Let's get one thing straight about being an Aspie

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23 Jan 2008, 4:07 am

zendell wrote:
I hate being autistic (HFA). I was very depressed and hated my life until I found out it was treatable. Higher functioning AS people may have some benefits but if you're not as high functioning, can't work, don't have any friends, etc. there is nothing to like.

You know what? I don't really mind you saying you hate being autistic, go ahead, like or hate whatever you want.

But the moment you start dictating other people's opinion of ourselves... no. It's wrong. Don't presume to know what other people are thinking just because you happen to think that one way of being is better than the way they are. Some of us are going to like being autistic and some are not. And that's going to be true no matter what functioning level happens to be assigned to us.

Additionally, science contradicts you. According to Michelle Dawson (who's involved in the research, and who I don't fully agree with, but she's got a point), if you take standardized testing, and give it to autistic people, you get a couple of things. You have one pattern of strengths occurring in people with AS (or, as I prefer to see it, people who had relatively normal speech at an early or "on time" time). You have another pattern of strengths occurring in autism (or, as I prefer to see it, "everything else"). That pattern of strengths in autism is not dependent on whether the person is considered LFA or HFA. A person considered LFA can have less of that, more of that, or the same amount of that as someone who is considered HFA. In fact this is true to such an extent that it's bringing the whole concept of LFA and HFA as scientifically-valid models into question. If strengths are "something to like", then you're completely wrong.

You might be interested in this:

Who thinks what about being autistic?

If you click that link you'll get quotes that entirely defy the stereotype you just repeated. (Not that there aren't people who do fit it, but only in the "stopped clock is twice right a day" sense.)

You might also be interested in this:

Dispelling some myths about autism. (It dispells a couple of your own myths. I would like to point out though that her experience of "low functioning" as "oblivious" is not universal.

And this:

Larry Bissonnette, Jonathan Lerman and the Profound Joy of Autism

Larry is what you call classic autistic. So I ask him outright, “Do you want to be cured of your autism?”

“People who think your disability is a sickness need to be cured of their ignorant attitudes.” I smile, he smiles, we high-five. We have a moment of understanding and his sense of humor becomes so apparent.

Larry, for reference, was institutionalized a huge chunk of his life with diagnoses of autism, mental retardation, and schizophrenia. He's considered low functioning by most people. He can speak but not always intelligibly, so he types sometimes, and also types because he's echolalic and finds typing easier than speaking.

And I once wrote the following, directed at some autistic people who think that their way of being is better than mine just because they're considered higher-functioning than I am (note that I don't buy into the labels myself, so I'm going for sociological categories here). This was originally posted somewhere that gets comments, so the first thing is directed at commenters, not people here. It's called "Why do you think I must want to be like you?" And, for reference, I've been to hell and back and I still don't mind being autistic.

(I can now tell from the first comment that people who do not want all autistics to be of the same general type may take offense at the question. If you’re not doing this, you’re not the person I’m asking the question of. There are plenty of autistic people who do think that all other autistic people want to be roughly like them.)

This was the question I was asking when I wrote The Oak Manifesto. But it was not just a question directed at non-autistic people.

Non-autistic people do frequently hold the opinion that everyone must want to be like them. That, in fact, those of us who think non-autistic people do a good enough job being non-autistic but that we’d rather be autistic, are just repressed, in denial, hiding something from ourselves. Many autistic people have written and spoken eloquently about why these opinions about us are false.

But few autistic people have taken on the same opinion when held by autistic people about their own — real or perceived — category of autistic people. It is taken as a given that certain ways of being autistic are just self-evidently better.

When I was a child, my life was being directed by those around me — without knowing it, just as “what people should do” — towards the more valued category of autie. This is not how they saw it of course, not in those terms. They saw it as being all that I could be and fulfilling my potential. But I was being guided in the direction that, unchecked, leads to the “‘valuable’ and geeky even if socially inept” sort of person.

