I am autistic. I have Asperger’s Syndrome. Are you scared of me yet?
I was diagnosed in my mid-30s after a lifetime of wondering, struggling, and questioning; a lifetime of not knowing why I found it so hard to make friends; a lifetime of depression and occasional thoughts of suicide. I wondered what was wrong with me. But I was never violent. I have never been violent. For anyone to suggest otherwise is something that I find insulting.
It seems to be quite common these days for armchair psychologists, especially those with TV shows on which they can spout their opinions, to “diagnose” mass killers with Asperger’s or autism, whether it’s the Norway shooter last year, the Colorado shooter this week or someone in the past who was a serial killer or mass murderer. Sometimes they are merely referred to as “loners,” but soon enough someone seizes on the word “loner” and replaces it with “autistic” or “Asperger’s,” because obviously, if you’re a loner you must be autistic. Never mind that these people who are being armchair-diagnosed might not even be loners at all. It’s very common for the media to make broad, sweeping pronouncements about suspects in crimes like this, only to be proven wrong — with much less publicity — later on.
I guess this means that one of these days I’m just going to get up off my chair, leave the computer and go shoot a bunch of people. Wait a minute; I don’t own a gun. Hm.
I live with three cats. (I hesitate to say that I “own” three cats.) One would think that if I were violent, the cats would be the first to suffer from it. After all, don’t serial killers get their start by hurting animals? So how do you explain that when I take my cats to the vet — and I do, on a regular basis — the vet has never found any signs of injury or trauma on them? Better yet, how do you explain that the cats show absolutely no signs of fear when they’re around me, that they are constantly occupying my lap and snuggling in bed with me at night? Granted, I do raise my voice sometimes when I’m upset, and they have been known to run away when I do that. But this is a way in which cats and autistic people are alike: neither of us likes loud noises.
Obviously I’m an evil, horrible person who has somehow brainwashed my cats into accepting my violent tendencies.
The fact is that autistic people, and people with other disabilities, are many times more likely to be victims of crime, especially violent crime, than to commit crime. An autistic person is much more likely to be murdered than to commit murder.
An autistic person is no more likely than a non-autistic person to commit a violent crime, but if one autistic person out of millions of autistic people in the world commits a crime, then obviously autism is to blame, because some talking head on TV who thinks he’s an expert on autism says so. Wouldn’t it be nice if people who didn’t know what they were talking about, didn’t talk about it?
I am a human being. I like to read. I like to write. I like to cuddle my cats. I like to spend time with my boyfriend. (By the way, he’s not afraid of me, either.) My favourite colour is purple. My best subject in school was English.
I also have Asperger’s. Are you scared of me?