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Why is Aspergers Syndrome so misunderstood?

Updated on July 31, 2010

aspergers and everyday life

Book in hand my son gets into my car. He will continue to read the book even though it is not assigned reading and he is no longer in school. Every word that he reads he will retain and often to the dismay of my younger children share with the captive audience of passengers taking the ride with us. My son is handsome. He has fair skin, green eyes and wavy brown hair. He is tall, and quite likeable. He somehow seems to charm every woman he meets and has the ability to engage in long, fact filled conversations with men about sports.

He has always been placed in honors classes and excelled there. He graduated from middle school with an award in Social Studies and with a President's Award for Academic Excellence. If you were to ask him ANY question about the Presidents of the United States, and I mean ANY question, he could probably answer it, with details you were not even asking for. The same can be said for the history of baseball and even current players statistics. Like most 13 year olds, he loves video games and can offer all sorts of cheats and suggestions to anyone who is interested to learn.

So why is he misunderstood? Simply because he has the appearance of being "normal", for lack of a better word. Unless you spend alot of time with him or meet him on and off day, you would have no idea that there was any problem with him. However, he cannot stand his shoes on for any length of time. He is paralyzed with fear at the thought of writing an answer down on a test that might be wrong. If he opens up a test booklet and spots one question that he is not sure of, he cannot get past that one question and move on to complete the test. He has to be coaxed and reassured by teachers and specialists. He will walk right in front of a car because he is too busy looking at the pizzeria across the street to notice that there are cars in between him and the restaurant. He will chew on every pencil in our house until the younger two children are crying and shouting that there are none left with erasesrs. He will erase his work over and over because the letters are not perfect. We got him a laptop, but the obsessiveness continues, he will delete and backspace over and over as a way of self stimulation which is a practice that autistic people engage in. Sometimes he will revert back to habits of his younger days which is to self stimulate by running back and forth in place and flap his hands. He will mutter to himself.   He can engage adults in conversation, but not his peers.

All of these behaviors are controllable in the proper setting and by people who are trained to spot them before they start. If he gets too anxious and falls into a state that causes him a full blown meltdown, there is not returning from that. It will just have to run its course. The best plan is to stop it before it happens by redirecting him.

People with aspergers do not have an interior "edit" system. Their social skills are lacking. It is a communication disorder. They can speak and communicate which is not true of their autistic counterparts, however, just because they have language skills, does not mean they can truly communicate. It takes alot of practice and alot of work. They are very literal. They do not understand sarcasm. Many aspies do not understand jokes. I am fortunate, my son is able to joke around, but not all of the time, we have to be careful what we say to him, he often gets upset over things that are jokes and not true.   He does not have friends.  He has people who care about him and would talk to him if he called them or asked to get together with them, but he will not do this unless prompted.  Friends do not seem to matter to him. This gives him the appearance of being standoffish.  That is not the case, he does not know what to say to others his age.  It is too difficult for him to maintain an appropriate dialogue.  He will end of spouting off facts and statistics about one subject which 13 and 14 years old tire quickly, no matter how polite they are.

People with Aspergers can be an asset to our society. They are intelligent. They have the ability to learn and retain enormous amounts of information. They do not have to google things to find the answer, it is already in their brains. But society has to learn to understand them. The world has to be less rigid and know that when someone says something rude, it isn't necessarily that they are trying to be rude, it just may be his or her way because they maybe an aspie. Of course, they may not be an aspie, they may just be a rude person, we all have to judge for ourselves. We should think about that before we immediately think that a child is simply ill behaved or an adult to gruff or rude. They may be a person with aspergers. Get to know them, learn about them, Look into the positive parts of Aspergers, there are many. Just because someone looks a certain way, doesn't mean that is who they are underneath.


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    • profile image

      Bear 7 years ago

      Enjoyed very much

    • profile image

      Baileybear 7 years ago

      Thankyou for sharing your experiences and insights. I have been writing about AS too and will link. Look forward to reading your other articles.

    • OTmommy profile image

      OTmommy 7 years ago from Southern USA

      Very well written with a great explanation of how a person with asperger's could be easily misunderstood! I will have to share this with some other people I know. I am a pediatric occupational therapist who has worked with kids wih asperger's syndrome, for over 14 years, so I understand how these children (and adults) think. It must be difficult to see your handsome, brilliant son not have many friends. Hang in there, and keep being a great mom to your wonderful son!

    • Anonymous profile image

      Anonymous 7 years ago from Grandview

      I believe my Dad is an asper. However people have trouble admitting to this.

      Autism runs in my family.

    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 7 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Great story thanks - really good viewpoint to show how the condition manifests in your experience on a day to day basis