According to Facebook, April is supposed to be autism/Asperger/special needs-in-general Awareness month. Over the years, I have had to become resigned to the fact that not many people understand what Asperger’s Syndrome is. Apparently, people have even asked my mum if I can talk! And if there is anything worse than people who know nothing about it, it is people who basically claim that they know everything about everyone with the condition when they find out I have it.
It has sadly not been unheard of for Mum to mention in a conversation that I have Asperger’s only for the other person to assume that I must have some degree of mental retardation. Or an obsession with physics, maths and computers. Or the emotional capacity of a robot. Actually, the word people have often used is “special”. The more astute you become, the easier it is to differentiate between special and “special”. Believe me.
I’ve also noticed that, on hearing words like Asperger’s Syndrome and autism, the first images that spring to many minds are the main characters from Rain Man and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime. I enjoy the Curious Incident book as a good read and an interesting story, and have never watched the film Rain Man, so I guess I can’t complain. Unfortunately for whoever comes to such conclusions, stereotypes happen to be one of my main pet peeves. What with me being an “Aspie” with emotions and some (limited) social understanding, and all.
One of the few books that gives a clear, non-stereotypical portrayal is All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann. As the title suggests, the book gives a quick, concise comparison between people with Asperger’s and cats. Being a cat-lover, this is one of the things I like about the book. It has lead me to realise that actually, not only do cats show similar behaviour to people with AS, such as heightened senses and not wanting to mix with others.
Like AS people, cats are also given annoying stereotypes. The main one is that they apparently cannot show loyalty and love. Which explains why my furry friend Bouncer waits for me when I go out, gets excited upon my return and dashes into my room without calming down until I follow. And why some cats have, against all odds, refused to be parted from their owners and even other pets. At the same time, I do know that no two cats or Aspies are the same. Cliched, I know, but very true!
I realise I haven’t been as humourous with this post as with the previous ones, but I felt it was about time I came up with an interesting thought for the day, week, month, etc. I’m currently in the early stages of writing an article on a similar theme for a magazine, having been inspired by Kathy Hoopmann’s book. In the meantime, if anyone has any thoughts, opinions or experiences relevant to the topics mentioned I will be very interested to hear them. Bouncer clearly does, as he has just jumped onto my laptop and walked across the keyboard. Much as I appreciated the input, I ultimately decided that what I’d written would make for easier reading. I am sure he will understand this.