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My Life with Asperger Syndrome

Duncan Ewing has written the book on Asperger
Duncan Ewing has written the book on Asperger's syndrome.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf

Cowichan's Duncan Ewing is wanting folks to step into the foreign territory he's been living since he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome at age six.

"Having Asperger's syndrome is like we have landed in a foreign country...," writes the 25-year-old in the introduction of his new novel My Life with Asperger Syndrome. "...It is like we've landed in a location that is not custom to us, it is like we are aliens on a planet filled with humans.

"Thus these humans are so normal in that they interact with others and blend into society just like anyone else, but we feel like outcasts, we cannot blend in quite as easily."

Ewing's Aperger's awareness book/memoir was release online last spring.

He hopes to spread information on Asperger's as well as give folks an idea of what he and many others with the syndrome have and are going through.

"My experience growing up, I always felt like an outcast," Ewing said. "My experience at Cowichan Secondary School was a very bad experience."

Asperger's syndrome, also called Asperger's disorder, is a type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) and is grouped with a number of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.

Although Asperger's is similar in some ways to autism - another, more severe type of PDD - there are some differences. Children with Asperger's syndrome typically function better than do those with autism. Children with Asperger's generally have normal intelligence and near-normal language development, although they may develop problems communicating as they get older.

Ewing was born in Terrace and lived in Prince George before he and his family moved the Cowichan Valley in 1995.

He attended Alexander elementary, Quamichan middle and Cowichan Secondary schools.

He received his high school diploma in 2006 before an associates of arts degree in 2011 from Vancouver Island University.

Although Ewing is currently taking a break from studies, he hopes to enroll again at VIU to get a second degree in psychology and eventually become a counsellor.

"I come from a gifted and very intelligent family," Ewing writes in My Life. "I have a grandfather who was a doctor and one of the best in Canada in the late 20th century. I have many talented family members and was given a sense of perseverance, my name meaning dark warrior which means to fight through conflict and strife.

"I have learned how to fight through every aspect of my life and have shown great determination in everything I do."

Ewing began experimenting with writing after a close friend of his died.

He wrote a poem which he shared on Facebook and received quite a lot of praise for.

"My family and friends pushed me to write more and saw I had a gift," he said. "They said it was very well-written. That's where it all started I guess."

Ewing at first took a free-writing type approach to My Life, but then began structuring his stories chronologically.

My Life includes chapters on experiences from grade, middle and high school, as well as present life and work, and benefits and myths to Asperger's.

Asperger's syndrome has only recently been recognized as a unique disorder. For that reason, the exact number of people living with it is unknown.

While it is more common than autism, estimates for the United States and Canada range from one in every 250 children to one in every 10,000. Asperger's is four times more likely to occur in males than in females and usually is first diagnosed in children between the ages of two and six years.

Ewing's goal with My Life was to shine a lot on the disease as well as to show folks with Asperger's there's a place out there for them as well.

"I encourage all that are reading this book to reflect on your personal experiences and focus on the positive rather than negative," he writes. "Don't worry about the social awkwardness or lack of empathy but on the strengths and gifts you have."

My Life is available online both at amazon.com and lulu.com. Ewing can be contacted by email at ewing.duncan47@gmail.com.

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