I wasn't diagnosed (with ASD) until my senior year in college, but every since I was young I knew something was off. The decisions people made - how they spoke to one another, what they got angry about, how they reacted to the world around them - made little sense to me. I thought everyone was crazy. I noticed an alarming pattern, however: they were all crazy in the same way. It was as if they had been taught what to say, how to act, and how to react to everything. Only I was different, and at times I feared that I was insane. In time, I learned to mimic normal people, and the better I got at it, the more people treated me well, accepted me. This is a difficult thing - aping as a normal. Sooner or later I'd grow comfortable and relax my guard, then react the wrong way with disastrous results.
How lucky I am that many of my kind make their way into science. As a scientist, I am valued for my obsessive need to understand a thing - I can puzzle at a problem for days or months, and such is seen as a good work ethic rather than some bizarre fixation. I can relax and be myself most of the time, for if I seem weird, well, that's not unusual in the lab. People value me for my efforts more than how well I can respond to nonverbal cues, and for that blessing, they have my love and devotion to their endeavors. I am accepted for being myself. I cannot adequately put into words how important that is, nor can I accurately convey just how lucky and grateful I am.
Dave, in his own words.