I would love to say, like some hipster, that “I had Asperger’s Syndrome before it was cool” but I was beyond fashionably late to this party with a diagnosis at nearly forty years old.
The diagnosis is, for me and many like me, so much more than just a label or a stigma. It can be a source of pride, like a badge of honour, or a medal for surviving in this world. Aworld that, for me, can seem so chaotic, overwhelming, sometimes just plain terrifying. It can also be a part of who we are – our identity, if you will. When I meet a fellow Aspie, apart from the usual social awkwardness I also feel a sense of brotherhood with that person. We can be from different parts of this ball of rock but there is one constant. This person, unlike about 98% of all other people, sees the world in a similar way to me. We can sometimes face the same challenges, we likely think in a similar way, and, sadly in this day and age, we often have to campaign together on issues affecting the Autism Spectrum Comunity at large. Some people abhor the word, but I’m exceptionally proud to call myself an Aspie.
When I tell someone about my diagnosis, they sometimes have a rough idea of what it is. Some of their knowledge can be negative, largely in part due to high profile news stories, such as Gary McKinnon, Lauri Love or, more recently, Damon Smith. It’s not very surprising that the media forgets to mention that illustrious individuals such as Bill Gates, Charles Darwin, Jane Austin, Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock, Isaac Newton, Thomas Jefferson, Mozart, Thomas Edison & Henry Ford were all either Aspies or had autistic traits. This, combined with an ever-increasing number of documentaries and TV shows featuring people with both autism and Asperger’s, are slowly helping to raise public awareness that we are not all criminals – nor are we all geniuses. We are all different, just like all neurologically typical people are different.
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