Day 44: The ABC’s of Discrimination: I will not be made to feel ashamed of Aspergers!

Many of you know that I’ve held off on describing what I experienced recently while I was a student in the counseling program at the local university. I believe waiting  was a beneficial decision.

Today, I have arrived at a place of closure, over the events that have transpired. I cannot say I am at peace, but I am definitely thinking more clearly and feeling more centered than I have in weeks.

I believe now I have the capacity to share my experience with clarity and without undertones of self-pity and pain. I share primarily to expose the discrimination that can occur towards individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. Please keep in mind I was a successful teacher for many years, earning the highest marks, and that I was never subjected to unjust criticism or unsolicited advice. No one knew I had Aspergers when I was a teacher. Not even me.

Yesterday I met with the Dean of Education, whom I found to be forthright, careful, and kind. She listened patiently as I lamented about my experiences with the professors. I cried for the entirety—a good thirty-minutes. Because of the position she holds at the university, there wasn’t much she could offer in terms of condolence or her opinions.

She did state, in so many words, that the group of professors heading the counseling department at the university tend to have “their views,” but that their views don’t represent everyone, of course.

Their views meaning the family system theory view.

Their views meaning: Asperger’s Syndrome is created and perpetuated by family members’ words, actions, subconscious drives, and by family dynamics. In other words Aspergers is not the result of brain functioning, environment, and/or genetics.  And Aspergers is definitely not a different way of looking at the world or high intelligence. Aspergers is a syndrome created by family members.

I can’t see myself striving in an environment where close-minded teachers are compartmentalizing individuals based on their own narrow and biased theories. Where they are desperately lacking in current theories and personal accounts regarding Aspergers. Where they have no interest at all to know how Aspergers manifests itself in individuals. Where I wasn’t once asked: What’s that like?

A place where I was queried by a licensed mental health therapist with a PHD in psychology, my professor: “Are you happy you have pronounced to the world your brain and your son’s brain are broken?”

A place where I was told that I had “likely manifested my own Asperger’s Syndrome in order to be closer to my son.”

A place where I was accused of taking my child to a psychiatrist, “so you (I) can put him on medication and not have to deal with the real issues.” (Not that it matters, but my son isn’t on any medication.)

A place where I received the following email from a professor after I professionally disputed a grade, because I was very aware the professor had not kept accurate records of student work: “Another faculty concern is tone and professionalism when communicating conflict. This is very important when requests are made both here in school and in your future work. You yourself, if you become a counselor, will need to remain calm and non-defensive in dealing with many clients who are upset and dysregulated.”

She prefaced this email with the assumption that since I had told her I had Asperger’s Syndrome that I was open to any of her advice.

There is more I could share, but I think this paints a clear picture.

In leaving the university yesterday, I carried away two of the dean’s statements:

1)   Based on everything you have told me I think it is best you don’t continue in the program.

2)   It is probably best if you don’t tell professionals you have Aspergers. It’s not the appropriate environment. They aren’t your therapists.

I am left perplexed and unsettled. I am concerned that this faculty will continue educating hundreds of counseling students. I am concerned that the dean is not instigating change.

And I have been turning over and over in my mind why Aspergers is something I was cautioned to hide.

Yes, I understand that by telling my professors I had Aspergers that I was treated differently, some would conjecture harshly. But is the solution for me to remain quiet and in hiding?

Is that what minorities have done in the past to be heard, to be seen, to achieve fairness, equity, and justice?

Is Aspergers such a widely misunderstood condition that I should retreat in shame?

This morning I came across this comment: “My son has just been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. My husband and I both sadly agree that we would rather that our son have diabetes.” (Paraphrased from a comment found on an online chat room.)

How is keeping my Aspergers hidden going to help this ignorance?

