'How I found out I had Asperger's at age 65'
IT TOOK David Caddie 65 years to realise he had Asperger's.
Up until that point, he simply thought he was just a little bit different to everyone else.
The distance education teacher had the realisation five years ago when he was reading a note from a parent whose child had Asperger's.
"It's a strange affliction and you don't always know you have it," David said.
"I was reading the mother's description of her son and thought there were quite a few similarities. I too had an interest in maths, flying, science - all things black and white with a clear answer, and I could also have meltdowns."
David said it didn't take much for those with Asperger's syndrome, or "Aspies" as they are affectionately known, to be pushed over the edge.
"When we get stressed we stay stressed for much longer than someone else would," he said.
"Now I can feel when meltdowns are coming.
"Thinking back it's amazing I didn't realise before. Aspies often take things very literally. I can remember when I was a kid mum told me to water the chooks and I went over and tipped water on them.
"I also know of a lot of people who couldn't drive off the Kurilpa Bridge in Brisbane because the poles point in different directions. They thought it wasn't a 'proper bridge'."
- Asperger's syndrome sits under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
- One in 100 Australians is affected my ASD.
- Many well-known individuals reportedly had Asperger's including Bill Gates, Alfred Hitchcock, Issac Newton and Jane Austen.
- Asperger's syndrome was formerly characterised as a distinct autism spectrum disorder.
- In 2013 the diagnosis was combined with autistic disorder into one condition called autism spectrum disorder or ASD.
- People with Asperger's syndrome have normal to above-average intelligence but typically have difficulties with social interactions.
David's wife Margaret, who works as a psychologist, said the realisation came as a relief to them both.
"Once you understand why he is doing what he does, it makes things a lot easier," she said.
For Margaret and David, going to monthly West Brisbane Region Asperger Support Group in Sherwood helped the couple talk to others in the same situation.
"Being able to talk about it makes you feel less alone," Margaret said.
"People there understand what you're talking about.
"It's good to talk to the other wives and partners - you realise you're not crazy."
Margaret said the couple were now part of a PhD study at UQ into Asperger's and aging.
"There is a big gap in the research so it's really exciting to be part of that," she said.
David hoped talking about Asperger's would help to remove the stigma which is all too often attached to it.
"Aspies are very lateral thinkers. We look at things differently," he said.
"They say people like Mozart and Einstein were on the spectrum. We would still be living in caves without people with Asperger's."