The mothership landed here thousands of years ago and gave us Aspergers. And, thus, also gave us NASA, Lego, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple. Pretty sure you or your kids are using one of these right now.
I’ve said it before and I will keep on saying it. Aspergers is awesome. Aspie kids and their families have been the primary focus of my practice for the past 18 years. I am passionate about their gifts as well as their struggles. Despite being misunderstood by media, news outlets, and common misunderstandings from professionals and teachers, the Aspie mind cannot be stereotyped. Debunking these stereotypes and unnecessary fears, as well as spreading the knowledge of their unique mind(s) is my singular passion.
Despite so many articles in the news and popular culture, so many people misunderstand this special brain. My YouTube “Dr. G Aspie Show” provides a platform to not only share information but to get society to celebrate and be thankful for the spectrum. Here’s my 35,000 foot view of Aspergers (yes, it still exists despite the DSM-V).
1. Aspergers is awesome
a. We would be lost without this differently and amazingly wired mind.
b. We would not have rockets, computers, Microsoft, or even the Declaration of Independence without this mind.
2. Aspie Traits
a. High average to superior intelligence
b. Particular specific interest or obsession
c. Difficulty processing social information successfully
3. Dr. G’s Criteria
a. Interpersonally unusual – blunt in conversations, justice oriented, black and white thinking, awkward eye-contact (not necessarily lack of eye contact)
b. Overly-focused on one subject – What I call “Freight Train Brain”
c. Odd speech patterns
d. Misreading social cues
e. Tend to be clumsy (but not always!)
4. I put Aspergers on a continuum called “The Lemon Continuum.” Less and more, not good or bad. Glass of water on one side, lemon flavored water next, up to
lemonade and ultimately a lemon farm. Sir Isaac Newton would be a lemon farm while Dan Aykroyd would be closer to lemon flavored water.
5. There is a downside
a. Feeling alone – wanting to socialize but not knowing exactly how to do so successfully
b. Being misunderstood, excluded or isolated, and likely the target of bullying
c. Feeling frustrated, sad, or angry because you can’t find your place in the world
My goal is to share with the world that the Aspie brain is actually highly-evolved. While many Aspies are able to excel in specialized areas or interests, relationships with nuerotypical individuals can be difficult. I am trying to find these uniquely wired minds early and educate pediatricians, teachers, and other therapists to identify these amazing individuals early in their lives. When we find them young, we can support and nurture them and support the families in a way that gives them the best opportunity to make our world more interesting, fun, funny, and powerful.
Even though Aspies may feel like they are from outer space, they have so much to contribute with their abilities. Humanity would be lost without them.
Check out “The Aspie Show” on YouTube and @DrFGaskill on twitter.
Frank W. Gaskill is an American psychologist and author who specializes in Asperger syndrome, effective parenting, and how technology and children can interface safely and successfully. With David A. Verhaagen, Gaskill co-founded a private psychology practice in Charlotte, NC called Southeast Psychological Services. It later became known as Southeast Psych. Gaskill is the co-author, with Ryan Kelly of a graphic novel about Aspergers. In addition to having a comic based on Aspergers, he is also the host of an online video series dedicated to promoting the idea that Aspergers is a more highly evolved brain. This show is called, “The Dr. G Aspie Show.”
This article was featured in Issue 28 – Sharing the Love