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Adult Asperger Syndrome / Adult Autism

James is the youngest of 3 boys and was born with bad hearing impairment and wears a hearing aid. I often attributed some of his strange and immature behaviour as a kind of cover for not hearing properly and responding to what he thought the speaker had said - however, I also knew there was something else going on I could'nt put my finger on. I love him unconditionally warts and all and enjoy his uniqueness, he brought back the fun and funny side of life in me. Humour being a huge part of our lives. We definitely live outside of the box

In July 2010 when James and I were talking with a woman whom introduced her young adult autistic son. Some of his mannerisms just went 'click' like a light bulb going off in my mind that many of these same mannerisms James has. I realized that James idiosyncrasies he shows are so similar in so many ways that I believe James is high functioning Autistic or Asperger's Syndrome which is similar. I can only go by what I read on these descriptions from searching webpages. However, he has never been diagnosed, his family has never said anything to him or indicate that he is different to the norm, only that he was a problem child who acted up after his mother died, and was kept seperated from his siblings and played alone - He did not know until I mentioned that he possibly is Austistic/Aspergers otherwise he had joked through the years that he probably had ADD or AHD etc

His mother died when James was 2 and half from prescription drug addiction after being on them for years after a very bad vehicle accident. His father married again in a very short time and he was suppose to call this new woman Mom and accept 3 new step-sisters without question ??! He did not understand what had happened and no one really talked about his mother or where she was. His acting out could have been attributed to the sting he felt of abuse from his step mother whom he was suppose to call 'mom'. who locked him in cupboards, basement, attic or the bathroom and hit with a belt or switch. Jamey

His Father and Step-mom sent him into Foster care around 4 years old when his step mom could not control him. He lived with several families attending various schools until around 10. It was at one of these families that James met the Lord Jesus Christ and gave his young heart to Jesus and whom has brought him through and kept James sane so resilient and capable of great forgiveness to his parents and many other people whom have hurt him over the years He never got into the fad of getting tattoos, body piercings or been addicted to drugs or alcohol, which is a credit to his character and Jesus in his life as so many people with problems have gotten on the band wagon of substance abuse and unsafe addictions

At around 10 James was enrolled at Newton Conover School, North Carolina and lived in Sipe's Boys Home which is a boarding facility for wayward boys and paid by the State, yet James was paid by his rich parents. James was ostracized from his family all his young life, never included in their family vacations or activities. Driven to the mall and given some pocket money to entertain himself all day so he watched movies on his own. Never going to friends home or having a friend to his home... and his father and step-mom wondered why he acted up and had melt-downs.. Wouldn't you when you were little and no one told you why you could not be included in family events?

When he graduated from school his dad sent him off to California with $500 and did not comprehend he was not equipped with life basic skills or how to use this money wisely and James spent it very quickly and was soon homeless and living in a tent.

During the years from late teens to now his Dad has not been a guidance or done any real parenting to him. My parent heart just aches as I try and get my head around such cruelty because his father is a Doctor yet did not comprehend that James is different from his elder two brothers or his step-sisters or other people. - James does not always tell his Dad everything that has been happening to him. They would call every so often and until we moved to North Carolina July 2010 I never met them until late November when we met them for lunch in Lexington. They followed us home to meet our two horses did not come inside and had to get back home to their dogs whom were left inside their house. Total visit with them about 2 hours. Not normal behaviour to me, but I guess different strokes for different folks. James has never been invited to come visit and stay at their house since he was a young boy. James loves his Dad very much and wishes so much to be closer to him and be accepted as a much loved son.

I met James as an online pen-pal around 1997/98 and the first thing I was surprised and delighted about was James transparent honesty. He is in touch with his feelings and he was not scared or embarrassed to share whom he is. This was so refreshing as New Zealand cultural differences when interacting with one another, we do not share as readily with each other until we are firm friends and even then it is like 'peeling an onion'. New Zealander's I am told are 'more British than the Brits' so we have a strong 'stiff upper lip' attitude. I grew up with this and to a certain degree accepted it as normal socializing

Meeting in person he was just as honest and candid as online yet in many ways naive and immature however I just thought he was 'free spirited' and such a refreshing change to my life back in New Zealand and lived outside of the box. I also came out of my box as he does not have expectations of how I should behave which I never experienced before. I became far more open minded, flourished and saw life in a wider lens than I had lived in New Zealand in a small town where everyone knew your business, true or false. I did not dare try and be more free spirited as I was soon pulled back into line!