Puberty is when among other things your brain shifts around to its adult form. If my real potential lay where everyone thought it did, I suspect my brain would have shifted more in that direction. It had its own ideas about who I should be, though, and shifted in such unpredicted ways that not even I could fully recognize myself. In hindsight, though, even as a kid I saw things going very wrong that nobody else saw and I suspect the drastic shift was partly about righting those wrongs and putting me on the course I was meant to be on. Not that any of us recognized that at the time.

At any rate, it has become more apparent over time that I am who and what I am supposed to be. (In at least four dimensions, for those who view that in only three, leave out time, and assume stagnation is implied.) Right now, I am no more meant to be the stereotype of “HFA/AS” than I am meant to be non-autistic. I stand a better chance of becoming that stereotype than I do of becoming non-autistic, but so far there is little sign of either one happening.

There is an increasingly common view among autistics that I am just an aspie (I’ll use that term within this entry as a shorthand code word for that stereotype, apologies to those who use it differently) with “co-morbid conditions” making me “low-functioning” but which could be cured to release my inner aspie. That basically I am an aspie with defects. By this viewpoint, I could not possibly object to curation because it’s not autism they want to remove, just co-morbidities. Then I could be healthy and happy. Like they are.

The first thing I object to is the term co-morbid. That term implies a negative condition going along with another negative condition. It puts all conditions described, including autism (that’s the “co-” part), in a negative light and a highly medical perspective. It simply does not belong in use here.

The root of my objection, though, will be familiar to most autistic people. Autistic people are not just non-autistic people with good things taken away or bad things added. We would lose things deeper than personality if it were possible for us to become non-autistic. Non-autistic people think often, though, “All cure would mean is taking away these bad things, what’s the fuss?”

Well I simply am not an aspie stereotype with good things taken away or bad things added. If I ever became an aspie stereotype I would lose things that are deep down and important to me. Spending my time aping that stereotype (if possible at all) would be just as draining to me as passing for non-autistic is for people who can manage that.

By this I am not saying that “aspie stereotype is to my kind of autistic as non-autistic is to autistic”. I have far more in common in the areas that the word autistic has to do with, far more, with any kind of autistic person, than I do with the average non-autistic person. But there are different sorts of autistic people, too, and we do not benefit from being forced to act like each other or become each other.

By different sorts, I do not mean the traditional diagnostic guidelines. I certainly do not mean functioning level. I do not mean differences of opinion (sorry all who try to claim this, but “wanting cure” is not and will never be a true subtype of autism, it’s an opinion that crosses all subtypes, as does its opposite). I mean something deeper and harder to define and all but unrecognized by autism professionals.

I mean the reason that Joel Smith and I could instantly comprehend each other’s body language and thought patterns without having met before. I mean why Laura Tisoncik can similarly read Larry Bissonnette very easily, why Donna Williams said she and Jim Sinclair had something in common that not all auties do.

I mean why I can identify strongly with the writing and mannerisms and general patterns of several autistic people, and less with others, who might make more sense to each other than to me. These are reflective of some of the genuine similarities and differences between us, and they cross all official lines of categorization.

You can’t unwrap all these supposedly “co-morbid” conditions from me and release my inner aspie, any more than you can unwrap autism from any autistic person and release their inner non-autistic person. You can certainly look beyond your assumptions about appearances and perhaps see something far different than you initially realized, but that is not the same as us really having an inner NT or something.

Of course, you could divide me up that way. It would be really easy. You could say, “Okay, this person has symptoms of Tourette’s, catatonia, OCD, stamina issues, migraines, seizures, central pain, self-injurious behavior, and fill-in-the-blank for pages.” You could medicalize every single part of me but what you deemed the acceptable, autistic part, and you could try really hard to “fix” all those things (or in some cases imagined things) to release my inner aspie. But why are you so sure I have an inner aspie to begin with? And why are you so sure some of those things you’re trying to remove aren’t attached? (Here’s where I get told I’m advocating no medication for seizures, I bet. No.)

