Disability language

I choose to call myself autistic/a person with autism (I don’t have a strong preferenc between those, personally) rather than a person with Asperger’s Syndrome/an aspie/etc.

Asperger’s Syndrome language would probably give my listeners a superficially clearer understanding of me, but I prefer not to use it. It would be an understanding based on stereotypes, first of all, and it would also be superficial because the parts of me that those stereotypes describe are superficial ones.

Having a pop-culture-stereotype knowledge of Asperger’s would tell you a bit about how I talk and how I act (taking things literally, infodumping, blank facial expressions/monotone voice), about my history (being in gifted programs and accelerated classes as a child), and I guess about my interests (since I have a degree in a STEM field and am somewhat geeky).

It wouldn’t tell you anything about what being autistic is like for me, or what accomodations I might need, and those are the things I most want to tell people about when I tell them I’m autistic.

Even those things about how I talk and act are only true some of the time. I can sometimes be very verbal, I can debate, I can infodump, I can be pedantic. I also sometimes find it difficult or impossible to put my thoughts into words at all.

I don’t know which of those states is actually more common in my life, but I care more about the second one. It’s more a part of my identity, of how I think of myself. My verbalness is about other people, focused on other people– on explaining things to people and wondering whether I’m communicating effectively. The uncertainty of words, the tenuousness of words, is about me. I’m not a person who talks a lot. I’m a person who sometimes talks.

Being associated with those Asperger’s stereotypes feels acutely uncomfortable to me, precisely because they almost fit. I would much rather deal with confusion and lack of knowledge about my label, or with stereotypes that I can completely deny, than with stereotypes that don’t fit me but convincingly seem like they do.

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2 thoughts on “Disability language

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