It’s not accurate to think there is such as thing as suffering with Aspergers. Aspergers is not a disorder, mental illness, or disease. It is a different way of thinking. Who does not suffer from being misunderstood?
Foreign cultures are misunderstood, unless one comprehends their different way of being. American Aspies in a foreign country often times have less difficulty getting along with the neurotypicals there than they do in their native country, especially if they rarely get to know tourists.
Expectations lead to judgments. Judgments may lead to a label. If someone’s way of thinking differently isn’t understood, being able to label him brings comfort. Oh what a tangled web psychiatrists weave sometimes when they create labels for their diagnostic manuals. Take homosexuality for example…
Homosexuality had been officially classified as a mental disorder in the APA’s first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-1) in 1952. There it was designated as a “sociopathic personality disturbance.” Viewing homosexuality as a mental illness was not controversial back then. Before the DSM-1, practicing homosexuality was known as sin. It still is, but not as commonly so. DSM-II, published in 1968, listed homosexuality as a sexual deviation, but sexual deviations were no longer categorized as a sociopathic personality disturbance. The publication of DSM-II coincided with the emergence of the gay rights movement.
The outcome of Aspergers having been placed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) led to stigmas, myths, and incorrect theories spread about Aspergers. Because of this, too many people ignorantly think Aspergers is something Aspies “suffer” with. Too commonly it’s incorrectly referred to as being a “disorder” or “disease.” For this reason, it is a good thing it is no longer in the DSM and will be removed from the next version of the ICD.
Aspies may seem like social deviants to neurotypicals, but to deviate from the norm is not necessarily a bad thing. If it was, people wouldn’t appreciate those who “think outside the box.” Aspies may think of solutions to problems NTs are not able to.
The worst thing about Asperger’s syndrome is that people can choose to ignore its existence because it’s not something visible to the typical person. This leaves the door wide open for others to endlessly criticize and make fun of someone who thinks differently. For an Aspie to be unaware of AS’s existence can be worse than having an awareness of it. Aspies blessed with growing up in a loving family can feel safe and accepted for who they are. It’s hell on earth for Aspies who must endure being raised without an emotional safety haven that accepting and loving family members can provide.
People are not so quick these days to take advantage of, criticize, and/or make fun of someone obviously different physically (e.g., wheelchair bound, blind, deaf, burn victim, etc.). Since AS is so invisible to most people and difficult to prove to those who love to remain ignorant and skeptical (or those who don’t have the mental capacity to comprehend something as complex as AS), AS remains as the last frontier to overcome in regards to bigotry and bias.
It may be accurate to say Aspies are “suffering from NTs.” As one parent of an Aspie child put it, “I thought I would have to teach my son about the world; turns out I have to teach the world about him.”