When I was a little boy, I knew I was different but I really couldn’t put my finger on it.
My parents never brought me up out of anything unusual, so I just lived my life the way I did for 47 years until I self-diagnosed as having Asperger’s.
Then everything fell into place, it all made sense, and it gave me a ton of relief.
So, maybe this video/article will help you decide if you have Asperger’s or not.
I was a very sensitive boy and I was very sensitive to my surroundings, loud noises really scared me, people’s emotions scared me. I remember my dad having a scary temper and that always frightened me.
So I used to walk on eggshells in the house, and didn’t really know what he was going to do.
I also really loved smells, and unfortunately I smelled myself, which sounds kind of gross, but, you know, little boys do weird things.
I also loved the smell of diesel. We had a sailboat that had a diesel engine. And when my dad would cruise around the harbor, with the diesel engine running, I would basically lean over the railing to smell the exhaust. I mean I was just obsessed with diesel or gasoline.
When I was two years old, I started to rock back and forth. We had a rocking horse, and I used to use that two to three hours a day, sometimes Saturdays I would just rock all day and watch my dad out the back window, building the sailboat in our yard in Newport Beach, California.
I was very focused on myself. I wasn’t really aware of other people. I was very self centered, but not in a bad way, at least yet. I love repetition. I’ve found peace and tranquility in things that were predictable, and the rocking back and forth really gave me a sense of ease and relaxation, but also I felt like I was going places while rocking it was a very strange feeling.
I also was obsessed with one thing at a time, and I could play with myself for hours. I didn’t really need friends.
When I had a bicycle, I remember just riding in circles in the driveway with my bicycle, and I was happy with just my surroundings.
Our driveway was overlooking the water of Puget Sound, because we later moved to Washington State, and we lived up on a hill. I could see the tugboats and the freighters going by on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.
I could just ride my bike in circles on our driveway for hours at a time easily – humming songs and just daydreaming and thinking about my life and everything was fine.
Later, I got more obsessed with cars, you know the Ferraris, the Lamborghinis, my dad had a Porsche. He had a 356, and I used to just, I loved cars,and I loved the smell of the leather.
I loved the exhaust when he would start it up, and I liked things that changed colors by heat. I used to love looking at the mufflers and exhaust pipes of things and seeing it turned blue from the heat of exhaust, just little things like that.
Things really fascinated me that other boys didn’t really pay attention to. I was really hypersensitive to my surroundings. I loved smells but I hated loud noises and things that were unpredictable. I definitely had unique autistic interests.
When I was 12, I had a go kart and my dad used to take me to the go kart track on Sundays and he would watch me. It was very fun, and I got obsessed with things I loved.
I went through a period of loving tugboats and freighters.
Then I got into fireworks and I was just crazy about fireworks and I was also crazy about starting fires, because it was prohibited, you know, my parents were very strict and starting a fire was the last thing I could do.
I remember playing with kids and having matches and starting a little controlled fire down in the yard and getting really nervous that we would get caught.
I love weird things like spark plugs and colored wires that my dad had from his old days working for the telephone company, and I remember wiring my lunchbox one day with all of the bright colors.
I liked race tracks, but what I really liked about the race track was the burning rubber smell, the ozone smell from the electric motors of the cars.
My dad gave me a drill one time for my birthday. It was an electric drill and you could see the electric motor spinning, you could see the flywheel spinning and sparks when you pulled the trigger all the way and floored the drill.
Little sparks would come out of the motor, and I could smell the ozone from the electric motor, but I would rather look at the sparks flying out of it and smell the ozone than actually using the drill itself to drill holes.
When I got into music, I was always tapping and whistling and I loved my dad’s music and my sister’s music.
I discovered the Walkman, and used to listen to headphones really loud till my ears rang. So, my sensitivity to loud noise wasn’t directed towards music that I loved.
But, there was one time when a marching band went by, and it scared me. This is when I was in kindergarten. I was so embarrassed because the girl next to me was really concerned about me and I wanted to act cool but the sound of the drums scared me. Later on, I faced that fear and actually became a drummer.
Same thing with alcohol, you know, when I was a little boy I saw a drunk man for the first time, and I was so scared of him. I asked my dad, what’s wrong with that man and he said oh he’s just a drunk, and later on I became a town drunk.
So a lot of weird irony with my life story, but are you starting to see the difference here, because we’re slightly different than other people but the good side of Asperger’s is that we can laser focus on certain things and have a genius level of understanding of a subject, or mastering that subject.
For instance, I could play the drums without thinking about what I was playing. It just flowed out to me, I could listen to a song and then duplicate it and mimic it with my drumming, and I loved music.
But later in life, I turned to alcohol, because I was highly sensitive and I felt like I had low self esteem and low self worth. I was picked on in school, I was bullied.
My friends picked on me, teachers picked on me, and my dad laughed at my lofty ideas of becoming a rock and roll star, or being a writer, you know, anything that was kind of lofty, I was laughed at.
And later on alcohol took over, and my dreams got set aside, and I needed to make money so I started to wash dishes in the restaurant business, but I loved washing dishes because I loved repetition and I loved washing the dishes and controlling the sprayer.
I could still wash dishes today and be perfectly fine. I don’t like change. If something happens where there’s a lot of change, then I get very nervous, I get irritable.
I do well alone, but I’ve always had at least one person in my life, usually a girlfriend. If I have a friend, it’s usually one on one, I don’t like playing groups.
When I was 47, I finally self diagnosed of having Asperger’s and lack of empathy, there’s two tests that I took one for empathy and one for Asperger’s, and it just brought relief, instead of just being that zany guy that people called “Johnson.”
They called me by my last name and they always used to call me Professor and oh Johnson, you know, they would kind of talk down to me because I was different.
It all made sense, last year when I self diagnosed with Asperger’s, and it just gave me a lot of relief and it gave me hope. It actually made me harness my creativity and my passions and my obsessions, because once you laser focus on something you can do anything you want. I’ve done amazing things.
I’ve done great things. I’ve written ebooks, I’ve created a full length music album, I made multiple six figures in network marketing, which is very strange for someone who has Asperger’s and is very introverted. I excelled in an extroverted industry.
So pretty much anything I set my mind to I can achieve it. But knowing that I have Asperger’s really helped me, my self worth, and my self esteem
I realized that everything is okay and I made amends to my dad and to everyone I hurt with alcoholism and my addictions and I stopped rocking back and forth four months ago.
So things are really improving. I hope this inspires you. Leave a comment if you have Asperger’s or if you’re curious about it, and we’ll start a dialogue, and like this video/article and we’ll talk to you soon.
Erik C Johnson