Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"WHAT?! But YOU can't be an Aspie!"

I know it hasn't been long since my last post, but I've had a thought occur to me which simply must be shared. Basically, any time in recent memory that I've told someone I have Asperger's, I always meet one of four possible responses. They are:

              1) What? No I don't believe you!
              2) Wow! You're really well socialized!
              3) Are you sure they didn't misdiagnose you?
              4) I bet you outgrew it.

I'm willing to bet several Aspies out there know exactly what I'm talking about. There is this stereotypical idea of what someone with Aspergers should be like and if someone doesn't fit it, they can't be an Aspie. What many people fail to realize, however, is that Asperger's, like anything human, encompasses a range and is not simply a black and white thing. While everyone with the diagnosis, myself included, have a minimum of a few of the required characteristics, no one has all of them. In my case, for example, I definitely have some of the listed Aspie traits but not all of them. I've met other Aspies who have ones that I don't too. Its a range, with an incredible world of variation among human beings, and this is something the stereotypical image of the Aspie used in the mainstream media often fails to mention.

People often act shocked when I tell them I have Asperger's precisely because I don't always show it. I'm aware of the fact that I'm capable of coming off downright Neurotypical a lot of the time, but the truth is that, like many Aspies, it didn't always come naturally for me. As a child, I was always good at language, reading, writing, and such, but I was (and still am) not always terribly great at reading social situations. Granted, I used to be far worse in middle school, when I often came across as the weird nerdy kid that got made fun of, but I still have this tendency. In addition, though you wouldn't know it considering I was the top salesman at my old job as a cashier at Blockbuster, I don't like making eye contact for extended periods of time. My interests in certain things are also fairly intense, and I could talk for hours about things that pique my interest. If these don't make me sound like an Aspie to you, I don't know what will.

I have a recent example of my under-control Aspie tendencies for you. Recently, while out at dinner with my friends, two of my female friends got up to go to the bathroom. I looked around the table, and made a serious observation that there was a clear double standard in effect here; that girls can go to the bathroom together with no questions asked whereas the same behaviour from two men would label them as gay. It was a serious comment not meant as a joke at all, but needless to say everyone at the table burst out laughing. The difference between this situation and my middle school years is simply that my friends have come to expect and even enjoy my Aspie comments and moments, even if they aren't often aware that that's why I have them.

The point I am trying to make here is that, in many cases, Aspergers is most noticeable in childhood. Though it never fully disappears since it is an (albeit awesome) part of who someone is, many people (myself included) have learned to some degree how to speak Neurotypical. I find that I've become quite fluent in it personally, though like anyone learning a second language, I have my humorous mixup moments where my Aspie-ness shines on through. In addition, every Aspie and NT is different, and assuming that someone is one or the other based on superficial behaviour is often not a good basis for a true understanding of a person. Anyone who knows me and is familiar with Aspergers can tell that, while I do a very good impression of a Neurotypical, there is an Aspie hiding beneath, pulling all the strings.

And you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way! :)

Yours in Diversity,

Adam Michael


  1. Ugh, I hate that. Were you, like me, one of those Aspie kids who had no trouble with sarcasm and didn't take things literally and who didn't do "hand flapping?" I never did those things and it seems that is what everybody expects us to do!

  2. Yes! I definitely was and am that kid! In fact I tend to be extremely sarcastic and smart-witted, it's just that I don't often get other's jokes. Also, when I stim at all it tends to be very discrete and not at all like the stereotypes everyone expects us to conform to. Good lord they drive me nuts! :P