Life on the Autism spectrum

Daniel and Margaret - Interview 54

Male
Age at diagnosis: 11

Brief outline: Daniel was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 11 years old. He does voluntary work one day a week and Margaret runs a support group for people with Asperger syndrome.

Background: Daniel and Margaret have two children aged 7 and 4. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

Audio & video

Daniel was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome when he was 11 years old. He is married to Margaret and they have two children, aged 7 and 4. Daniel needs a lot of reminders and forgets things very easily. While they spend all their time together, Margaret can feel left out because Daniel has a strong interest in music and can become wrapped up in this to the exclusion of anyone else around. Margaret describes how they will watch the same episodes of comedy programmes over and over again in order for her to spend time with Daniel.
 
Daniel took an overdose a few years ago and Margaret feels that she has to keep a close eye on how he is feeling which can cause tension between them. While Daniel says that he does not want to harm himself, when he is ill, he may feel a ‘tourette like’ compulsion to kill himself which is difficult to manage.     
 
Daniel thinks it is important to remember that people with AS are all very different. He has found that knowing about AS and spending time with other people with AS has helped him to become more aware and improved his theory of mind (his ability to empathise). He thinks there are a lot of good bits to AS which can be the bad bits too. For example he has very good hearing which is very useful with his music recordings, but it can make things like trips to the supermarket very difficult. He describes how his senses all seem to be linked so when he sees something he will smell something, or if he hears something he might see something and so he experiences a feeling of brain overload which can be frightening.
 
Margaret thinks that Daniel has learnt a lot of his responses to things and while it may appear that he is more empathetic, this is more of a learnt response than a true understanding. Both Margaret and Daniel think that people with AS can find life easier to manage as they grow older whether this is an outcome of following a particular diet or learning to manage sensory issues, but it is important to remember that the person still has AS.
 
Daniel enjoys composing and recording music while Margaret runs a support group for people with AS and arranges social events, music workshops and regular newsletters.

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