Sunday, November 18, 2007

Discrimination

Something I've come to learn very quickly is how fast people discriminate against "invisible" disabilities.

Asperger's Syndrome is usually coupled with a high IQ. When mine was tested, back when I was seven, it was 140. I was immediately put into gifted classes and have been treated as such my whole life.

Around two months after I came to realize I had Asperger's (a story for another day), I came out on a blog I'd been on for the better part of eight years. I talked about not being able to find a doctor to get a clinical diagnosis. Rather than support, I was attacked very opening and very heavily. Here's a sampling of the responses I got:

  • "Maybe you should meet some people who really suffer from Autism, as well as their families and then maybe you will understand the disrespect that you are showing by continuing this mockery."

  • "My only conclusion from this and your job history is that all you want is an excuse, other than yourself, for all the jobs that you have lost. Well Autism would fit the bill… if only you actually had it."

  • "It is absolutely insulting that you would lie about having Aspergers Syndrome. It is insulting to those of us trying to offer you advice and insulting to the community of people who are affected in their daily lives by Autism and Aspergers."

  • "It seems, and I am not the only one who thinks so, that you are now using aspergers syndrome as yet another way for you to NOT have to take responsibility for your own actions."

  • "The reason this issue is so important is that Aspergers is a complicated disorder and you are mocking it with your "Aspie Power" cheer. I think that is wrong when there are people who genuinely suffer from it."

  • "...someday he'll be friendless and alone because nobody will want to be around him anymore."

  • "By claiming to be autistic without a doctor's diagnosis, you're spitting in the face of all the little autistic kids that already have one."



There were many more, but you get the idea.

I lost a lot of friends who thought I was looking for an excuse. They thought it was impossible for me to be gifted and have a mental handicap.

When this first went down, it was VERY difficult for me to deal with. Seeing friends you've had for almost a decade turning on you isn't easy for anyone. As of my diagnosis, I now understand that I was right from the beginning and these people were either manipulating me or just plain jerks.

I know I'll never escape this level of discrimination, but at least I feel vindicated over one of the most extreme cases I'm ever likely to go through.

16 comments:

Whitewave said...

Sorry you endured this type of backlash. I'm glad you found out about your Asperger's. I have an autistic daughter whose PDDNOS diagnosis was just changed to Asperger's. She's 3.

Jade said...

What is PDDNOS anyway? I've heard the term here and there but never looked into it.

Anonymous said...

I'm terribly late on the scene here but no one I have encountered and their have been many, would wish or self diagnose asperger syndrome on them self. My heart felt empathy that you had to endure such blatant myopic and ignorant verbal abuse which is nothing less then a direct attack on your very identity. Shame on them for acting so thoughtlessly.

Tree said...

One guy at my school named Stephen has Asperger's, but I didn't know it until about half a year ago. For three years we've been getting along well, even though I'm very aware of his social ineptitude.

People laughed at him whenever he laughed in his goofy way, interrupted a lesson (he did that a LOT), or just said something out-of-place. I found that after we had the unit in Psychology where we learned about Asperger's, people tended to laugh less at him.

Anonymous said...

'devil's advocate. I've been socially awkward all my life, but on the other side of it, there are many people I encounter at work who may be greedy, careless, or lazy. I don't get along with these people, so shall we create a clinical diagnosis for a-holes and dumbasses?

Anonymous said...

I hear you. My boss, who heard about my 'disability' from a woman who is just plain jealous of the money I earn, must think I'm absolutely stupid. She says things like - "you are a creative genius but you cannot communicate with people" so I get blamed for any miscommunication that occurs and two of them are clinically deaf in one ear! She'll say "oh my, so focussed on your work" which is supposedly a compliment, but sadly, isn't. She speaks louder, and clearer, in the condescending way some jerks treat migrants. I feel like saying "oops, sorry, my diagnosis came back negative" and "I'm just a creative genius but with no disability." and earn my money the same way as anyone else. If she knew my history she'd understand just how far I have come.

