Parents seek Asperger’s diagnosis to rise above the rest
In the past ten years, the “supergeek” has become king. Whether or not it is true that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has traits of Asperger’s, his geeky, clever-kid innovation has changed the way the world communicates. Not only is he one of the richest young men in the Western world, he’s also one of the cleverest. We like to think of him as way up there on the spectrum. The message is resounding: in our new computer/techy/cyber-obsessed culture, it really is OK – more than OK – to be a little bit different. Silicon Valley is the future and all the rest of us, with our “neuro-typical” – or non-Asperger’s – brains, plod along in its wake. Whatever the often far harsher reality for the thousands of people with Asperger’s in Britain who are not like Zuckerberg and struggling to cope, the taboo has gone. Even Skins had an Asperger’s character.
“Aspies”, as they call themselves, can and do wear their diagnosis as a badge of pride. They understand their talents can lift them above the rest of us: the ability to focus; to process information differently; to demonstrate extraordinary attention to detail. As one Asperger’s leader in business told me, Asperger’s people in the right environment are much better equipped to provide “a more diverse and expansive vision”. Recently there has been a flurry of pro-Asperger’s syndrome reports in Britain and the US: The Autism Advantage (New York Times); Genius Genes: How Asperger Talents Changed the World by Michael Fitzgerald; If You Care About Innovation, Hire People Who Think Differently (Business Insider). Dr Rosalind Bergemann, CEO of Globalite Management Service and Chairman of Asperger Leaders (she was diagnosed late), confirms the trend: “Recently I have been contacted by many parents trying to confirm that their children have Asperger’s so that they can ‘allow them to develop above the rest’.”
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Photo: Student Jos Gibbons who has Asperger’s Syndrome is believed to be the highest A-Level achiever. Picture date: Thursday August 16, 2007. Jos Gibbons, from Solihull, near Birmingham, picked up four grade As and a grade B to add to the six he had already completed – giving him a total of 11 A-Levels.