Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Asperger Syndrome and Definition from a Asper

When it's hard to fit in
By Bryce Hubbard
20Below News Team
Published: Monday, November 7, 2005
People can become social outcasts for lots of reasons. Such as, people get labeled as geeks or nerds when they're smart or good at something.
Doesn't seem fair, but that's reality.
Have you ever heard of someone being a social disaster because of too much imagination? There is such a thing.
It's called Asperger's syndrome.
This form of high-functioning autism causes social problems that can't entirely be overcome, because the problem is not with the individual's personality. It's in the wiring of the brain.
I should know. I suffer from this disorder.
Here's an example of the difference between a neurotypical (among the 99.9 percent of the people on the planet without Asperger's) and an Asper: Person A and Person B look up and see the same cloud. Person A sees a bunny rabbit. Person B has AS and sees a geometric shape, and several other things as well.
Person A begins to talk about the rabbit, thinking that Person B sees the same thing. Person B is puzzled and unable to follow the conversation, because he doesn't see the rabbit.





That's a little idea of what it feels like to have Asperger's.
I say "little" because the only real way to understand Asperger's is to be afflicted with it. Sometimes, those of us with Asperger's have other disorders. I have dysgraphia and dyscalculia, which means I haven't the ability to organize or calculate numbers very well.
The worst part of having Asperger's is the lack of peer bonding.
When I got to high school, my social disabilities really made themselves apparent. It was difficult to fit in - not that I wanted to be a part of a clich├ęd stereotype of any group (I'm of the opinion that stereotypes are one of humanity's worst habits).
Often, Aspers are unable to cope with the casual cruelties that other less understanding students inflict upon them. I know one easily agitated student with Asperger's who is routinely picked on by others who just want to set him off.
And these cruel students wouldn't be described as your typical bullies.
High school is a difficult place for Aspers. I have maybe one or two good friends with whom I can be myself. The rest of the time I must put on a social face to at least pretend I fit other students' definition of normal.
At least that's what I used to do. Now, after years of pretending to be a neurotypical, I rarely hide how fundamentally different I am.
History has shown that creativity, unusual thinking and imagination can lead to incredible success.
In fact, people with Asperger's typically have normal to high IQs. Many significant figures throughout history have been suggested as possibly having the disorder, including Thomas Jefferson and Albert Einstein.
For some reason, however, people would rather label others as social outcasts than appreciate their potential.
I've been told that I started using several words when I was less than a year old, and I began speaking in sentences shortly after that. I have heard of many Aspers with extraordinary abilities, including one who could recall the details of her birth.
But most people don't know anything about or understand Asperger's, which makes progression through our education system difficult for those with the disorder. It makes you wonder how some of us get by. The truth is, some of us don't.
Only through the support of my family and few friends do I manage in high school. I am constantly reminded of my social dysfunction when someone asks my opinion on a subject, and I offer a view that is almost completely different from everyone else's.
But that doesn't mean I hate being different - not at all. I enjoy it. A lot of people talk about not wanting to be stereotyped, yet they seek acceptance by being a part of a larger group.
I know I'm actually a unique individual, unlike so many who claim to be.
Bryce Hubbard is a senior at South Eugene High. He can be reached at 20Below@guardnet.com.

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