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Care and Feeding of your Aspie: Part 35 – Asperger’s is Real

There have been many blog posts dedicated to the ignorant things said to Autistic Spectrum Individuals over the years. Most of these posts are incoherent with rage… With good reason… Many of the things that are said are ignorant, which is not the fault of NTs… they don’t know any better… but many of these ignorant things are arrogant, elitist, rude and downright condescending.

However, several of these statements are more problematic than others… They all hinge around a central misconception – that “Asperger’s is not a real thing.”

Let’s start with one of the glaringly obvious issues – over-diagnosis. According to statistics, between 1-110 and 1-88 children in the United States is diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. The media depicts this as an epidemic of Autism. The concept of an epidemic is a bit absurd. Personally, I do not feel that the incidents of Autism have actually increased, but that the diagnoses have become more prevalent as Mental Health Professionals have become more aware of the condition and as pressure from parents has eased.

Yes, I said pressure from parents… and I meant it. I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but I have done work in the Mental Health field for a time. I will not go into what my position was as it was essentially menial, but I was privy to sensitive information. One of my best friends was a director of the clinic I worked at.

As such, I witnessed (on more than one occasion) the pressure parents placed on the Mental Health providers. Our current culture has led to a lack of responsibility on the part of parents for their children… I am not condemning parents, but our culture had come around to blame the parents for the actions of their children. This wasn’t the case 50 years ago… back then, raising your children correctly was a source of pride… Now, raising them wrong is a source of shame… it is a subtle, but MAJOR difference. As such, parents are DESPERATE to have the cause of their children’s issues assigned to anyone but themselves. As a result, they put an amazing amount of pressure on Mental Health Professionals to diagnose a problem.

I have personally witnessed this… in person…

I saw it with these round things in my head!

The problem with this is that some Mental Health Professionals feel that there is little harm in an Asperger’s diagnosis if it will shut the parents up. After all, what does Asperger’s mean, really? It means that the individual is awkward in social situations, has mild obsessive tendencies and is a little weird… right? Right?

You may have an issue with these statements, but I have seen it happen… on more than one occasion.

In many situations, making a diagnosis is more of an art than a science. Part of this is because of the prevalence of mental conditions which leads to Mental Health Professionals only being able to spend very limited time with patients, so diagnosis can be challenging. Diagnosing any mental condition requires that the professional spend time with their patient to observe, and that is just not possible in today’s health care climate. Further exacerbating the problem is that different mental problems often have overlapping diagnostic criteria.

That means that it is, in many cases, possible to make a mistake because sometimes there is more than one condition that matches the symptoms as presented. There are additional complications… language is an imprecise tool when attempting to express what one is feeling and experiencing; people find it hard to believe or accept that someone feels differently than they do and will question different perceptions; (I have been told that professionals did not believe that I was capable of what I was thinking, feeling or experiencing.) and medical professionals are often skeptical of people seeking a diagnosis. They encounter people who are trolling for drugs, and the drugs used to treat many medical conditions are psychotropic in nature and as such are valued as recreational pharmaceuticals.

Many nerds and geeks will look at the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s and feel they have it. They have a need to fit in. They crave an Asperger’s diagnosis… so that they can do just that. They don’t want to just be weird. If there is something wrong with them, then there is a whole new community that they would belong to. And this leads to individuals with a surety of an Autism Spectrum Disorder due to self-diagnosis.

In spite of all this, Autistic Spectrum Disorders and (more specifically) Asperger’s Syndrome are very real. Let’s put aside the cases of misdiagnosis and self-diagnosed individuals. (There is no such thing as self diagnosis… Period… ONLY a Mental Health Professional can diagnose a mental condition. That is why we can’t go to the pharmacy and ask for prescription medications and they require a diagnosis by a trained doctor.) There are a large number of Autistic and Asperger’s Syndrome individuals out there.

NT perceptions are skewed in favor of the NT modes of thought. One thing I have noticed about the NT mode of thought is that if something is not visibly wrong, then it is hard for them to grasp that something is ACTUALLY wrong. This leads to statements like “You don’t look Autistic!”

