4 thoughts on “Too Smart To Have Asperger’s?

  • January 25, 2019 at 11:25 am

    One reoccurring barrier for me in academia was that professors and educators regularly questioned my work and claimed plagiarism, stating that I could not have come up with literary analysis or perspective on an author’s work which was previously unexplored. I believe that many of the authors which are most celebrated in literature were autistic, and most literary analysis is filtered through neurotypical perspective. I could easily relate to authors like Herman Melville, Ralph Ellison, and Hermann Hesse because their minds work the way mine does, but my professors could not fathom that. When I would explain my perspectives, I was met with hostility and mostly incredulity. I did not know at the time that I was autistic or have language to define it. I also didn’t realize that my memory and pattern-recognition were much more developed than most people’s, so it was easy for me to track themes and motifs through multiple pieces of literature that most people would miss.

    I had one professor spend a lot of time trying to discredit me, and he ultimately gave me a low grade on my final essay in his course because he could not believe that I hadn’t had external sources for something I’d written. He said that he couldn’t find my source to prove I had plagiarized, but he couldn’t in good conscience give me an A. It was difficult for him to conceive how different our minds were.

    Ultimately, having Asperger’s has been an advantage for me in academia; however, there have been intense struggles that weren’t believed. I spent 3.5 of my 4 years in high school with a perfect GPA and never missing a single assignment to maintain that GPA. I worked hard without ever missing a day or letting my efforts lapse for a single minute. A full scholarship was the only way that I was going to be able to get out of the rural town in which I’d grown up. In my final year of high school, I had to take a typing course. The teacher covered the keys with opaque stickers so that we couldn’t see what we were typing.

    I’m cross-dominant and dyslexic with low visuospatial intelligence, and it was nearly impossible for me to learn to type. I definitely could not keep pace with my classmates, and it almost cost me my scholarship. The other time I almost lost my scholarship was because I could not do a cartwheel or handstand in gym class due to vestibular issues and poor motor coordination. Because I was considered to be capable academically, my teachers did not perceive the depths of how much I struggled in these arenas and regarded me as lacking in motivation and industry or as whiny. It didn’t matter to them that I couldn’t really read or write until I was in 5th grade, even though they knew these things, because I “appeared” capable to them.

    A life lived this way is a constant pressure to maintain a momentum accelerated by my strengths but constantly derailed by my challenges and weaknesses.

    This article is excellent and extremely validating. Thank you for the work you do to alert the world to the realities of neurodiversity and how it affects us.

    Reply
    • January 27, 2019 at 11:38 pm

      Thank you for sharing your experience. How terrible to have your giftedness not only unappreciated but dismissed as a fraud. And to feel like an area of weakness- minor compared to your talents- could risk what you worked so hard for. I know you’re bringing those talents and that resolve to what you do. I wish others would never be treated as you were, but I’m afraid that’s not true. I hope you found someone to support you going through this, and that anyone reading your comment becomes more aware to see and support talent, and never diminish anyone to their weakest area.

      Reply
  • January 28, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    Aspergers or narcissism that is the question!

    Reply
    • January 28, 2019 at 6:54 pm

      Actually Steve,I’m glad you gave me the opportunity to point out that not getting the point of view of others, having difficulty with social skills and rules, sensory sensitivity and other issues I’ve described are not narcissism- which is a personality disorder. I can understand confusion if lack of appreciation of rules and cognitive inflexibility etc can seem self-focused to you. Actually, narcissism is quite different. Here’s what you find if you look up narcissistic personality disorder in ICD 10, the manual for diagnosis: Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and others. It is a cluster B personality disorder. Those with Asperger’s are not focused on power, although some might misperceve inflexibility as a “power struggle.“ This kind of misinterpretation just leads to problems instead of understanding and solutions. Those with Asperger’s can have difficulty seeing another point of view, but it has nothing to do with power or prestige. Most who I’ve worked with often have significant anxiety, depression and low self esteem from being misunderstood, not fitting in, and often being teased or rejected. People with Asperger’s are generally extremely honest, concerned with authenticity and reliable as friends and co-workers, not in any way qualities of narcissism.

      Reply
 

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