Life on the Spectrum

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?


Comments on: "I Have Asperger’s. Are You Scared of Me?" (11)

  1. No, I’m not scared of you – and I would like to add my own few pennies to this post.

    I am a sci-fi geek, keen gardener, book lover, cross-stitcher and pickling/preserving addict. I am a talented singer and have been writing poetry and short stories since I was a little girl. I love to swim, dance and mingle in order to make friends.

    I am very forthright, but I am also extremely sensitive and easily hurt. The only possible weapon I possess is an Athame – a Pagan tool which must never taste blood.

    I love my friends and family unreservedly and would never deliberately hurt any living soul.

    I hope that others on the spectrum will comment here and talk about themselves; we need to get this media scaremongering off our backs.

    I am a decent person. I am also autistic – and proud to be so.

    Is anyone scared of me? I hope not – and I hope that us autistic bloggers can shed light on this subject where there is still too much darkness.

  2. So so wonderful! 🙂 Thanks a lot. Ruusu.

  3. Just wonderful. And so well written. Thanks, Ruusu.

  4. carolynmcash said:

    I can relate to some of your frustrations, as I was also diagnosed in my 30’s, and my favourite colour is purple. I’m not a violent person either, but I hate the assumptions people have about Aspies too.

    Or those know-it-alls who claim they know what’s best, but it’s not what you want to do?

    Two months ago, I wrote about my experiences at boarding school as an undiagnosed Aspie –

  5. i have recently come to believe that i have asperger’s too. i’m twenty-eight years old. i’ve always struggled making friends and interacting in social situations and knowing deep down i am a little different than my peers. even way back in my preschool days.

    no, i’m not afraid of you. i’m glad i found your blog… and by the way, i too live with three kitty cats. :]

  6. Although I do feel this content is phenomenal, I just wish to know if you actually authored it.
    I found a nearly exact replicate of this on a different web site.

  7. DAChecker said:

    “The fact is that autistic people, and people with other disabilities” Being fundamentally different in terms of hardwiring has nothing to do with a disability. A gazelle in a lion’s cage is not exactly disabled and therefore shouldn’t confuse its inability to be a lion with a disability. The best strategy is to study the lion to survive.

    Your only disability is to confuse yourself with a disability, so yeah, you are disabled if that makes you feel better. 😉

  8. Thanks for this post. I was diagnosed recently, while in my 20’s. I receive some of the most ignorant, idiotic responses from people that have no idea what they’re talking about. I’ve been called a liar, been accused of wanting pity, I’ve been told that asperger’s isn’t real and very recently I’ve even had a woman on an online dating site tell me that she was scared of me just because I have asperger’s.

    I’m nice, I have a young daughter that is healthy and developing very well, I have an actual career that allows me to do more than just survive and I have a life. Things aren’t always easy for me but I’m not violent, aggressive, pushy or a horrible person by any measure. Do I sometimes not understand certain social items? Yes. Do I have a hard time keeping friends? Yes. But from what I can tell, normal people often don’t have friends either. They just have a bunch of people that know their name, know their face and want to use them.

    If it’s normal to have loads of “friends” but only superficial connections then I don’t believe I should feel burdened anymore. I do wish that I could make more significant, lasting connections with others but the fake ones have only caused me harm. I’ve been used and I’m glad that I’ve been diagnosed. I am learning how to deal with others better and to integrate as-is necessary so that the disconnects don’t happen as often.

  9. A variation on the theme–I am autistic and you would not believe the religious and superstitious bs I have put up with in my life. For the record, I am not possessed, I am not a witch, a ghost or any other supernatural creature. I am a person, damn it. And they wonder why I am put off by church. And no, it’s not because I am a demon from hell who cannot walk on consecrated ground!

  10. I’m the same. You basically just made a document about me. Your not alone. Thank you

  11. The sensationalists running the mainstream media are to blame for the stigma surrounded autism and other conditions that affect the mind. The public gobbles up this nonsense, and the media is thereby encouraged to continue publishing scary stories about people on the spectrum. Am I afraid of you? No, but I am afraid of ignorant people who demonize and scapegoat the innocent to increase their ratings or to acquire a false sense of security in a troubled and sometimes dangerous world.

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