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Aspies Get a Bad Rap!

In working with Aspergers (high functioning autism) children and teens – as well as their parents – I can say categorically that it’s not uncommon for individuals with Aspergers to get a “bad rap.” It’s not fair – it’s not right – but it’s reality. Aspies are generally seen as a little strange (or extremely strange). As a result, they often get ostracized, ridiculed, and bullied.

Many Aspies are disrespected in elementary and middle school, ostracized in high school, rejected in the workplace, and rendered as the “odd Aspie out.” Why? Because different equals bad …different equals dorky …different equals derision …and different equals social rejection.

Aspergers is often called the “Geek Syndrome” because Aspies act so different from the social norm and have excessive knowledge and obsession with different things. For example, they may obsess about things like Robin Hood, the Peanuts gang, maps, trains, baseball cards, and Civil War history. This is not seen as normal to many people, and these obsessions help contribute to the ostracism and rejection.

Here are a few more reasons why Aspies do not get the acceptance they deserve:

1. Most Aspergers children and teens are smart, they study hard, and they respect authority – but this isn’t cool. What’s cool is using school-time as an opportunity to socialize, disrespecting authority, and getting into trouble.

2. Most Aspies are gentle and somewhat passive. NOT COOL! However, it is cool to be tough or "hard" and to fight.

3. Most Aspies are talented – but being a clarinet player in the school band is viewed as dorky. To be in sports is cool though (even though you don’t use your brain much).

4. Most Aspies have a child-like innocence (a bad trait to have if you don’t want to get your head knocked off). This is not cool. To be cool, you act older than your age and go around playing tricks on, and making jokes about, other people.

5. Most Aspies can make amazingly loyal friends – but how goofy is that?! The cool thing to do is to have a bunch of peers to hang-out with and to take advantage of as many of them as possible.

You want some more examples of ‘GEEK’ behavior? O.K. Here they are...

Most Aspies:
  • adhere unvaryingly to routines
  • are able forgive others
  • are accepting of others
  • are honest
  • are not bullies, con artists, or social manipulators
  • are not inclined to steal
  • are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves
  • don’t discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, age, etc.
  • don’t launch unprovoked attacks, verbal or otherwise
  • don’t play head games
  • don’t take advantage of other’s weaknesses
  • enjoy their own company and can spend time alone
  • have exceptional memories
  • have no interest in harming others
  • notice fine details that others miss
  • prefer talking about significant things that will enhance their knowledge-base rather than “shooting the bullshit”
  • will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong

Too often, the Aspie is told, “Something is wrong with you.” And sooner than later, he/she unconsciously absorbs this negative statement and begins to believe it. It has been well documented that those with Aspergers are vulnerable people who will face certain difficulties. These are often highlighted by individuals who see only the negatives rather than the positives such differences could represent. This lack of positive awareness, combined with an inconsistency of knowledge, can lead to inaccurate stereotyping and resultant interventions that are far more harmful than helpful.

We hear so many negative things about children and teens with Aspergers – and so much about what can NOT be helped. Maybe we need to take another look and see what kind of positive traits are found. I believe there are a lot of traits in the Aspergers personality that the non-Aspergers person can afford to implement into his/her own life.

Like everyone on the face of the earth, we are people, with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. Aspies are different – but they are not defective. The world needs all different kinds of minds – including the Aspergers minds. The way Aspies think should be regarded as a positive attribute, which the rest of society can learn from. When their differences are embraced, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

What's your opinion?  If you have one, feel free to express it.  Click on the comment button below.

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are so many personality disorders now. It seems like there can be no such thing as a mentally healthy human being. Asperger's syndrome doesn't have to be seen as an issue that needs to be corrected in order to live a healthy life. It's strange, but I feel most content when I'm alone and depressed. It's comforting. What's wrong with seeing the negative side of things before the positive. Everyone is different. Why do humans have to find a cure everything. Sorry to spew, but it has just been bothering me. Does anyone else here think about this?

Anonymous said...

