May I help you please? Aspergers and Helping people

One of the reasons my partner suggested I go for diagnosis, was because of how selfish I can appear to be. After all, Autism comes from the word Auto = self. My default mechanism is to think only of myself. I hate that, but it’s how my Aspergers brain is wired. It’s like others don’t really feature on my radar unless I consciously will them to. It’s a real contradiction in me, all in my head but not in my heart. I get a wonderful feeling from helping people, and I truly believe it’s what life’s all about. The selfishness of society as a whole really gets to me. I think if everyone just stepped out of their comfort zone a little and took time to help someone less fortunate, the world would be a much better place; that’s my philosophy.
However, specific ways to help don’t always jump out at me and I’m at a loss to know what to do. For instance, as a young person I used to go to church. If someone had said to me “Help set up before the service”, I might have stood around wondering what to do, but if someone had said “Put out the hymn books, one on each chair” I would have happily done it. Once I went to a music festival and camped with a load of people I barely knew. They all knew each other well and had everything set up already. At the end one of them gave me a lift home and said “You never once helped with the washing up” and she became really cold towards me. From that day onwards, we have never spoken. I was mortified. If only someone had asked me to help with the washing up at the time, I would gladly have done it. But it never occurred to me to offer. That was in my 20s. I have improved since then, I hope. I’m always willing to learn. For many years, I did at least a couple of hours’ voluntary work a week in addition to my paid work. I didn’t even like the work much, but I liked the feeling it gave me of being able to help and that I made a difference.
A couple of years ago, someone said to me “you’re such a sweet lady.” This is one of the greatest compliments anyone has ever paid me. Not sure if she meant sweet as in cute and endearing, or sweet as in kind. Both meanings appeal to me. The fact it means so much to me, was that it was said by my favourite singer on the 2nd time we met. She barely knows me, but I think she’s spotted there’s something different about me. She may have guessed I’m Aspergers from the way I jump up and down at her concerts! I am, in my heart, a sweet lady – (well maybe less of the lady, as I’m non-binary. ) I carry this thought everywhere I go. Now I’ve got my diagnosis, I’d like to think I could benefit people less fortunate than me, especially others with Aspergers. I happen to be white, middle class and university educated (although absolutely not proud of the privileges this gives me – I believe in equal rights for all.) I don’t currently have any mental health problems or issues that get in the way, other than being shy in certain situations. I’ve had a good few years’ experience of negotiating an adult world. I’m solid and dependable. Just waiting for the opportunities to help to come along!

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