As you may know (and as I have previously mentioned) April is Asperger’s Awareness Month. But have you ever wondered whether you might be neurotypical? If so, here is an unpublished would-be Derby Telegraph article to get your teeth into:
Out of every 10,000 people, around 36 of us have Asperger’s Syndrome. As it happens, I am one of that 36. Having been diagnosed aged nine, I am well familiar with many concepts – true and false – associated with the condition. Poor social skills and physical co-ordination? Sadly, yes. Literal minded and obsessive? In some cases. Lack of empathy and emotion? Well wouldn’t life be easier if that were true. But do you know what it means to be neurotypical?
If the above statistic is anything to go by, it seems that 9,964 out of 10,000 people are neurotypical. This means that their brain is scientifically proven to work a little differently from the Asperger brain, and many neurotypicals have to live with labels such as “normal”, “non-autistic” or “non-Aspergers”. What else do neurotypicals struggle with? Let’s explore this more closely.
• Taking things at face value. I have often had people who have watched Rain Man or read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time assume that I am like the main characters in said stories. Which can lead to them not knowing how to react when I reveal that I do have a sense of humour, due to…
• Difficulty in reading body language. In the past when I have used sarcasm or humour, some people have simply looked at me blankly or assumed I am being deadly serious, presumably struggling to notice the tell-tale body language. This gets more interesting when I use humour in response to a joke they made.
• Lack of empathy. In a world where internet communication is rife, it is too easy for people to publicly share their opinions on whoever they are talking to, whoever is in that Youtube video, whoever wrote that article or forum, without stopping to think how their words could affect others. Note that this symptom does NOT affect every neurotypical, so please don’t judge each one by all the bad apples.
• Obsessions over specific areas of interest. Fashion? Love lives? Sport? Politics? These are just a few common obsessions, and in my experience those who are not experienced at communicating with Asperger people find it disconcerting when we cannot keep up with the ins and outs of their chosen interest.
• Difficulty fitting in. Many young people want to be part of the “in” crowd but just don’t know how to go about it. Possibly due to insecurity, they seek solidarity among other neurotypicals in the same boat, thus overlooking those of us who think differently and do not share all of their interests.
One thing to remember is that, despite struggling with any of the above issues, every neurotypical has their own individual strengths. Common assets include a good short term memory or attention span and superior physical co-ordination, traits which many Aspies lack. But as the cliché goes, no two people are exactly the same, and so to wrap up, what are your thoughts on Asperger’s Syndrome versus neurotypical?
As part of my internship with the Derby Telegraph, I’ve been encouraged to help increase their publicity, so if you like a good news story, here is their website: http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/