“How yuh rude so!”: So you ask your Aspie co-worker if she thinks you got fat during the holidays and she bluntly and without much anesthesia said, “Yes”? I know it is hard to understand but Aspies are not rude, they are factual and if you indeed put on weight during the holidays they WILL tell you the truth – if you ask them! Having said that, they do not have the intention of hurting you or being rude or disrespectful but they have a strong sense of honesty so if you are not looking for a sincere answer to your question, then please do not bother asking an Aspie. Trust me on this one. Now, this does not mean Aspies do not lie but they do lie less so if they ever compliment you, it is because they really like you.
“How the chile bawling down the place so? Steups He spoiled!”: So you are shopping at Massy when you observe this mom with a child in the cereal alley. She seems to be looking for an item desperately and you observe that her son seems to be getting agitated rather quickly….
Then suddenly, he starts shouting and screaming on top of his lungs because his favorite cereal is out of stock. You can hear him shouting “Cereal! Cereal! Cereal! I want my cereallll!”. Of course, you automatically assume that the child is a spoiled brat and just wants his way no matter what! But things do not end there, they start escalating and you are just in disbelief about how this mother is handling the situation! She is very calm while trying to control a child who is hitting, biting and screaming.
Yes, quietly. The nerve! And you think: “But what the jail is this? Give him a lash or two nowww and let him know who is in charge woman! “. You shake your head in disbelief and think: “What a poor excuse of a mother!”
What you do not know, is that you just witnessed a child with autism having a meltdown. What you do not know is that it is not about the cereal. What do you not know is that children with autism find safety in sameness so when there are sudden, unexpected changes, they are unable to cope. What you do not know is that this cereal is perhaps the only food this child is willing to eat. What you do not know is that this mom is doing an spectacular job trying to remain calm in the most difficult and challenging of situations. Do not assume a child is spoiled or pampered just because of a limited, rare encounter. There is always more to the story.
“She dotish or wha? Those girls were just bullying she and she forgives them so?”: I know a mom living abroad who has a daughter with autism who is constantly bullied in school by her peers. One day, her daughter came to her and told her: “Mom, do you know why I forgive them? Because I love them”. Aspies might not be very good at expressing physical or verbal affection (Of course, every child is different) but it does not mean they do not possess the capability to love and desire to be loved. They do not hold grudges. They are forgiving and accepting of people’s differences and they can be amazing and loyal friends. Encourage your child to befriend a child on the spectrum.
“Why come to a party if you are anti-social?”: One of the most misunderstood things in Asperger’s is to think that Aspies are anti-social. This is not true. Just because they struggle with social communication and they don’t seem to know how to make friends, it does not mean they do not want friends. Just because you approach them and they seem rather quiet, they do not make eye contact with you and they seem awfully uncomfortable, it does not mean they want you to go away. They just need help in knowing how to interact with you. Do not quit on them, just stick around and talk. You will be amazed at how much knowledge they have and how much you can learn from them. You can also take the time to find out their interests and ask genuine questions about it and you will see how open they can become and how excited they will be answering your questions.
Aspies think outside the box, they are great leaders and independent thinkers. They do not do things just because everyone else is doing it. They possess above average intelligence and they never hurt someone purposely. Most importantly, just because they can speak (Unlike non-verbal individuals on the spectrum) does not mean they have it “Easy” As sometimes people seem to imply when they are compared to low-functioning individuals.
They need a lot of support and understanding. Since Aspies are very aware of their condition, they can be very hard on themselves when they do something they consider wrong or when things just do not work out (When trying to make friends for instance) and they can become very depressed and sad about these things.
My message to you today is that there is always more than meets the eye when you are the mere observant of a situation or you have very limited information. Before you assume, try asking. Having Aspergers is NOT a death sentence, it is a different journey but rest assured:
Asperger’s worked for Albert Einstein.
Asperger’s worked for Temple Grandin.
Asperger’s worked for Susan Boyle.
Asperger’s worked for Daryl Hannah.
Asperger’s WILL work for your child/relative/neighbor/friend/co-worker once they have YOUR support, YOUR understanding, YOUR patience and YOUR love.
Please, do not ever quit on an Aspie because they will never quit on you.
*Aspie: Affectionate term to describe someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is the highest functioning form of autism.