The DSM-V presents, as one of its criteria for diagnosing ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as “Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts.” To augment this criteria, Tania Marshall delineates traits as they present in women.
“May have a history of enrolling and attending university classes, followed by dropping out of classes or semesters. Sometimes, later, she then re-enrolls/attends later on in life. This is usually due to being overloaded and overwhelmed. A history of deferring exams, not attending classes, dropping out of classes or programs is common.”Tania Marshall, Aspienwomen
In undergrad, after I settled on English Lit as my major, my university experience greatly improved. Prior to this, I’d declared business as my major and my academic performance was shoddy, at best, in this course of study. Yet in Literature and Humanities classes, I outperformed all my peers and while I rarely contributed to class discussions, my teachers treated me like a genius after reading my written work.
Where I lacked proficiency in oral discourse, I more than made up for it in my writing.
As my tenure in undergrad drew to a close, I felt aimless about what was to come. My father catastrophized over the impending doom if I did not secure employment with health insurance benefits immediately after graduating. I felt immense pressure to find a job and some certainty over the future.
During the break between my last two semesters, I decided to apply to Law School.
My experience with the LSAT was much like my experience with the GRE, only predating the latter by nearly a decade. I made it into Law School–by the skin of my teeth.
I floundered there; at the end of year 1L, I terminated my enrollment. Not long after, I enrolled in graduate studies for English Literature, only to quit during the middle of my first semester. I was tasked with an assignment to interview a professor within the English Department. Not having the fortitude to accomplish the insurmountable social task, I meekly bowed out of the course and the program.
Unfortunately, my academic history paralleled my experience as a pre-professional ballet dancer.
After arranging to graduate from high school a year early, in order to train with a ballet coach for a year before auditioning for professional companies, I never made it to the program.
I re-enrolled with a past studio, performed The Nutcracker and quit again, after the spring performance, only to enroll in a third ballet program the following fall and quit again in the spring. Every time I quit, I did so without word or warning, fearful of the confrontation I might face in the attempt to provide notice to my instructors. I disappeared, and avoided all their attempts to reach out. Every single time.
Tania Marshall notes, in her list of Aspienwoman traits that women on the spectrum “may burn bridges (for e.g., walk out or quit jobs or relationships without notice.” I’ve ample evidence in my personal history which supports that I’ve met this criteria.
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