Rudy Simone spent more than 40 years not knowing why her life was so difficult.
“I’ve been beaten. I’ve been tormented,” she said.
“I was a child prodigy, but I never even graduated high school because of bullying. I took college entrance exams and scored in the top 2 percent but never even was able to finish a college degree.”
Simone, 48, was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome about four years ago. Now, she has written four books, including “Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger’s.”
She also speaks on autism at events such as Saturday’s free gathering called “Climb the Autism Summit.” The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the conference room at The Summit.
In a recent telephone interview, Simone described how she discovered Asperger’s in herself through seeing it in other people.
“I was dating somebody who had the constellation of very strange attributes,” she said. “I’d encountered it in partners before, but it was particularly pronounced in this person. He’d gone through a series of misdiagnoses.”
When she began researching his traits, Simone learned a word she had never heard before: Asperger’s. She ordered all the books she could find and read them voraciously.
“I sat down and wrote a book for partners of men on the spectrum,” she said.
As she continued her research, Simone realized all the books she could find were about men, with about a paragraph devoted to women with Asperger’s. She realized those few descriptions spoke to her life.
“After quite a bit of researching, I had an itchy feeling in the back of my mind that perhaps I could be on the spectrum,” Simone said.
“Then it hits you. It creeps in there, and then one day, it just whacks you over the head: ‘Oh my goodness, I have Asperger’s syndrome.’”
She wrote three books on the topic before receiving her own official diagnosis. According to Simone, girls and women receive the diagnosis less often because they learn and then mimic socially acceptable behavior and scripts.
“You could say that’s true of all people, but with us, it never really goes any deeper than that,” she said. “Our natural way of being is very different, and that never changes.”
Learning that she had Asperger’s didn’t make life easier, but it helped her self-esteem and self-awareness.
“It’s very, very, very difficult being on the spectrum. Anxiety is your primary emotion. You wake up with it every morning; you go to bed with it every night,” she said.
“A normal person experiences anxiety once in a while, here and there. That’s our platform. That’s where we operate from.”
In her life, Simone mined her unique traits to become a nationally known novelist, standup comic, jazz singer and former editor and journalist. People interested in learning more may attend her free presentation Saturday at The Summit.
The event includes:
9 a.m. — Asperger’s and Employment.
10:15 a.m. — Choosing the Right Career Path.
11:45 a.m. — Female Asperger’s: How it is Different and Why it Matters.
For more information, call 751-4500 or visit Simone’s website, www.help4aspergers.com.
Reporter Candace Chase may be reached at 758-4436 or by email at email@example.com.