I hear this a lot ‘he/she has Aspergers and Autism’.
I heard it today in fact at work! One of my colleagues was serving a table who, coincidentally were from my neck-of-the-woods in Staffordshire (the mum even came from the EXACT little village that my Dad grew up in… I regret not getting her name). It was mentioned to my colleague that one of the daughters were Autistic so they’d like somewhere quite quiet. My colleague mentioned me and mentioned how I had a boyfriend who was Autistic and Aspergers.
Before I continue, I just want to assure everyone I’m not blasting my colleague. She’s a lovely lady and we get on very well. She’s very inquisitive about Dale and has even asked me to teach her some sign… so this isn’t a ‘bitching’ session against her.
When she told me, I just had to correct her. It drives me nuts when I hear people say the ‘and’ between Autism and Aspergers, as if they’re two different things.
Aspergers IS Autism!
Just the same as Melanoma is Cancer! Or Dyslexia is a Learning Disability.
I’m sure people have heard the ‘Autism Spectrum’. That’s because there are LOADS and LOADS of different characterisations and degrees of Autism. You have High Functioning and Low Functioning. Aspergers is higher on the list… but it is still Autism and should still be treated thus; not as someone who is a burden, but as someone who just needs allowances.
I’m not sure where this distinguished gap has formed between recognising Aspies as Autistic; I’d asked another colleague as she herself is married to an Aspie, but I believe it has originated initially because, as I have noted myself, Aspies tend to be harder to diagnose because they seem ‘normal’ (whatever normal is). Aspergers tend to not be the more publicised ‘Autistic Vegetable’* that just hum to themselves and have violent outbursts when touched or there’s too much volume. My Colleague mentioned that her husband was diagnosed in Canada at a fairly young age, but wasn’t diagnosed as ‘Aspergers’ but the more blanketed ‘Autistic’ because Aspergers wasn’t recognised as a Mental Condition.
The trouble with that is, because Aspies are more highly-functioning, people either denied the Autistic Diagnosis and continued their every day life, or they sent their child to a special school which dumbed them down.
I repeat, ASPERGERS is AUTISM.
It’s just a different characterisation. Aspies can still be over stimulated and have Sensory Overload. Aspies still don’t really like touch. I’m blessed to have Dale, as I have said before, who loves me cuddling him, kissing him and holding hands with him (but even then it just selected people), but some Aspies can’t stand it. Aspies can be possessive and obsessive. Aspies can be very one-track minded. Aspies can be very non-vocal.
No two Aspies are the same… the same as no two lightening bolts hit the same spot. I’ve met three other Aspies since meeting Dale.
One couldn’t stand touch, apart from his mum. He couldn’t even deal with someone sitting next to him, apart from occasionally me because I earned his trust. But even then, it had to be only when he was okay with it.
Another gave me a hug in greeting on my first day of meeting him. Dale didn’t even shake my hand on our first meeting. However this guy certainly loved to talk about his interests, and he was very outspoken.
Another was quite outgoing! On initial meeting, I didn’t click she was an Aspie until someone told me she was.
And of course there’s Dale. You know pretty much all about him… so I don’t need to tell much about him.
However, I feel this really does demonstrate the serious lack of awareness people have about Autism.
The danger of not recognising Aspergers as Autistic, is that people don’t understand their needs because they still think Aspergers is a separate thing.
When Dale goes quiet all of a sudden, I had people get irked because he’s stopped being social with them, when actually it’s either because the situation is too much for him or he can’t figure out the appropriate thing to say and when to say it. When he’s had to lock himself away because he’s had a full on week/couple of days or day, I’ve had people become annoyed because he needs to man up. When actually he’s probably mentally exhausted and just needs to decompress and recharge so that he can give the next social event his best effort. But because they still see Aspergers as something different to Autism, they can’t get their head round it.
Another people confuse is Anxiety and Autism/Aspergers. I’ve heard some people say that Anxiety is a symptom of Aspergers.
No! Anxiety is a completely separate diagnosis.
Anxiety is common among Aspies, but it isn’t a characterisation. Not all Aspies have Anxiety. Anxiety can be, in some instances, cured! Anxiety IS a disability. Aspergers is NOT. Assuming this correlation would be effectively saying that eating Bacon gives you Cancer (now days, everything gives you cancer). When actually, no, it’s just merely a coincidence.
So people… Please please PLEASE stop saying Aspergers and Autism!
Because ASPERGERS IS AUTISM
*DISCLAIMER: I use ‘Autistic Vegetable’ to represent the way the Media and the way none awareness people may think of Autism. This is in no means to suggest that Autistic People are Vegetables because they most certainly are not.