Understanding Asperger

It wasn’t too long ago that I started to become familiar with Asperger, Autism, and the Broader Autistic Phenotype. I.e., Aspies.[1] Since then, I’ve been doing a bit of research on the topic.

One thing I keep on seeing though is the labeling of Aspies as “disabled”. When I read about people calling Aspies “disabled”, I feel somewhat dumbfounded. How could you call someone with superior mental abilities “disabled”.

Calling Aspies “disabled” is like calling an Olympic sprinter “disabled” because his running abilities are different than “normal” people. Calling Aspies “disabled” is like calling a body builder “disabled” because his huge muscles make it so he doesn’t fit into “normal” clothing sizes. Aspies have some superior mental abilities, like being more rational than common people and less affected by instincts that many people are affected by.

Now, I do want to say that some Aspies do definitely seem disabled. But many don’t.[2]

I think non-Aspies, or Neurotypicals as they’re often called (which are most the people in the word), really don’t understand what it is like to be an Aspie. So perhaps an analogy would help in understanding what the world is like for Aspies.

Imagine a world where most the people in the world are retarded. Now imagine that every now and then, some of these retarded people have a non-retarded children. Now the non-retarded children don’t behave like all the retarded people in the world. They don’t socialize the same way. (Although they socialize just fine with other non-retarded people.) Also, many mental abilities (like counting, basic mathematics, etc) are trivial for them. They notice things that the retarded people don’t notice. They can figure out things that the retarded people don’t seem capable of. They have interests that the retarded people would never be interested in.

But to the retarded people, these non-retarded people are different. Now imagine that the retarded people call the non-retarded people “disabled”. (Dumbfounding!) Now imagine that you have retarded people telling them that they want to “cure” the non-retarded people, and turn them into retards so they can be like everyone else. (Even more dumbfounding!)

In some ways, it’s like a Forced Eugenics version of “Harrison Bergeron“. Although, that would imply a realization of what Aspies really are. Which I don’t think most these people, who are calling the this a “disability”, have.

Being rational is not a “disability”. Not being as affected by many of the (primitive) instincts most people are affected by, in not a “disability”. Not wanting to make small talk is not a “disability”.

The “rub” is though that, how does a “non-retarded” person explain to the “retarded” people that they are not “disabled” and not only that what they are does not need to be “cured”, but it should not be “cured”.


[1] Note, although technically not correct, many people call people that are classified as having Asperger, Autism or part of the Broader Autistic Phenotype, as “Aspies”. I also tend to do so. Hopefully this will not confuse anyone.

[2] I’d be interested in finding some statistics on how many non-disabled vs disabled[3] Aspies there are. My personal experience and current level of knowledge about being an Aspies tells me that most are not disabled. But it is possible that my experience may not be representative.

[3] I mean “disabled” from an objective perspective, more along the lines of the laymen idea of “disabled”. Having a definition of “disabled” mean essentially, “being different than the norm”, makes it essentially meaningless.

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