Dear Autism, A Small Request, Love Asperger

22 Oct

No offense autism, but you receive a lot of attention. If I search for you on Google, you yield 14,200,000 hits. I, on the other hand, only yield 3,860,000. On, I have 2,244 results; you have have a few more (9,466). On Twitter, you (#autism) are far more common than my incarnations (#asperger or #aspie). We have similar birthdays (1940s). Yet, you entered the DSM-III in 1980 , and “autistic” traits were noted starting in 1968. 1994 was my debut and, rumor has it, the DSM-V will be my demise.

You’ve worked really hard for this attention and awareness, and man, do you deserve it. I could hang on your coat tails. We are both on the same spectrum, as you know, but I don’t want to take your attention. I just want the world to see my shades, too. Many call me the Invisible Disability because I appear “normal”. The more my challenges present themselves, their “weirder” I look to others. But, I have struggles, too, which are variations of what you experience.

I can talk, but conversations, jokes, sarcasm, figurative and abstract language, and talking under pressure are all so challenging. I often sound more competent than I really am. I sometimes have an extremely high IQ, but this number is misused to set equally lofty expectations across areas of functioning that are not always appropriate. I am both highly aware and highly unaware of my surroundings. My internal war with anxiety is often debilitating. My “stimming” can be more subtle but no less necessary. I believe in fairness and justice, which is admirable but I’ve been told I can take this too far (although I’m still not sure what this means). I, too, get confused by those NTs, who are my coworkers, my significant others, my friends, and my adversaries (at times).

I guess, I just want those that know about you, to know about me. We are family, which is by birth, but I’d like to think we are also friends, by choice. In the battle of awareness and quest for acceptance, I stand proudly with you by my side.


Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Educating the NTs, NTs on ASD


8 responses to “Dear Autism, A Small Request, Love Asperger

  1. CorinaB

    October 22, 2010 at 11:41 PM

    see, I’ve always thought that Asperger’s is Autism, just a continuation of the same spectrum, with same difficulties. Which is why I support the merging in the DSM, because then Asperger’s will get recognized as an invisible disability more, and granted more attention.

    I wrote a piece on it, so I won’t go over it again.

  2. Rose Wade

    October 23, 2010 at 12:59 AM

    I’ve always thought Asperger’s was Autism, as well. During his evaluation, my son’s developmental pediatrician considered both Asperger’s and Autism. My son was diagnosed as having High Functioning Autism. So, he’s essentially on the borderline. He’s intelligent and very verbal. However, he relays information differently, so it often appears he doesn’t comprehend or know what he’s talking about.

    Because he’s high-functioning, to all others he appears to be a ‘normal’ child. The other children just think he’s weird, or strange. His disability isn’t obvious, but it’s there.

    High-functioning Autism seems to be an Invisible Disability also.

  3. Tam

    October 25, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    I agree with Corina and Rose. It’s a spectrum, and I don’t see a significant difference between HFA and Asperger’s — in fact, I don’t really think the doctors that diagnose it have a clear idea of what they think the difference is, and different doctors diagnose one way or the other based on different criteria.

    I DO acknowledge the polarizing in the autism community though, it seems that those who are low-functioning, or who have low-functioning children, often times become hateful to those of us on the higher end of the spectrum, Aspies or not.

    • jholverstott

      October 25, 2010 at 7:05 PM

      I think it is because of that polarization that AS gets less “attention”. Because the experiences amongst all individuals on the spectrum are similar and different, i think those that are similar to individuals with AS can be overlooked. In some ways, I am looking forward to the new DSM-V stream-lining the diagnoses into ASD.

  4. Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci

    October 25, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    My 13-year-old daughter is an extremely high-functioning Aspie. In addition to her other terrific qualities, she has a cheerful disposition, and she’s much more affectionate both physically and emotionally than many Aspies we’ve known. In addition, my husband and I went out of our way to teach her social skills. It’s amazing how knowing and using three little phrases like “please,” “thank you,” and “excuse me” can smooth her path to making friends and getting along well with teachers. Ironically, her social skills and pleasant personality can also be a double-edged sword in that, as you’ve all noted about your children, she seems “normal” (a term I’ve always thought was very elastic) until she gets stressed-out or bored and begins self-stimming, flapping her arms, or pacing back and forth spouting dialogue from her favorite films and TV shows. Ironically, that’s improving now that she’s figured out how to use these bits of dialogue in conversation, making her sound like she’s dropping pop culture references. In any case, autism and Asperger’s are both part of the same family when you get right down to it. If the proposed merging in the DSM actually helps our kids get more effective treatments for their Asperger’s-related issues, I’m for it.

  5. Jennine

    October 25, 2010 at 8:22 PM

    I don’t support the DSM on much of anything anymore. The reason so many people think Asperger’s is autism is because the DSM has decided to call everything autism, including disorders with remotely similar symptoms which diagnoses they cannot otherwise identify. Hence, when a teacher is told he will soon be receiving an autistic child, his breath catches because he has no idea what’s about to hit him. It could be a severely, classically autistic, non-verbal child. Or it could be Asperger’s syndrome–hardly noticeable, but for a few social quirks.

    My daughter has isolated sensory processing disorder. In the community, thanks to the DSM, we have to call her autistic. She will otherwise not be eligible for local programs–never mind that the population has been left (thanks to the DSM) uneducated about everything except autism, and a detailed explanation is warranted should we call her anything else.

    I realize that the ‘experts’ think they’re doing us a favor by lumping everyone in, around, or within reaching distance of the autism spectrum into a neat, cookie-cutter package. But what it’s really doing is preventing ASD individuals from being who they are, however they are, and possibly keeping them from receiving the specialized treatment their more unique needs warrant.

  6. Baloney

    November 10, 2010 at 2:22 AM

    I’m still baffled with why Asperger’s will not be included. Are they taking the other autism sub-labels out as well? I still feel like the term Aspergers is a well-defined subgroup within the autism spectrum. There are unique characteristics and challenges among the Asperger’s population.
    Will there be any advantage to having just an autism label? Not for us. In my state, my child is treated for “anxiety” because “autism” isn’t covered by insurance.


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