The Realities of an Asperger’s Diagnosis

A few weeks ago, I read an article in a women’s magazine about autism. It started out by explaining that autism is a spectrum and then went on to say that Asperger’s Syndrome is the mildest form of autism. Someone sent in a response saying that Asperger’s can be severely disabling too and, because it is often misunderstood, may be more severe in some ways than classic autism.

I have an Asperger’s diagnosis. I also have a high IQ. I can attest to the common misconcetpions surrounding an Asperger’s diagnosis. For one thing, the ability to speak does not necessarily mean that someone can communicate effectively. Even if speech on the surface makes sense, that doesn’t mean the Aspie’s words come out of their mouth as they were intended. However, because we have normal to above-normal intelligence, we’re assumed to “know better” and our miscommunicatin is understood to be willful misbehavior.

Speaking of behavior, it is a common misconception that Aspies don’t have as severe or as frequent aggressive or self-harming outbursts as those with classic or “low-functioning” autism do. H.L. Doherty, a father of a child with classic autism and an intellectual disability, often makes this mistake. He does so again when he talks about shards of severe autism reality. In this post, Doherty describes the consequencces of his son’s self-injurious meltdowns, and accuses autistic advocates of ignoring this reality. He connotes that those with “high-functioning” autism, ie those who can disagree with Doherty on the Internet, do not have these experiences. I, for one, do.

When I still lived in independence training, I had meltdowns almost everyday. An experience like the one Doherty describes is quite familiar to me and occurred regularly until I went on medication in 2010. My last episode of severe self-injury was two months ago, and it was so scary that I went into seclusion for a night.

Now I for one agree with Doherty on some controversies. I disagree on others. My agreeing or disagreeing and how eloquently I can put this into writing, does not change anything about my functioning level in any other area than written communication about a specific topic. I am too ashamed to write about some of my Aspie realities. The details of my severe self-care difficulties, for example. I know that Doherty and his supporters would not believe me anyway. After all, I’m so intelligent. Yes, I am. Relative intelligence is required for an Asperger’s diagnosis. That does not cause any of my difficulties to go away.

2 thoughts on “The Realities of an Asperger’s Diagnosis

  1. Depending on your source CDC 41-44% or WHO 50% of persons with autism disorder … all non Aspergers by definition … have an intellectual disability. You have no actual knowledge of the frustrations that a person with severe autism and profound intellectual disability suffers. Nor do your writings convey the reality that persons with Autism & ID are much more likely to suffer … as my son does .. from epileptic seizures.

    My son and many others with severe Autism & ID do not have the ability to understand the world around them as you do because of your “high IQ”. Nor do they have the ability to communicate verbally as you do on the internet. You have no no knowledge base, experience, credibility or right to describe the realities of severe autism.

    All I have to do however to see how much higher functioning “free ranging Aspergians” are is read their blog sites, their books, their statements before the NY media and Washington press corps, their speeches to government organizations like the IACC or before the Supreme Court of Canada where they seek to speak on behalf of other people’s autistic children and deny them treatment for their disorders.

    Enjoy your high IQ and your writing skills, elements lacking in my son;s life and quit feeling sorry for yourself. You have it much better than my son does and you have no idea what you are talking about in addressing his reality. You don’t speak for my son. Get over it.


    1. First, I never said there are no differences between your son and me. I highlighted some, ie. my high IQ and writing skill. What I did say, is that people with these characteristics can have severely disabling autism symptoms too. You are minimizing my difficulties which is contrary to your raising awareness of severe autism symptoms. I’m sure that if I agreed with you on more autism topics than I do, I’d not be discredited. I don’t see why, just because I can disagree with you in wiritng, my difficulties are not valid and I’m accused of feeling sorry for myself. I could say the same of you, constantly moaning about how frustrating your son’s symptoms are. The thing is, I’m trying to raise awarenss of the realities of autism, and as you may know if you read some of my other posts, I’m not opposed to treatments for the most severely disabling autism symptoms (heck, I take medication for them myself). What I disagree with is the dichotomy of people with a higher IQ who supposedly cannot have any difficulties besides just being odd, and people with a low IQ who are totally depedent. I am not saying again that there are no differences, but please stop trivializing my life just because I can write.


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