Asperger’s or Quirky?

I Had Asperger Syndrome. Briefly. – NYTimes.com.

This op-ed piece today in the NYT wonderfully describes what I have been irked about recently: Why are these parents so worried about their children?

One parent wrote a long  description of her 16-year-old son’s “disability” and wondered why he was so different from other autistics. He was gifted, able to focus, brilliant in school, able to deal with his sensory issues, beloved by teachers and students alike; in short, probably NOT autistic!

I would have been diagnosed with autism had I been born under the current system and the label might have had a devastating effect on my life. I did not speak until I was 3 years old, had few friends, had to learn how to relate to others in a compassionate way (self-taught). If you do not think this to be true, ask my best friend from infancy who used to abandon me frequently  because I did not play well with others.

I always want to bring these mothers to my house and show them what a true disability is; but, I am sure that they would not listen or see how perfect their son or daughter really is. Someone has convinced them that there is a problem and that all resources must be mobilized for their child. Tiger mothers, helicopter parents, there are numerous tags for todays parents.

I do empathize with these parents who are worried about their children; I know that, like me, they just want their child to be happy and fulfilled.

Do we all want perfection? I do not; I prefer my humanity to be flawed and fascinating.

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4 thoughts on “Asperger’s or Quirky?

  1. ABSOLUTELY!
    I cringed, winced and raged reading that story in the NYTimes, thinking of the frivolous diagnoses, the failure of common sense, common humanity, and the resulting crushed confidences and abandonment of hope, sense of possibility and responsibility when a false (unnecessary) label is assigned. Not to mention the resources this society diverts to ‘perfecting’ small anamolies while abandoning the true needs of the truly needy.
    Not to mention the role of the pharmaceutical industry that helps re-define and broaden every legitimate diagnosis, feeding the needs for never-needed-before meds on a mind-boggling, brain-straining scale. The relative few who really need and benefit from drug therapy can’t support the obscene profit margins of Big Pharma, so they create more need at the expense of our children, their bodies, their psyches, their self-definition. Aspergers? you can’t medicate it even if you DO have it, but hey, control kids’ symptoms with a dozen costly, caustic drugs, side effects be damned! same with the grossly overdiagnosed ADHD and bipolar disorders. Take the drugs away from those who didn’t really need them in the first place, and they don’t know how to be themselves because they haven’t had the chance to learn the actual good and bad of who they are, which is the goal and process of maturation.
    Flawed and fascinating — that’s the magic of life. Your own compassion now shines through as the outstanding quality of your beauty. Lily and others who struggle with true disability have a true champion in you — you and all the other families who strive for a fair shake for their autistic loved ones deserve all the support society can muster. Where are the philanthropies of the drug companies billions? Why can’t they redirect the profits they reap from their successes and excesses into helping those their drugs cannot cure?

    • Thank you imnotjoking for your perfectly worded comment. Although it makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist, I think that we are all under the control of Capitalism and Big Pharma. Would they still develop the drugs that people need without the exorbitant profit?

  2. We have certain things in common, although we were at different points along a spectrum as children. I was a shy and very reserved although competent child. I could talk, but usually chose not to. My third grade teacher called my mother in for a conference, saying she was worried about my silence and wondered if something needed to be done? Happily, this was in the early 1950’s, before there were a lot of diagnostics going on in schools. My mother came home and shared the teacher’s worry with me. I didn’t totally understand the fuss, but gathered that if I didn’t talk more I’d become the focus of unwanted attention. So, I did – just enough to divert the teacher’s concern. That ability to manage the situation certainly spoke to my social skills, but it was a long time before I learned/decided to give more verbal input just because I wanted to.

    • I think that I could talk, too. I remember being told that when I spoke it was in Spanish, in a sentence. I do not know if this is really true or a fun family story. I lost the Spanish when we moved back to Maine and my Spanish teacher in high school despaired of my ever speaking any language other than English.
      Unlike you, Pam, I have no athletic ability whatsoever.

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