Asperger’s sometimes gets a bad rap. All Aspies are different but the unfortunate stereotype is that they are introverted, clumsy, weird, rude, “low-functioning,” or do not like people. The hurtful and prejudiced stereotype could not be further from the truth and Marguerite Comeau is one shining example of how wrong the stereotype can be.
I am a psychologist who works primarily with kids and young adults who are considered to be Asperger’s. A person with this mind is characterized by above average intelligence and the ability to hyper-focus on a specific area of interest. They tend to be justice oriented and are able to recognize patterns or relationships which are difficult to recognize. However, with great ability sometimes comes a weakness including difficulty with social skills, understanding other people’s facial expressions and body language, as well as a tendency to “miss the forest for the trees.”
“If you’ve met one Aspie, you met one Aspie. The stereotype is wrong.”
Women who are Asperger’s are difficult to find. They tend to be quiet, compliant, and good students. While often quirky, teachers often do not notice them. An Asperger’s woman is likely to work with animals, be a photographer, or be a librarian. Unfortunately, Aspie girls are often isolated, withdrawn, and disenfranchised. With the advent of social media, these women have gained a greater voice and are now advocating for themselves in greater numbers. With such advocacy, an entire community is developing online which seeks to educate and celebrate a differently wired brain.
In honor of International Women’s Health Week, I bring you an intimate and personal interview with Marguerite Comeau. She is an Aspie model, a passionate advocate, and a free spirit.
Dr. G: Tell me how you found out about Asperger’s and more about your journey…
Marguerite: My self-discovery journey was fueled by several events throughout my life with significant turning points. The catalyst that lead me to where I am today was when I watched the movie “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” with a friend. Throughout the movie, my childhood self highly identified with the main character. At the end of the movie my friend turns to me and says “That child was odd. Adorable. But odd.” I didn’t understand why the child was different but I sensed I was different in similar ways. After some late night Google searching, it turned out that the main character was an autistic child. Needless to say I had a light bulb moment and the rest is history.
I would equate finding out that you’re autistic to that scene from the movie “The Others” when Grace realizes that she’s not being haunted by ghosts, but that SHE is in fact the ghost.
“That child was odd. Adorable. But odd.”
Who am I? I may never be able to answer that with confidence as I’m a different person every day of my life, let alone every moment. I’m often described as an introvert with spurts of outgoingness. I’d like to think of myself as a good person; I try to choose higher values such as compassion and understanding over my human/earthly attributes.
“I don’t believe in good or bad people, I only believe in different levels of spiritual development.”
A few months later a friend tells me “You’re really out of the woods, Margo. You did it.”
Dr. G: I love your Facebook posts and twitter feed. What drives your passion? Have you been hurt in the past or misunderstood? Why have you become so vocal in such a positive way?
Marguerite: Bot hurt and misunderstood. It’s not exactly in the past and to a certain extent it will be in my future. It’s the nature of our condition after all. The most peaceful thing I ever did was accepting who I was, not the labels others attributed to me (and trust me, there have been many). However, there have also been amazing people who have loved and encouraged me along the way, and continue to do so. Although many people with Asperger’s Syndrome may struggle with cognitive empathy, we have an overabundance of hyper-empathy. This means I feel the immediate impulse to ease or alleviate any suffering that I witness. This often leaves me emotionally exhausted as I have a hard time separating someone else’s pain from my own. I feel both my pain and that of others at the same frequency. I was tired of seeing/feeling other people get mistreated and feeling powerless about it. I decided to use social media as a positive outlet to express my misunderstood yet very real emotions and experiences in order to create an enlightening conversation about the condition between Allistic and Autistic people.
There have been many instances in my life where I felt completely and utterly hopeless and wished someone who understood could have guided me. I tend to write pivotal moments of my life in literary imagery:
“My sadness had aged well beyond my years. The darkness of the night couldn’t comfort the darkness within my heart. Out of desperation for mercy I fell to my knees and bribed the universe with my soul, “If you help me find my way out of the woods, I promise to throw my rope back and help lead others out!”
A few months later a friend tells me “You’re out of the woods Margo. You did it.” That was my cue to leave the sidelines and join the court.
Dr. G: How did you get into modeling, what kind of modelling do you do, and what are your aspirations?
Marguerite: It happened sort of by accident actually. I ran into an old friend from school who was connected to the industry. She messaged me one day asking if I wanted to participate in a fashion show, although due to my height (5’4), runway modelling isn’t my strong suit. I’m more suited for photography. I recently signed a contract with a local start-up agency. (http://www.powermodelmanagement.ca/Margo)
I would love to grace the covers of magazines and billboards worldwide. A girl can only dream!
Dr. G: What do you want the world to know about you and Aspie Nation specifically for girls?
The same way one Aspie is different to another, a female Aspie will differ from other female Aspies. Traits presents themselves very differently in females, and while each girl will cope with them differently, we are also individuals with unique personalities. Some of us are geeks, divas, geeks-turned-divas; we’re all over the place and right under your noses. We may live inconspicuous lives or be the games changers of the world.
Dr. G: Margo, you are an amazing and authentic individual and I am grateful to have met you. All the best and you are Awesome!