I had a discussion with some friends online recently where someone threw out the term aspie, and I said I didn’t like the way that tries to make a cute pet name out of a disorder, and they said it was just short for Asperger’s Syndrome, which the third person (who was indirectly being called aspie) said they felt was less stigmatizing than ASD. I suppose I could make a comic of it, only it wouldn’t be a comic, it would be an illustration.

A: I am frustrated by an interpersonal interaction

B: The dilemma of the aspie in a neurotypical world

Me: I don’t like the term aspie. It diminishes ASD.

A: I don’t like ASD.

Me: Disorder means a condition that impairs function.

A: I think a syndrome is less bad than a disorder.

Me: A syndrome is actually set of problems. I don’t think it’s less bad.

There was probably some pictures of cats and dictators with humorous captions blended in, but that was the conversation.

Today I decided to pick up a book about ASD, Paul G. Taylor’s A Beginner’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders and pretty quickly ran into this same concept, the desire to destigmatize disorder. It’s probably a particular annoyance I have as a linguist, when people try to water down the language.

In the case of A, I probably have to grant that he doesn’t have a disorder, since he was about to find a career where his qualities were an asset, attract a spouse, reproduce, and otherwise lead a functional life. He just gets into a lot of arguments with people on the internet.

We have the case of my older daughter, and I’m not sure what the argument is there. She seems pretty successful at this point and was never diagnosed, but we got her into an early reading program due to her language delay and she had one year of speech therapy during kindergarten. So she’s successful, but I believe it was due to identification of a problem and early intervention.

In my own case, I feel disordered. I have married and reproduced, but I’ve been sadly underemployed most my life. Eta: Understanding that this was the product of a disorder allows me to feel less anger at myself. Naming the disease from self is a two edged sword. Sure it can make you feel stigmatized, but it may also frees you from the limitations of the disease if you are able to move past it. ASD may not have been the most important reason for my lack of career progress since I had MDD, but I think it definitely figured into it.

I certainly believe there are aspects of ASD that suit one better for life, such as the ability to focus and diminished impact of peer pressure. But I think there is a quantum of identity deeper than brain architecture. I suppose that makes me superstitious. 3.


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