Especially not under the terms currently being used to define what a disability actually is.
To me Asperger’s Syndrome is more about experiencing a different way of seeing, understanding and being in the world, than it is about being unable to be in the world.
Here’s why I think this……
According to the World Health Organisation, a disability is…
“Any restriction or lack (resulting from any impairment) of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being”
Does having Asperger’s Syndrome prevent you from being able to act within a range that is considered normal for a human being?
What is considered normal?
Do you have to be constantly chatty, friendly, up-beat or one of the gang in order to be considered normal?
Or can you be shy, quiet and reclusive, yet competent and competitive and still be considered to be normal?
My experience would say yes.
Besides, if anything having Asperger’s heightens ones awareness of how to perform certain activities, it just does so in a different way.
So maybe it’s just the definition of disability in use then that’s the problem?
Here’s another definition of what a disability is.
“A disability is a condition or function judged to be significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual or group. The term is used to refer to individual functioning, including physical impairment, sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, intellectual impairment mental illness, and various types of chronic disease.”
Citation: Disabled World News – Definition of disability including types of disabilities and the social model of disabilities: http://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/#ixzz2H0bfh73s
So does having Asperger’s mean that you are “significantly impaired relative to the usual standard of an individual or group”?
Well, once again, I would say no.
Having Asperger’s may mean that you are “different” when compared to the relative or usual standard of a group, but it does not necessarily mean that you are “significantly impaired”.
Nor does it mean that you are unable “to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.”
So what’s considered normal anyway?
If you can go to your job and do that job well but have trouble conversing with your work mates, are you disabled or just different?
If you can get married, raise a family, but not be particularly social, are you different or disabled?
Are we becoming guilty of using out dated concepts in order to try and clarify ‘being different’ as a ‘disability’?
And if we are guilty of this, then how will replacing the concept of Asperger’s Syndrome by engulfing it within the wider framework of low functioning and high functioning Autism help us to gain a clearer understanding of Asperger’s as being differently abled and not disabled?
What do you think?
- I’m a proud Aspie, but I accept the term ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ has had its day | Joshua Muggleton (guardian.co.uk)
- No More “Asperger’s Syndrome” (science.slashdot.org)
- What is Asperger syndrome? (foodconsumer.org)
- It’s official: ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ is no longer a thing (io9.com)