There’s a meme running around about how “neurotypical v. asperger’s syndrome” you might be.
It drives me up a motherfucking wall. I know it looks like I’m holding back and all, but please understand that my sweet smile and gentle speech covers a boiling, seething rage at this one.
Autism spectrum illnesses are complex, involved, multi-layered and not completely understood. I know a lot of people want to lay a certain level of social cluelessness at the feet of a neurological issue, but it’s a lot more complex than that. A self-diagnosis won’t work.
Autism, while on the rise1, is rare. It is a spectrum disorder that is amazingly complex and difficult to diagnose except in the most extreme and obvious of cases, but even then, don’t be too sure. There are other issues that you have to rule out, first.
Asperger’s is also a very specific diagnosis within the range of autism spectrum disorders. It is not a synonym for, “Your kid might be a high-functioning autistic.”2 If you have a preschool teacher tell you that your kid has Asperger’s, for instance, find an expert in these disorders. I promise you that unless that person did more than take a semester’s worth of abnormal childhood development courses, or has worked for many, many years with a large range of children with these issues, he doesn’t know. A quick way to stop punch that sort of nonsense is to demand that they list the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s according to the DSM-IV. If they cannot do that, they’re not qualified to give an opinion. Get an expert.
If you suspect you might have Asperger’s, and you think a diagnosis and training in coping would be useful to you, find more than one expert. Explain your problems. Get multiple opinions. Yes, this is difficult and will be insanely expensive. Unless you’re experiencing serious quality of life issues, it might not be profitable to bother. I can’t choose for someone else’s life. Only you can decide that one.
But by whatever you hold holy, don’t judge it from a damn internet meme!
1It is also on the rise because the diagnostic criteria have changed in the last fifteen years or so!
2For instance, if there is a speech delay issue, and you’re told your kid has Asperger’s, you can chuck that opinion in the trash. One of the hallmarks of Asperger’s and one that makes it tragically difficult to diagnose early, is that the kid is hyperverbal.