It is something one frequently encounters when meeting doctors or well-meaning helpers or psychologists or what-have-you. As soon as you tell them that you happen to have Asperger’s Syndrome, something changes in them. They think hard for a moment and then they remember. A smile spreads on their face and they say the words you dreaded they would say:
“Oh, that’s all right! I have read about that in a book, and now I will do this and that to you, because I have read that those things will make you feel better!”
Those things may be all sorts of things. Some of them may actually make things feel better. Some of them will make things worse. A lot worse.
And you start to protest. You say something like; “No, I understand metaphors very well, thank you. There is no need to avoid them.” You say something like; “No, seriously, I can eat bread without evolving into a ball of introspection.” You say; “Oh god, please. I have feelings. I promise. When you talk to me as if I was a small child it hurts my feelings.” You say; “No, you can keep the paintings on the wall; it’s the constantly turned on TV that is distracting to me.”
And they look at you, tilting their head slightly, still smiling and say the even worse words:
“No, I know about this. I will make things better. I have read that people like you can’t understand metaphors. I have read that people like you get distracted by having paintings on the wall. I have read that ordinary bread is bad for you. You will feel better soon. You will see. The book was even written by a person with your diagnosis, so it must be right!”
You can rarely talk any sense into people like that; they usually mean so well. They are completely one-tracked by a desire to help you that they forget that you are a real person. In the real world, real people have real feelings and real personalities. No matter how real the Asperger’s or the autism of the person who write the book is, no matter how confused the author of that book might get by paintings on the walls, the point is that it is how that person reacts. And that is all right. Let hir have white walls with no paintings on them. Or light blue walls. Or bright yellow walls. Whatever makes hir happy. But when I ask my helper where all the paintings went and they say they took them all down because they “read there should not be too many things on the walls because it is confusing for you,” I feel that I don’t even get to have any control of what happen to my surroundings in my name. No one ever asked me. I doubt they asked any one of those frequenting the place. They read about it somewhere, and they decided to “help us out”.
According to people like that, if you have a diagnosis, you are the diagnosis. You lose all right to having personal taste or personality. And you’d better not work in any way different from how they believe people like you should work. In the best case scenario they will just go on ignoring the differences and believe that you are just not yet aware about how they are right and that you will soon see the light. In the worst case scenario, if you don’t fit their ideas of how you should be, they may begin to doubt. If you do not fit into their stereotype they might figure out that you do not really have Asperger’s after all. And then the problem becomes the opposite.
“I cannot do this,” you say. “It makes me panic and stressed out.”
“Of course you can do it! You have arms, don’t you? Stop panicking, it’s not difficult. Stop it. There is really nothing wrong with you. You can do it if you want to. It will be good for you!”
In both cases, you are not a real person to them. They think that you are just making things up. Because you do not really know yourself or what would be good for you or not. But they think they know.
They read a book someone with something in common with you wrote once.
/pao – 15 mar 2012 – 14.40