I Am Not Spock: #Aspergers #Autism is a HUMAN Condition
A few days ago, an otherwise well-respected medical professional and advocate for Aspergers said something that touched a raw nerve with me. He said: "I want to hang with #Aspies more than the humans. More fun, funny, weird & authentic… My peeps!“
Can you spot the problem with this? It looks very positive and affirming but look closely, read it again. If you just said "Wait, did he just…?” then you saw the same thing I did and probably took it the same way. This isn’t the first time, either. He’s said things like comparing us to Data, Spock, and C-3PO. What’s the underlying theme here?
That we’re not human.
Before we go any further, let me state that I do fully comprehend what he *meant* to say, that he prefers our company to that of neurotypical society. He was also appealing to the fact that many of us do feel like aliens (and why is that, really?) I do understand the context and what he was trying to convey. I am an Aspie - screwing up what I’m trying to say is part and parcel of my life. It’s why I always give people, including this fellow, another chance to rephrase and a chance to learn why the way they said it went so wrong.
Because I haven’t met another AS person YET who hasn’t been dehumanized since childhood. I grew up hearing the grown-ups talking about me. My grandmother said I was a changeling left by the fairies. My teachers thought I was a freak. I grew up listening to my stepfather tell my mother I had no soul, then would go to school where the other kids thought I was an alien. Because I didn’t emote the way other people did and in the ways other people expected, because my emotions seldom showed on my face, people thought I didn’t feel anything. That I was inhuman. And that made it okay to abuse me. My supposed inhumanity was used to justify all sorts of mental and emotional abuses against me. And I have not met even one Aspergers person, online and in person, who doesn’t have similar stories.
But we ARE human beings.
Data does not have Asperger’s Autism; he is an android. Asperger’s Autism is a human condition.
C-3P0 does not have Asperger’s Autism; he is a ‘droid. Asperger’s Autism is a human condition.
Spock could possibly have Asperger’s Autism via his human genetics, but the traits he shows - logic, suppression of emotions, controlled face and body - are the result of Vulcan cultural conditioning. Vulcans are not humans; Vulcans do not have Asperger’s Autism. Asperger’s Autism is a human condition.
I did respond back to this professional. As I said, I do understand the point he was trying to convey. But he didn’t say he prefers the company of Aspies to NTs, he didn’t say he prefers the company of Aspies to *other* humans; he said he prefers the company of Aspies to *the* humans. That makes a huge world of difference. He effectively stripped us of humanity while praising us - wth??
Unfortunately his replies were even more ablistly ugly. Of course, I misinterpreted him (I’d already stated that I understand the sentiment he was trying to convey.) And then he offered to Skype me so he could explain where I went wrong.
He, a man in a medical mental-health profession in a position of authority, wanted to explain to me, a member of a disability community frequently dehumanized and abused, why I, a woman who has personally experienced being demonized, dehumanized, and my supposed inhumanity used to abuse me, am wrong about separating people with Aspergers from “the humans” being wrong and potentially harmful. Where is that gif from The Office?
I wish I could say that he listened but I can’t. In fact, he’s now blocked me. So he’s likely going to continue working with Aspergers patients, telling them how wonderful they are, all underscored by a deeply-buried belief that we aren’t actually human.