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