Tuesday, July 28, 2009

COMING OUT: A peer support group formed due to my Asperger's Syndrome (Part VIII) (Personal Entry)

(Foreword: I've also tagged the high school Peer Group members. Let me know if I missed anybody.)

I had a Peer Group in high school

Mrs. April Counts, a regional "inclusion consultant" who worked with me and other students in the area with "IEPs" (Individualized Education Programs), thought it would be a good idea to put together a peer group of some of my close friends every Friday during the 30-minute AR (Accelerated Reader) reading period toward the end of Second Hour.

Every week I would bring up issues that troubled me at home, school, or elsewhere, and they would give advice on how to deal with it. Also, they would show me how to deal with a confusing social situation the correct way.

On the first week, they met when I was not present. I don't know whether Mrs. Counts and the counselors told them I had Asperger's, but I'm sure they told them they were meeting to help me with my social issues.

Wishing we had a peer group for longer

I wish high school was more than four years, and that I didn't graduate at semester. At the time, I thought graduating early would show employers that I am a more capable guy than anyone who graduated in May but they must've thought otherwise. Semester graduation was just an ego booster that only winning a scholarship would truly be. I don't know how differently I would have turned out if we had peer group that Spring.

Now in college, assembling a peer group is far harder, so I joined a church where there already is a "peer group" and we can talk about each others' issues there.

The books Andie Spry and Evan Roberts saw

Towards the end of August, Sisters Chelsy Pollock, Patty Harrington and I had a missionary study session. At the end, they asked if I needed anything. I told them to send anyone who could help me unpack, as I needed a LOT of help with that.

Andie Spry and Evan Roberts came to help me unpack. I had realized I kept a lot of books about Asperger's Syndrome so I tried to move as many as I could to a desk drawer. They never said anything for a while.

The following February, Andie brought it up and said that she and Evan saw these books so that's how they knew I had Asperger's. I asked Evan, "How do you know I didn't just keep these books because I wanted to STUDY about Asperger's Syndrome? What if I kept science-fiction books about alien races on other planets? Would that make me an extraterrestrial?" Even replied, "No, of course not, but we also watched out for your sentence structure so we knew from the way you said your sentences."

It was those mid-sentence halts again. As I had mentioned in Part II, I feel compelled to talk as carefully as possible and not let the wrong words slip from my mouth so I have to think in the middle of saying anything when I talk.

Which shaped the way Andie Spry's disposition was to me

Because of her discovery, she decided to be more patronistic towards me. She also examined my notes more closely, shunned the good notes, and only concentrated on whatever agitated her.

She has a brother, Steven (not on Facebook), who has Asperger's (or PDD-NOS, I believe) so she understandably grew thoroughly tired of the way he behaves. Because of that, she expects my intentions not to be the best, and will react in a way that reflects that.

Sure, I made some free-spirited comments about my new church, but she and Rachel (to a lesser degree) were the only ones who got ticked off by them. No one else at church said anything about those comments I made to Facebook. They were either overly polite & kept it to themselves, or truly didn't mind. That's when she snapped hard enough to take me off her friends list and start talking about the Asperger's.

That's when I asked her how she knew about it. She told me the whole book story mentioned earlier in this note, then when laughing, said "So you have Asperger's, don't you?"

Her laugh was the contagious kind that made me laugh, and I regretted that so sorely, I made a plan to be immune to those cruel kinds of laughs next time: In the future, I will think of three principal betrayers in my life flipping me off at once. It worked during rehearsals; their thoughts stifled my laughter every time.

(Continued on Part IX)


  1. A lot of people on the spectrum have trouble with their churches. Thomas McKean talked about his here:

    Lion of Judah: time to move on!

    Contagious laughs ... oh yes!

    Betrayal ... that is never good. Well, betrayal itself isn't good, but it is a grey area!

  2. I think your joining a peer group was excellent. If I were you, I would still find one you like, and continue with it.
    People who don't understand Aspergers, or even try to grasp what you are going through, will never understand.

    Do your best!