
    steven bithope

  36. Maureen Gale
    Maureen Gale says:

    This lady is a riot! (First time I’ve seen her blog). But, honestly, as a retired special education teacher, I’d have to say her condition sounds more like some learning disabilities underlying the possible Aspberger’s. No reason a person can’t have both, especially since both seem to be neurologically and processing based. She has obviously learned to handle both with a kind of grace, and her good looks and personality probably help the rest of the world handle her with grace! That’s life, keep peddling.

  37. Paula
    Paula says:

    I see this as a failure of government to provide a simple registration system (for this and other beaurocratic tasks). You’re right they should have your info on file, you shouldn’t have to fill out forms or even go there in person. In our county I just update it online. I hope that by the time my kids grow up these kinds of things will be automated and online and standing in line at the dmv will be a thing of the past. I imagine my son just telling Siri on his iphone to update it for him. :)

  38. Ann
    Ann says:

    The only way I remembered left from right as a child was remembering that my left hand can make an L-shape. Now if I ever get overwhelmed and confused, as an adult with aspergers, I just make the shape with my hand and it reassures my mind that I’m not going crazy.

  39. Courtney B
    Courtney B says:

    Wow! I just stumbled onto this starting a project, and I am so full of gratitude reading this! Thank you so much for doing this! I am a parent to a 10 year old with Asperger’s. I was thinking about how I want to show him that people with Asperger’s can be successful and independent, so I decided to start a project to gather examples of others. Reading this overwhelmed me, because it was so familiar. Raising a child who functions EXACTLY like this, and seeing a glimpse into his adult life, it is just beyond helpful!! Thank you thank you thank you!

  40. Doodlove
    Doodlove says:

    I am an Aspie. What you described here is not a result of Asperger’s, you are just an idiot. Honestly, you are way more dysfunctional then an Aspie, you are lower down the Autism spectrum.

  41. Autumn
    Autumn says:

    I laughed so hard I nearly cried!! Thank you for sharing this. If I can’t feel normal, at least I can feel like someone else understand.

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