Look, I have Asperger’s. And because that’s a disorder that exists on a large spectrum, “having Asperger’s” means different things to different people. There’s no one set of symptoms or traits, just a lot of common ones, like a kind of checklist. This account does a nice job of covering some of those traits. I share many of the ones the writer lists: I watch people’s mouths when they talk to me instead of looking them in the eye, I sometimes take a long time to process and respond to what’s being said, and I could never kill anything . . . Except bugs. I’m kind of okay with killing bugs. (I’m not all that afraid of offending anyone, either, and don’t mind being asked to speak. Just be prepared for me to be very blunt when I do.)
Also like the writer of that article, I wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s as a child. And by the time I was diagnosed while an undergrad at university, I had spent my life working around the fact that I was “different” and had coping mechanisms in place for most situations. I knew I was smart but had to force myself to be social. It was worth it, since some of the best friends I’ve ever had I met while at uni.
I never got bullied, I’m happy to say. Maybe because I didn’t have a label when I was young (and didn’t share my diagnosis even with family or friends until much later, instead opting to just keep being who I’ve always been). Maybe because my sometimes blank stare was enough to make kids think twice before crossing me. (I’ve been called “intense” and “unapproachable” many times, though I certainly don’t mean to be.) Or because they all needed my help in chemistry and couldn’t afford to bully me.
So let me just say, since so many seem to be focusing on Asperger’s as part of the psyche of the Sandy Hook gunman: All of us with Asperger’s are different. Similar but unique, just like any group of people. Anyone in the world could be a killer, whether they have Asperger’s (or autism) or not; the likelihood does not go up if you do have the disorder.
Look at me: I have a family, and friends, and a pretty normal life (though I’m still socially awkward). When I told someone I had Asperger’s, she said, “Really? I wouldn’t have guessed it.” But that’s kind of the point. You can’t really guess it with people. Because, as the article says, we’re just people. Like you. Only quirkier.