Asperger's and Autism...Mental Disability?

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TwinkleQueen
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23 Dec 2016, 3:36 pm

I have Asperger's syndrome, and there's a younger girl at my school with the same condition; however, she seems to have worse behavioral issues and appears much lower functioning. For example, she once got in trouble for stalking and harassing another student and, when this was addressed by teachers, she didn't even know what harassment was or that her actions counted as harassment. She's in high school, but I once saw her watching cartoons on her computer meant for preschoolers that I watched when I was much younger (personally I like some things I should've outgrown long ago too, like stuffed animals, dolls, and things I grew up with over things I should be into right now, but I know better than to take these things to school with me or mention my fondness for them in environments where I could be noticed and picked on by other people). She also apparently has difficulties with sharing, and she and another special needs girl had to be banned from the school chamber chorus because of their continuous disruptions that got so out of hand that most of the chorus actually started quitting. My friend, who has a younger brother with lower-functioning Asperger's syndrome, described her as being mentally and emotionally six years old, which confused and surprised me because I previously assumed that part of the criteria for Asperger's diagnosis was the lack of mental disabilities. I asked her if Asperger's technically counted as a mental disability, and if therefore that rendered me mentally disabled, and she basically answered yes, since Asperger's syndrome influences someone's mental state. I know that autism affects everybody differently, and I'm aware that some people are autistic to the point of intellectual disability, but I didn't know that the same applied for Asperger's, and that really bothers me. I'm really self-conscious about my diagnosis because I'm afraid that it means I'm slower and closer to being intellectually impaired than everyone else (I know that it causes social impairments and I may have a harder time processing information than most people while also giving me strengths that other people may not have). I hate that it classifies me as being special needs, and when I first started public school, I was relegated to the short bus because the special education board was unfamiliar with me, was uncertain if I'd be able to handle the regular bus, and wanted to be safe, though I was deeply insulted nonetheless (I understand some autistic people can't handle the overstimulation, but I was still angered and offended). I was also initially put in classes with special education kids who were mostly either annoying or didn't care or put effort into their work or appreciate education, while I wanted to be more like my friend with the autistic brother, who is very wise, compassionate, and insightful for her age, or my crush, a motivated, driven overachiever who put his everything into his work and grades, has his future planned, and has high honors. Though I'm on the honor roll now, in an AP English class (where I admittedly struggle with decoding symbolism in the works we read and seeing things that everyone else sees), and know I'm pretty intelligent in some areas, I still often feel somewhat dumber and slower than everybody else in some areas, and feel like I'm still far away from being like my friend or my crush, who I look up to and admire. As I mentioned in another post, I actually got so obsessed with my crush that I had to be hospitalized after he started dating someone else. I try to be normal and know I'm lucky compared to people who are much lower-functioning than me, but then I struggle with occasional behavior problems at home and have outbursts like I did in the days leading up to my hospitalization when I just can't handle things not going as desired, and sometimes I wonder if I'm not as old mentally as I am physically, as intelligent and insightful as I know I can be when given the chance, or as mature as I seem or try to be. So... is autism a mental disability? Am I technically mentally disabled? Does the same apply for everyone with Asperger's syndrome?



Fraser_1990
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23 Dec 2016, 3:52 pm

Aspergers is both a collection of disabilities and abilities. As you say, everybody with Aspergers is different, so we all have different strengths and weaknesses in different areas.

To be honest, I tend to hesitate calling it a "disability". I think of Aspergers as more of a set of characteristics that merely make up who we are.

My ability to connect with other people and have deep and meaningful relationships is almost none existent, even although it's something I want so badly. So I consider this a "disability". On the other hand, my ability to be able to analyse detail and understand logic is second to none. So I consider this an "ability". Both are down to my characteristics of being an aspie.


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League_Girl
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23 Dec 2016, 4:13 pm

Asperger's is also a spectrum so some with it are normal because they can function well in society vs some who can't function so they act like they are intellectually impaired and have very poor social skills and emotions at a very young age level so they will be what you called handicapped or disabled. Yes it is a disability. I prefer if people say it's not a disability for them or if they say they don't see theirs as disability because they would only be speaking of themselves.


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searsdp04
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11 Jan 2017, 9:00 pm

I refuse to call my autism a disability. I have a masters degree for goodness sakes. I have trouble with social situations, but IQ wise I'm normal. I refuse to call it a disability it is who I am!



somanyspoons
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11 Jan 2017, 9:39 pm

Did autism cause you inability to hit the return button and make paragraphs?

:) Please don't be offended. That's just one heck of a work wall. More people will read your stuff if you keep it brief and break it into short paragraphs.



somanyspoons
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11 Jan 2017, 9:52 pm

What you are describing is why they call it Autism SPECTRUM disorder. Spectrum means that there is a whole range of different ways to be autistic.

And you are very typical of autistic people in that you are not so sure how you feel about this.

Personally, I think it's a good thing to de-stigmatise the whole autism spectrum by including people who are very able and those who really need a lot of help. That way, when people think "autism" maybe they will think about smart people and not be so quick to judge that we are all suffering terribly and need to be rescued from ourselves.

On the other hand, it's hard for my ego to know that I've got the same diagnosis as someone who really isn't able to do a lot on their own.