Here are more stereotypical views about people with Aspergers:

Negative

Pessimistic

Self-defeatist

Mindset of a child

Self-centered

Lack people skills

Only see the world through their narrow point of view

Difficulty expressing emotions

Insensitive

Lack empathy

Come across as know-it-alls

Behavioral problems

Fake their feelings

Poorly equipped to thrive

Benchwarmers

Geeks

Annoying

Stupid

Here is the truth of Aspergers

The REAL ABC’s Of Asperger’s

These attributes describe some of the wonderful qualities people with Aspergers possess:

A: Apologetic, Admit fault, Avoid superficial conversation, Accepting of quirks

B: Brilliant in chosen field of study

C: Capable, Caring, Complimentary, Creative, Clever problem solvers

D: Detail oriented, Driven, Devoted, Dauntless in Interests, Dependable, Deep Thinkers, Don’t Discriminate, Don’t have hidden agendas, Defend the weak

E: Enthusiastic, Exhibit Exceptional Endurance, Entertaining, Enlightened

F: Fact Finders, Forthright, Forgiving, Free from prejudice, Fruitful

G: Genuine, Good memory for facts and details

H: High-level of Integrity, Honest, Highly Focused

I:  Intelligent, Imaginative, Idealists, Ingenious, Instructive

J:  Justice seekers, Just

K: Knowledgeable, Kind

L: Loyal, Look for goodness and genuineness in friends, Listen without judgment

M: Memory can be exceptional, Memorable conversationalist

N: Not bullies, Not manipulative, Not deceptive, Not game players, Not inclined to lie and steal

O: Original thinkers, Open to new information, Outstanding, Optimistic despite setbacks

P: Puzzle solvers, Pattern finders, Pragmatic, Philosophical thinkers, Poetic, Passionately Pursue interests

Q: Quick learners, Quick thinkers, Question “truths” and opinions

R: Reliable, Regard others for their personhood, Routine establishers, Rule followers

S:  Sincere, Solution finders, Speak their mind, Strength in endeavors, Strong moral code, Sensitive to Sensory Stimuli

T: Talented, Trusting, Think in Pictures, Truth Seekers

U: Unique perspective and outlook

V:  Valiant, Vigilant, Advanced Vocabulary

W: Word interest, Witty humor, Wonderful Work ethics

X:  Non-Xenophobic

Y:  Youthful-outlook, Yearn for truth

Z:  Zestful, Zealous

I don’t know about you, but I think the world could do with a few more people like this!

Please share this page if you are inclined. I don’t know what my role is in all of this is, but I know I won’t stand in silence. I know the difference between right and wrong.

In love and peace ~ Sam Craft

© Everyday Aspergers, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. https://aspergersgirls.wordpress.com

10 Traits of Aspergers

10 Myths about Aspergers

I am Elephant: Speaking up For Me

The World Needs People With Asperger’s Syndrome By Temple Grandin

Thirty-Seven: 10 Myths About Females With Asperger’s Syndrome

Sam’s new book is available on Amazon. Sam’s new blog is Everyday Aspie. Sam’s company is Spectrum Suite. (2016)

Written by Aspergers Girls at Everyday Aspergers blog.  March 2012

Aspergers Girls holds a Masters Degree in Education. One of her sons has Aspergers Syndrome. And she has Aspergers Syndrome.

10 Myths About Females With Aspergers

1. Aspergers is Easy to Spot

Females with Aspergers are often superb actresses. They’ve either trained themselves how to behave in hopes of fitting in with others and/or they avoid social situations. Many grown women with Aspergers are able to blend into a group without notice.

2. Professionals Understand Aspergers

No two people are alike. Professionals have limited experience, if any experience, with females with Aspergers. Professionals have limited resources, limited prior instruction and education, and little support regarding the subject of Aspergers. Comorbid conditions with Aspergers are complex. Females seeking professional help are often overlooked, and sometimes belittled or misdiagnosed.

3. An Effective Diagnosis Tool Exists for Females with Aspergers

There is no blood or DNA test for Aspergers. No one knows what causes Aspergers or if Aspergers is actually a condition, and not just a way of looking at the world differently. The diagnostic tools, such as surveys, are based on male-dominant Aspergers’ traits that do not take into account how the female’s brain and the female’s role in society differs from the male experience. Diagnosis is largely based on relatives’ observations and individual case history, and is determined by professionals who often do not understand the female traits of the syndrome.

