USING INTELLECT TO SUBSTITUTE
I'm male, in my 50's, diagnosed with Aspergers
syndrome. I have a few views, which I think are uncommon for someone
on the spectrum.
On the one hand, I think I'm the luckiest person
on the planet, in spite of, not because of, my Aspergers syndrome.
I have a good, well paying job that I'm well suited to, developing
computer software. People at my work have familiarity with Aspergers
syndrome, and many of them know that I have it.
I am married, with a wonderfully supportive, caring
and compassionate wife. My parents and brother and sister know I
have Aspergers syndrome, despite the fact I was only diagnosed a
few years ago. They had no idea when I was growing up.I have financial
resources and a support system that few in my position are fortunate
enough to have.
Aspergers syndrome is a disability, not just another way of being
Despite this privileged position that all too
few of us with Aspergers syndrome are likely to achieve, I feel
that Aspergers syndrome is a severe disability. I strongly reject
the notion that Aspergers syndrome is just a different way of being.
I think it is a severe handicap and disability.
I can't change it. I've come to terms with it.
I accept it. I'm making the best of my situation. I think I've developed
very good coping strategies to overcome it. I think I am very, very
fortunate in my circumstances. Caring people all around me have
made this possible. And I am happy with my life. But I don't think
anyone should fool themself for a second that this is not a severe
It's not the quirky behavior, or perseveration,
or being a perfectionist, or being resistant to change, or rigid
thinking patterns, or any of the other Aspergers syndrome traits
that is a problem.
intellect as a poor substitute for lack of empathy
It's the lack of empathy. And this DEFINITELY
IS NOT what most people think. For me, lack of empathy is not being
unkind or uncaring. And it's DEFINITELY not the world's idea of
a lack of empathy - being a sociopath. For me, it's trying to be
kind and caring without having empathy as a guide, and having to
use my intellect as a substitute. And it's a very poor substitute.
The best analogy I can use is that of a leper
(lepers do not feel pain, having lost their pain cells due to bacterial
infection). Normal people feel pain, so put on a bandage. Lepers
have to visually inspect themselves to see whether they have an
injury, then put on a bandage. But this is a poor substitute. It
won't help with internal injuries, or injuries that aren't visible.
But it's better than nothing.
lack of empathy is the true tragedy of aspergers syndrome
In order to do kind, caring things, I believe
those of us with Aspergers syndrome have to do so without the benefit
of emotional empathy, and "just knowing". Empathy is also
a driver, like pain, which motivates. To do kind things, we have
to use our intellect in place of empathy, much as lepers have to
use vision in place of pain. Both are a poor substitute.
And I believe this, rather than the "quirky,
strange behaviors", is the tragedy of Aspergers syndrome.
Yes, a tremendous amount can be accomplished by
someone with Aspergers syndrome. But the lack of empathy, and the
inability to give others emotional support, can never be changed,
until a way is found to change our brain wiring.
surround around ourselves with caring people
I believe the best thing those of us with Aspergers
syndrome can do is surround ourselves with caring people that can
accept what we have to offer, and then do all we can to contribute
the most we can with a minimum of our sometimes "disruptive"
behavior. That philosophy has allowed me to achieve what I have,
and to contribute what I am able to.
Again, my opinion only. I'm sure you will quickly
find that most others on the spectrum disagree with me strongly
to go to the home page of this website: www.autism-help.org
to read more personal stories from parents of children on the autism spectrum, and from adults living with Autism, Asperger's syndrome
and other Autism Spectrum Disorders
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