My name is Rainbow, and I’m the Purple Aspie. My entire life I’ve been labelled as odd, or different, or retarded, or even mentally ill. A common refrain from my parents was, “Why can’t you be more like __?” Fill in the blank with “your sister” “your brother” “other kids your age” “your friend” “everyone else” “US!”
Back about 15 years ago my ex-girlfriend emailed me out of the blue with some information about a condition called “Asperger’s Syndrome.” For some reason that I don’t recall, she had decided to do some research on the web about social skills, and somehow she stumbled upon some sites about Asperger’s. She read them, and she recognized many of the traits as being ones that I exhibited. So forgetting that she had basically told me to never contact her ever again, she emailed me and sent me a list of links to check out.
I still had hopes of reconciling with this woman (though I never did), so I did as she asked, and I checked out the links. I was astonished by what I found. This was me. This explained my entire life: my lack of friends, my inability to understand other people, my constant social faux pas, even why I looked at the ground all the time (to avoid making eye contact with people.)
My next step was to get a diagnosis. This was not as easy as I thought. I couldn’t just go to my family doctor and ask for one. I needed to see a psychologist. However, psychologists are not covered by the Medical Services Plan of British Columbia, and at the time my net income was $500 a month with some supplements from the provincial welfare program.
However, I believe that stubbornness is a common Aspie trait, and I didn’t give up. After about five years of trying I eventually managed to get a neuropsych assessment through a government-subsidized job program, and the results matched what I had suspected: I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, plus a learning disability and what is called a processing disorder.
Of course, that wasn’t the end of my journey. It was just the beginning.