4. People with Aspergers Lack Empathy

Females with Aspergers usually have a great deal of empathy for animals, nature, and people.  A female’s (with Aspergers) specific facial features, body language, tone of voice, laughter, and word choice might result in an observer misjudging a female’s (with Aspergers) thoughts, feelings, and intentions. Women and girls with Aspergers are often deep philosophical thinkers, poets, and writers—all traits that require a sense of empathy. Females with Aspergers usually try very hard to relate another’s experience to their own experience, in hopes of gaining understanding.

5. People with Aspergers are Like a Television Character

Many individuals have learned not to compare an ethnic minority group to a character on television, because such comparison is a form of stereotyping and racism. However, people are comparing male fictional characters on television to females with Aspergers. This happens usually without intention to harm, but out of a desire to understand. People with Aspergers aren’t living in a sitcom. There is a need for a greater degree of understanding beyond observing an entertainer.

6. Aspergers is No Big Deal

People with Aspergers often face daily challenges. There is no magic pill to make an Aspergers brain think differently. People with Aspergers see the world in another way than the majority. Females with Aspergers are not different in a way that needs to be improved. They are different in a way that requires support, empathy, and understanding from the mainstream. Aspergers is a big deal. The diagnosis can bring varying degrees of grief, acceptance, depression, confusion, closure, and epiphany. Here are just a few of the conditions a female with Aspergers might experience: sensory difficulties, OCD, phobias, anxiety, fixations, intense fear, rapid-thinking, isolation, depression, low self-esteem, self-doubt, chronic fatigue, IBS, shame, confusion, trauma, abuse, bullying, and/or loss of relationships.

7. Aspergers Doesn’t Exist

Aspergers does exist. There is a subgroup of females all exhibiting and experiencing almost the exact same traits. If there is no Aspergers then something dynamic is happening to hundreds upon hundreds of women; this something, whatever one chooses to label the collection of traits, requires immediate evaluation, understanding, support, educational resources, and coping mechanisms.

8. There are More Males than Females with Aspergers

In regards to comparing females and males with Aspergers, just like our history textbooks, more males are in the spotlight than females. Males are typically the doctors, professionals, and researches of Aspergers—males that do not have Aspergers and who obviously aren’t females. Thousands of females with Aspergers remain undiagnosed. Hundreds of women are searching social networks and the Internet daily for answers, connection, and understanding about themselves and/or their daughters.

9. Females with Aspergers Don’t Make Good Friends

Females with Aspergers are all different. Just like everyone else, they have their quirks and idiosyncrasies.  Many females with Aspergers are known for their loyalty, honesty, hard work ethics, compassion, kindness, intelligence, empathy, creativity, and varied interests and knowledge base. Females with Aspergers, like anyone, have the capacity to make fantastic friends, coworkers, and spouses, if, and when, they are treated with respect, love, understanding, and compassion.

10. Aspergers isn’t Something that Affects My Life

More and more children are being diagnosed with Aspergers. Adult males and females are realizing they have the traits of Aspergers Syndrome. The rise in Aspergers is a financial strain on the educational system and medical system. There isn’t adequate information, support, and resources available to assist people with Aspergers and their families. There is probably someone in your local community who has Aspergers Syndrome. You can make a difference. Just share your knowledge and understanding. Pass on this list of myths or other resources.

 

Ten Traits of Females with Aspergers link

 

THIS BLOG EVERYDAY ASPERGER’S, BY SAMANTHA CRAFT, IS RETIRED. HER NEW BLOG CAN BE FOUND AT EVERYDAY ASPIE AND HER COMPANY WEBSITE AT MYSPECTRUMSUITE.COM  THANK YOU FOR THE COMMUNITY AND SUPPORT YOU HAVE OFFERED THROUGH THE YEARS.

(no idea why the font is so big. Not intentional. 🙂 )

 

Taken by Sam Craft