Asperger: A culture, as opposed to a disabilityPosted by admin
Many people think of Asperger as a disability, and I do in some ways. But Asperger is also very much a culture in that Asperger people have their own interests, values, and ways of communication, just as people in foreign countries do.
INTERESTS – While neurotypical interests may involve sports, ball games on television, neurotypical people’s friends, etc., Asperger interests may involve interstate highways, TV call letters, airports, airline arrival and departure schedules, weather statistics, Gilligan’s Island, different brands of cars, and so forth, just as Norwegian interests involve tales of trolls, giants, and gnomes, and Brazilian interests involve dancing the samba. Strictly speaking, many Asperger people don’t fit in with groups of neurotypical people because of a lack of similar interests, just as North Americans many not fit well into societies in places like Iran, China, or Portugal.
LANGUAGE – Even though the official language of the Asperger populations of Canada and the United States is English, Asperger English and neurotypical English are two separate languages. Just as an English speaker may not fit into a country like China or Japan because he/she doesn’t understand the language, an English-speaking Asperger may not relate well to English-speaking neurotypical people because of language incompatibility. The most difficult dialects of neurotypical English for Asperger people to learn are those spoken by college instructors, textbook writers, people who write instruction manuals, e.g., for operating computers, VCRs, etc., and business people (particularly those involved in government and law). Expecting an Asperger to understand those dialects is almost like expecting an English speaker to understand Finnish or Hungarian.
Another indication of neurotypical English being difficult for Asperger people is that some words and phrases are often not used to match their meanings. For example, “trimming” officially means cutting. However, when neurotypical people speak of “trimming” a Christmas tree, they mean decorating the Christmas tree. In addition, if a neurotypical woman says that her husband “brings home the bacon”, she means that he earns enough money to buy food for the whole family; she doesn’t mean that her husband buys bacon. As well, the neurotypical word “camp” may refer to a summer program that is entirely held in a city. There is no camping or even going out into the country. Many of these so-called “camps” are almost entirely indoors.
FOOD – Asperger cuisine may consist of white food, creamy food, or for the most part, bland food.
CLOTHING – The Asperger dress might include light, soft clothing, like sweat pants and rugby shirts.
VALUES – Probably the most important value of the Asperger culture is communicating with people like oneself. While Asperger people may communicate poorly with neurotypical people, they communicate very well with each other, because they speak in the same language and share similar interests. We Aspergers do not need neurotypical people to teach us social skills. We just need opportunities to communicate with each other so we can have close friends just like everyone else!
The following is a list of suspected Aspergers from TV and movies.
FRED (“LITTLE MAN”) TATE – A seven-year-old genious in Cincinatti, Ohio, who did not fit into the neurotypical world. However, he related beautifully with other people like himself.
GILLIGAN (“GILLIGAN’S ISLAND) – The bumbling first mate on the S.S. Minnow, who was also literal-minded in a humourous way. Many episodes of the show brought the castaways on the brink of rescue from the deserted island, but Gilligan would inadvertantly foil up their plans.
FOREST GUMP – Known for excelling at certain things and being very poor in others.
SCHROEDER (from the “Peanuts” comic strip) – Known for his amazing ability to perform classical music and spending all his waking time with his toy piano.
CHARLIE BROWN – Known for his passiveness and his inability to fit in with his peer group.
BERT (from “Sesame Street”) – Bert is also passive, and prefers to be in his own world. He becomes annoyed if someone tries to involve him in their games, therefore disturbing his peace. Like many Aspergers, Bert has unusual obsessions, including pigeons, paper clips, and bottle caps. He also likes plain, simple food, like oatmeal.
CALVIN (from “Calvin and Hobbes”) – It is obvious that Calvin is amazingly bright, hence his adult-like, complex speech and his ability to build exotic characters out of snow. As well, Calvin is not involved with other children at all and has no desire to be. He much prefers animals to people, and is known for his obsession with tigers.
AMELIA BEDELIA – This housemaid of the popular children’s series by Peggy Parish is known for her literal-mindedness. For example, when she is asked to prune the hedges, she might stick prunes on them; when she is asked to draw the drapes, she will draw pictures of them, etc.
RAMONA QUIMBY – This young girl of the popular children’s books by Beverly Cleary is also literal-minded. For example, on the first day of kindergarten, the teacher tells her to sit in a certain seat for the present, meaning “sit there for now”. However, Ramona thinks that the teacher means she will get a present and is all excited. Of course, when she learns that that wasn’t what the teacher meant, she is bitterly disappointed.
In addition, I perceive the narrator in Simon and Garfunkel’s hit, “I Am a Rock”, to be an Asperger. The person in the song has “no need for friendship; friendship causes pain”. He is satisfied in his own world. Such was very much the case with me when I was a preschooler. I would sit, play, and run around by myself. I especially enjoyed playing in the sand. If other children tried to play with or talk to me, I felt they were trying to rouse me from my peace, and I wished they would leave me alone.
I am opposed of neurotypical people trying to turn us Aspergers into them, e.g., teaching social skills, trying to make us obsessed with ball games, etc., instead of airports and “Star Trek” episodes. It is like people from, say, Japan, trying to make Canadian cultures similar to Japanese cultures.
Strictly speaking, just as Harry Potter didn’t fit into the Muggle (non-wizard) world but fit into the wizard world very well, Asperger people fit far better into the Asperger world than they fit into the neurotypical world.