Archive for the ‘family’ Category

It is interesting, that the best blogs that I have found so far on the topic of Aspergers, have all been written by a mother of someone with Aspergers. For some reason, they have much a clearer perspective about what is going on with us and the challenges we face and are much more eloquent when talking about them than most of us could do ourselves. Is it because our mothers love us more than we could ever love ourselves and they see our strengths and weaknesses much more clearly, while, we only focus on our temporary setbacks and can’t see the trees for the forest?
Or is there another factor at play? There is the fact, that they are, by definition much older. In addition, they have experienced their own childhood so they have something to compare ours too. They see what seems to be serious challenges because they are different from those in, their own childhood which often enough does not include Aspergers. Do not get me wrong, there are many mothers who have blogs which are well-written and also have Aspergers; but, the ones I follow the closest such as the brilliant blog written by Alice Hendley do not. Therefore, they know what it is like to go on dates and how most of the outside world thinks and are able to compare that to their children’s experiences with Aspergers.
The answer could be the result of a countless number of other factors such as to name a few one, most of the blogs by parents are by mothers and maybe women are simply better writers. I reject, this hypotheses out of hand but there could be truth to it. To name another reason, it could be that people with Aspergers don’t want to let our disability define us as much as it truly does. Therefore, I may choose to associate myself as a comedian with Aspergers. Being a parent of a child with Aspergers is much more of a choice if you are liberal and are on the left with your politics. Parents have choices such as abortion or adoption, therefore, they have more choice over their identity than someone simply born one way or another.

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According to some sources the prevelance of Aspergers is 1 in 250 people, while others argue that it is less common and others argue that it is more common. Therefore, what I am going to discuss next may not be as relevant to every case as I am sure this does not affect everyone in the community and many have not come forward or do not even think about it. The diagnosis, however, means that it should relate to everyone, however, depending on where they fit on the spectrum.
In the previous post, I discussed who has the power in society and resolved that it was unclear and that there was actually shared power in different areas of life. The point of discussing who has it better is often to try and get at the matter of who has it easier in society. I am now going to try and look at that issue in the Asperger community.

Men with Aspergers (AS) have a much harder time in the social area not only than NT but also women with Aspergers. As a result of biology discussed above we will be less in demand than women not only among our own community but also among NTs. In addition, women tend to form stronger social skills than males as a result of how they interact at a young age choosing talking over playing sports. Therefore, they will have better and more friendships than the males. Men with AS, therefore, are more likely going to be more obvious and therefore, receive more assistance and have less stigma attached. Nevertheless, many will not have as many romantic partners and this is very stigmatising by the rest of society. They will also, probably have fewer friends as a result of the weaker social skills. This is very hard.
In comparison, some women with AS may not know until much later and may not understand what is causing problems in their lives which is extremely fustrating. In addition, not knowing why things happen in your life also leaves you more vulnerable to be a victim. They may, however, have a much more interesting romantic life and therefore, feel less sidelined.

 
 
A person whose blog I follow and respect tremendously addressed the question if there was a magical pill that could take autism/Aspergers away would she give it to her child. At first I was very insistent saying that I would take it in a second without giving it a second thought. There are many holes in my life which I blame my Aspergers for. For example, I don’t have the best social life, I am 27 and have never had a girlfriend or got intimate with a girl and I still live at home. On the outset who would argue with my decision from the outside it looks like a terrible life. However, if you take a bigger view of my life I have an incredible family, friends who care about me a great job and things that I am passionate about. If I were able to take away my Aspergers at this point in my life not much would change because I have grown into patterns and if there is going to be any serious intervention in someone’s life it has to happen when they are young. It is not something simple like avoiding alcohol for an alcoholic but it means changing the most basic way I interact with people and that kind of change is much harder.
 
