On a recent trip to my parents’ house, I borrowed (stole) a book titled Solutions For Adults With Asperger Syndrome. My reasons for taking the book were threefold: One, I’m an adult (in body, not always in mind) and I have Asperger Syndrome, if the book wasn’t made for me, then who? Two, I find that reading books about AS are not only informative, but they also offer me inspirations for my posts. And Three, I just like to hoard books (the den in my apartment is like Ariel’s grotto from The Little Mermaid, only with greater chances of papercuts).
As I was reading the book, I eventually found myself at the obligatory “How to Recognize an Aspie” section where the author lists the tell-tale symptoms that your loved one may have AS. Some of the items I’d seen in almost every book: difficulty with communication, intense special interests excetera excetera. However one bullet point caught my eye: “Verbal differences (too loud/too soft voice, literal use of language).” Up until this point, I have never heard of a loud voice being an indicator of an individual possibly having AS. If I had known, things might have clicked for me a long time ago.
A little background: I have a very distinct voice (not tooting my own horn here, just stating the facts). Throughout my life, I’ve been called out for how my voice has set me apart from my peers, to the point where it sometimes made me a bit uncomfortable. Unlike all the other kids, who knew when to use their “indoor voices,” I could never seem to turn down the volume of my voice. This wasn’t me being stubborn or troublesome, I simply didn’t realize that my voice was louder than everyone else’s. Hell, I sometimes still have that problem today, as during my time working in the restaurant from hell, I was told to “turn it down” even though I couldn’t sense that I had been “turning it up” to begin with (though that may have been my ex-boss messing with my head, as he was wont to do).
However, while my voice may have put me at odds with my teachers and classmates, it helped me theatrically. Because my voice was so naturally big, I stood out from other kids who may have been auditioning for the same role. My big voice helped me at an early age get cast in some meaty roles that included Miss Hannigan, Nancy in Oliver, and the Witch in Into the Woods (fun fact about that last one: they actually considered turning my microphone off because I was loud enough to be heard without it, but for those of you who know Into the Woods, trying to belt “Last Midnight” without any amplification would have been too much even for me). Being naturally loud and strident may not have helped me socially, but it did help me theatrically, which in turn helped bolster my confidence over the years and led to me doing better socially.
The point of all this is, I never considered that my naturally loud and sometimes strident voice might be an indicator of my AS, probably because most people associate AS with monotone, quiet voices that usually remain at one volume and never change (personally I blame Sheldon Cooper for that). But I think this goes to show that if one wants to go out of one’s way to educate oneself about a topic, be it AS or otherwise, then accepting popular stereotypes offered by the media should not be the end of one’s research. By digging a little deeper, one can see that each person’s traits and quirks, while not always fitting the popular mould, can help shed light onto who that person is. For me, now I’ve recognized that my voice is a sort of AS calling card and has been for most of my life, I can be more aware of it’s effect and, if need be, adjust it depending on the circumstance, all while appreciating how it makes me who I am.
*For those of you who are interested, the book I mentioned is called Solutions For Adults With Asperger Syndrome by Juanita P. Lovett.
*Photo from Anchorman, I got the photo from Google, I don’t own it yadda yadda.