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One Person: Dan Gurton

Dan has recently started College and was asked to write a script that expressed what an autistic person might feel. He allowed his mother to share his writing, and after the piece reduced me to tears with its insight and wisdom, I asked for (and was granted) permission to share it more widely. I hope the insight is useful.

Hi. My name's Dan and I have aspergers.
Aspergers is hardly a fatal condition, and in quite a few cases it can be benificial as opposed to detrimental; however it does have its dificulties. One of the main isues I find in day to day life is being social, as comunication is a common drawback to being on the autistic spectrum. Often, meeting someone for the first time and feeling the need to make meaningful conversation with them can be dificult to cope with due to not knowing what to say, doing something usualy considered rude without realising or even being afraid to say anything in fear of making those mistakes. I am fine when I know the person I am talking to doesn't care so much if I say or do something out of the norm, but it's the initial conversation that sparks a long-lasting friendship that is the biggest hurdle to jump.
It can be really frustrating sometimes when you are of the inteligence enough to realise your short comings. There are things that I can do really well like remember facts and indulge myself fully in a task or past time, though I can also see the problems I face such as being social (as mentioned) and knowing when enough is enough. Having execive interest in something can be a blessing and a curse. I will strive to learn everything I can about a subject but I then go too far and bore myself with the subject. As a result, I know a lot about many hobbies, topics and tasks but get bored easily.
If there was one thing I'd want people to know about aspergers is that it is on a spectrum and even within itself there is so much variety that no mater who you talk to with aspergers they will all be unique in their own way. Just because I've been given the label of high functioning autism doesn't make me The Rainman. We are all very different I asure you. And that's just it - a label! Autism doesn't cause my behavioral patterns, the set of behaviors I possess give me the title of 'autistic'; not the other way around.
Honestly, I can't give you a set of strict rules on how to treat an autist. Not because I'm being mean, just because there simply isn't one. I can give some aproximate guidlines that might be useful to know next time you meet you're friendly nabourhood autistic. Firstly, eye contact is dificult for most on the spectrum. Nobody realy knows why this is the case though I have the theory that so much information is transfered through the eyes, that it causes a miniture sensory overload whever an autist looks a person in the eyes. Another thing to avoid is high expectations. I know this might sound hypocritical because Aspies are known for setting the bar too high, but it helps to have reasurance that you understand that the person with aspergers finds social interaction dificult. It relieves a lot of the presure off of the person and can make them feel more comfortable if they were to make a mistake.
Finaly, just get to know us. One of the most blissful questions to reach an Aspies ear is, "what are your favourite interests".  This puts you in their good books and if you can be interested in what they're saying then you will probably be the highlight of their month, yet alone day. For example, I'm a huge history buff but not a conventional one that listens to hour long lectures about the family history of a kin that I've never heard of. I take a more active aproach and have took up Traditional English Martial Arts, the study of the ancient noble art of defence. With the same group, I attend reenactment events and competitions that allow me to really grasp what it was like to live in those times and the thrill of combat in a (relitively) safe way.
I could go on and on about my sword, the use of cudgels, the proper use of a medieval cloak and so on but if there was one message I'd want you to come away with it is to have patience and try to get to know the weird and wacky world of aspergers.


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