Please Note:I will be adding more articles here soon. However, I am currently working most of the time now on writing ebooks on a wide variety of subjects.

Available Now - My first ebook about Asperger's Syndrome and my own experience.

Asperger’s Syndrome, Disability or Different Ability?

© Ms. A.J. Mahari, March 7, 2006

See below this article for my March 7, 2006 addition - Differently Abled, Not Disabled

Is Asperger’s Syndrome a disability or a different ability? While both have some truth to them Asperger’s Syndrome, for those who are diagnosed in adulthood doesn’t have to be a negative disabling isolating reality. Understanding your differences more and accepting them will enable you to succeed.

Ability is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, as “being able,” “power to do,” “skill or talent,” “capacity or tendency,”

Disability is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, as (among other things) “something that restricts; limitation, disadvantage.”

However, what one thinks of as restricting or limiting or a disadvantage may for another be made to be the “power to do,” a “skill or talent,” a matter of a different “capacity or tendency.”

In other words, what is literally defined as a disability can in fact be turned into many different kinds of abilities by those with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS).

Notwithstanding that there are arenas in which AS is a challenge and I’ll admit can even feel like a disability I think what’s most relevant here is how one thinks about this. If you focus on the negative then AS will be mostly about being a disability for you. If you focus on the positive AS will speak volumes to the joy of difference that even if difficult at times is as much, if not more, about difference than it is about being disabled.

It’s all a matter of perspective. We all need to learn, more and more, each and every day, to be more open to one another as citizens of this world that we share. We need to embrace differences.

All-too-often we categorize and pathologize differences because what is not “like” us is not always understood and therefore tends to be threatening when we let it be.

Each and every person wants, needs, and seeks to be understood and validated for who he/she is. Sameness has somehow become this cherished thing that more often than not leads to acceptance and inclusion. Whereas differences have become threatening,unwanted, and unaccepted and continue all-too-often to lead to rejection, judgment, and exclusion.

In so far as Asperger’s is not understood by many, yes, there is a component of it being a disability there. The differences that adults with Asperger’s present, particularly in relating and the area of socializing and to some degree just communicating, is to varying individual degrees a disability. How much of a disability this really remains in one’s life, is also individual and depends upon many factors other than just having AS. It depends upon willingness to accept difference, to think outside of the NT-box, and whether or not one focuses on the down side or the up side.

Having Asperger’s offers wonderful opportunities to take in all kinds of information of special interest, to remember most things very well, to think way outside the box and to be quite unique in many ways. The very high intelligence that is seen in most with AS is testament to an largely untapped gold mine of resources, talents and strengths.

Each Aspie adult, when being challenged and struggling in some areas of socializing, communicating, relating or what have you must remember that with the deficits and challenges come also the gifts and blessings.

If you have AS and/or if you have someone in your life you love and/or care about who has AS, you will be so surprised what joy can be found in all of the differences when you focus on the gifts and the blessings.

Everyone has different abilities. Everyone has weaknesses and challenges in life. Everyone has strengths. Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, while different in some ways, aren’t entirely different.

What the question really boils down to when asking if AS is a disability or more about a different ability is whether or not you think there is only one way to communicate, to socialize, to relate or to desire to relate to the world. It depends upon your perspective and whether or not you are open-minded enough to those who live outside of the box.

Living with Asperger’s Syndrome, and mainly living outside of the NT box myself, I have to say that while there have been times I’ve allowed myself to be described as disabled or less able that was when I compared myself to others in a black and white way.

When I accept that I am different in certain areas of life and relating than most and don’t judge that as good or bad I find a lot of peace and joy inside of myself for just being who I am and how I am. There is an inherent freedom in AS that I am learning to celebrate more and more. While there is some pain and frustration at times I’m sure this is the case in the average ebb and flow of anyone’s life, AS or not.

Each of us has unique ability that although at times applied differently, when accepted, understood and valued can mean the difference between a life in pursuit of ability or a life lost to alienation, isolation and the desolation of having been branded disabled and having believed it to the degree that one does not seek to spread his or her individually unique wings and fly in the unfolding wind of their most intense interest and wildest dreams.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari 2004

Differently Abled - Not Disabled

Addition on March 7, 2006

Asperger Adults - Differently Abled, Not Disabled, is the moniker I have used to denote this web site for obvious reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that I know from my own personal experience that having Asperger's Syndrome does not mean that I am disabled. Oh, it may mean this to those who are Neuro-Typcial (NT) and as the masses tend to do, are in need of some way to explain folks who aren't just as they are.

But, in actuality, I have found a way to turn what society labels as a disability, and turn it into my own style of talent, skill, purpose, passion and ability. So have many others on the Autism Spectrum and specifically many with Asperger's.

It is up to each individual with Asperger's to ensure that they do not accept being labelled as disabled and letting it define them as less than those who are NT. It has been a long hard struggle for me to find and build upon my strengths and to accept all that I have to compensate for because I am "different" from NT's who are the majority.

It is also important to note that the biggest difference in most with Asperger's as compared to those who are NT is most obvious in the arena of socialization and/or relating. This leaves the field wide open in terms of endless other areas of life that we aspies can and do have superior strengths to most who are NT. It is a matter of learning to mine the gold that you possess as someone with Asperger's Syndrome.

As you mine your own personal Asperger-related gold it is important to embrace the anxiety, the pain, and the accompanying frustration - even despair that is often felt because we know that socially there is such a wide gap at times. But, who you are my Aspie friend, is much more defined by other things and not how much you can, do, or even want to socialize. Do not let that depress and define you.

Asperger Adults - Differently Abled, Not Disabled, is all about recognizing and owning your own pot of gold and mining it - developing it and putting your interestes and narrow focuses to good use as more than mere hobbies as many adults with Asperger's have done and will continue to do.

There is a peaceful, assuring, even calming balance to be found, as an adult with Asperger's when you mine for you own personal and individual gold. It is the process of finding it that will take you from feeling or believing that you are "less than NT's" and "disabled" to all that you truly are and can be and to the reality that you are "differently abled". Difference is all-too-often measured in polarized all-good, all-bad ways. The truth is that life is a tapestry of rich paradox and we can and do have Aspeger's Syndrome and still have much ability and much worth.

Celebrate whatever pain, struggle, and adversity you must overcome to find your pot of Aspie gold and to revel in all that this means to the purpose behind the blessing that Asperger's Syndrome can be in your life.

© Ms. A.J. Mahari, March 7, 2006

COMING SOON: - My first ebook about Aspeger's Syndrome and my own experience. Please keep checking back.

Next Article: Reflections on an Asperger Diagnosis In Adulthood

as of February 10, 2005