Autistic Spectrum Digest (Autism) Issue 22, September 2015 - Page 29

This article isn’t written to try to make Asperger’s sound terrible. People`s lives are not miserable because they are autistic, and there are certainly a long list of positives that come with having autism. But it is a little bit naïve, and even offensive to people who struggle every day to simply dismiss the negatives of autism. In the same way that people with Asperger’s rightly get annoyed when it is made out that they are somehow different from other people on the autistic spectrum. People with Asperger’s aren’t any better than anyone else with autism, and just because the challenges they face can be different, this doesn’t mean that they are less. Autism can be a great thing. And being autistic comes with so many positives that it does seem sad to write an article explaining how everybody with autism faces challenges. But it is possible to be both positive, and realistic about living with autism. Even if the positives do outweigh the negatives this doesn’t take away the severity of the negatives. To just circle one section of people on the spectrum and say `Well, you`re ok. You have mild autism. ` seems to be an unfair underestimation of the struggles that they face daily. If things look easy on the surface this is only due to hours, days, and even years of hard and stressful work on the part of the individual, their family, and likely professionals. This isn’t to suggest that people with Asperger`s should work hard to appear less autistic – many of these individuals don’t even know they have autism til later in life – it is simply about working hard to get through life without being bullied, or trying to find a place in the world regarding relationships, friendships, employment if this is what the person with Asperger`s wants. And it can take a lot of work. This hard work doesn’t have to be dwelled on, but neither should it be brushed aside. There might be a lot of positives about having Asperger’s but that does not mean that it is mild. Asperger`s is not mild autism, it is autism – full stop. 29