i’ve seldom heard Asperger’s called a “disability”. A friend of mine recently called it that (i’m sure she meant no insult), but i prefer different terms. i’ve been searching for an appropriate anaology to explain it both to myself and to others, and i think i have found it. Now, the terms i’m trying to use might seem out of place, but i think it makes sense well enough. At least, it seems to make sense to me.
i’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. i’m finding new ways to explain it as i learn about and more fully understand what this ultimately means for me. Asperger’s is a pervasive neurological disorder, placed within the Autistic spectrum. It’s seldom diagnosed in adults, and very difficult to treat. In adult “Aspies”, neurodevelopment has usually already progressed to steady state. In effect, the AS is hardwired into the brain.
The anology i’ve come to see is one of hardware and software. i tend to think of the brain as being hardware, and thge mind as being software. Think of two different computers. We may even be as blunt as calling them Macs and PC’s; it’s not really important. Still, we have to different pieces of hardware, running different operating systems.
Onto these two computers we can load software, identical in function, but tailored to the computer they’ve been loaded onto. Say, something like MSWord. At the end of the day, all the word processing get s done on either machine in similar fashion, and the printed results are usually indistinguishable. Still, over time, operational differences become painfully apparent. If you have the only Mac in an all-PC environment, some things will become difficult for you, no matter how accomodating the Mac to cross-platform applications.
The Aspie brain is kinda like that. We’ve all been subtly trained since birth to arrive at certain conclusions in the face of certain stimuli. The thoughts and perceptions (the software) needed for this have been taught to all of us by a process socialization, implicit or otherwise. For nuerotypical persons, the software “fits” the hardware. For people with forms of autism, the software does not. There is no “flaw” to the brain, no more than a Mac is “flawed”; it is simply different. Being different, it requires different software to produce predictably “correct” results. In the meantime, a human mind in an Aspie brain seems to work in starts and fits, coming to conclusions that seem “correct”, “incorrect”, or “freakin’ unelievable!”. Speaking for myself, i sometimes find it very hard to tell the difference. Often, this running of neurotypical “software” on neuroexceptional “hardware” produces results nearly indistinguishable from “normal”. At other times, it is quite beyond any observer to understand why i’m acting or speaking the way i am.
Sometimes i feel very out of control, and hate what i am. i get extremely frustrated trying to produce acceptable “correct” responses to social stimuli. In my youth, i had the same feelings, the same questions, but no answers. Now i have answers, but no solutions.
Asperger’s is more treatable in children, especially if diagnosed early on. Young Aspies can be “programmed” with proper “hardware specific software”. Their perceptions and thoughts are not so much changed, as they are trained to use their brains to repeatedly come to the “correct” answers. This is possible because Asperger’s is a neurodevelopmental disorder; in children, the neurological connections are fluid in their developing stages, and can be trained into certain pathways. By the time most Aspie adults are diagnosed, the pathways have been set. In many ways, adult Aspies may be to used to their own brains to change.
That still doesn’t mean that the Mac can’t hold it’s own in the PC world. Some would argue that it can do alot of things even better…