I few years ago, I found out that I suffer from a disease called ATS. For those of you who don’t know, ATS (Aggressive Typing Syndrome) is a serious condition that poses serious health risks over time. I suppose I knew I suffered from ATS from an early age, but in my hubris failed to see the possibility that I was afflicted until very late.
The symptoms were subtle at first. When the rubber on the Gamecube controller began to fade after only a few matches of wavedashing in
Super Smash Bros Melee, I should have recognized it as early signs that something was wrong. Yet I persisted to believe in the false lie that I was invincible, and it wasn’t possible for me to fall victim to something as serious as ATS. How wrong I was, and in October 2008 my life changed forever with one visit to the doctor.
I was only 15.
I hid my condition for a very long time, worried that exposure would leave a permanent reaction with my family. When my parents found out, as expected they were shocked.
"How could this happen to my son?", they asked while using the nearest furniture to support themselves upright. “I don’t know”, I tried to defend myself to them. “When I get to a keyboard, my fingers naturally want to assert each keystroke with force. I don’t intend to be aggressive…All I wanted to do was type.
That's all...”. All I wanted to do was type; I told them. They didn’t believe me.
Needless to say, it was a very somber atmosphere for the next few weeks while my family processed the information.
It’s difficult to know who to blame for my condition and I try not care but the reality is that sometimes I can’t help it. ATS isn’t necessarily hereditary but it’s highly likely that it was passed down from one of my parents. On the surface level, it would be easy to blame my father, who also types hard and is an engineer. Yet, with restraint I realize that there is potential for my mother, whose
Hungarian ancestry displayed aggressive tendencies, could as well have been the culprit.
With great tenacity I have tried to not blame any of my parents, but if I will be honest resentment has built over the years over the possibility one of them has given me the condition. The good news is that we can’t be certain whom it was, so I give equal weight of plausibility of innocence with both.
The condition of ATS today has affected my daily life in a number of ways. I’ve lost count of the times where I was sitting by a potential friend, whom after several glances of me at my computer realized would slowly walk away. It is normally at this point that all hope of friendship I have realized is lost, and the tragedy ensues. “I can’t help it” I say…“I have ATS”. It normally causes a pause for a second, but shortly after they leave and I continue to be alone. Even if they give me a chance, one “click” or “clack” from the keyboard and they instantly know its time to move on.
I constantly need to get external keyboards, and as the f’s begin to fade and and the l key and o key progress to a gentle white after too many ‘lol’s, I know its only a matter of time before I need to get another keyboard. The local electronic store is always nice to me, maybe because they know I’ll be in their shop every 20 days for a refill of keyboard.
I’ve gone to sessions and have even considered preliminary treatment. Treatment begins usually in baby steps, where doctors put a keyboard in front of you and sponge buffers on your fingers. Instantly, your noise ability is restricted by the spongy surface of the fingers. This worked for a little bit of time, but without the spongy ends I quickly regressed again back into ATS.
I’m hopeful of recovery, yet after nearly 10 years of hoping I have begun to become skeptical of any improvement in my condition. Rather than fight it I have begun a new perspective of accepting it.
Even if I am to be afflicted by this condition for the rest of my life, I hope this message can prevent even one more case of ATS. For those with ATS, my message to you is simple:
Accept the condition as a part of who you are. Don't reject it, but live with those that accept it.. 10 painful years have taught me this painful lesson.
May your keys press hard and your keyboards fade,