Humans ( or at least NT's) are naturally wired to dislike those who are different from them. They cannot comprehend something that is as different from the norm as autism or Asperger's, so they view it as defective. Since body language is a very important factor in the opinion of a person for NT's, the different body language is a huge difference in the eyes of an NT, something that they think must be a defect.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed instant hostility from some NTs. I know it is not personal, it is someway I am walking or holding my body that sends the signal to them and they react to it like a magnet reacts to iron. I sat with NTs and said something, I don't know. . anything I suppose, and get called out of line, or have them recoil (yes, recoil) in horror from something I in ignorance said. The list goes on and on. Especially because I am very loquatious so they are lulled into some sense of security with my 'normalacy' and then. . pow! they get it right between the eyes (the 'it' being how ever my autism reveals it'sself to them)
They really can't help it, and they really can't understand what goes on inside of us. They just don't have the capability.
That's why it's so much fun to watch once you take your hurting ego/heart out of the mix.

Anonymous said...

You will find Nt's will not take to you as well as AS people will, with some exceptions, 2 of my 3 best friends are NT, with the other one being an Aspie. however it seems all NT seem to dislike or are uncomfortable around those who are different. Just because are see things differently and we act much different, and it's not what NT's come to expect, which is sad, as they need to achknoledge us and understand us, one issue with AS is the lack of awareness from NT's, they expect everything to be like them. However as much as they wish to find a so called 'cure' for us. I say you need to stand tall, you are not diseased, and you may feel that AS has it's issues, when i was first diagnosed at 13, i first saw AS as a big problem, however 5 years later, i am more at ease with it asi have discovered more about it, thanks to books,

Anonymous said...

Aspergers isn't a negative thing, i think it is a positive thing as we excel in areas others don't and i don't see my other things a drawback

Anonymous said...

Honestly? I haven't noticed any real positive or negative general feelings about me from NTs where I am (that is, I'm not universally liked or disliked). I have, however, noticed some serious anti-NT prejudice from Aspies and auties on this forum. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

I don't regard my AS as negative or positive. I try not to use it as an excuse for anything; outside of this forum, very, very few people know I have a diagnosis. It's part of my personality, and helps me to pinpoint what I need to work on with regards to dealing with others. It gives me some strengths and weaknesses. Beyond that? Doesn't matter. And as a note, I regard myself as a very mentally healthy person most of the time. I certainly don't regard my AS as a mental illness or something to be "corrected," as there are many positive aspects as well as negative. There are negative aspects to being NT as well. Nothing is perfect.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to say personality traits in general are being classified into medical conditions. I don't think asperger's syndrome is a mental illness and I don't hold hostility towards people who don't have it. I find it annoying that there is needs to be psychological treatment for personality traits that seem a little out of the ordinary, whatever that means. I meant that nearly everyone (including those who don't have asperger's) can be diagnosed with a psychological disorder because there are so many. I'm sorry if someone got the wrong interperatation, my intention wasn't to insult anyone.

Anonymous said...

Who says people are trying to fix it? Or treat it, for that matter. As I said, I don't consider myself to be mentally ill, and neither does my family. I haven't undergone psychological treatment since I managed to get round my depression, and in fact I stopped NEEDING to be toted along to psychiatrists and psychologists once I got my diagnosis, as that enabled my mother to understand why I freaked out in certain situations, hated change, etc. etc. and helped her to help me work round it. Personally, I also think it's nice to know that I'm not the only one who goes into overload in football stadiums or finds perfume absolutely vile.

So... yeah, I rather like my diagnosis, thanks ever so much.

Anonymous said...

AS has it's good and bad aspects.... the good... most of the negative aspects of AS stem from hypersensitivity, and other characteristics that are not exactly universal in the AS population. Most of it revolves different ways in how their mind processes data, so you have social data processing "deficiencies" (or should I say enlightenments?) and emotional processing.

Anonymous said...

I dont really see aspergers as a negative thing either. It's just part of who I am. None of my friends have aspergers and they are very accepting of me. to most people i don't seem autistic and most people i know don't even know what autism is. People just need to stop being ignorant and realize that there is no cure for individuality.

Anonymous said...