Professionals are trying to address this issue by labeling us ASD 1, 2, or 3. If you have autism 1 like me, that means you need minimal support. If you have autism 3, that means you need total support. Note that they aren't judging how smart you are anymore. The levels are just about how much support you need.

Aspergers is an outdated term that a lot of us (including myself) keep using. It's outdated because doctors and parents abused it. It's supposed to basically mean Autism 1, but a lot of people used it for kids who need a lot of help, because they were afraid of the stigma of calling their kid autistic. They didn't want people to simply give up on their kid, and I can understand that. Most parents want the best for their kid.

You are going to hear a lot of different opinions on this on wrongplanet, but I do believe that austism/aspergers is a disability. It's also a way of being in the world that includes a lot of wonderful things. We have an important role to play as innovators and outsiders. But it's still, IMO a disability.

I don't have the ability to make relationships the way I want to. I don't have the ability to do as much as I want with my career. Don't get me wrong, I have a great life. But I would have loved to experience being in a loving relationship, or being a successful teacher. I can't do these things because aspergers got in the way.

I also watch childish TV and have some meltdowns and places where I'm immature. That's my aspergers. But I don't see childish TV as a sign of disability. I watch what I like. F it if people have a problem with that. I'm not hurting anyone.



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11 Jan 2017, 11:42 pm

searsdp04 wrote:
I refuse to call my autism a disability. I have a masters degree for goodness sakes. I have trouble with social situations, but IQ wise I'm normal. I refuse to call it a disability it is who I am!


I wish only having trouble in social situations was the extent of my autism, rather than how significantly it has crippled my cognitive abilities. Not my intelligence. I have plenty of people telling me how intelligent I am. But still I can't function on many basic levels without a lot of assistance.


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Jacoby
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12 Jan 2017, 12:15 am

It is a disability most definitely with comorbid depression and anxiety disorder, maybe I would of been better off if I had a more nurturing upbringing and wouldn't of developed these issues with depression and anxiety and my autism wouldn't seem so. People have always thought I was smart, they get this idea that I am way more functional than I really am and it's incredibly frustrating trying to communicate my difficulties since I am so self conscious about my issues to begin with so it all plays into each other.



somanyspoons
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12 Jan 2017, 3:51 am

EzraS wrote:
searsdp04 wrote:
I refuse to call my autism a disability. I have a masters degree for goodness sakes. I have trouble with social situations, but IQ wise I'm normal. I refuse to call it a disability it is who I am!


I wish only having trouble in social situations was the extent of my autism, rather than how significantly it has crippled my cognitive abilities. Not my intelligence. I have plenty of people telling me how intelligent I am. But still I can't function on many basic levels without a lot of assistance.



Yes. Because people with masters degrees never have disabilities! (This is sarcasm.)

People with all sorts of disabilities graduate with masters and phD's. I know someone who uses a wheelchair who has a law degree (masters) and several who are deaf with advanced degrees. I know several people with dyslexia or ADHD with advanced degrees. And yes, several people with ASD and advanced degrees, too.

I have a masters. But I'm not normal with my IQ. I am above average in most IQ standards and below average in my auditory processing IQ. Pretty typical for ASDers.

The "social situations" are my disability, as are some executive functioning skills. It's not easy going through life with this as a weak spot, but I manage very well. I give myself credit for managing though. I don't just blow off the extra effort I have to make.



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12 Jan 2017, 6:11 am

If a person has a problem with their legs that means they can't walk and have to use a wheelchair they are considered disabled because of the problem with their legs. That doesn't say anything about their intellectual capability or ability to use their arms skillfully or work or anything else. That's a pretty non-controversial use of the term "disability" - the person in the wheelchair can be a top athlete, a physics genius, a master of the stock market or anything else and the problem with the legs still gets the "disability" label.

In a similar way, an autistic person who has a problem with social and emotional communication that impacts their interactions with other people has a disability. That doesn't say anything about their strengths, which may be great, but acknowledges that they need help in some specific area. All it means is that there is some area, or some areas, where the person is not able to function without accommodations or other help.

A person with autistic traits who doesn't have any difficulties would be considered "subclinical" and not get a diagnosis because part of the diagnostic criteria is that the traits mean the person requires some help. Some people hover around the edge of that line, seeming not to be disabled while they have supports in place, losing the ability to function when the supports are not there.

That person can be a rocket scientist, master of programming, stock market genius, athlete, actor or architect because of their tremendous abilities and still be considered disabled because of their need for accommodations or assistance in some specific area.

It's not some shameful thing, it just means you really do need some help in some area, just like the many other great people who have some kind of disability.

So yes, it's a disability and it's mental. Technically, the person with the diagnosis is mentally disabled. The spectrum is very broad though, so in functional terms that could mean anything from Sir Anthony Hopkins to a person who cannot look after themselves at all, needing continuous care. This means it's probably more useful in most situations to be quite specific about your disability and the accommodations or supports you need than to discuss yourself as mentally disabled, which may imply a higher degree of disability.


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12 Jan 2017, 7:44 am

I have multiple mental disabilities. AS is just one part. However, the Tory government doesn't agree with me on that...


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