Apr. 22, 2002

Asperger's Syndrome. It is an interesting neurological syndrome (note the absense of the misnomer "disorder") that, well, involves everything above. I am an Aspie. I am not diseased, not ill. I am just.....different. That is all.

While the ANSI standard neurotypical thinks emotionally and with the heart, we Aspies think like Mr. Spock, or Data, or anyone from Third Rock from the Sun. This world is just different to us. We do not know social cues by instinct, but rather by rote memorization, and trial-and-error.

I am displaced from social gatherings. I fear that I will not be taken as "normal", but rather as an outsider. I share Temple Grandin's perspective as being an outsider, or a spectator. I can not get involved easily.

If you want to get to know the true, sweet, and congenial side of an Aspie, all you need to do is pick up the telephone. That is all. Aspies cannot understand these social cues, and do better when they are not a factor in a discussion or exchange. The telephone is a great abstraction layer. It works.

Aspies do not need to suffer on this planet. We are just different, and if you get to know how we operate--which may be a challenge: we're still figuring out how you operate--try to converse with us. Study us.

Some good books to read are Thinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin, and Asperger's Syndrome, by Tony Attwood.

Update -- Feb. 4, 2003

I would like to also say that one of the worst things that can happen to an Aspie is when Asperger's Syndrome is seen as a rigid structure. The problem is, there are many, many, many different kinds of Aspies out there. One Aspie, Two Aspie, Red Aspie, Blue Aspie — oh wait, wrong track. My point is, what happens to be about one person with Asperger's syndrome is not the same with another person with Asperger's syndrome.

I am not Temple Grandin.

Update -- November 28, 2007

Life and experience have changed every perception I held about the world as an adolescent. Older and wiser, I now disagree with just about everything I wrote above as a child, or at least, I'd rather distance myself from it. It has worth as a historical piece: genuine self-expression from an adolescent with Asperger's Syndrome.

One thing I learned (very quickly) is that the ASD/NT division is a ludicrous false dichotomy. Second, by paying enough attention and thinking hard enough, I improved my social skills to the point where I can make friends fast, find love in my life, and deceive people into thinking I'm cool. After I got to that stage, the going got weird.

Eventually I'll write on the subject "Asperger's Syndrome" and adulthood. Until then, I'll leave you this addendum. Plus, I'm more bipolar than autistic these days.

One more thing: The susceptibility of people with Asperger's Syndrome to groupthink is incredible. Trust me on this one.

Update -- August 17, 2008

Asperger's Syndrome is a funny thing. The older I get, the less I understand it, yet I always know it's part of every perception I have about the world. It'll be years before someone adequately explains the nature of egocentricity and "Theory of Mind deficit" in AS and years more before people come up with a neurobiological explanation that isn't completely insufficient in explaining anything.

Beware of neuroscientists that sound too sure of their pet theories. Neuroscience is a protoscience still in its infancy and hasn't yet posited a reasonable etiology for any common neurological disorder. Therein lies the freedom though: it's voodoo. If you're treating AS pharmacologically, don't be afraid to experiment with your doctor.

Update -- February 26, 2010

Writing autobiographically about Asperger Syndrome is pointless. Writing clinically about Asperger Syndrome is pointless. Reading about it is also pointless. I'm almost 24; I have more important existential issues to worry about, like making a living for myself and the family I may one day have. I've moved on, but I might as well leave this here as an illustration of hope for clueless children and their clueless parents.