Every Wednesday, I drive my sister Rose and nephews to the public library. The closest library is not even a 5-minute drive from the house, so it’s not a strenuous act of kindness from my part. On one Wednesday, we didn’t get a chance to go to the library earlier in the day so we rushed over there after picking up my 6-year-old nephew from school at 3:05, hoping that we’d make it home before my sister comes over at 4:15.
Usually, Rose goes about her own business as I do whatever I do but today, since we were on a time crunch, she tailed me around. I had been interested in reading about Asperger’s Syndrome in a literary form (as opposed to ‘how to raise,’ ‘warning signs of,’ or ‘psychological studies’) and I had no idea where to look, because the non-fiction books were categorized by topic but the fiction books were alphabetized. I went to the computer and typed in “aspergers” in the search bar.
Rose, whom had graduated from university with a degree in psychology and sociology, read what I’ve typed and asked, “Wait, do you know someone with it? You know that’s, like, people who can’t talk and need people to take care of them, right? It’s a type of autism.”
Stuff.co.nz published a story about a Green Bay High School’s fight to ban a boy with Asperger’s syndrome . Human Rights Commission, IHC, Crown Law and the Disabilities Commission have stepped up for the boy, saying that access to education is a fundamental human right. The high school had expelled the child in 2013 after a ‘scuffing with a teacher over a skateboard.” The New Zealand Herald stated that the court decision will set precedent for schools all over New Zealand, prioritizing the rights of schools to prevent disruption in the classroom or a child’s right to an education, despite disabilities.
The Telegraph reports on a man utilizing an Asperger’s man to build a bomb and attack soldiers at his command. Kazi Islam, 19, persuaded Harry Thomas to buy ingredients to create a bomb. Thomas, having Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD, had bought the wrong items and had told a couple of friends about the couple’s plot. Islam will serve 8 years at a young offenders institute for attempted terrorism, as well as pay victim surcharge of £120 and made subject to a terrorism prevention requirement for 15 years.
The Herald News had a bit happier news, reporting on Daniel Perkins, whom has Asperger’s syndrome and ADD. Doctors told his parents that he’d never read, write or talk as a baby; however, Perkins had recently graduated from Bristol Community College. Perkins intend to continue his education at Bridgewater State College, majoring in theater with a minor in English. He reports that the stage has served as therapy for his Asperger’s and that having the ‘disability’ has helped him through schooling as well.
What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?
“Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interactions and nonverbal communications, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests,” states Wikipedia. The following will slightly go into detail of each component of Asperger’s.
- Social Interaction
- Impaired nonverbal behaviors such as eye contact, facial expressions, posture and gestures
- Lack of social or emotional reciprocity (give-and-take conversational skill)
- Inability to share enjoyment or achievements with others
- Willing to approach others; however, potential to be awkward
- Misunderstanding/not recognizing listener’s feelings or reactions
- One-sided, long-winded speech on favorite subject
- Selective on whom they talk to (Only extremes: Talk a lot or not at all to specific people)
- Able to display ‘normal’ behavior in clinical setting, but unable to correctly utilize the learned behavior
- Restricted and repetitive interest and behavior
- Narrowed and specific areas of interest dominate social interactions
- Inflexible routines and preoccupy themselves with parts of objects
- Stereotyped and repetitive motor behaviors are typical (had movements, more voluntary and ritualistic than tics)
- Increase of interest to non-fiction than fiction
- Speech and language
- Typically lacks significant abnormalities in speech (look at Wikipedia link for atypical instances)
- Stories may not have conclusions or points, and the attempt to find either is unsuccessful
- In childhood, may have unusually sophisticated vocabulary but have difficulty understanding figurative language
- Language is very literal; therefore, nonliteral language like humor, irony, teasing and sarcasm is mistaken
- Motor and Sensory Perception
- More likely to have sleep problems
- Difficulty in identifying and describing one’s emotions
On 3 December 2012, CBS News reported that “Asperger’s syndrome” was to be dropped in the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). It had only just been added to the previous edition (DSM-IV) in 1994.
Celebrities diagnosed with Asperger’s are Paddy Considine, Craig Nicholls, Gary Numan. and Susan Boyle. Celebrities suspected to have Asperger’s are David Byrne, Bill Gates, Andy Warhol, Abraham Lincoln, Robin Williams, Al Gore, Tim Burton, Michael Jackson, Alfred Hitchcock, Woody Allen, Bob Dylan, Jim Henson, Mark Twain, Michael Palin, Charles Schulz, and Albert Einstein.
My Personal Life
I never knew what Asperger’s syndrome was, and didn’t know there was a ‘spectrum of autism’ that had such a condition. Growing up, I was pretty naive about autism overall. There was a boy down the street that my sisters babysat that had autism, and we always connect him with autism, which indirectly connects autism to his awkwardness, including his speech patterns, his ‘slowness’ and the way he makes people uncomfortable.
Learning about Asperger’s syndrome is really interesting, but I must admit that it’s not done out of the kindness of my heart or my own intellectual curiosity. I may not have ever came across the term, or really even cared, if it weren’t for Perseus.
Perseus is loving, caring, funny and beyond cute. He’s my boyfriend — the love of my life — for the past 5 years, so I guess I’m a little biased, if not a wee bit blind with love. But I won’t claim that my gem is flawless in the eyes of the public.
