“For me, Asperger it’s not a disease.”
I’ve been thinking, what if I have a child with autism? What if his/her life turns out to be slightly different, or completely different to other kids? What if …? This questions have been in my head since I’m sharing my life with someone with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism, categorised as highly functional within the Autism Spectrum.
Is pretty normal for expecting parents to say they don’t care about gender as long as it is a healthy child, but when they hear the word “autism”, their world fall apart, they feel like they fail as parents, that they probably didn’t have enough precautions while pregnant, or maybe it was the food, the place where they decided to live, is all about to look for a scapegoat, because autism is not good news, autism is trouble, autism is something you can understand as long as it is not in your family.
The cause of ASD, including Asperger syndrome, is not known.
So far, science can’t explain autism; psychologists, doctors, neurologists, none of them can give a reason for this to happen: maybe the environment, food, pollution, vitamins, drugs, a traumatic birth, genetic, not genetic, and you have all this people making assumptions about what is it, what causes it and how can they fix it. Because autism is wrong, is something you have to figure out how to solve, cause it is a problem… for them.
I wouldn’t change my partner, even if someone came with a package of “Autism free boyfriend” and a lifetime subscription to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Why? Because I love who he is, and Asperger is not a part of him -as many people tend to think about this particular kind of disorders-, Asperger is who he is. An amazingly smart guy who can learn new programming languages in days, one who makes physics sound as easy as making ice tea, the one who feels confused when angry or sad, finding a way to express this feelings has been a long road for him; the one whose days feel the same and doesn’t have mood swings -as he explained me-, the one who doesn’t get the jokes and turns to me looking for an explanation, the one who loves animals more than he loves certain people, the one who pauses a TV show to explain me something about it -mostly about how writers screw something related to science or computers-; yes, my SO has autism and I wouldn’t change a bit of it.
He asked me yesterday: “what do you see when you see this, when you use this?” holding in his hand a vaporiser, I told him I think about what I use in it, medicine, and he answered back: “well, while you see this, I see how it works, I think about the small parts that make it a complete piece and how it functions, and it happens me with everything: from lightbulbs to doorknobs, from a wash machine to cars, my brain never stops, and I think that’s what it makes us so different from neurotypical people, you let your vision of the world to be biased of how things and people in it makes you feel, not for what things are. Neurotypical people can make connections or links in weird ways, I just see everything as a whole and how it works”
When we were kids I barely notice something “was wrong” with him, cause for me, he was just a smart boy -maybe smarter than the average- but I did enjoy talking with him about books, writers, music, and as I get to know him -as in dating- I just realized he can talk for hours about the same thing, he didn’t get the jokes or sarcasm, he didn’t get he was being way too honest or too detailed about something for his own good. But then again, he didn’t do many things as we do, on the other side he surprised me when he can talk about topics not so many people can talk about: physics, space, programming, aquariophilia, gardening, chemistry, biology, electronics; his brain is like a huge HD unit… and expanding.
Not sure that if it wasn’t for Asperger he would be the same person, but I understand that his way to see the world has to do everything with it. He knows it, he learned it when he was around 22, and he told me that he knew something was different about him when he was a kid, but no one paid attention to this; school bored him, socialization was difficult, after all, he was the weird kid, the nerd, and after many years of not knowing why he acted or reacted in specific ways, he could put a name to it: Asperger Syndrome, and that was a life changer. That’s why diagnosis is important, because avoiding this, won’t make autism goes, but it will make kids to feel adrift. Is like any other thing that has an impact in your life, in my case, dysautonomia, invisible to others, but everytime I had an episode, I felt I was about to die. Having a diagnosis, helps you understand yourself. Is the same thing for kids with any form of autism. As simple as that.
We know each other for almost 22 years now; since we started dating, he has learned a lot of social conventions through me, and everyday I learned something new from him as well. Is it easy to live with someone with Asperger? I won’t lie to you, it’s kinda like from time to time, we speak different languages, mostly when it comes to talk about emotions, when we disagree about regular stuff between couples, things that doesn’t have an specific structure -like coding, or mechanics-, things that shift from one day to another (like my mood swings).
Why do people think something is wrong with an autistic person? Why do they think they are not happy? Why do they think they need to be fixed? Joe Kit, an amazing boy I met in Kuala Lumpur back in 2013, has the same “disorder” as Cesar, and he wrote his thoughts about it in the article Do we need a cure for autism?; when I read the header, my answer was: “hell no!”, I sent the article to Cesar and he wrote this comment:
For me, Asperger it’s not a disease, it’s a precious gift I was given and I was lucky enough to find people along my path who inspired me or taught me how to take the best out of it.
We don’t need a cure, we need to work together to teach new generations of Asperger kids how to take the best out of their gifted little minds, and get them prepared to make this world a better place with their unique talents.
And you know what? I agree, and I love him. Just the way he is.