Recently, my brother was diagnosed with Aspergers, and we learned a lot .
It didn’t come as a shock. My family and I had expected it for a long time and decided to get him tested. And now we know the truth. Was it sad? Of course not. He’s a normal, functioning human and I’m here to tell you about living with them.
The first thing you need to know is that people with Aspergers are stubborn. They don’t react well to change and they will almost always stray away from it. In my case, he has a very strange eating pattern and refuses to try new foods. It may be a small thing, but Aspergers isn’t as big a deal as some people think. High functioning people on the Autism spectrum usually tend to fall under the category of Aspergers.
“Others on the lower functioning end of the spectrum require support with things like toiletries and feeding,” said Sarah Peters, an educational assistant at Calvin Christian School. “Those supports are rarely required with Aspergers.”
Aspergers also shows restricted and repetitive interests and behaviour. My brother is a big fan of video games. Specifically Nintendo games. He isn’t very open minded to other game companies and spends most of his time playing games. He will talk about it feverishly but when a topic he’s not interested in comes up, he tunes it out. He’s not interested at all. Sometimes my family and I struggle to get him to do better things with his time. It’s a group effort, because he refuses to listen if he doesn’t like your tone. Or if you’re acting like you’re talking down to him, he won’t take you seriously. You have to talk with him like a friend.
“Be clear, don’t use sarcasm or metaphors,” Peters said. “People with Aspergers take things very literally and will take your words at face value.”
Most importantly, people with Aspergers don’t adjust well to change. Even if it’s as small as switching bedrooms, they will not like it. My brother has had the same job for 6 years, knowing he needs a new one. But he’s comfortable now. He’s not going anywhere if he can help it. He needs a gentle push, as my mother put it. He needs encouragement, but he also needs help getting started. He currently gets help from a career counsellor with finding new jobs.
“Many people with Aspergers and Autism in general are very attached to their routines,” Peters said. “So drastically changing something could lead to escalations in behaviour and emotion. Preparing them for the change ahead of time and making smaller changes is important.”
Regardless, he’s a normal person. Unless you suspected it or knew about Aspergers prior to meeting him, you wouldn’t be able to tell. He’s very kind, he wouldn’t hurt anyone. He’s fun to be around and quite social, contrary to most with Aspergers. He gets along well with most of the people he meets, and just wants to be treated normally. That’s usually all they want from you. So the best you can do is do exactly that.