See, Perseus has Asperger’s syndrome.
After Perseus had told me he had Asperger’s, I really didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know that it was a form of autism, because how could someone I’ve known for (then) 2 years have some form of autism? Since knowing he had Asperger’s, I’ve been actively seeking to understand it more fully, whether it’s watching movies like Adam or reading books like Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robison, but nothing compares to actually handling a person with Asperger’s.
Perseus doesn’t noticeably display any atypical speech or language characteristics, but he said that I may have grown accustomed to his quirks. However, I have noticed a handful of funny motor habits he has. Every minute like clockwork, he stretches his neck, whether he’s sitting upright, laying down or even when he’s sleeping. And when his hands aren’t doing tasks, he instinctively scratches each palm, back and forth, back and forth.
Perseus also displays the classic sign of repetitive and restricted behavior and interests. As a child, he had been acutely interested in dinosaurs, or should I say, he still is since the last time we met, I had him choose a toy and he had chosen a rubber dinosaur for me to get him (God, he’s cute). He’s interested in cars and video games now, almost like any typical boy but almost to an ‘obsessive’ level.
Some other of his interests and behaviors are actually really funny– perhaps in an annoying, dark humor sort of way. For instance, he enjoys going into chatrooms under ridiculous names such as “SCOOBY DOO SNIFFS UR POO” and ‘spam’ repeated phrases that would clog up the chat. It’s not particularly aimed to hurt or annoy anyone, but it’s more for the amusement of seeing how people react, like in Impractical Jokers, Boiling Point, or What Would You Do?. I admit that I’ve joined him on multiple occasions, as something to do as a couple and bond, as like a long-distance date.
Another interest that I find particularly hilarious is Perseus’ keen fascination with overweight, large, unfortunate-looking people. For instance, in one of his favorite shows Eastenders, he gravitates towards liking to watch Phil Mitchell‘s stories. Another example would be that he’s a very VERY big fan of Steven Seagal, having watch every single video of him (most, of which, are uploaded straight to YouTube).
However, some of his interests are harder to swallow and really grasp. Perseus is very much into the paranormal, having gone to a fortune teller, taken photos to find oddities, taken videos in the dark to find orbs and utilized ghost-communication devices. I had told him I would never forgive him if he ever uses a ouija board, but he had used the Ghost Box PSB7 and EVP recordings, having some tangible outcomes from it. Going back to having a weak spot for outlandish characters, Perseus really enjoys watching Bob Hickman on YouTube.
Another interest that follows the “What.The.Fuck.” category would be Perseus’ interest in extraterrestrials, having listens intently on Steven Greer‘s The Sirius Project. While this could be seen as an almost-normal/geeky fascination, Perseus enjoys reading and listening about conspiracy theories behind extraterrestrials, dimensions and world governments as well. Honestly, some of this shit is crazy.
But the trait that causes the most friction between Perseus and I must be his Aspergian social interactions. There’s some cute, positive traits that I don’t mind at all. He shows he loves me everyday, with a “Good morning I love you” text when he wakes up and continuous texts throughout the day. When we met up, he had no problem holding my hand, talking to me and physically showing me how he feels about me. He wants me on every night to be with him and to talk to him, as much as I want to be on for him every night and talk to him.
However, when I want to have a night with my college friends, it’s difficult to even approach the topic of not being able to get on Skype with him for a night. Without me being online, his routine is messed up and he doesn’t appreciate it and doesn’t enjoy the disruption. He’s overly protective of me and think sinister thoughts when I’m out with friends or talking to anyone besides him, because he rarely talks to anyone he doesn’t know either. Perseus believes the city life will be absolutely terrible for him because he dislikes crowded areas with people who would potentially bump into him, give him a dirty look, or even offering him the daily Metro.
Perseus is truly the love of my life, and despite all these atypical characteristics, he’s perfect for me. Sure, we fight almost nightly, almost out of routine than of actual substance, but we know we’re meant to be together. He sometimes says that I’m what keeps him steady — that I am what keeps him going, but honestly, he’s keeping me sane and provides my days with limitless love.
And honestly, I’ve known a lot of people who have yet, or won’t ever be diagnosed with Asperger’s that are a lot more fucked up than Perseus, and I’ve dealt with them in the past. But with Perseus, I don’t have to ‘deal’ or ‘put up with’ him, but more create a reciprocal understanding that if I can handle your shit, you can handle mine, because I know I’m not perfect. Everyone has their thing and most couples should manage in this way.
I’ve told Perseus that he can’t blame our fights, his lack of emotions or his overabundance of emotions on Aspergers, but I know that I could just be an insensitive bastard as well. I just see Perseus as a normal boy, with normal boy issues of being an asshole at times. I don’t like to treat him differently or special because of it. I’ve told him that if he wants to blame every problem we have on his Aspergers, then he shouldn’t be in a relationship with me because obviously, then, he isn’t in the right state to be fiddling with relationships.
One thing I can almost count on is that Perseus will be forever loyal to me and love me. He’d be the old man reading the old lady their story in The Notebook. He’d be the old man burying his wife, like the video above.
He loves me, unconditionally.
And I’m in love with the damn Aspie.