What is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Aspergers is not a form of mental illness. It is neurological; a difference in the hard-wiring and structure of the brain, and has nothing to do with the mind (mental, psychological). Basically, most people think it’s a software issue when it’s simply different hardware.
Society prefers to see Aspergers as a mental illness. The neurotypicals in it fail to see how immensely anti-social they are towards Aspies. It’s human nature for everyone to only think about their own comfort. They lack empathy and are mind-blind towards Aspies. If this wasn’t so, they’d realize the pain and suffering Aspies are constantly forced to endure.
Such misconstrued perceptions fit in with the manipulative desire to ‘fix’ Aspie children and reject Aspie adults. Society’s power (from its division of financial strength) enables this delusion rather than removing it.
Genetic markers for autism DO NOT match at all with those for Aspergers.
There is a genetic component to Aspergers that runs in families. No one sees the world in the same intricate details as an Aspie.
Because Aspergers is a different way of thinking that’s not shared with the rest of society, Aspies are not allowed to be the final authority for deciding how Aspergers gets defined.
Because Aspergers is too complicated and confusing for most of the experts to distinguish from autism, it is lumped in with autism by conveniently using the word spectrum.
Because many Aspies (especially older ones and females) can appear to be neurotypical to those unfamiliar with Aspergers, excluding undetectable Aspies from receiving a diagnosis provides an excuse for people to not make accommodations for this minority culture.
Those who hold the power to credentialize what Asperger’s syndrome is are backed by a population that far exceeds the one it prejudicially scrutinizes. It’s as if Aspies are criminals because of not abiding by the same rules that neurotypicals believe to be the only correct way for living. If this wasn’t so, then there wouldn’t be any problem with tolerating neurodiversity.
If neurodiversity was honored, many local and state chapters of prominent national autism organizations would not continue to remain generally unwelcoming to parents and individuals with Asperger Syndrome. I too have my own personal experience of this from the Hudson Valley Chapter of Autism Society of America that dominates my area.
Organizations like Autism Speaks and Autism Society of America do their best to appear as if they’re supporting everyone on the autism spectrum. If they really were supportive, then they would not be doing all they can to silence sources of information which go contrary to their agenda. As with politics, they know how to manipulate words, statistics, and people, to suit their goals.
Not enough time has passed to say whether or not the education industry shall strive for complete accuracy with what’s taught to its future PhD graduates about Aspergers. In my opinion (that I hope is incorrect), I doubt it. It wouldn’t be any different than how Lamaze classes got to be so popular today.¹
Ideally, professionals on the autism spectrum should be working as a team side-by-side with those not on the spectrum. Since that’s not typically the case, the NT team generally remains clueless over the benefits gained by being united. Those who are united are way ahead in knowledge than those divided.
From years of what I’ve observed, Neurotypicals — no matter how highly educated they may be — are not able to comprehend Aspies as well as Aspies can potentially grasp an understanding of how the NT mind works (provided that Aspies have trustworthy NTs around to collect accurate data from). This is why, even with research, most things that NT experts claim will always be speculations in comparison to what an enlightened Aspie has to offer.
The key to unlocking Asperger mysteries is in open communication between the mature adults of both the neurotypical and Aspie cultures. Communication does NOT exist by observing children on the autism spectrum and then drawing assumptions based on their behavior.
I strongly recommend neurotypicals read:
Keep this in mind → Aspergers is who one may be; not what one has.
Too much misinformation has spread because of panicking mothers with children on the spectrum starting organizations without putting forth effort or time towards learning what they could from people who have already lived in the same shoes as their AS children.
There should be no fear of Aspergers and/or Aspies any more than one for a particular racial population. Being wired neurologically different deserves the same kind of respect and acceptance as having a genetically different skin color. There is no reason for prejudice just because the former is not visible on the outside and the latter is.
Many Aspies have issues with proprioception, but an Asperger’s spatial ability is often (not always) unparalleled in the wider population — Aspies who graduate from a university are more likely to work in engineering (various forms) than any other field, and this simply would not happen without a keen spatial awareness. Most employed Aspie adults I hear of are basically treated like slaves in the sense that rarely do they get hired for jobs they’re qualified to do. Instead, Aspies get hired for jobs like factory work, stocking shelves, janitorial duties, etc. Exceptions to this rule are usually due to location (Silicon Valley, NASA, etc.). If that’s not discrimination, I don’t know what is!
There are some brilliant self-employed Aspies who would never dare let others know they are Aspies, because they’re afraid of the negative consequences it could bring to their careers. These people create the best quality products and services worldwide. Their work ends up receiving top recognition through publications, but silence exists on how Aspergers made their high achievements possible. If it wasn’t for their Aspergers, they wouldn’t be great masters of the fields they are in. So what happens then? Aspergers gets more negative attention than positive.
Most Aspies have at least some repetitive behaviors/rituals, but few have OCD — Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is a type of Anxiety Disorder (mental illness). People with OCD are usually troubled greatly by their condition, which causes them great anguish. But if these rituals are performed by someone who others could describe as anal retentive, and they don’t trouble that person, then we are probably looking at a condition called OCPD — Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is considered a character trait/flaw, and is not a form of mental illness. OCD and OCPD are very different and distinct from each other. Up to 85% of Aspies could fit the criteria for OCPD.
It’s my guess that there are not enough AS adults speaking up in defense of Aspergers. I can understand why that may be. It’s hard to believe the influence of older adult Aspies can be worth much when opposition exists most of the time.
