Gale Molinari http://www.galesmind.com just wrote an amazing article about her Aspie friends, where she points out the ways Aspergers has made these two women even better friends to her than they might otherwise be.
It’s so wonderful to see someone write about the positive aspects of Aspergers and how this “mental disorder” gives its “victims” a depth and understanding and focus neurotypicals do not have.
There is a growing community of people with Aspergers who have started an “Aspie rights” movement who’s aim is to get Aspergers removed from the DSM and psychiatric and medical literature as a mental illness and also lobbies for it to stop being considered a handicap, disability, or even a form of mental retardation (which its more severe forms are often confused with). Aspies are not retarded. They also lobby for a more Aspie-friendly world, where for instance, instead of a face to face interview for a job, another kind of application system, such as a Instant Message interview or a written essay can better serve an Aspie applicant and show a potential employer their true talents.
Many if not most Aspies have brilliant minds and high intellectual capacity but can do little or even nothing with their minds because in order to get ahead in the western world (things apparently are easier for Aspies in places like Japan, which doesn’t rely on social gregariousness and aggression), a person must have great social skills and the ability to “think on their feet,” “network” and “schmooze” with higher ups–and always know the right thing to say at the right time.
Aspies have difficulty doing these things, and can come off as awkward, weird, lacking affect, painfully shy, lacking empathy (see my rant about THAT!), or even “slow,” so they are often overlooked for promotions or higher level work. Many people assume because they don’t communicate well verbally and sometimes seem lost in their own world, that they are stupid. But that is just one big fat lie.
Even low functioning people with autism –the ones who have to be institutionalized and cannot care for themselves (and are what most people still think of when they think of autism)–are probably extremely intelligent–but have focused ALL their attention and thinking on ONE OR TWO THINGS. They may be focusing so intensely on their topic of fascination and encyclopedic knowledge (the so-called “idiot savant” phenomenon) to the point they literally are not living in the physical world and must be cared for by others.
Higher functioning people with autism (Aspies) still tend to focus intensely on things and can become obsessed (to a point neurotypicals find weird or unhealthy) with whatever fascinates them. They hate to be interrupted by outside things or people when mentally engaged in their interests or hobbies. But since their autism is much less severe, they can still attend to the outside world if they must. But they aren’t very good at it and prefer not to.
Most Aspies were also bullied as children due to their differences and lack of ability to socialize the way others do (and their high sensitivity), and may have been bullied by their own families (especially if, as I did, they had one or more narcissistic parents or siblings) and frequent bullying can destroy any self esteem a child with Aspergers may have, making things even harder for them when they try to get a foothold in the professional world as adults. Studies have shown that high self confidence is a far better indicator of adult success in life than high intelligence is. Ever wonder why your boss is stupider than you are? Maybe he just likes himself more than you like yourself. This is why narcissists (except the needy type, who thrive on pity and handouts) usually do so well in the working world (though they fail miserably on the relationship/family front).
But I digress.
Some of the most brilliant people in history have had Aspergers (Einstein himself) and were thought to be unintelligent as children because of their slowness in learning social skills. Einstein didn’t talk until he was 3 and his teachers thought he was retarded. Anyway, my point is, because of the Internet (on which Aspies thrive–more so than in the physical world; see my article “Aspies Rule the Internet”), Aspergers is slowly losing its status as a mental illness and being recognized as a variation, much like LGBT was considered a mental illness as recently as 1973, but now hardly anyone thinks of it that way anymore, even people who are opposed to it.
Aspergers another form of autism is not well understood. Because people with Aspergers can have trouble communicating they can be assumed to be unintelligent and strange. The exact opposite is true. Because of social media I have had the pleasure of meeting two wonderfully talented women that also happen to have Aspergers. One on Word Press who has been a mentor and great supporter, the other a fabulously talented kind young lady on Facebook. Because of the nature of social media they can be more comfortable and are really able to portray themselves as they truly are without the shadow of preconceived ideas.
Some of these ideas are hateful, harmful and untrue and also damaging to the psyche.
Here is a website among many explaining Aspergers syndrome. While Aspies (as they refer to themselves) may have challenges they also excel in other things that take intense concentration and dedication…
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