Yesterday I went to Aspies for Success, a positive Aspie meet up in New York City and discussed this topic. I feel there is so much stigma being used on labels that this was the cause of the DSM changing the labeling. From a discussion yesterday after talking to those people thoroughly yesterday, I feel labeling is something that is a part of life, but we need to be able to talk to people we can connect with. If someone who was considered to have Autistic disorder spoke with someone who had Asperger’s syndrome, although similar people will probably be a very different way of communication. However, I have felt for a very long time that there are people with Autistic disorder who are non-verbal who can draw very interesting conversations with their Augmentative and Assistive Communication (AAC) devices.
Early last year I met a highly verbal and what clinicians would call “low functioning” Autistic person who would watch YouTube videos on the computer all day of sesame street or some nursery school videos. While watching them, he would be constantly “Stim” with his hands, spinning around, and feeling happy. He could potentially use the iPad, but he is very verbal. He was a very interesting person too. I am not sure about his intelligence, but a lot of these people are very smart too! Though there are some Autistics out there who just have a difficult time doing similar things like their Autistic counterparts in communicating and living because they simply don’t understand how to communicate and live.
I have met some more of these people this year especially over the summer who society just gave up on and seem very capable if they had the proper education and learning environment. The point is no one should be a stick in the mud where society just gives up on teaching someone who just needs the proper education and mentorship from other people who have successfully been taught. In terms of communicating with other Autistics whether being Aspergers or Autistic, I feel we still need to be able to connect with the person we are talking with. If someone is not on the same page with you, then you can’t really communicate with them effectively. Though you can still communicate with them by helping them to connect with others.
I have started a path of helping these Autistic people to realize they can have a better future by getting them to make eye contact and relaxing at the sight of their fears. It’s important to remember that we are all in this world together and struggle with similar things to be happy. Some people find things more difficult than other people, but we need to come together to help. Every person I have helped so far inadvertently has helped me too in some way. I think when you help someone do something who has been struggling to connect with others to connect more effectively, helps you too! So may be I should it more.
I have done so much to helping other Autistic people voluntarily this year and feel good about my efforts. Whether I am considered Aspergers or Autistic, I am still a person. The same goes with anyone else because we have many labels attached to ourselves. In a nutshell, it should not really matter what the DSM says your label is. The time is now to work together to positively communicate and connect with each other effectively without struggling or having difficulty getting our voices heard. It’s time to understand & accept the many labels we all have that make us who we are without being judgmental.
Adaptations at the JCC in Manhattan is the program that is a great source of help and guidance toward successful futures for Autistics and other disabilities alike. There are many labels there and every one is still a person trying to connect with whomever they want to communicate with. It should be a catalyst to branch out to connect and communicate with the rest of the world. In the end, we should always remember to outreach and help out others who need that help to connect, referring people to the source which helps so many people already.
Finally, the DSM is just 1 book, but not a book written in stone. It’s a work in progress!