The spectacular Susan Boyle has come out and declared her diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Hers is just one amazing story among many amazing stories. I am happy for her, and I am delighted for the autistic community. But one thing she said in one of the many interviews on the subject made me a little sad. Not too sad, just a little, because of the juxtaposition of so much hope, against the reality that I already know so well.
In this interview with The Guardian, Susan Boyle was quoted as saying,
“I think people will treat me better because they will have a much greater understanding of who I am and why I do the things I do.”
Maybe, just maybe, in your case, Susan. There is always room for exception, and always a case for the best possible outcome. But in many Aspies’ realities, that hope is just too simplistic. A diagnosis does not make people treat you better. In my case, it didn’t, in fact, sometimes the opposite. I lost family members when I tried to assert my own identity, I lost friends I valued and thought valued me, I was derided and doubted when I made my diagnosis known to some people I thought I could trust, and others who discovered it merely used my differences to manipulate me further and throw even heavier blankets of condemnation and blame upon me because now they had a name and a label to blame everything that they didn’t like about me on, without guilt on their part.
However, here’s the good part: the diagnosis made me treat ME better – and my life transformed into one of self discovery, self respect, dignity, deeper understanding for others, greater empathy for those suffering similar invisible and visible ‘disabilities’ and empowerment. Empowerment to exist. The way I am made to exist.
People may not treat you better, nor may they have a greater understanding of who you are, but you don’t need to depend on people to treat you better, you treat yourself better because you now have a greater perception, empathy and appreciation of Self!
Good luck, Susan Boyle, welcome to the wonderful world of Asperger’s! You’re now officially an Aspie! 🙂 And thank you for your wonderful voice.