Take for example the blind attitude of superiority displayed on FAAAS (Families of Adults Affected by Asperger’s Syndrome), Inc.’s website. Here is a quote from their front page: “Neuro-typical spouses have most of the answers to the questions being asked about adult Asperger’s Syndrome individuals’ lifestyles, behaviors.” For the last decade, groups like this have been promoting the idea that prolonged family contact with Autistic adults in romantic or family relationships is harmful to “normal” people. When names like Dr. Tony Attwood and Dr. Isabelle Hénault are associated with large hate groups like FAAAS, it compounds the growing prejudice against Aspies.
Without any counter-balancing organization like FABAS (Families of Adults Blessed by Asperger’s Syndrome) to tell the world about all the positive attributes of having an adult Asperger relative, the public will increase the already existing bigotry towards AS people.
Is it any wonder Aspies get labeled as being anti-social when they are always made aware of how much they’re not wanted just because they don’t think the same way as most others do and NTs don’t want to put forth the effort to better understand Aspies?
Many people want to speak in behalf of autism awareness, but it’s one situation where many is not as important as who is speaking. Mature aspies/auties, generally speaking, can’t be heard through the voice of a parent, spouse, or organization giving their interpretation. True autism awareness must come straight from the source. That source is adults who are on the autism spectrum themselves. Many are bloggers. Some sites where some can be found are on: Autism and Empathy: Dispelling Myths and Breaking Stereotypes, the autistic blogger’s feed (furthest left column) on the Autism Blogs Directory, Alltop Autism Directory, and The Autism Hub.
Be highly cautious about judging yourself or anyone else to either be or not be an Aspie based upon what you hear on television, read in a book, or find on certain popular autism websites. There is no one ideal source for information about Aspergers, but some are better than others. If you’d like to begin gaining insight, I recommend reading The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood and Theory of Mind and the Triad of Perspectives on Autism and Asperger Syndrome by Olga Bogdashina. Most library systems have Tony Attwood’s book available, but not Olga Bogdashina’s. A good quick and simple book is All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann. It is 64 pages of expressive photos with brief text written primarily for children, but adults can benefit from and enjoy this book too. Plus, it’s a good one to leave on your coffee table for conversation.
As shocking as this may sound, most psychiatrists and psychologists — along with most who work in the public school system — (in my opinion) still should not be trusted to tell you if you, or your family member, has Aspergers… especially in court ordered situations. The level of misdiagnosing that occurs is shocking, but yet accepted. Most Asperger adults, who discover that they’re an Aspie, do so by doing their own homework. A lot of them then seek someone reputable who specializes in this field to receive a formal diagnosis for confirmation. Professionals in this area of expertise gain their education through what they learn from Aspies. Hans Asperger, the ‘discoverer’ of this syndrome,² is a classic example of one.
I share the same opinion as others who believe Aspergers does not belong on the autism spectrum. Those of us who hold this less-known view are often required to use the term High Functioning Autism because of how much has already spread into the mainstream which creates confusion.
Ideally, the best way to understand Aspergers is to live with an Aspie (that’s assuming you unconditionally love that person). Too many don’t, so the next best alternative is to befriend one. If that’s not possible, then read what you can find said by Aspie adults.
If you are an Aspie adult, you probably would enjoy the company of others who think like you do. If you can’t find a group of Aspie adults close to where you live yet, then consider starting one yourself. The key is to do a lot of diverse advertising and be patient. If you’re fortunate to live in the Hudson Valley region of New York and are looking for a group to meet with, there is one in Kingston, N.Y. It is now a member of GRASP (The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership). More information on this group may be found at Aspies of the Round Table (same group; original name).
If you’re wondering whether or not you might be an Aspie too, videos and some movies are excellent supplements to go along with what Aspies write.
I would like to bring attention to a paragraph in bold text near the bottom of the New York Time’s article A Powerful Identity, a Vanishing Diagnosis by Claudia Willis (published last November 2nd) that seems to not get the full attention it deserves:
The proposed elimination of autism subtypes comes at the very moment when research suggests that the disorder may have scores of varieties. Investigators have already identified more than a dozen gene patterns associated with autism, but Dr. Lord, of Michigan, said the genetic markers “don’t seem to map at all into what people currently call Asperger’s or P.D.D.”
What puzzles me is, “How can something be a subtype of something else that’s unrelated genetically?” In spite of more than a dozen gene patterns associated with autism not seeming to map at all into what people currently call Asperger’s, the identity of Asperger’s will still be an autism subtype?
According to categories, it seems I may be in the neuro-A-typical subtype called “The Logic Boy” under the Asperger Subtype. FamilyEducation.com will tell you that this often very bright individual with a high IQ needs an adequate reason or else he won’t listen. He does not blindly accept rules others try to enforce on him, because he has his own reasons and explanations. If it doesn’t make sense, it is not logical or acceptable to this Aspie subtype. I say, “What’s wrong with that, especially when a person is very bright with a high IQ?” If you read the rest of this subtype’s short description, be aware you won’t be told that “behavioral issues decrease” really means “sheeple issues increase.”
¹I asked my psych professor in college what caused women to think they needed to pay for classes to learn how to give birth to a baby. It was the same interesting answer that my midwife (who wisely didn’t insist on me learning the Lamaze technique) told me. Obstetricians nurtured the fear of childbirth to increase the percentage of women who want to go to a hospital when in labor. They also performed an excessive amount of cesarean operations for the same reason — financial profit. Obstetricians and midwives know that fear increases pain.
I didn’t need to be told all that information since I already knew it. I only wanted it confirmed out loud for others to hear. If Lamaze classes are needed for decreasing labor pain, then how did I manage to home birth my children relatively pain-free without having had any child-birth classes or drugs?
²Hans Asperger used the term syndrome in 1944 to describe the complex of concurrent things he discovered to exist among certain children in his practice. He did not imply that these children were diseased. This is what modern society began injecting into this label fifty years later.