I'm Not a Jerk, I Have Aspergers

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I read this line somewhere, albeit I can’t remember where I found it, and it may be worded slightly differently than I have worded it. I think this line speaks volumes about the challenges that I as a sufferer of Aspergers face on a day-to-day basis.

I often times come across as abrasive or brash, both in my opinion editorials and in my day-to-day dealings with people, all to often to be written off as a “jerk” or an “a*******” before people really just get to know me. It’s this unfair treatment I receive that causes me to sometimes feel like an outcast. I can’t help but wonder why, though.

An estimated 1 in 91 children will be diagnosed with some form of Autism at some time in their lives. For those who are mathematically challenged, that’s greater than 1% of people walking the face of this earth have some form of Autism, and I know I’m not the only one that gets treated unfairly because of it.

So we might be a little bit challenged in the social skills department, and we might not be “normal,” but normal according to what? The DSM? Are we really going to let some board of capitalistic, money-hungry pigs determine what is “normal” and what is not? It’s nice to have an explanation, sure, but I’m against forcing anyone to be treated for anything.

Anyone who really gets to know me knows what a kind, caring, loving individual I really am beneath my “Aspie” surface. It might take me a little while to warm up to you, and for you to warm up to me, but give me a chance, will you? Just ask my students, once they get past my idiosyncrasies and come to really know me, they learn of what a dedicated, caring, talented teacher I really am.

I think all of us are a little rough around the edges in some way, and some of us more than others. Usually if I come across as being nasty, it’s not my intention to do so, and sometimes I don’t even realize I’m being mean or offensive. There is a very clear difference when I say something accidentally mean and when my intention is to all-out hurt or offend, trust me, those that really know me can tell the difference.

I’m as capable of loving, caring, and being a friend as a neurotypical, but I might not show it as well or in the same way as a neurotypical would. You have to really hang around me and get to know me to understand. All I’m asking is for you to give me a chance, and let me show what kind of a person I am below the surface. I challenge you to do that for your Aspie/Autistic neighbor today.