One of the best things about the extreme research phase of determining that I was autistic was discovering that there were words for things. Things I thought, felt and experienced, but which previously nobody ever seemed to talk about, or understand.
For a long while though, I have had something on my mind. Labels. People get super upset by them, especially in the autism community. I’m kind of sick of being told what words I should use to describe myself.
I hate functioning labels, i.e. high functioning or low functioning. I think they represent a polarising oversimplification that is at the heart of this issue. Stick with me though as I have to use them to explain this next bit.
I feel trapped between two groups:
- Those who think that people with Aspergers are too high functioning to be described as autistic.
- Those who strongly reject the term aspie and instead favour autistic.
In my experience, those two groups are mainly made up from:
- The parents of low functioning autistic people.
- People with an autism diagnosis who would be described as high functioning by the people in group one.
I’ll be honest and say that I have little sympathy for the people in group one. High functioning and mild autism are easy things to say from the outside.
My point though, is that if you tell me which labels you prefer for you, then I will try and remember to use them and I would hope you would do the same for me.
Asperger’s Syndrome. Whilst this is my official diagnosis, it somehow always feels scary. I think it’s the “Syndrome” part which does it. I tend to say “I have Aspergers”, but “I am autistic”. I also describe myself as an “aspie”.
“Person with autism”, that shit is just a mouthful. To me, it is so clumsy and obviously tiptoeing around in a way that totally defeats the purpose, I don’t ever say it.
I am autistic, I am an aspie, I have Aspergers Syndrome. To me, these things are all true. So suck it up, buttercup!