There are some things in my life with Asperger’s syndrome that have changed dramatically for the better and other realities that have not become much easier. I am very good at pretending that I am someone else in the sensitive environment in which I work. We all must do this to some extent, although it is much more tenacious for someone on the autism spectrum. For example, I have learned how to eliminate self-deprecation comments such as, “I promise not to end up stalking you or anything” when asking a young female colleague for her phone number for business purposes only. Such comments may not be taken well if they are said to the wrong person who has actually had a history of someone literally stalking her. I have also learned to not have a volatile reaction in public when people working in restaurants fail to listen when I plead with them not to give me the product in a paper bag when I am capable of reducing waste by taking it two feet to a table. I want to explode and throw the product back at them and yell out, “Damnit! Not again! You don’t listen, do you?! I just said one minute ago, ‘For here! No bag, please.’” I never impose my will upon others who choose to waste plastic bags for things like Tic-Tacs at CVS. But it bothers me tremendously when I am forced into polluting the environment against my will when others do not listen or do not care. I am able to control myself because one is an adult first and someone with a disability second. But in my personal life I struggle with and fear significant changes. Like a person wading into a brutally cold swimming pool, I must take new things very slowly and adjust to it at a glacial pace until it becomes my realities with the old part of my life becoming a distant memory.
Over time I have become more comfortable with admitting to my close friends and even my supervisor how brutal it was to adjust to life in Albany when I very reluctantly accepted a new life in the Capital Region away from my family in Dutchess County. It was only 100 minutes away but it might as well have been across the country. But I knew there was no choice in the matter considering the other choice was a fifteen hour round trip commute every week.
In the middle of accepting my new life in Albany, I held on for dear life to my old routine in Dutchess County. For about two years I would make the commute back home to have my hair cut, a chiropractic adjustment, and have my eyelash dyed. This involved a lot of time, resources, and mileage on my car. To make matters worse, it was very rare to be able to complete all these services in one weekend when I was at the mercy of their schedules. The chiropractor in Dutchess County did not always work on Saturdays and the woman who dyed my eyelash also had erratic hours on the weekend. She usually works every other weekend but sometimes there were two weekends in a row that this spa specialist was not there. It was as frustrating as hell. After two years had passed it finally became clear that I just could no longer keep doing this to myself anymore and began to gingerly accept the services of so many qualified professionals in Albany.
A long time ago I met a very affable, young woman at a Chamber of Commerce meeting and learned she has her own chiropractic practice minutes down the road from where I live on Western Avenue. I made a promise to myself that I would give her a chance and sealed the deal by making an appointment. It is very rare for me to flake out of appointments and commitments so I did this to ensure the change would come to fruition and allow me to finally break the chain holding me back from experiencing some of the advantages in Albany.
What I got in return in addition to monthly adjustments preventing physical anguish is friendship as well as professional support. There is freedom to be myself. At the local businesses back in Dutchess County there was a small minority of individuals that made my life absolutely miserable. They did everything possible to remind me that I was not trusted or welcomed. There was the waiter at a nice restaurant who pounded his finger on the menu and yelled at me when I was confused about the special deal on a Fixed Price Menu and then made a snide comment to my sister and mother about their dietary restrictions. There was also the manager at a local pharmacy who threatened to get the authorities involved because I sent my trademark, lengthy cards to a young woman who was their shift supervisor. (At the time, it truly seemed like I was being completely appropriate and “backing off” because I only gave her two cards in a period of a year-and-a-half.) From what I am describing, one would think that the entire community was out to get me. It was hardly most of the community. But when it did happen it was as bad as it could possibly get and then some. The reason I have always been terrified of trying new places is not because of having Asperger’s syndrome. It is because I never knew what benign actions will lead to ridiculous and escalating stalking allegations. When these things have happened I fight back in a way that is appropriate and am not quick to let it go. With the restaurant who ruined my sister, Dena’s birthday I let them know there are plenty of places that would happily treat me like toxic waste for free, and it is silly for my family to invest money in such abuse by paying for their delicacies. The point is not to dwell on every horrific experience that continues to haunt me on occasion. It is to let you know that because of businesses like Kinkaid Family Chiropractic the worst of the fear has receded like a chronic sickness that has finally passed.
When I go for my monthly adjustments at Kinkaid Chiropractic there is no dread that I will say the wrong thing. The inevitable moments of awkwardness are laughed off and a less-than-perfect day has the consequences of a mosquito trying to crash through our windshield. Most recently Dr. Kinkaid nicely told me that my fly was open, and this was not the first time she has politely given me this message. Hopefully it will be the last, however. I explained to her this is the reason I am very seldom late to anything because I am so obsessed with arriving places either early or exactly on time that it solves one problem and creates another in the sense that I am rushing out of the apartment like a maniac to once again beat the clock without always checking myself in the mirror. At Kinkaid Family Chiropractic I once had a lengthy conversation with a little boy about Nintendo while teaching him the nostalgic two-dimensional Super Mario games from the days of yore and yesteryear in the 1980s. There was not a shred of fear of looking creepy by being a grown man having a conversation with a child all about video games. There are a form of “bullies” that get away with such abuse by just saying they are stating their opinions, and I call them finders. Their mission is to always find something wrong even when intentions are kind or harmless. They just focused on the fact that I was making a young child feel awesome by showing that their are some adults out there that appreciate the timeless magic of the forever evolving Super Mario Brothers.
While Kinkaid Family Chiropractic specializes in treating pregnant women among typical back and neck-related ailments, they also specialize in acceptance and all things related to Autism Awesomeness. If you are an adult on the autism spectrum nobody has the right to dictate how fast you let go of your old routines even if they seem no longer practical as long as they do not hurt anyone or interfere with your main responsibilities as an adult. Unless they are paying your bills, employing you, or giving you something of value that you cannot live without…it is your choice to listen. But at the same time it is always a good thing to know that all things that may die a natural death out of necessary could come back with a euphoric vengeance in the form of people like Dr. Jessica Kinkaid and her benevolent team. Here is a photograph published on Facebook on September 6, 2017 of a past visit that Kinkaid Chiropractic posted on the practice’s Facebook page along with the following caption:
Hey facebook, meet Jesse. Jesse was diagnosed with Asperger's and has become very active in the Capital Region. He has taken it upon himself to mentor others in the community who have also been diagnosed with Asperger's. In his free time, Jesse enjoys writing and he has accomplished publishing two books. One of his books is cleverly titled, "Atypical Life with Asperger's in 20 1/3 chapters." Please share his book and his story if you know someone he can help. https://www.amazon.com/Atypical-Life-Aspergers-20-Chapters/dp/0399535721
Kinkaid Family Chiropractic, PLLC 1873 Western Ave., Suite 103 Albany, NY 12203