“People with Aspergers are so weird”. “Have you met anyone with Aspergers? They’re a bit cold and a bit weird.” “You’re so obsessional!” “You’re so Autistic”. “Why can’t you be normal?” “Why you being such a crybaby?” “It’s not so noisy in here!” “You have an odd speaking voice” “Loner” “Eccentric” “Bitch” “Friendless” “Stop rocking!” “Be quiet!” “You’re embarrassing yourself!” “That’s not normal.” “Ha ha ha, you’re like Rainman.”
One of the things that I have noted, since being diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, is that there is sometimes a notion of shame attached to being on spectrum. Nearly all of the comments above have been said to me at one point.
But why is this? Why are we made to feel shame? And why is Autism seen as something ‘shameful’, to be hidden?
Nearly all of the comments I’ve mentioned have been said by somebody neurotypical-as in, they are not on spectrum, and therefore are considered ‘normal’, whatever that may be. (I am not trying to blame all neurotypical people, though; there are decent people. It’s the minority that is the problem.) Throughout my time in education, the traits I have manifested themselves at the most odd moments; it was almost ‘the stick’, a catalyst for people to tease, to mock, to complain, to moan, bitch, whine. (One of these was even said by a teacher!)
That made me feel awful. I was upset, sad. And I use to dream that one day I’d wake up without Aspergers, without a diagnosis.
But here’s the thing; I do not think Aspergers Syndrome, or Autism, is something to be ashamed of.
From the point of a ‘high-functioning’ individual; my traits have allowed me to achieve more than I ever thought I could. (I have built this blog, written for publication, been a JDF recipient, started an NCTJ course, met Brian May, interviewed Sir Harold Evans.) And I think that without Aspergers, I would not have achieved what I have.
I also think that hallmarks of the spectrum, as attributed to each individual, could be helpful for business; there is originality, good problem solving skills, ideas that go beyond what is seen as ordinary, decent planning organisation, etc. Why not utilise this more?
I will never be normal. But then again, I wouldn’t necessarily wish to be.
I dislike these new ideas of “curing” Autism-enough so that false cures are causing serious damage-and how Autism should be ‘hidden’. That is up to the individual on Spectrum to disclose diagnosis; yet, they should not be made to feel ashamed for it.
It may be an idealistic view for me to have, however that is not a crime. I was recently chatting to an interviewee, and this was a topic covered in the conversation after all questions had been asked. But it is almost to your own detriment to pretend that Aspergers does not exist; stereotypes are also, well, silly. (Seriously. I have had people talk slowly, loudly, to me. Because apparently I cannot comprehend what is being said.)
At the end of the day; people with Aspergers Syndrome are human too. It is their traits that make them them; they should not have to feel obliged to hide, or to suppress things such as stimming.
The notion of shame is tiresome, in this respect; it is also wrong on so many levels. Can’t we embrace the traits of the spectrum, just for once?