‘But That's Just What You Can't Do’: Personal Reflections on the Construction and Management of Identity Following a Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome
At 42, I received a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome (AS). In this essay, I reflect on what this could mean for my sense of self in the present, and how a retrospective diagnosis of a lifelong condition might also lead me to view my past self—my narrative self—in a different way. As a child, I experienced myself as indefinably ‘deficient’; as I grew to adulthood, I learned to repudiate and disguise those parts of myself which, in Ervin Goffman's terms, were ‘discreditable’. The effect of this was such that, when asked to ‘be myself’, I found I no longer knew what this meant. I did not recognise myself in clinical descriptions of AS, but my reading of autobiographical writing by women with AS would lead me to seek a diagnosis. As I tell this story, I consider the various perspectives available to help me structure and interpret it: the medical model, the social constructivist model and the perspective that emerges from such autobiographical writings. My reading, and experience post-diagnosis, leads me to conclude that an autistic identity, no less than any other, has its performative aspects.
Citation : Limburg, J. (2015) '‘But That's Just What You Can't Do’: Personal Reflections on the Construction and Management of Identity Following a Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome'. Life Writing, 13 (1), pp. 141-150
ISSN : 1448-4528
Research Institute : Institute of English
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Humanities