Struggles of people with Asperger Syndrome

Every illness comes with its struggles. Robison discusses his biggest challenges in life, which often are also symptoms of Aspergers. Despite the high intelligence of those with Aspergers, the demands and lack of freedom in school causes them to lose interest and perform poorly on subjects that are not related to their obsession (Asperger Syndrome). Robison explains how at school, working in the AV department was the only activity that interested him. He decided to drop out of high school because of his lack of interest in other subjects.  Upon taking the GED test to drop out and be considered a graduate, Robison got a 96 percent, and when offered a diploma, told the school I don’t need your diploma (Robison 90).

The most relevant symptom of Aspergers is lack of social awareness.  People with Aspergers find it harder understanding and connecting with other people. At a young age, they begin to wonder what makes them ‘different’ and why they fail to connect socially with their peers (What Is Asperger Syndrome?). In an attempt to make friends at nursery school, Robison walked over to a little girl and patted her on the head, because he had observed humans petting dogs, which the dogs enjoyed.

The term Invisible Disability is an umbrella term that includes a range of hidden disabilities that are primarily neurological, including Aspergers Syndrome (Invisible Disabilities). The invisibility of Aspergers Syndrome makes it near impossible to recognize when someone is disabled or not, which can lead to mistaking one’s behavior for being hostile or ignorant. This causes many negative interactions with Aspergians and neurotypical people. Robison says: With me, though, there is no external sign that I am conversationally handicapped. So folks hear some conversational misstep and say, What an arrogant jerk! (194).

There are many more challenges people with Asperger’s are faced with, mostly invisible, which for many, brings even more challenges when Aspergers goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Robison shares the many struggles he faced as a result of his Aspergers being undiagnosed  the majority of his life. Aspergers syndrome was first included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, in 1995 (Barahona-Corrêa and Carlos). For this reason, many Aspergians who wished to make sense of their differences were left without answers for the majority of their lives.

When speaking about his own experience with Aspergers syndrome, Robison reflects that, It was evident in me at a very early

age, but, unfortunately, no one knew what to look for (4). Growing up, Sociopath and psycho (2) Were the most common assumptions Robison heard about his appearance and expression. Despite the abundance of research to this day on Aspergers syndrome, it continues to frequently be misdiagnosed for other disorders.  To fit in, people with Asperger syndrome adapt to a neurotypical world by observing people’s behavior with one another and copying common social interactions. Over time they learn to mask the symptoms of Aspergers syndrome, which leads to a misdiagnosis (Shenfield).

One of Robisons friends comments on how Robison still struggles with issues from childhood, after reading his memoir. Robison reveals that: The only real difference is I have learned what people expect in common social situations. So I can act normal and theres less chance Ill offend anyone (11). On the autism spectrum, high functioning Apsergers syndrome is the most difficult to spot as they usually do not have major cognitive difficulties and are usually perceived as absentminded (Asperger Syndrome). Robison recalls how, Everyone thought they understood my behavior. They thought  I was just no good (2).

With no real answers, people made their own assumptions about Aspergians, leaving many children to feel disappointed with their traits they could not change. Not only did Robison have to deal with the challenges of his own mental illness, he also had to deal with the challenges of having two parents with mental illness.