Sometimes I read things, almost by accident, that make me really upset/angry. I’m mulling over one of those incidents right now, where someone claimed that Asperger’s-designated people were “more evolved.” I’m not Asperger’s. I do test fairly close to that range, but think it is more a function of being an introverted antisocial artist-type. I do however have many years of experience living with, loving, and raising Asperger’s-designated humans. I’m a pretty empathetic and intelligent person…I’m actually really good at figuring out how other people are feeling most of the time, although I’m not always right on the money…I do know when things are not right (sort of the anti-Aspie in that realm). In dealing with Aspies for the last 25 years, I have realized over the years that it often takes them a long time to process feelings and emotions, and I have learned with the boychild that “long time” could be weeks or months, sometimes maybe years, if ever. I do know, however, that the inability to process those feelings has a real-life consequence sometimes of hurting the people around you, those who love you, because Aspies often cannot handle what is going on right now, right then, and by the time they can handle it, they might react quickly in a way that damages those around them. I’ve tried with the boychild to keep him aware of what he is doing and how he is doing it and more importantly how it makes others FEEL, but know that he will have to find his own way in that as an adult. I’ve had to suppress some of my own emotions in dealing with the boychild, realizing that his issues are not directed at me and it is my job as his mom to help him find a less-hurtful way to express himself once he realizes what he’s feeling. I know he loves me. I also know he will probably never tell me that in those words. I’m OK with that. I can see he cares in how he acts and what he says. It will make it more difficult for him in future love relationships, but he will have to deal with that.
That said, I didn’t raise the others I’ve had relationships with, and their parents were not aware, and so they have both caused me significant damage…because I am apparently not “more evolved.” I refuse to believe that an inability to deal with emotions and the people who may cause one to have those emotions is fucking EVOLVED. I am fully a supporter of there being a continuum of “normal” range of the human brain and that Asperger’s is merely one end of the spectrum, with a huge variety of types of function all across the spectrum…but it is never a good excuse to hurt other people because you cannot handle your own emotional angst. That is not evolved. That is immature, if that’s how you present (and not all do). I heard the words “emotionally incompetent” to describe it once, and I have issue even with that, because it implies that you just need to take a class or read a book, and for some Asperger’s, that might be enough, to try to be aware of one’s shortcomings, just like I have to be aware of my own issues and shortcomings, to teach oneself the appropriate responses even when you don’t feel them until later, even though I am apparently “normal”-brained…for some, I think “incompetent” is not even a good description, because I am not sure that competence will ever come for some. I hope my son figures it out. I hope he locks away in his brain the pain he’s seen his mom go through because of this apparently MORE EVOLVED state. He says he gets it. And I have friends on this end of the spectrum that are, at least to me, some of the most emotionally aware people I know, so I know it’s possible…but I think it takes a lot of self-reflection to get there…and to be honest, the ones I know who are aware are all female, not male. That may be the difference right there; it’s hard to say. Most of my experience is with male Asperger’s.
I tell myself I have done my best to raise my son to try to be aware when he is hurting people (he is much better than he used to be), and to never ever run away from difficult emotions…that it is OK to say you are having problems dealing with this and you will come back to it, but you have to open your eyes and SEE what you are doing to other people when you behave that way…that it is NOT OK. Get out of your head. Look around you. You cannot hide. It is not MORE EVOLVED. A world without emotions or a world where emotions are so locked up inside you that you deny you have them, that is not a more evolved world. That is a world without music and art and dance and color, and I don’t believe that is a world I want to live in. That is a world where people hurt other people because they can’t deal with their own stuff. That is not OK. It’s not the world I want to live in.
The More Evolved comment is shades of sci fi where the alien species believes humans are lesser beings who do not deserve to live because we have not evolved to higher functions of logic and precision of thought. Hell, humans are nutcases…we’re giant fuckups in the world, no doubt about that, but as our higher functions have evolved beyond many of the living species on earth, so have emotions. Earthworms aren’t showing emotions…nor are they solving the issues of clean water at the moment or designing a new spacecraft. I can’t help but think the two things are connected, and that ability to show emotions and even occasionally control them without having them eat you up inside or slam into the people around you (I live with teenagers…I see the spectrum) doesn’t seem to be a completely negative influence on the world…unless you want a world that never confronts you (see comments above about art, music, etc.).
This is not a rant against the Asperger’s-designated person…it is probably a rant against One Specific Person, who in typical Aspie fashion refuses to talk about it. Because it’s too hard. Because not talking about it makes it better. Because he claims incompetence. Because running away fixes it. (It doesn’t, by the way. My less-evolved brain knows that and knows it very very well and has spent the last 7+ months trying to deal with it.)
Speaking to you from the other planet…no it doesn’t make it better. It means you damaged another person in your apparent evolution away from us lesser beings. Congratulations. You don’t win.
This is the article I was reading, which is not at fault at all for my rant…it is actually an interesting list of things to look for, which as a teacher who identified (while getting yelled at by her admin and school psych and told she didn’t know what she was talking about) a female student correctly as Asperger’s. I put it here because I think it’s useful to read if you think you might be on that end of the range or be dealing with someone who might be Aspie, because females do present differently, just as they do with ADD, another lesson I learned the hard way. I actually don’t like the term Aspie at all…but it is strange to me to use the doctor’s name to describe the syndrome…seems we need another designation…especially now that it’s not in the DSM any more, which is a whole ‘nother issue.
Sorry for the rant. Sometimes there’s only one way for the anger to go in a healthy way and that’s out (because I’m less evolved and realize my emotions and deal with them instead of letting them destroy other people). Plus maybe you have something to say about it too. I’m willing to listen…I’ve got my non-Aspie ears open and ready to hear. I know that term encompasses a wide range of experiences and behaviors, just as the term “normal” does (whatever the fuck normal means).