After a patient asked me if I had Aspergers, and a counselor suggested I get tested for it, I started my hunt for a doctor that would be willing to tackle an adult diagnosis. Despite friends, with the “But you don’t look autistic!” and family “I don’t think you have this, I think it’s a waste of time” I was able to conduct my tests (5 hours total on a Monday morning in Suwanee, GA) and recently obtained my results.
I have a severe attention problem and have netted myself an ADHD (with an emphasis on the attention) diagnosis, as well as autism. Granted, it’s not called Aspergers anymore, and is instead called “High-Functioning Autism.” I had a lot of questions, like “What does this do for my career track to be a PA?” The doctor assured me that i’d make an excellent PA. My IQ test was fabulous. I had necessary skills to function in society at a decent level. None of this *changed* me, persay. Just made a lot of things make sense in some areas that I lacked. And that’s okay.
But what does it mean for LARP?
I ran to the internet for answers, and stumbled across an excellent video via VICE called “LARPing Saved My Life.”, a look at Jon Gallagher as a larping Aspie (Aspergers). It was through this I had my first glimpse into a fellow larper on the spectrum.
And holy shit.
Quotes from the video:
“When I make a character, I go for an actual part of me.”
“He’s [Jons Character] supposed to be the part of me that decides to be the hero. Not me. He’s courageous. I’m kinda not at times.”
“I’m not good with my emotions. Both of us. That’s the one flaw he carries. I hate that flaw. Really do. Comes from autism. It’s important. I try to act it off.”
“It’s taught me social interactions.”
“I was a bit shy, timid. Reserved. Not many friends. Now, not shy. Not really reserved anymore.”
Me right now: “Hi, hello, yes? I’m feeling relatively called out. I came here to have a good time and am honestly feeling very attacked right now.”
I’m not going to become an autism expert over night, and especially not after watching a video. But a lot of what i’m finding has been really helpful in understanding *why* I’ve had so many issues with the social interaction, *why* I thrive in a larping community, and *why* it’s so easy for me to just… shed away my personal self for a while and act it out for a weekend, be it Altera or Pantheon.
I really, really, really am glad I got into theatre when I did. A close friend of mine wasn’t surprised with my diagnosis, citing a lot of my personal ‘coverups’ such as looking at his cheek or forehead when speaking with him, rather than maintaining eye contact. The eye contact I do hold, I really thank acting for. Shoutouts to David Dixon and Erin Poulson for being fabulous teachers. Me being as “passable” (I hate that term already) is probably due to some acting ability i’ve picked up. My doctor agreed.
Okay, but what does this mean for LARP?
I’m excited to find out. I don’t think this will change much, but I have resources available to me to help me navigate the waters of social interaction within larp. I can face things head on, and while I don’t necessarily know now the implications of such a diagnosis, I know that whether I knew today, 6 months ago, or 6 months in the future, LARPing would have remained a positive constant in my life that I wouldn’t trade for the world. I can approach people, talk to them easier, and have a network of friends that I legitimately feel loved and accepted with.
LARPing saved Jon Gallagher’s life, and I think it’s saving mine too.