Reflecting on last week’s post, “You Don’t Have Asperger’s Syndrome,” I realized I didn’t include the most obvious one. I say the most because I’ve heard it used over and over again, especially on me. That is, “You don’t look like a person with Asperger’s Syndrome.”
Really? I didn’t know that a person with Asperger’s Syndrome or any kind of Autism or mental illness was supposed to have a certain look. Someone please tell me, what is a person with Asperger’s Syndrome supposed to look like? I haven’t a clue.
Before I go into my own experiences let me introduce another example. We’ll call him Earl for this example. Earl has Asperger’s Syndrome but if you were to look at him, you wouldn’t think so. In fact, some new members of staff actually thought he was another member of staff when they first met him. That is at least until he produces his several bags containing Star Wars figures. Then it becomes clear why he is a resident of the home and not a member of staff. Because like so many of the residents I support, if Early had his way, he would spend all of his money on Star Wars and other film action figures and nothing else. Furthermore, there have been instances where staff have had to come in and save him from getting a beating because he had said something inappropriate to their girl friends. This is because he isn’t aware of many social norms and what is an isn’t appropriate to say to women. So, while Earl certainly doesn’t look like he has Asperger’s Syndrome, he does.
I too have had people saying that I don’t look like someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. That’s because they only know me from modern times and hadn’t seen me when I was younger. When I was twelve, I remember somebody asking another person who knew me, “Is he as uncoordinated as he looks?” So, there must have been something there. Then again, it seems for many years that I had “VICTIM” stamped across my forehead and was often the target of bullies. Therefore, I must conclude that back in my youth, I might have looked like someone who had some sort of metal illness. Asperger’s wasn’t a thing back then.
Nowadays, after many years of experience and often painful trial and error, I have learned how to survive in the “normal” world. I avoid things that might get me singled out as not normal or worse, make people think I’m an easy victim. I don’t look like someone who doesn’t have Asperger’s Syndrome but I am convinced I do have the condition. Sometimes, those little ‘ticks’ of mine do manifest themselves. Especially when there’s a lot on my mind and I’m trying to process it and my lips are saying what I’m thinking. Yes, I talk to myself, deal with it!
So, what does someone with Asperger’s syndrome look like? Well, they could look like me or Earl or any of a number of other people. There is no obvious look to the condition because often times, most mental illnesses aren’t visible.
For an account of my early life, read my book, “He Was Weird.” You can get it here: