Don’t call me Aspie… you wouldn’t like me when I’m Aspie
Aspie. I love the epithet. It's short, sharp, and to me and others even endearing (and the title of this post is a mangling of something frequently said by Dr. Bruce Banner, the original Hulk, back in the 1970s.
In case you don't know, the word Aspie refers to someone who has Asperger's Syndrome. In practical terms it's a useful shorthand to describe someone with a collection of similar autistic traits working together to give a broadly similar presentation to the world.
Alas, its association with Hans Asperger is what causes all the pissing and moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
See, Asperger is alleged to have been a Nazi and complicit in the deaths of many autistics as part of the Nazis' eugenics programme. The objection goes something like "if you self-identify as 'Aspie' you are also a Nazi because you support Asperger's work and philosophy".
If that wasn't bad enough, it's also "wrong" for us to use the epithet because it upsets some people (I find the idea there are people out there who are so weak they are unable to control their emotional reaction to a word someone uses as a self-identifier remarkable).
How's that stupidity working for you, Bro?
While there seems to be compelling evidence Asperger was complicit in war crimes, it's not beyond doubt.
The point is... even if he was, so what? I am not a fan of revisionist history.
Ketil Slagstad, a Norwegian doctor and historical scholar wrote:
The story of Hans Asperger, Nazism, murdered children, post-war oblivion, the birth of the diagnosis in the 1980s, the gradual expansion of the diagnostic criteria and the huge recent interest in autism spectrum disorders exemplify the historical and volatile nature of diagnoses: they are historic constructs that reflect the times and societies where they exert their effect.
... "Historical research has now shown that he [Asperger] was... a well-adapted cog in the machine of a deadly regime. He deliberately referred disabled children to the clinic Am Spiegelgrund, where he knew that they were at risk of being killed. The eponym Asperger’s syndrome ought to be used with awareness of its historical origin."
Yup, let's be aware of it, for sure.
But let's not call each other Nazis because we have a temper-tantrum when we don't get our own way.
Another objection to "Aspie"...
Another objection often given is there's a kind of "autism snobbery" going on.
And maybe there is.
Autism across the board tends to be correlated with low-intelligence, not high.
With Aspies, it's the other way around.
We tend to be highly intelligent and even gifted in many areas. I and many Aspies I've met are able to see patterns others can't, and come to accurate conclusions from sparse data in a process looking superficially like intuition.
Besides, it's a non-sequitur to claim celebrating my strengths is tantamount to denigrating others' perceived weaknesses. My embracing all the positive aspects of being an Aspie says nothing whatsoever about my attitudes towards non-Aspie autistics.
And if they choose to draw their own conclusions about what's going on in my head, they're entirely free to do so. Just don't expect me to give a fuck about their opinions or feelings.
In 2013, the DSM 5 replaced Asperger's Disorder and other developmental disorders with the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
For this reason in jurisdictions using the DSM 5 exclusively a new diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome is no longer valid.
But the fact is my formal diagnosis in 2019 was Asperger's syndrome. It's there in black and white.
I was diagnosed in Ireland under the criteria for ICD 10, which makes my diagnosis of Asperger's entirely valid (specifically it was Diagnosis Code F84.5 Asperger's syndrome requiring Level 1 support, just in case you give a shit).
And at the time it was given that was a valid diagnosis in the jurisdiction it was made. To tell me (as some do), the diagnosis is somehow incorrect or invalid because it's no longer used where they are is parochial nonsense.
Last of all on the other side of the Aspie coin...
Some Aspies refuse to accept the diagnosis of "autistic" because at the time they were diagnoses — presumably pre-2013 — Asperger's wasn't considered to be autism. Some Aspies get painfully butthurt by this, for reasons I can't fathom.
I can speak only for myself, but I'm perfectly happy to be referred to as "autistic".
I tend to use "Aspie" when I want to draw particular attention to the traits Aspies tend to have (kinda logical, really).
How you self-identify is your own business.
If you have a formal diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, then I don't see how anyone can claim it's invalid or incorrect.
They might not like it or agree with it, and they might be offended, upset, and triggered when you use it, but their thoughts, feelings, and emotions are none of your business, and you'll do well to make them none of your concern.
Jon McCulloch, The Evil Bald Genius
Author, speaker, business owner, and autism advocate