I have Asperger’s. It’s a mild form of autism, but before anyone tries to give me their sympathy or pity let me just say that I really don’t need it. I’ve never considered autism, at least not the milder forms of it, to be a ‘condition’ or a ‘disease’. Certainly not something to be pitied.
Yeah, I do sometimes have trouble in society. Loud noises give me anxiety, crowds give me anxiety. But it’s something I’ve learned to live with.
When I was a kid, growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, autism was still widely unknown and Asperger’s was almost unheard of. As a result, I wasn’t actually diagnosed with it until I was in my early twenties. So I had to live my entire childhood trying to figure out why I was different than other kids, why I had certain quirks, certain things. But you know what? I survived. I think the biggest thing is that my mother never treated me any different than my siblings. I was still expected to do everything they could do, I did chores, homework, no one tried to tell me I was special or tried to tell me I got a special pass on things that needed to get done on life.
I don’t feel like I am all that different. I think people stigmatize autism, make it sound like some horrible debilitating illness, there are groups out there for mothers who are coping with their kid being diagnosed with Asperger’s. It really doesn’t need to be like that. We are capable of having perfectly normal lives, it’s just that we have to learn to accept that we are just a little bit different than other people. We think differently, we have things that set us off, things that make it hard to interact with others, but you know what? We can do it.
Instead of worrying about what causes Asperger’s, feeling sorry for those of us who have it, maybe look at us as people. Many of us with Asperger’s have very high IQs. Just because we may struggle socially doesn’t mean we don’t have something to offer. You just have to learn to accept us for who we are and not try to mold us into what you think we should be in order to fit in with society.
Many of the challenges I encounter in society don’t necessarily stem from me having Asperger’s. Instead, they stem from other people’s lack of understanding, and unwillingness to understand that I may not think exactly like them and that I have a different way of approaching things.
Us Aspies are people. We have a lot to offer society if society is willing to listen to us instead of shrugging us off as ‘special’ or calling us derogatory names like ‘retard.’ Because we are all pretty damn smart, we just lack communication skills. We are a lot like Data from Star Trek. Or Castiel from Supernatural. We just don’t always get things, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything we set our minds to.