I’m saying the above simply because I know one of the common replies to this kind of post is “You must only be autistic and not have these other problems and just don’t understand how difficult it is, etc.” No. I just happen to view myself very differently than some other people with the same string of diagnoses and potential diagnoses. Don’t ever confuse viewpoints with diagnostics. So many people who remember that when it comes to being autistic and having viewpoints against cure, forget it when it comes to being the kind of autistic that everyone wants to turn into a different kind of autistic.

So no — to people who believe this sort of thing — I have no particular desire to be like you. No more, perhaps, than your desire to be like me, that you make so clear in your assumptions that it’s just plain better to be like you. I’m sure you’ve said similar words before, to non-autistic people. It’s also true that autistic people can convey similar concepts (words or not) to each other, as I am doing to you.

I will go through my life trying my best to be whoever I am meant to be. Who I am meant to be has often conflicted with the wishes of others, with the false constructs of proper lives that people’s minds come up with, with the values of any given society, and with many other things, not through any desire for conflict, but because of a steady and unyielding push in directions that are perhaps less traveled and less valued. This is not something I chose but it is not wrong. I am connected to the rest of the world, and I have a particular place in it, and I will do my best to be in that place, wherever it moves. The things I am saying here are not limited to me, nor am I claiming perfection or lack of struggle or hardship, merely that there are many roles to fill in the world and what people commonly think of as what people need to be doing is not always what we need to be doing.

Right now, my place is not to be an aspie stereotype, any more than it is to be a non-autistic person. Both have been expected of me at times, but neither has been all that forthcoming in the general plan of things.

Meanwhile, the way I am, the way all of us are, has a point to it. The point is not to make all autistics into copies of the ideal autistic any more than it is to make us into copies of the ideal non-autistic. We are different from each other for the same reason we are different from non-autistic people. And as usual, difference does not mean we need to be fixed or should long to be like those who think we automatically should want to be like them.

"In my world it's a place of patterns and feel. In my world it's a haven for what is real. It's my world, nobody can steal it, but people like me, we live in the shadows." -Donna Williams


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23 Jan 2008, 4:23 am

normal is a three-dimensional vector which is perpendicular to a surface!

I'm not depressed. I'm less anxious than many NTs. cure this!

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23 Jan 2008, 4:32 am

Its part of who I am, and I wouldn't care to be someone different. If taking away any negative aspie traits would me changing me even slightly, then I'd say its an easy choice to remain Aspie. Then again, thats probably my aspie stubborness speaking. :wink:

"The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education." - Albert Einstein

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23 Jan 2008, 4:44 am

I am grateful for what I've been given. I am autistic and this is my mind, strength, and identity. I wouldn't be the strong scientist I am without the intrinsically analytical mind I've been given. In Greek, the word 'aut' means 'mind' and this is where I reside.

Yes, it's hard being a (high-functioning) autistic but I am grateful and would not choose otherwise.

From the definition of zero: "In the mind there is infinity between the void." Autistics are infinite in fractal detail.

As far as happy? Well, tortured genius? I've been described as such. I'm working on trying to be less tortured though (ouch).

The ones who say “You can’t” and “You won’t” are probably the ones scared that you will. - Unknown


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23 Jan 2008, 5:37 am

I took the Popeye cure.

"I yam what I yam, and that's all what I yam."

I can accept my perfection, at least one other perfect person does, nothing else counts.

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23 Jan 2008, 5:45 am

On most days, I like being an Aspie.
On certain days, I hate it.

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23 Jan 2008, 5:59 am

I'm a happy to be Aspie! I'm just glad that I did ABA! :)

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23 Jan 2008, 6:29 am

stevechoi wrote:
Do you guys actually LIKE being an Aspie? Do you wish you were normal?

There are thousands of posts regarding Asperger. But I want to know, do you guys actually like being one? Or do you just like talking about it?

I don't mean any disrespect, I'm an Aspie myself. I know for sure it's not a good thing, because of the depression and anxiety that comes with it.

HOW do you know it isn't a good thing? I keep comparing AMD and INTEL but DANG IT if it isn't such a BEAUTIFUL comparison!

