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I'm Asperger's, Not Autistic!

Posted Dec 03 2012 10:05pm
With the recent discussions about merging the autism spectrum into one diagnosis in the next edition of the DSM, many people diagnosed with Asperger's have become afraid that, if they are specifically called "Autistic", they will be subject to the stigma surrounding autism--something some of them have managed to escape because some people do not know that Asperger's is a type of autism.

I feel that if we have a problem with the stigma surrounding the "autism" label, the appropriate response would be to address that stigma. Classic autistics have to face it every day; trying to distance ourselves by claiming the label "Asperger's" instead is just pushing the problem off to someone else to handle. And, for many of us (including me, with my various diagnoses of AS and atypical autism), "Asperger's" is not strictly correct in the first place, because we either fit criteria for classic autism or are excluded from Asperger's because of self-help delays. Asperger's itself, as written, is vanishingly rare, and many people who are diagnosed Asperger's are simply diagnosed that way because they appeared to be high-functioning by whatever arbitrary standard their doctor was using at the time.

I think we're better off just calling ourselves autistic and daring the world to look down on us for it. Some still will, but many will do a double-take once they realize "autistic" does not actually mean "worthless". Many people are diagnosed Asperger's not because they aren't quite autistic, but because they are autistic people who don't quite fit the "non-verbal child rocking in the corner" stereotype of autism. The influx of those highly-verbal, stereotype-breaking individuals into the "Autism Spectrum" diagnosis means that people are going to have an even harder time trying to shut us up now, especially if we force them to remember that we're very similar to those people who can't speak as well and whom they've been shouting down. Well, it won't be so easy now. All those highly-verbal people who can talk the hind leg off a donkey and were given the "Asperger's" diagnosis for it? Just call them the cavalry. We're going to be able to yell even louder now. Sooner or later, they simply won't be able to ignore us any more.
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