Anonymous said...

I've been terminated from two jobs. I was recently diagnosed with AS. I'm not sure I will ever be able to find another job other than menial employment. As long as my mom is alive I will continue to try.

CHROBO42 said...

I even more late on the scene here but I am 54 years old and just figured out that Asperger's may be my "problem". I talked to my doctor who has been my primary care physician for many years and she took a few weeks but decided that I had, at the very least, many Asperger's characteristics, absent a clinical diagnosis. My problem is that I am unemployed and find that online job applications actually screen out people with Asperger's characteristics. So I turn to lying in order to try to get a job. Since I am naturally way too honest, this is extremely difficult. Yes, there is all kinds of discrimination.

Anonymous said...

i have a friend with aspergers, and let me tell you those comments made me SO ANGRY. when i'm out with her, we get a lot of funny looks. there is still a lot of discrimination based upon non-physical disabilities and i wish i could scream sense into all of the ignorant people who made those comments. they were probably not worth being friends with anyway.
keep fighting discrimination wherever you find it - i'm with you, and i'm sure many others are too.

Anonymous said...

I am going through this right now only diagnosed 10 months ago, my ex and her family and harassing me and attacking me constantly. It sucks.

Tyjos Azari said...

I have endured the same thing as well, funny thing is I haven't accepted my Aspergers and function pretty normally but it's exactly like you say there with those types of Comments.

I got diagnosed when I was in at Rehab at Roosevelt Warm Springs, so I know the backlash all too well.

Causes too much of a Strain on Me Mentally at times.


I've had to deal with discrimination lately online and have never had a job...probably won't get a regular one to say the least due to things being the way they are. One thing I do hate about aspergers is how it can sneak up on you if you aren't aware of what it is.

It's at least good to see someone else who's had to endure the backlash of it.

e_Warren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Its terrible to be treated so badly. Neurotypicals run the world but it doesnt give them the right to abuse people. Congress needs a new employment nondiscrimination act.

Anonymous said...

I'm being discriminated against now too, by a few bosses… for being a little socially awkward. Work is absolutely miserable - I dread going in because they harass me, call me "awkward," and tell me to get therapy even though I'm warm/caring and well-liked by people. I get to leave in 4 weeks. Until then, I'll be very anxious and upset about having to go to work.

It's really sad! I love the "Devil's advocate" comment on here - made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across Asperger's online and eventually read Tony Atwood's book and realized what has been "wrong" with me my whole life. But one thing I strongly disagree with is lumping it with Autism. Autism conjures up the image of completely disabled people who cannot fully function, Kanner's Syndrome and this is what the public expects and why so many reacted that way. The science really hasn't figured out what the exact cause of these conditions is yet, so it may be quite possible both share some symptoms, perhaps a similar region of the brain is malwired, but the conditions are separate.

I really wish there was more awareness of Asperger's out there and strong anti-discrimination laws that prevent the kind of shenanigans in job screening that blatantly keep us out of employment like these "online" interviews that tell you to go to hell if an Aspie answer's them honestly. I'd love to see these companies get sued for this crap. Where I work I got hired when this weak middle aged Chinese lady was in charge, anyone who looked nice and respectable and had a good education on their resume got by her as her English skills weren't good enough to really figure out American People. However, as the company "grew" they hired all these American "opportunists" who came in and started bossing around, even firing people who had been with the company long before these aggressive "go-getters" showed up. Now very few Aspies get past their 3 day interview process and all we get are Bull S. Artists and Con-men types. One long employed fellow I work with lamented on the lack of dedicated workers amongst new hires by saying "There are two types of people: good workers and good interviewers, this new regime in management hires the latter." We need to organize like the gays did and put a stop to our marginalization from society.

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with aspergers syndrome two years ago and I am also bipolar. I often get told that I should be in full time work, as my conditions can't be seen physically, yet the same people also tell me I should never be in a relationship and get married, which I find highly offensive!!