Recently, a guy, who clearly knows NOTHING about computers, but claims to, was surprised to see that I had an AMD based computer. He said he heard they were SLOWER! Through most of AMDs history with intel, they have done things like created chips that run at 1.53Ghz and given them names like 1800! WHY? Because the chip, in general, was SO much faster, that the AMD at 1.53Ghz ran like an intel chip at 1.8Ghz! BTW, to continue to show his ignorance, he said that my computer was MUCH faster than his, implying he believed it was the processors efficiency. He didn't even know how fast the clock was. Anyway, AMD IS slower in SOME things, though even THOSE might be faster if it is run at the same real clock speed.

So how is that similar to aspergers? BOTH are processors! BOTH can do the same things! BOTH appear better from different views. BOTH, if all things are given equal weight, might appear roughly equal. The AMD processor has a bit of a disadvantage because it is always trying to look something like an INTEL chip. INTEL is generally the winner because it was there first and has the biggest numbers. HECK, AMD has an A in it, and INTEL has an NT!

But, who knows. Most people NEVER really try to use their potential. I know I haven't. I am trying to do things now I never wanted to do before, but probably should have. I think EVERYONE has far more potential than they ever try to use, even most of those that test with pretty low IQs. Maybe those people, that feel AS is SO bad, haven't given themselves much of a chance.

Did you know that the average CPU only does ONE thing when it starts up? It simply goes to a location, and tries to run an instruction there. Under normal circumstances, it will then CRASH!
An IBM PC can do what it does ONLY because a little program called the BIOS is there and it runs the BDOS which then loads a program that loads a program that starts up the OS. If you pull out that ONE chip, the best computer will seem useful for nothing but a doorstop!

With people, that BDOS could be considered equivalent to an initiative or drive. Even an NT without one would seem like an idiot.


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23 Jan 2008, 6:39 am

I'm happy being Aspie. :) I admit there are sometimes disadvantages to it, but I couldn't imagine myself being any other way, and I find that things like paying greater attention to detail have helped me so much with what I do (especially with drawing). Plus, the obsessions are always fun to have! :P

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23 Jan 2008, 6:55 am

Over all, I like being an aspie. It's all i've known, so I can't compare it to anything else. Like anyone, I have my good days and my bad...but I am myself and whether or not I like it, I can't change who I am.
There are some things that I just have had to accept about myself and having AS is one of them. Theres no point in dwelling on what I can't change.

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23 Jan 2008, 7:19 am

I don't actually know, sence I havn't tried being a NT. I think I like to be an aspie - sometimes, and sometimes I hate it. But mostly, even if it sort of complicates everything, I like being an aspie. And if I ever start feeling better and so on I think I will be very happy about it...


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23 Jan 2008, 7:19 am

I haven't really put much thought into it; I seem to make it day by day just like the next human, I have some unique positives; unique negatives due to my autistic disorder/Asperger's disorder (yay for two diagnoses).

I'm just another human who has a label that explains why I do some "odd" things compared to the majority of humanity; said label doesn't define me for it doesn't control me. Said label gives the majority a reason for why I am, so they don't assume the worst when I don't look at them, talk to them, go out of my way to interact with them, etcetera.

Walkers, talkers and all that; some are both, some are one, and some change over time.

I'm just a walker, and I'm happy with that.


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23 Jan 2008, 8:25 am

Hello. I like being an Aspie. The memory and other things I get from it are more useful, I think, than the social skills I would have without it.

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23 Jan 2008, 8:31 am

I'm comfortable with who I am, but not comfortable with the state of my life at the moment, if that makes sense. I wouldn't trade in Asperger's - and thus my identity, because losing it would be a major, major change - but I wouldn't mind some extra motivation, focus and perseverance, either.


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23 Jan 2008, 8:43 am

I like my mind, I wouldn't really trade it.

I would be happy to have a switch to get it in autopilot mode for social stuff, that would make everything easier.

But if I can't get that I would stick to my current brain wiring.

Who knows? Perhaps normal people are worse than we are, and they are just better at hiding it...