   So if I was a child again would I take it? I don’t really know is the truth.  I am not going to say that having Aspergers is a blessing but I am not as convinced as I once was that it is a curse.They say that a butterfly flapping its wings can create natural disasters on the other side of the world and that you can’t know the immense effects on your life if you went back in time and made small adjustments. Getting rid of my Aspergers would be a major adjustment.
  Therefore, I may be better at sports and be less socially awkward but I would also likely not have the same incredible relationship with my family. Part of the reason why I am so close with my family is probably because I did not have as many friends and therefore relied on them more than usual and my life would not be as rich without these relationships. I have an incredibly strong relationship with my siblings and parents who I love dearly. If I did not have Aspergers maybe I would not have appreciated as much having tea every night with my parents. Or have a private book club with my mom where we sit together and read our books. Through this I have been exposed to so many incredible books and have been as rich as a king by having these books at my fingertips and it makes me as happy as a bug in a rug.
        If I was not so disorganized, my sister may not have  had to develop as maternal instincts and alot of people would be poorer for it. My sister is great whenever someone new moves into their co-op housing she goes out of her way in order to befriend them and make their lives better. Would she have had this same level of compassion if she did not think of how cruel the world can be and saw how much I struggled? It’s most likely as she’s a really nice person, but you never know. It’s the same with my brother who has raised almost half a million dollars for women affected by aids in South Africa. 
     If I did not have Aspergers then I would not have this chance to try and be a spokesperson for the cause and try and make life better for other people with the same disability by raising awareness through my stand-up comedy and my blog. I also would not have as much material for my stand-up career. Not having enough material or even stand-up comedy alone is not a good enough reason to justify having Aspergers but I am happy about the spokesperon part. 
 Having had to work for everything has also helped me accomplish great things like achieving my masters degree instead of being lazy and slacking off. Lots of people who are neurologically normal, even from middle-class homes, end up drinking all the time and may never achieve anything worthwhile. I, however, enjoy drinking with my friends but also know the value of hard-work.  
   In the end I don’t know if my life would be the same if you took away my Aspergers or if it would be unrecognizable, and ultimately, the good in my life outweighs the bad. 
In many ways having a brother with Aspergers must be a real pain. Sometimes I have said really horrible things that must have made my brother and sister ashamed. One time when my brother’s then girlfriend was over for supper I told her “don’t worry my mother only poisons people she doesn’t like…  you better watch out.” There are other times that I embarassed them that I clearly do not remember that they might or might not remember. I am sure it’s been an extra responsibility on them to make sure nothing bad happens to me, which has probably helped them become the fine upstanding people that they have become, and  they have probably heard me kvetching and whining more than if they had other siblings. They never burden me with their problems and yet I don’t feel the same constraints and will complain to them about my problems.
At the same time I am sure that having a brother with Aspergers must be rewarding in many ways. They never had to worry about being the most awkward person at a party. That would be me. Also there is the sheer good feeling they must get seeing me overcome obstacles in my way. All three of us used to coach Special Olympics for several years with my sister as the head-coach. During that time I was able to experience the joy of seeing these athletes score a basket in basketball. Scoring a basket may not be a huge difficulty to many people when there is no defense, and you are three feet away from the hoop, nevertheless, some of these athletes struggled. Yet they never gave up and after shooting 10 shots they would get one in. The look of triumph on their faces and the incredible feeling of watching these athletes struggle and persevere and overcome instead of getting upset with themselves and quitting was an amazing gift and always made me feel so special to be there in their moment of triumph. Like these athletes I have had many of my own struggles and yet have overcome them through pure perseverance and being there in my moment of triumph must be extremely uplifting for my family to watch. At one point one of my teachers was very worried about me and confided in my parents that they thought I would never be able to read at grade level and yet despite that, I have gone on to graduate with a masters degree in Library and Information Science program from the University of Pittsburgh. I struggled with the most simpliest hand-eye-coordination and yet I went on to being one of the starters of my high school basketball team. Granted it was for a small Jewish high school where everyone made the team, but nevertheless, I started for that team.