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Disorder or description?

How much of Asperger’s is a disease and how much is a description of behavior? How about we turn it around, and say that all people who are rigid about rules and have a hard time changing have Asperger’s, rather than all people who have Asperger’s are rigid about rules and have a hard time changing.

It is like a personality disorder. All people who act in this certain way have X disorder, but really it isn’t a disorder. It isn’t a disease that has a medical cause. It is a maladaption or a lack of training.

What if we said all people who spend their free time watching game shows have a disorder? Or all people who have to buy the latest fashions even though they can’t afford them have a disorder? Or those who cheat on their wives or taxes have a disorder, or those who steal office supplies or drive 20 miles over the speed limit have a disorder?

Saying it is a disorder takes people off the hook. It means they are not responsible. It is something that happened to them. They are passive agents. Like the flu or chickenpox, it is a disease that they suffer with rather than a personality trait they can (and should) change. It might require a lot of therapy and several years, but it can be done.

What if the cause of Asperger’s is the cure? They had too little changes in their lives. They were allowed to insist on a rigid and predictable life. All sandwiches were peanut butter and strawberry jelly with no crust, cut diagonally. All toys had to be blue. All clothes had to be cotton. These things had to be done or else the child would have a tantrum to end all tantrums. And rather than insist the child grow and adapt, the parent gave in and the child grew up stunted like a bad bonsai tree. Then he entered the real world where nobody else was willing to accommodate him.

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