Being unwillingly, genetically stripped of all instinctual understanding of human to human interaction (quite important in this social world) is not individuality. In fact, it makes us the same as every person with AS out there (though with different degrees of difficulties, of course).

Anonymous said...

I don't see AS as positive or negative, It's just who I am and I like it that way. I'm against finding a "cure" for autism, we have an entire subculture just like deaf people and people who like anime (otaku)

Anonymous said...

AS is negative to me.

Anonymous said...

All humans on the whole in my estimation are little more then glorified bacteria running ancient survival programs that are not designed for our modern technological world, they are very petty and tribalistic, its small wonder the world is filled with war and poverty and yet mankind has had the gift of a large brain and ability to control his own behaviour and curtail his own feral instincts for thousands of years. Which leads one to only one conclusion: People are barbaric, and their lives are too short to really change much of anything because so much time is spent on their animal passions or simply surviving they never achieve total self-mastery, like many smaller groups of humanity have over human history. They are for the most part, overgrown, half-animal children, quite literally... no one on earth is an "adult", if there were real, true, responsible adults, there would be no war or poverty.

Kmarie said...

I liked the sarcastic way you put our word's standards. As a child I was definitely this way but I fought for my relationships and my individual recognition. My son is now officially diagnosed. He has his issues of concern- but don't we all? No matter what we have. I like having the diagnosis because then I can understand him and create moments to teach him how to understand his world and emotions. However, I want him to always keep his unique perspective- the world needs it. he just needs guidance on how to use it. Just like I needed guidance and still need guidance to make wise choices and wise relationships.
I will always have a different wiring of my brain, a different way of looking at things, but thanks to counselling and help with sensory overload issues- I have many amazing relationships- I live for them ...and according to the text book I wasn't supposed to turn out this way.
I actually am finding a positive shift in the culture around me- so many 'normal' people are beginning to see they have flaws and differences- or they are having children who do- which are making them understand more. Understanding and Awareness is key. We don't need to judge or label the 'NTs' either. We all have things to work on but more importantly we all have things to give.

Thanks for your encouragement and words today.

Anonymous said...

As a mom of an autistic son, I just want him to be able to function as a productive member of society when it's time for him to be on his own. I hope maturity helps. I've already seen he isn't accepted into groups and has been bullied by numerous kids. He is homeschooled now.

Crazy Girl said...

I've been down this road hundreds of times as a kid growing up. I did manage to fight threw some of my social awkwardness since I believed it has much more to do with battling social anxiety. Instead of using one's own learning disability as a main factor for not necessarily "Being one of the cool kids." Most kids with ADD are a victim in those situations for fitting in for the wrong reasons. My mother did those things once herself, doing drugs getting in trouble in school because she felt this was normal. I hated most kids for obvious reasons not because I felt alone or single outed in some social situations but mostly because I feel these kids are nothing more but blind sheep, or common(do forgive my french) Attention Whores. I don't wish to label people but sometimes I can help how I see these people plus teens. Everyone does want to be loved, have friends but one shouldn't do these things for stupid reasons that may be. I do suffer from Aspergers and I've been trying to cope with it ever since I gotten properly diagnosed. I don't like how I'll still have an occasional melt down whenever feeling overwhelmed but there not as bar nor frequent as when I was younger. That drove my mother insane because we didn't know what was wrong with me than. I did had a few people in my brief social circle in school and off campus who were NT's they did expected me but my resentment for others teens, or from past events hinder my connections with them because i couldn't trust anyone. I never saw them as a potential threat but never wanted to take that risk so I didn't want to bother getting to know them more and vise vice versa those are my only biggest regrets.

MartinKids said...

This is a huge obstacle for my son. When we moved into our neighborhood it took less than a year to for him to alienate all of the neighbors on our cul-de-sac. When he was little, any small incident on the playground would cause every kid and adult to turn into the Aspie police and watch him like a hawk. He has been outcast from every class/group situation since toddlerhood. The problem is, he thinks he needs to do the things from #1, #2 and #4 on the list to be 'cool' but when he tries, he goes overboard and gets into trouble. :( My husband and I are constantly trying to show him the boundaries but he's a slow learner in that area.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

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How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

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