Some Quotes about Asperger’s Syndrome

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I recently finished reading a very sweet novel in which the main character who, although undiagnosed, demonstrates several symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome.  He is a brilliant geneticist and professor at a prestigious university in Australia.  At the beginning of the book, he is asked by his friend and colleague to give a presentation on the topic of Asperger’s syndrome.  Of course, as a scientist, he conducts thorough research and learns as much as he can about the genetics of the syndrome before giving the presentation.  While reading this section of the book, I came across some quotes that I wanted to share with you.

Quote 1

“Naturally the books and research papers described the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome, and I formed a provisional conclusion that most of these were simply variations in human brain function that had been inappropriately medicalized because they did not fit the social norms – constructed social norms – that reflected the most common human configurations rather than the full range.”

This first quote describes the character’s reaction to his research that he was conducting on the topic of Asperger’s.  The character points out that our social expectations of others are constructed by society and were built around the most common human behaviours.  Everyone is different, who’s to say that the way an individual with Asperger’s responds in a social interaction is “worse” than the way another would respond?  

Quote 2

“Julie interrupted again.  ‘So, for us non-geniuses, I think Professor Tillman is reminding us that Asperger’s is something you’re born with.  It’s nobody’s fault.’

I was horrified by the use of the word ‘fault’, with its negative connotations, especially as it was being employed by someone in authority. […] The matter had doubtless been brewing in my subconscious, and the volume of my voice may have increased as a result.

‘Fault! Asperger’s isn’t a fault.  It’s a variant.  It’s potentially a major advantage.  Asperger’s syndrome is associated with organization, focus, innovative thinking and rational detachment.'” 

Our hero is reminding us of the strengths that come along with a diagnosis of Asperger’s.  By shifting our perspective from one in which people with Asperger’s and similar diagnoses have weakness and disabilities to one in which they have strengths and gifts, we can offer so much. Possibly most importantly, this will decrease the risk of associated mental health difficulties by increasing self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

And in case you’re wondering, like one of his listeners, whether “rational detachment” is a euphemism for “lack of emotion”, which some may question as to its benefits, the main character gives us an example. Now although he uses a slightly inappropriate example, his point seems to be that one can make logical, informed, and possibly life-saving decisions when others might be debilitated by their emotions.

Quote 3

“I accepted that I was wired differently from most people, or, more precisely, that my wiring was towards one end of a spectrum of different human configurations.  My innate logical skills were significantly greater than my interpersonal skills.  Without people like me, we would not have penicillin or computers.”

This quote comes from the sequel novel, the same main character. Here he again acknowledges that everyone is wired slightly differently and that his particular brain wiring results in exceptional logical skills and poor interpersonal skills, just as another person’s wiring may result in the opposite: exceptional interpersonal skills and poor logical skills.

If you’re curious to know the name of the book, please contact me!