WHAT IS ASPERGER’S SYNDROME, ANYWAY?
Asperger’s is a personality profile of aptitudes and attitudes. Neither right nor wrong, it is simply who we are. But we know you may find us a little tough to understand sometimes. (That’s OK — we sometimes think you’re a bit confusing, too!) For a really clear picture of the who’s, how’s, and what’s, there’s Portrait of an Aspie and The Chicklist Checklist at Freebie Love.
But for now, we’ll start with the definition of “syndrome,” a constellation of tendencies or symptoms, not a disease or illness. So first and foremost, we believe that being Aspie is a phenotype, not a defect. That is, it is the multi-faceted expression – neither good nor bad – of a particular genetic sequence. Like red hair. It just is.
In general, “Aspie” describes bright folks who are a lot better with facts than with people; we have a very hard time understanding or anticipating others’ points of view, and therefore find great comfort in anything logical or precise. When the world seems big and unpredictable, it’s only natural to seek anything that will organize the chaos.
Aspies are, by definition, of average to above-average intelligence. In fact, it’s not uncommon for extremely gifted children (especially girls) to be hugely under-diagnosed, simply by chalking particular behaviors up to being “really smart.” Being “really smart” does not make someone hold fast to rules or routines, become overwhelmingly absorbed with a particular topic, be rigid in thought or behavior patterns and generally a bit immature socially. It just makes them smart. Asperger’s accounts for the other stuff.
HOW IS ASPERGER’S DIFFERENT FROM AUTISM?
It’s not exactly. It’s part of the whole – like a state within a country or a chapter in a book. Usually, people use the phrase “Asperger’s” or “Aspie” either because they were identified prior to some wording changes in 2014, or because they’re trying to give an accurate portrait of the particular strengths and challenges someone has.
An Asperger’s Syndrome identification means that one is part of the larger autism spectrum (as did diagnoses of Pervasive Developmental Delay- Not Otherwise Specified, “PDD-NOS,” and “classically autistic”). But since May 2014 (and the publication of the new DSM, or diagnostic manual used by many docs/psychologists), the terms “Asperger’s Syndrome,” “PDD-NOS,” etc. are no longer diagnoses unto themselves. Now, a larger, umbrella Autism Spectrum or Autism Spectrum Disorder (AS or ASD) diagnosis is given without further breakdown or divisions.
Some people really identify with the word “Asperger’s” because it explains the particular “flavor” of autism without having to further say “high” versus “low functioning.” Others don’t care and feel that the larger “umbrella” term “autism” is more unifying, that “hierarchies” are damaging to a community which does all share “the same ingredients…expressed in different intensities.”
THAT’S JUST THE BEGINNING. THERE’S SO MUCH TO TELL.
Now it’s time to get beyond lingo and definitions, to find out MORE about what we, at AK, KNOW is true, and how we know we can help you feel (finally) connected. So. How about it? Like we always say, “Let’s Be Different. Together.” Ready? Let’s dive in. Just one click — and we’re off.