This is adapted from something I posted June 18, 2010: Autistic Pride Day. I’m bringing it over here because I’m thinking that if you or a loved one is newly diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, you might not want to hear any more doom and gloom. You can find plenty of that in the many wonderful, helpful, but somewhat depressing textbooky tomes that are available at your local library. Asperger is challenging, yes. But it is also kind of awesome.
Autistic Pride Day. I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t I just see a bunch of copied-and-pasted status updates on Facebook about that a few months ago? Nope. That was World Autistic Awareness Day, which is April 2 every year. World Autistic Awareness Day is about letting you know that autism exists. Autistic Pride Day is about letting you, the neuro-typical person (or “NT” to us hipsters) know that autism can be kind of awesome.
There is a whole world of autistic pride and politics that I’m just learning about. (The most helpful piece of advice I can give you is that getting worked up about the politics of autism does not help the newly-diagnosed person one bit.) Autistic Pride Day is promoted by Aspies for Freedom, an organization that pushes not just for autism awareness, but awareness that autism has both advantages and disadvantages.
Let me just say this: I’m pretty sure the people at Aspies for Freedom are talking about people with fairly high-functioning Asperger’s Syndrome. If you’re the mom of a severely autistic child who’s still nonverbal at age 6 and never smiles at you, you’re probably ready to tell the nice people at Aspies for Freedom that neurodiversity can suck it.
Little Dude is more along the lines of the high-functioning Asperger’s. And I can certainly say there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to our situation.
In the spirit of Autistic Pride Day, here is my Top Ten List of Asperger Syndrome Advantages and Disadvantages.
Disadvantage #10 Little Dude eats the same thing, every day.
Advantage #10 Meal-planning is a snap.
Disadvantage #9 All Legos, all the time.
Advantage #9 May grow up to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright.
Disadvantage #8 Obsessive-compulsive behavior means we can’t leave the room unless the television and the power strip are turned off.
Advantage #8 Asperger’s Syndrome is the new “green.”
Disadvantage #7 Makes odd, surprising noises.
Advantage #7 Maybe other kids will think he’s beat-boxing.
Disadvantage #6 Despite having advanced vocabulary, Little Dude’s speech is sometimes very unclear.
Advantage #6 Woman behind me in check-out line doesn’t realize Little Dude is talking about testicles.
Disadvantage #5 Does not make eye contact with friendly pediatric nurse.
Advantage #5 Does not make eye contact with anyone at Walmart.
Disadvantage #4 “Motor-planning deficit” means he struggles to take off his own shoes.
Advantage #4 “Unusually intense, narrow area of interest” means he can beat adults at Wii Lego Star Wars.
Disadvantage #3 Talks incessantly about Legos, Star Wars, and Lego Star Wars.
Advantage #3 No longer talking about Dora.
Disadvantage #2 Sometimes says insensitive or inappropriate things.
Advantage #2 These things are hilarious.
Disadvantage #1 Random muttonheads Concerned strangers ask me if I think he’ll be ready to potty-train sometime soon, why is he flapping his hands, and oh, you mean he’s like Rain Man?