• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”
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What is an Aspie Writer?

What is an Aspie writer?

Simply—a writer with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), and in my case, someone who writes about AS. While I am working on my non-fiction book about my life with undiagnosed AS, I will be sharing my trials and triumphs, joys and frustrations, and everything in between. I plan to take you all on the ride with me through writing, editing, revision, rewriting, and publication.

I have been writing for years, and like many other writers have stacks of unfinished manuscripts thrown in boxes, file folders, and on back-up computer hard drives. They are sitting there waiting for me to pick them back up and finish them. 


About a year ago, I began writing my first Young Adult (YA) fictional novel, The Protectors. I wrote it in its entirety in approximately 90 days. It was a 250,000 word mess! That’s when I realized I needed help, and resolved to write my story the right way—this is where my writing journey began. I purchased as many books about writing as I could get my hands on. I read, read, read, and then read some more.

I enrolled in continuing education classes, writing workshops, and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), online, to finish the BA in English that I started in 1991. I had no way of knowing that English classes would ultimately lead me to the most important discovery of my life.

It took 38 years to learn that I am not crazy, depressed, agoraphobic, or bipolar (only a couple of labels I lugged around over the years). I am autistic. My often serious sensory issues where often dismissed as being picky, a primadonna, spoiled, the princess and the pea–you get the idea. My parents missed it, the school system dismissed it, and doctors misdiagnosed it; life was not easy. No-one listened; no-one understood; I felt completely insane, and completely alone. I never heard of Asperger’s Syndrome; not until I took my first Literature class at SNHU. 


My husband pointed out a character in a novel I was reading that had Asperger’s Syndrome and said, “That’s you!”  I ignored him.  He told my doctor.  I ignored my doctor.  I didn’t want that to be me, although, I already knew they were right. Two semester’s later, I wrote a research paper on American Idioms, which have never made any sense to me. 


Phrases like, “Don’t count your chicken’s before their hatched,” drive me nuts! If you are counting chickens, they have already hatched! As a school girl, idioms like these were met with the roll of my eyes followed by a long monologue of why it made no sense.  Needless to say, this did not go over well with my second grade teacher.  I no longer roll my eyes, now I just grit my teeth together and bear it; well—most of the time.


My research project started innocently enough. I studied how young children learn the English language, and often misinterpret idioms and metaphors. I discussed the Amelia Bedelia children’s book series by Peggy Parish, one of my eight year’s favorites (ok—mine too!), which depicts a literal-minded housekeeper who continually misinterprets her employers instructions with comical effect. I was plodding along just fine when my research took a sharp left turn that I never intended to make. Before long I found myself up to my ears in autism and language studies, and different techniques utilized to help young students with Asperger’s Syndrome to understand figurative speech.  I was absorbed for days.  Denial flew out the window; I could no longer logically justify it.  Two weeks later, I had already consumed over a dozen books about Autism and AS. Ignorance is NOT bliss!


The discovery of my “condition” has been life changing; finally, everything makes sense. However, putting on a new set of glasses and looking back at your entire life though those lenses is straining on the eyes, and the emotions. Don’t feel sorry for me though– I am one of those Aspies who maintain that I would not give up my autism for anything. “Take away Autism completely, and you take away Genius!” ~ Rudy Simone, Aspergirls.


Besides, I have superpowers! That is what we say in my house. They are my supersonic senses. My son calls them my spidey-senses. I can hear what others cannot, smell what no-one else does, taste every ingredient used in a recipe and then recreate it, and feel the slightest change in temperature or humidity. I can focus for hours, and if left to my own devices—for days. I just need to do it with earplugs in and sunglasses on. And, yes, I forget to eat, and interruptions infuriate me.  Especially, when I am interrupted by my own bladder, it should know better. My autism is a blessing, and it’s a curse—but it’s mine.
My book, Reflections of Me, should be finished and ready to be released by the end of the year IF I do not get side tracked.  I hope you enjoyed my first ever blog posting, and stick with me through my writing adventures. 

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert, contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, on the autism spectrum.