Cover Image - My Journey Into Asperger’s

My Journey Into Asperger’s: Self-Advocating in South Africa

By Rian Pelati

Leaping Into Asperger’s

Every journey starts with one small step, my journey into Asperger’s started with one giant leap. Almost 13 years ago, before I even knew what Asperger’s is or even that it existed, I befriended a single mother, who’s teenage son had (as his school referred to) learning and behavioral problems. During the friendship, the friends son was officially diagnosed by a psychiatrist as having Asperger’s. In the meantime her son and I developed a close relationship, this led to me completing a diploma in Asperger’s counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy in order to try and support him, and understand his behavior.

This was also the beginning of my journey to understanding myself better, all my life I was classed as a “loner”, I had frequent meltdowns, could not stay in a relationship, battled to communicate my feelings, read body language and facial expressions, had a complete obsession with music and studies, and even to this day battle to make eye contact with people,  and up to that point did not have any idea why.

So instinctively as a teenager I realized I was different, so I enrolled in drama classes, the schools debate team, and thus learned how to connect “the correct” facial expression with the matching emotion. As for the meltdowns, it was a slightly different story, it took me another 20 years, and many failed relationships, to learn how to control those. I even took several anger management courses, thinking that was the cause of what was going on with me.

Getting Assessed

So to get back to me realizing I myself had Asperger’s, I decided after completing my diplomas to take the Asperger’s assessment to better understand how the assessment worked and how it would better benefit my clients I was working with at the time. To my surprise, I scored a 9 out of 10, the penny then dropped and I had a huge “Aha” moment as I realized why my teenage behavior had been so “different” to the other children I had been in contact with during my schooling years.

At first I was devastated, I felt broken, and suddenly my label had changed from being “normal” to being an “Aspie”. It took me almost a year and a lot of studying and research to realize that actually nothing at all was wrong with me, my obsession with music has led to a very successful DJ career, and my obsession with studying has led to me having almost 500 diplomas and certifications in various fields. It has also helped me to understand my clients, who are on the spectrum, and myself, so much better. Currently, to the best of my knowledge, I am the only Asperger’s coach in South Africa, who actually has Asperger’s, this puts me in a very unique position to be even better equipped to assist both children and adults that are also on the spectrum, from a personal view.

Managing Meltdowns and Finding Supports

My meltdowns have almost completely disappeared, because I have taught myself (as I now do with my clients) to recognize when they are about to happen, and then I manage it by either excusing myself and walking away from the situation, alternatively (also being a meditation instructor), breathe my way through it bringing my beta brainwaves which go into overdrive down to alpha, which calms and relaxes me. I often also use Hertz frequency music to manage my moods, so meditation, NLP, CBT and EFT techniques combined with Hertz frequency music helps me to navigate my day.

I have now been married for 10 years to the most amazing man, who understands and supports me on my journey. We work together and are in each other’s company almost 24/7 and I sometimes do not know how he manages to do it. He always seems to know when I need space and when not. He has never failed to support me through the rough days as well as the good ones. The point here I am trying to make is that with the correct support system, no matter how “different” your brain is, you CAN do anything you set your mind to.

Asperger’s South Africa

Quite recently I have started a non-profit company called Asperger’s South Africa to help assist and create awareness for those who have Asperger’s Syndrome, or those supporting someone with Asperger’s Syndrome in South Africa, as it is completely misunderstood here. I also manage and run a Facebook page with the same name, which thus far is a huge success as the members help each other with support and advice, where needed. This also ranges from parents whose children have been diagnosed to adults who themselves have been diagnosed, it is open to anyone filling the criteria and the link is below if you would like to join. I am in the process of starting a monthly support group on zoom for the members of the group, and look forward to giving feedback in my next post to how that is going.

Although my step into Asperger’s was a giant leap, every day is still one step closer to master my communication and social skills, it is a never ending story and a constant work in progress.


-Rian Pelati (Esq.,Dip.Couns.,Dip.CL.Psy.,Dip.Psy.,F.Inst.T.M.,)

Asperger’s South Africa | Facebook

Headshot of Rian Pelati

I have numerous certifications and accreditations in different fields of life coaching including Asperger’s coaching. I hold my diplomas with the College of management Sciences in London in counselling (awarded with distinction), clinical psychology in the field of Asperger’s Syndrome (awarded with distinction) and in cognitive psychology (awarded with distinction). I hold further accreditations with The Institute of Therapies Management London, (Esq.,Dip.Couns.,Dip.CL.Psy.,Dip.Psy.,F.Inst.T.M.,) I have 25 years experience as a life coach practitioner. I also hold accreditations with the Complimentary Therapists Accredited Association. To the best of my knowledge I am the only Aspergers coach in South Africa with Asperger’s.