My Asperger’s doesn’t automatically make me a reclusive card-counter
We’re not all like Sheldon Cooper
Living with Asperger’s can be difficult – sometimes it feels like I was simply put on the wrong planet. However, it can also offer a refreshing, unique take on life and does not mean that I don’t enjoy the same things as other people.
There are many misconceptions about Asperger’s. Although sometimes it feels like I’m on the wrong planet, Asperger’s is often not the debilitating disease that the media and public think it is – we simply have a different outlook on life to others.
It’s Asperger’s, not ‘ass-burgers’
When young Americans hear the name ‘Asperger’s’ for the first time, they inevitably giggle. While much praise must go towards Hans Asperger and the pioneering work he conducted on noticing behavioural abnormalities in children, it will always be somewhat regrettable that his second name could not have been a less funny ‘Brown,’ or ‘Leigh.’ However, even though the name is quite odd, people with Asperger’s have taken the name as our own and within the community we like to call ourselves ‘Aspies’.
I’ve heard its basically autism, right?
So there is a bit of ambiguity here. While Asperger’s is on the autistic spectrum, it is considered to be a ‘high functioning’ form, with Aspies having a relatively good level of intelligence and communication abilities when compared to more severe autistic cases.
No, we are not all card-counters and are not all asexual
Until very recently, the mainstream media has often misrepresented people with Asperger’s. We are not all savants, and therefore do not have insane maths skills or can do quirky things like recall the weather on a specific date from the past. Furthermore, more recent portrayals such as that from the Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper, while being less outlandish still often misrepresent us. Indeed, most of us are not asexual and strive for the exact same relationships as the vast majority of people.
We have specific interests, but they’re not life consuming
For me it’s maps. Many people find it odd that I will happily stare at a map for a good half hour without getting bored. These interests can change from time to time: for instance when I was younger I used to be obsessed with tornados and how they were formed. However, this does not mean to say that this is all we do. I enjoy a range of other, much more normal things like going out on a Friday night or just chilling with some friends after a day of work.
We are not uncaring people, we simply lack empathy
We are often criticised for annoying someone too much or not really respecting their feelings. On the surface this appears to be simple nastiness, however we simply find it very difficult to perceive other people’s emotions or feelings.
We are more talkative than the average person
This really goes contrary to the stereotype. Most people imagine us as being extremely reclusive, unable and unwilling to communicate with anyone. While this is the case with some debilitating cases of autism, it is often not the case with Asperger’s. We love to talk, most often about our specific interest. This has led to Aspie behaviour being labelled as ‘active but odd’.
Yes, we (allegedly) have famous members
So as the study of Autism has been around for just over half a century with Asperger’s being even shorter than that, it’s a bit difficult to tell who in the past (or even in the present for that matter) has/had Asperger’s. However, by reading biographies and observing people’s mannerisms we can make fairly accurate assertions. It surprises many people to know that many scientific figures such as Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein are suspected to have had Asperger’s. Figures from other fields such as Beethoven and Michael Jackson have also displayed Aspie-like qualities.
It’s a difference and not a disease
However, even if that was possible, I am not sure that that would be desirable. We have a keen eye for detail, along with being direct, honest, and extremely logical and have a heightened idea of what is right and wrong. Personally, I love being able to look at things from a different perspective than other people and not always conforming to social norms. It makes life refreshing, in an odd sort of way. At the end of the day, it is a difference which should be better understood rather than a disease that should be battled.