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15 Things You Should Know If You Know Someone With Asperger's

My name is Ali, I am 19 years old and I have Asperger’s syndrome. Here is what I want you to know:

1. Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD.)

2. Like other autism profiles, Asperger’s syndrome is a lifelong developmental condition that affects how people see and understand the world and interact with others.

3. People with Asperger’s syndrome see, hear and feel the world differently to other people.

4. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways.

5. If you’ve met one person on the autism spectrum, then you have done just that; you’ve met one person on the autism spectrum. We are all different and unique just like everyone else in the world. You wouldn’t say to a non-autistic person “yeah I understand exactly how you feel, I know a person who doesn’t have autism.”

6. While I am described as “high functioning,” in that I am not profoundly non-verbal and some of my traits are less severe than other people’s, I still have my struggles that make the world a daunting, overwhelming, uncomfortable, alienating and confusing place to live. I still have my quirks, or “Ali-isms” as my mum likes to call them.

7. Being a person with Asperger’s or “high functioning” autism may mean that you experience my autism mildly, but it doesn’t mean I do.

8. If you have Asperger’s syndrome, you have it for life — it is not an illness or disease and cannot be “cured.” In other words “Asperger’s is for life, not just for Christmas.”

9. Often people with Asperger’s syndrome feel like their Asperger’s is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

10. People with Asperger’s and ASD are the MacBooks in a PC world. Apple products aren’t broken, they’re just a different operating system.

11. The world can seem like a very unpredictable and confusing place to people with Asperger’s syndrome, who often prefer to stick religiously to a daily routine so they know what is going to happen every day and therefore don’t feel as anxious. They may want to always travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same food for breakfast, or stick to very particular habits that may seem odd to other people.

12. People with Asperger’s syndrome are typically of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities other autistic people may have. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties understanding and processing conversation. People with Asperger’s syndrome usually have good language skills, but they may still find it hard to understand the expectations of others within conversations, perhaps repeating what the other person has just said (which is called echolalia) or talking at length about their own interests.

13. The use of rules can also be important. Someone on the autism spectrum may not be comfortable with the idea of change, but may be able to cope better if they can prepare for changes in advance. Change is often harder to cope with for people with Asperger’s than for the “average” person.

14. People with Asperger’s may feel overwhelmed by their love or admiration for someone/ something, yet find it hard to express it.

15. And last but not least, people with Asperger’s want to be loved, respected and understood, just like everyone else in this world. Try to understand the difficulties other people may face without patronizing them. Be kind and open up your mind.

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Getty image by Tethys Imaging LLC.

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