All of these things lead NTs to believe that Asperger’s is a fake condition. It leads people to believe that anyone who claims to have Asperger’s Syndrome is making excuses, is just an asshole or looking for sympathy.

Honestly, that is why I started this series… Autism understanding and awareness can only be achieved through information and education. And that is precisely what I am doing… educating the NTs around us… ALSO… to educate US.

Asperger’s Syndrome is a very real thing… And I hope by sharing my experiences and perceptions, I hope that I can make someone’s life easier… Yet, I am hoping that some people receive a wake-up call from this series. People who are self-diagnosed need to wake up… If the issues described within do not sound like you at all… then please reconsider. You are harming the Autists around you, and yourself. If these perceptions feel accurate and true for your situation, then please… PLEASE run to a trusted Mental Health Professional and procure a diagnosis. This is the ONLY way you can hope to receive proper treatment.

That being said… If someone you know has Asperger’s Syndrome or any other Autistic Spectrum Disorder, you need to accept that… Especially if they have a diagnosis. If they claim to be self-diagnosed, please refer them to the above paragraph… If they refuse, they know deep down that they are not and are afraid of the ridicule associated with that, but do not let your eyes deceive you… Many conditions, especially those affecting mental health are silent, invisible, and will sneak up on you like a ninja.

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4 thoughts on “Care and Feeding of your Aspie: Part 35 – Asperger’s is Real”

  1. I have enjoyed this series – right up until now – but what you say here is just wrong. I found out about Aspergers almost be accident, researched it myself, then got a diagnosis – I certainly would not have got this if I had not done all the leg work myself! You have no right to put down people – many who have struggled all their lives with these symptoms – who have found out about this condition themselves and have the courage to face it. This is arrogant and I am afraid downright ignorant!

    1. I feel it necessary to point out a double standard here… I have no right to put anyone down, but you do the same thing to me… calling me arrogant and ignorant… For the record… It is arrogant to diagnose one’s self… to assume knowledge and training (4 years of college, 4 years of med school and residency) that you do not posses is the height of arrogance.

      I am sorry that you feel my words are ignorant, but they are based on the opinions of mental health professionals… Not just one, but many I have interviewed over the course of my research… It is not my opinion, but theirs… Self diagnosis is nothing more than a suspicion of the individual and it requires a mental health professional to GET that diagnosis.

      I am sorry that you disagree… But I think you missed the point of the whole piece… that Asperger’s is a real condition and that if you feel that you have it you should get a diagnosis from a mental health professional. As the piece states – “If these perceptions feel accurate and true for your situation, then please… PLEASE run to a trusted Mental Health Professional and procure a diagnosis.” This is exactly what you did.

      For the record, I did not put anyone down… except those that are unwilling to get an ACTUAL diagnosis. Self diagnosis is no diagnosis, but it is the first step to getting one… If they are unwilling to talk to a mental health professional to follow the proper steps then it remains that… I find it insulting that people will claim to have an Autistic Spectrum Disorder without a diagnosis… It lessens my condition and my struggles to survive in an NT-centric world.

      I maintain my stance… if an individual feels that they suffer from an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, they NEED the diagnosis to secure treatment, skill training and the help they need.

  2. Are Are you Are you going Are you going to pay for that diagnosis? How about you okay for my congenital heart condition, too, because that’s what it’s going to take. You’re another kid who got diagnosed with tax money that came out of my paychecks. Maybe you should thank me.

    1. 1) Not a kid… I was not diagnosed til I was 30.
      2) I actually had my own insurance through my job, and I paid for it and my copay.
      3) If you are not going to get a diagnosis, then you have no right to claim a disability. Period, end of story. If you REFUSE to get a diagnosis, I (and every other aspie I know and respect) as well as most NTs will look at your claim of asperger’s or autism and believe (RIGHTLY) that it is a cry for attention.
      4) I never thank anyone that comes at me throwing shade like they are the one leafy tree in death valley. I’ll not start today.

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