During those first few years after arriving in the States to live as a married Kiwi to an American I was in complete and total culture shock, everything was strange to me. I found it so difficult to function as I did not know the unwritten rules or culture that everyone else seems to know and accept everything as normal, but they did not realise or comprehend that I didn't. Especially in the first 4 to 5 months of my first job working in Oregon, it was a disaster for me to work in the system while my co-workers seemed to be working to a different one. My second job was not so great either in working with the system and tools of trade - yet I did love the work itself and looked forward to going each day.
Understanding the American social/working/resources/ etc culture is taking years for me to try to understand and is a work in progress. Trying to accept that this is the way Americans and working conditions are still have their moments.

During these 12 and a half years we have been together James systems have been more manageable as he has gotten older and also as I have taught him from my more general knowledge and practical upbringing and also opened his eyes to the 'sheeple attitudes'. - Basic life skills that he never learned that my own two children know from their general life skills they have learned from their father, immediate family members, I taught as their basic right.
There were many times that I was not sure if I was James 'wife or his mother' and put his lack of skills down to being a city boy and not a country townie gal like myself and as a townie our skills are using what we have available to hand, also New Zealand is known to be innovative, whereby we do not invent many things but we sure know how to improve upon the originals and I learned to be adaptable from my own family who use what we have on hand

"Many people with Asperger syndrome have difficulty in understanding how others think and feel which may lead to naive, or socially inappropriate behaviour." - James loves to shock people and see their reactions, so he embarrassed me very badly in those early months. e.g. We often used the bus in Oregon as it was easier to get around to some of the destinations we wanted to get and saved trying to find parking spaces - besides it was cheap at $1.00 each for the whole day as you could ask for a pass to catch another bus. I would get on the bus first and go find a seat, James paid and would come down the aisle and stop beside me and would either ask if I was saving the seat or say something like ' you are a good looking woman, do you have a boyfriend'? can I come home with you? or some other pick up line. *lol* I would not know what to say as I had never encountered this kind of interaction before. Then when we got to our bus stop I would get off with him and everyone on the bus would think that James had picked me up! Many other embarrassing incidences until I finally became desensitized to him, and nothing he does embarrasses me anymore!

BUT - I have got him back a few times, although they were not deliberate and I was surprised that he would be embarrassed. I confronted Walmart store manager on a goose they had mis-priced as $5.00 for the whole bird (even though I knew that it meant per pound) and even drew in a couple of other customers asking them what they read on the price ticket which they read the same as me. The Manager and I debated however he realised that I was right and I got the goose for Thanksgiving 2 years ago for $5.00 then a couple of days later we were at another Walmart and the same thing happened and this time I had two of their employees come to my aid. I donated this goose to Salvation Army that was standing outside
James can be very stubborn and opinionated that in the early years, often had me so mad that I have had to walk off and leave him to give myself space, however some of these times were often more stressful and devastating for me as I would get outside in the parking lot and want to walk home and I had no idea where I was or how to get home. I was totally reliant on James to know where we were. I did not have any friends whom I could confide in and also I did not completely understand myself what was wrong and thought I was suffering from bad culture shock. James often was very oblivious to my distress, yet other times he could be almost smothering whereby he would speak for me to other people like I did not have brain. He did not understand that when I cued him to help me with a sentence or word because of my accent, he would take over the whole conversation. I often have to touch his arm which he understands is his cue to be quiet a minute and let me speak, we are adapting in society.

Reading more about Autism/Asperger, behaviour and what some say and do has helped me to understand that I am not alone e.g. "he fails to recognize or understand other people's feelings... an inability to recognize when behaviour is not appropriate. There has been times that his behaviour and actions have hurt me terribly because he was secret about them. I found out because my senses alerted me that something wrong. I felt he was so out of character and in left field.
Confrontations about his behaviour, resulted in an angry outburst, punching walls and screaming from him, then a cooling down whereby he confessed and we would forgive each other and move on.
I did not know what to do as at the time, there was no one for me to confide in and I couldn't leave as I had no where to go. The Lord Jesus has been my Rock in times of strife as there is no one else who would understand nor did I really know what I was up against. Those early to mid years was like living with a human time bomb, I never knew what would set him off
These later years have been alot better especially since he has been Driving Over the Road as he is driving long distances and is busy. James is happier, content and feels worthwhile when he is working and has a more structured timetable

"People with Asperger syndrome may speak very fluently but they may not take any notice of the reaction of people listening to them, continuing to talk about one topic regardless of the listener's interest or lack of it." This is James to a T as he will often dominate the conversation or even talk right over someone else. - Interrupting people in conversation and not waiting until they see him and then he talks, or asks a question etc. Topics I would leave until I knew the person or people better

Through James complete lack of being self conscious that I suffered so badly at growing up, he has opened doors for me to come out of my shell completely that we talk to so many people while out and about that I would not have normally started a conversation with. I have been enriched by his infliction that is not a problem to me but has been a opened window to finally understand what makes James different to other people. I would sooner have one James than a dozen 'so called normal people' as they are more stuck in their society prejudice, and we definitely do not fit the norm!

