Asperger’s is not an Excuse for Bad Behaviour

Right now in Australia, we are in the midst of an Election campaign, and its becoming quite nasty.  If some of these candidates were  my children I would line them up outside their rooms and tell them “to play nicely or just don’t play at all!”

My goodness I am not sure about you, but I am over this.  We are certainly lacking strong, authentic leadership in this country.  Is it any wonder our young people get so disillusioned?

But there was an article in yesterday’s press that has certainly raised emotions in our household.

Yesterday, one of Australia’s radiobroadcasters, Alan Jones was quoted in a Sydney newspaper, talking of Kevin Rudd , our former Prime Minister. He said  “…I think he has some form of Asperger’s syndrome,” and later goes on to say…“There’s a lot of talk about this Asperger’s disease. I do feel sorry for the fellow, in some ways,” he says.

The article quotes from a myriad of ‘sources’ about Rudd’s supposed bad temper, foul language, disregard for others feelings and inability to understand social nuances.  Kevin Rudd story.

David found the article late last night and came into my office incensed!  “Asperger’s is a social difference”, he said “He makes it sound as if it is something you catch and its bad!”.  He was furious at the insinuation.

First of all, Asperger’s Syndrome is not an excuse for bad behaviour, anger or bad language.  Secondly to assume that somebody has ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’ because they are “arrogant, badly behaved and bad tempered”  would  lift the diagnosis rate to about 1 in 10 people in our population, instead of 1 in 110!

Asperger’s Syndrome really seems to be in the limelight at the present time, but unfortunately, not all stories are positive.

Yesterday I heard about a woman from one of the Education Departments who was quoted as saying “Your child can’t possibly have Asperger’s, he is too polite and well behaved?”.  There was also a story recently about a family in Victoria whose Year 3 ASD child was being forced out of the school by other parents.  The other children tease and pick-on her child, and when he reacts to their teasing, he often reacts inappropriately.  The school was forced to defend its position saying that they felt the young boy was doing well in mainstream.  The complaining parents had taken their issue to their local member.

Interesting isn’t  it?  Because a young boy has ASD and reacts when teased, other parents complain.  But when their child bullies another child there is no acceptance of responsibility, instead they point fingers at the victim. My mother used to call that convenient morality!

David was diagnosed in 1997, 13 years ago.  In that time we have had good times and not so good times, but we have focused to raise an intelligent respectful young man who knows the difference between right and wrong and how to behave in certain circumstances and how not to.  In fact, he now is more’ behaviour appropriate’, kind and gentle, than many other neuro-typical 25 year old men I know!

Asperger’s is not a disease.  It’s not something that you catch.  It’s also not a life sentence.  In fact it can be, and often is, an advantage.  When David recently competed in the gaming competition in Sydney he said “These are the times when having Asperger’s is a good thing.  At least I know I can focus on what I need to do and not get side tracked”

But something is going dreadfully wrong here.  After all this time,  instead of moving to a place of understanding we seem to be moving closer to judgment. Lately I have come across people who feel it is well within their rights to make ill-informed statements about Asperger’s, because they once knew, worked with, or knows somebody who knows somebody who has Asperger’s.  There is nothing worse than people who know a little about something and talk about it a lot.

Right now, I am in my office.  David  is in his room studying for Uni and at the same time following the election on his Google alerts and Twitter, and with great gusto and enthusiasm. Every now and then he comes out, tells me something else about the election and what he as read.  His take on policies is quite extraordinary and his views on global warming, refugees, and the Mining tax, which are issues leading the election campaign, are thoughtful and well articulated.  But he continues to be so disillusioned by the party leaders. He has said so many times “Why can’t they stop telling us what they think we want to hear, and instead tell us the truth and just stick to it”.

Being dishonest, backflipping on policy, saying one thing and then doing something totally different, or worse saying things you think people want to hear, not what you believe they should know, are not Asperger’s traits – they are  neuro-typical traits.  Perhaps the party leaders should take note of some of the aspects of Asperger’s to improve their campaigns and instead of backstabbing and playing politics, just get on with the job of being truthful and authentic.

One thing we are certainly lacking in this country right now is quality leadership. So who would I rather be running the country?  At this point in time, the young man  in the room right next to me!

Sally Thibault, Speaker & Author

Aspergers Parent Specialist

5 Responses to “Asperger’s is not an Excuse for Bad Behaviour”

  1. Hi Sally,
    Sadly, I agree with you on this one. Just because people can’t behave appropriately doesn’t mean they have some form of Asperger’s. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Kindest regards,

    1:46 pm on August 3rd, 2010
  2. Very true that people with aspergers actually make more sense in a work environment. The only “lack” in aspi’s is their inability to do small talk. Inability to talk over unimportant, trivial issues. That’s pretty much a gift in some way. I also hypothesize that aspergers are often more creative, and that sometimes by social learning this results in not saying what you think (people don’t like innovation).
    Sure in today’s busy society (often little room for getting to know each other as a person, instead of defining people deviant for inability to talk a lot (over unimportant, universally comprehensible matters))aspi’s might seem socially inept, for their “unability to talk about unimportant matters”.
    when really, these people are/can be the pioneers of the society. It is not a problem to decide that you are going to work a whole lot because you are happier when you do then when you don’t. It’s not a problem when you are highly motivated to make a contriution to society. It only becomes a problem when people with trivial interests, the majority, make life too difficult by exclusion, ridicule. The rest of the stigma is just about them looking to robotic, and it doesn’t appeal to people.
    It is straight abstract, innovative thinking that makes great decisions. Not relying on what the majority thinks. Aspi’s are indeed better leaders. The problem, however is democracy. The majority of people doesn’t realize what is good for them. They pick a leader that appeals to them because of powerful statements or just the way he looks or SAYS THINGS THAT MOST PEOPLE LIKE. It is reluctance to change that conquers most, it is will to innovate in some.

    But then again, we all have to live together. So us Aspi’s be nice to non-aspi’s and vice versa. Smile, hug, joke…

    10:35 am on August 20th, 2010
  3. Throw in a bit of patience, and eventually they will tell you what it was that ticked them off. If you cannot be with them right away, tell them you are busy and will be with them in a moment.

    Elsa Pre School
    2:32 am on September 12th, 2010
  4. Of course bad behaviour can’t be blamed on Asperger’s, but I’d still bet the sheep station on Rudd being an Aspie as would many of my Aspie friends (several of whom with degrees in psychology). Over the past 3 or 4 years I’ve broached this very topic with numerous psychologists, psychiatrists, psych researchers and many other Aspies. The overwhelming body of opinion is the Rudd is an Aspie, traits of which stick out like a sore thumb if you know what to look for…particularly if you’re an Aspie yourself.

    James – 36 year-old Asperger

    James Fahey
    5:37 pm on September 28th, 2010
  5. Hi Sally,

    My son was also trageted by those same parents at the school you mentioned here, There is actually 3 ASD children in the same year level. (i chose not to go public). The consequenses for my son from their judgment is still ongoing, early on he talked of killing himself and not wanting to be on this planet anymore, he also spent 2 months being a snake (communicating by hissing). He is slowley returning to a stable mind set 8 months on, but i am convinced this has all changed him beyond repair. You are spot on when you say that instead of understanding and support the community appears to be becomming more judgmental!

    8:28 pm on January 1st, 2011

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