Macon man describes his life with Asperger's Syndrome
MACON, Ga. - Nearly 30 million Americans currently live with Asperger's Syndrome, a disorder that's highly misunderstood according to one Middle Georgia psychologist.
Brandon, a Macon man, said he knew from a young age he was different from other kids. He spent most of his life in the dark as to why.
He lived with the disorder for more than three decades.
"I have a really hard time trying to relate with other people," Brandon, who did not want to give his last name, said.
It wasn't until age 30 that the 31-year-old was finally diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.
"it's a great deal of a relief," Brandon said. "I don't feel confused anymore."
Brandon said from a young age he was withdrawn and had a hard time connecting with other people.
"All those pep rallies and fun with friends and prom and graduation, I never had any of that," Brandon said.
His symptoms later escalated to extreme social anxiety and sensitivity to loud noises, among other things.
"As that anxiety would build up and build up, I would try things to block out the noise," Brandon said. "I would rock back and forth and take the palms of my hands and rub them over my ears like that because the sound of the rubbing drowns out the other sounds."
Brandon said for awhile his parents believed he had Attention Deficit Disorder because of his problems focusing.
He said he could only focus on subjects that interested him.
According to licensed psychologist Mary Catherine Riner, these symptoms are common among people with Asperger's.
"They can get easily overstimulated so if they're at a ball game or maybe a loud restaurant it can be really hard for them to focus," Riner said.
Riner also said people living with Asperger's typically have higher intelligence and functioning levels than people living with other types of autism.
Brandon describes it metaphorically.
"Imagine you're in a spaceship and you crash land on an alien planet," Brandon said. "Now the planet is like earth but there's a lot of key differences. There are things that are off, things that don't quite make since or are hard process and the people that live there, they look like you but there are odd things about them."
Brandon said he now sees a therapist once every two weeks, exercises and trieds to be more spontaneous. He said he's seen improvement in his symptoms.