For the past few months I’ve been coming to terms with my new diagnosis of Asperger’s, travelling a winding path of who I am and who ‘they’ are. One small thing that feels uncomfortable is wearing the term ‘Aspie’, my new label. Am I Asperger’s? ASD? Autistic? On the Spectrum? All, I guess, but I settled for Aspie as it’s short and sweet whilst sounding friendly. This is how I now refer to myself in conversations on the subject.
Then, in every sentence where I mentioned Asperger’s, I found myself puzzled as to what to call ‘them’. In other words, Neurotypical (NT) people i.e. the majority of the population without ASD.
My bookshelves are creaking under the weight of my continual bid to know more about the whole subject and this week I received a breath of fresh air when a special book wafted through my letterbox:
‘The Asperkid’s Secret Book of Social Rules’ by Jennifer Cook O’Toole.
A comfort factor arrived with it which my Aspie mind latched onto, that the author shares the name of my now deceased sister, Jennifer. It was she who first mentioned the word Asperger’s, long before I knew what it was or even suspected I belonged to the club. At the time I dismissed what I thought was a sibling dig at me. In quiet moments, I ask the ether, hoping Jen can hear, ‘How did you know? What did you see?’ I wish she was here so I could thank her. It was during a counselling session when I happened to mention her words in passing, “I think you have Asperger’s”, that triggered the counsellor’s realisation of what was going on with me.
Thank you, Jennifer, I hope you’re enjoying tea and cake with books and the teddy bears in a heavenly cafe.
And thank you, author Jennifer. Her book is exactly what I need right now as an adult possessing a teenage mindset to accompany my Asperger’s.
Going back to labels and what to call non-Aspies, it came to me whilst reading my new book. Calling them ‘normal’ kept tripping off my tongue, but it jarred, making me sound ‘abnormal’. Hopefully that’s not the case. Many Aspies use the term NT, but this didn’t resonate with me either. I tested the sound of ‘majority’ too… nah.
Today it hit me – ‘average’ – they are the average person on the street. Oh, a feeling of satisfaction washed over me. Call this a stab at superiority as I now feel above-average! Don’t you dare say below-average, that smacks of school reports. But it’s still a mouthful, ‘average’, so I’ve shortened it.
My NT friends are now labelled Avies and in my mind that equalises us. It’s a similar word to Aspie with balanced spelling plus it has that ‘friendly’ factor. Don’t ask me why such small things make me happy.
Find more about Jennifer Cook O’Toole at ~ http://asperkids.com
NOTE: Since writing this the Autistic community has departed Asperger’s and Aspie. I’ve left this blog as it was as it was part of my journey and learning. I’ve moved on since this was written.