Today’s post is on a more personal topic, I am going to be discussing Aspergers syndrome, which myself and 700,000 people in the UK alone have been diagnosed with. Any health condition or disability is a serious matter, but I am going to make this post more humorous, so please take it with a pinch of salt. Remember, I am not trying to offend anybody, as I myself have Aspergers.
For those of you who may not know, Aspergers is high-functioning autism and is a different condition to autism itself. In this post I am going to be addressing Aspergers, some many apply to Autism as well, but I am not focusing on that directly.
“People with autism are naughty” – Many people with autism get in trouble, suspended or excluded from school: this gives the image that people with autism are all badly behaved. For starters, often the people who do get in trouble, only do so as they struggle with school whether that be the academic or social side. However there are still a lot of people with autism who are not badly behaved, but they get branded as trouble because of this misconception. This “naughty” label is most often targeted at people with Autism, but as many people don’t know the different between autism and Aspergers, we can all get treated like this.
“People with autism are weird” – People with any form of autism see, hear and feel the world differently. A way I like to describe it is that “my brain is simply just wired differently”. Nobody is normal, you can’t define normal, but we often struggle with knowing what is the correct way to act. What is socially acceptable to say and how to act can often be a struggle for people like myself, it is something I am conscious of everyday, but occasionally I slip up and this really upsets me.
“How do you make it go away?” – Autism is a development disability, it has been a part of me since I was born, it will not simply go away. It isn’t like an illness, I can’t take tablets or have therapy so I wake up one day and its gone. Many people with Aspergers say that “it is a part of their identity”. I was diagnosed at the age of 15, that means I had 15 years of feeling alone and different in the world, so having a label is a reassurance for me. Many people with Aspergers like having a label as it makes them feel like they aren’t just “weird”.
“People with autism are rude” – Probably the biggest misconception of Aspergers is that we are rude or blunt. I promise you, we are not trying to be, it’s just how we are. I make a conscious effort in social situations to be engaging and polite, but sometimes I am blunt without realising it, which can make me appear as rude when I am really not. If you know somebody with autism, please cut them some slack, don’t think that they are being rude because they most likely did not intend to.
“You don’t look like you have autism” – Aspergers is called a “hidden disability” for a reason, we don’t walk around with it plastered across our forehead, most of us try to hide it for the fear of being judged. Aspergers and autism is different in everybody, we all fit on this thing called the autism spectrum, which basically measures how “autistic” you are. You do something called an ADOS which has different categories and your difficulties in each are measured.
“People with autism are unsociable” – Social situations when you have Aspergers can be one of the most frightening things. Being surrounded with people can make you feel even more alone because you feel so different and abnormal. I often avoid social situations for the fear of being misunderstood and portrayed wrongly. If you are in a social situation with somebody with autism, please engage in conversation with them, they will appreciate it so much and you will make them feel less like an outsider.
“Why are they acting like that?” – People with autism can have heightened senses. Personally, I am sensitive to sound and find it extremely difficult to deal with loud noises or particular sounds. Another person may find certain textures or tastes of food difficult whilst another may not be able to touch certain materials. If put in a situation with their difficulties, it can lead to abnormal behaviour because they physically can’t deal with it. For me, I tend to put my hands over my ears and rock, to others this may look strange but that is the only way I can cope if I can’t get out of the situation. Some children may have “tantrums” if autism isn’t diagnosed and their parents are unaware of their vulnerabilities, it will look like they are misbehaving, when in fact they are just very distressed. Linked here and here are two amazing videos which I feel portray really well how it feels to have heightened senses.
“People with autism are unintelligent” – This links in with “people with autism are naughty”, misbehaving and bad grades are associated, but both are in fact misconceptions. Autism itself often entails people having speech development issues whilst Aspergers is the “high-functioning” autism as these speech development issues are not present. People with Aspergers are very often highly intelligent, performing higher than the national average and excelling same-age children in their class. In fact, some of the most intelligent people in history, were suspected to have had Aspergers: Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Jane Austen, Charles Darwin and Thomas Jefferson.
I sincerely hope this post doesn’t offend anybody, and in fact, it was perhaps eye-opening or interesting to read. I very much enjoyed writing this post, the words kind of just spilled onto the page, I didn’t have to think hard about what to write. Sorry about the lack of photographs, I hate using images off the internet for the sake of it, yet didn’t know what I could photograph myself that fits the topic.
Please be honest, I won’t be insulted or anything like that, did you have any of these misconceptions before reading this post? Do you personally or know anybody who suffers with autism or aspergers?
Ruby Red R0ses xoxo