James does not like any kind of conflict or difference of opinion with me and often will see this as an argument or read it as criticism against him so will get angry. He often reacts before I have really had a chance to voice my concerns. I am a straight talker and do not beat about the bush so my candid direct talking, accent and my voice goes up and down as Kiwi's often speak, can come across as being accusing, angry, confrontational etc when I do not mean it that way at all.

Some of his angry, frustrated, outbursts or meltdowns have been that he will punch the wall, break something, punch and bang the steering wheel or console of the vehicle. Bangs the remote control/mouse etc of his Xbox or computer when something is not working as quickly as he wants. He has never hit me or tried to hurt me so my safety is not an issue, nor does he hurt our animals he takes his anger out on innate objects but they can be costly to replace or fix

"While they often excel at learning facts and figures people with Asperger syndrome often find it difficult to think in abstract ways. They may have restricted interests, narrow unsociable and unusual hobbies, and sometimes have an obsessive insistence on routines. James is an avid follower of Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hannabel Haines type movies and has watched over many times. I definitely am not interested in these scary movies.
He use to be an avid gamer on his computer and had to have the fast processors etc to play his games and was very knowledgeable about the inner workings of computers, yet was not particularly knowledgeable about how windows worked that I had learned. In the early years he played for hours after work into the wee hours, but easily annoyed when his character cannot complete a task and keeps dying.
He gets fixated on various topics which has not always been good choices and has researched many areas to find out more which have caused problems with me due to their content. - However, since being a truck driver he has not had alot of free time to pursue many of his hobbies yet still has many on the go but not always the motivation to complete them when he comes home. He reads many books and is a very fast reader and great speller, articulate speaker but tends to go into too much detail that is not always required, which I reckon turns people off from persuing closer friendships with him. Honest to a fault in admitting he made a mistake or confessing an error before anyone asks him which has come back to bite him and I. - I wish honesty was rewarded rather than punished.

James is very focused when doing any of his job at his couple of different work vocations to the point that he is extremely efficient, he will work diligently often without a break. When working he is time orientated pleasant and likable to most people and co workers yet for some reason has not been able to move up the ladder to better himself or been let go for no apparent reason that I can see. He has a 'gun hoe' - 'get er dun' attitude and not always take time to measure or detail and finish nicely, but will rush through to get to the end quickly

Since moving back to the south, Georgia and now North Carolina, James found two of his best friends whom also were boarders and it is like they never lost contact these past 20 odd years. These men are real friends to James after all these years of not having any close friends whom accepted where he was and I am so thankful that Jesus has brought them together again because they understand him from their own family rejections and experiences

Only recently that he has met his late mothers siblings and learned more about his mother as well as information on her young life he did not know anything about and received photos of her early life. He does not have a photo of him as a baby or child with his mother, none appear to have been taken which is a great shame.

James and I through our married years together have suffered many huge and great challenges, accidents and misfortunes that has been devastating with health, lost lots of money through these misfortunes - yet we do not know why yet. It is like we have a monkey on our backs that we can not shake off not matter what we do!

The hardest obsticle/challenges for us has been to find help and/or assistance - practical resources of advice or what laws to look for, for a problem. It is like one has to be a rocket scientious to find out the help one needs as we ask, ask ask again, when we come across services which do not provide what we are looking for and those people do not know where to refer us too. America seems to want the general population to be uninformed and dumbed down.

Neither of James or I is stupid and unwise with our money yet trouble seems to find us. We do not have or buy lots of stuff and live very simply, yet money finds holes in our bank account and disappears so quickly. Did we break a mirror and didn't know??? On the bright side - We are both very resilient and bounce back yet how I wish we could keep ahead of trouble long enough to get our feet firmly under us. We pray lots and Jesus is the foundation of our home and life so we are not trying to live without His guidance yet I have been for many years perplexed why I have been the tail and not head of our life

Amanda Martin-Shaver

Some links that I will add as I find more:
Asperger Sydrome Adults
Asperger's Sydrome Fact Sheet
Undiagnosed Aspergers ADHD/ODD Clouding The Diagnosis
Adult Autism

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Amanda Martin-Shaver