5 Things not to say to an Aspie

1 – “We all have a bit of Aspie in us…”

No, we do not.  Being shy does not mean you are “part” Aspie.  Being good at math does not mean you are “part” Aspie.  Not liking loud noises does not mean you are “part” Aspie.  Aspergers is an either/or deal.  You either have it, or you do not.

We understand (for the most part) that you are trying to tell us that we are OK in your books, and it’s great that you feel that way.  However statements like these trivialise the very real pain that having Aspergers can cause.  It can invalidate our experience, and it can be incredibly offensive.

2 – “My sister’s husband’s first wife’s half-brother’s third cousin is really anti-social.  Do you think he has Aspergers?”

OK, for starters, I’m not a psychologist/psychiatrist/neurologist/paediatrician.

Also – if you don’t even know their last name, then how am I supposed to even hazard a guess if they have Aspergers?

Chances are the guy is just anti-social.  Maybe he does have Aspergers.  Unless he is an arse to boot – who cares?  Leave the poor dude alone.

3 – “Well, at least you don’t have “severe” Autism.”

I get that if you are a parent of a three year old that continually bangs their head against the wall, and smears their own shit on the walls, then conversing with a reasonably intelligent woman in her 30’s can seem a far cry from what you deal with every day.

Now understand this – I used to be that kid OK?  It’s embarrassing as hell, but yes, I used to smear shit all over the walls, and my grandmother still delights in telling people all about it at dinner parties.

I have also tried to kill myself more times than I can bothered to count, and have extensive self-injury scaring.

Now, tell me to my face that my Aspergers has not been “severe”.  I dare you.

#1 point – Intellectual disability is not Autism.  And it is about time people started recognising the difference.

#2 point – Low functioning does not equate to severe.  High functioning does not equate to not severe.  You can be not severe, and low functioning (see point one), and you can be high functioning and severe.  These terms mean different things and are not interchangeable.

4 – “I can’t tell you have Aspergers” (and every variation of this general theme).

Awesome.  I do my best to get along.  I do my best to fit in.  I do my best to present ‘normal’ to the world.

Again, we understand (for the most part) that you are trying to tell us that we are OK in your books, and that’s great.  But it’s still invalidating, and can be incredibly offensive in some situations.

5 – Any comment in regards to whether you believe in the diagnosis, whether you believe that it’s “trendy” or “popular”, whether you believe… well whatever really – unless you are sharing as part of an actual discussion on that particular topic.

Having an actual discussion on these matters is fine, but if you find out I have Aspergers, and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is “oh, I don’t believe in labelling people”, then that is just rude.  Learn some manners.

Bonus point – “People with Aspergers do/don’t <insert something specific>…”

I just read that people with Aspergers don’t understand most jokes as they take things literally, and therefore jokes are lies to us.  What bollocks.  This may be true of some people with Aspergers (more so with children), however some of us may “get” the joke, but simply not find it funny.  Some of us may get the joke, AND find it funny.  We are all different, just as the rest of the human population is different.

People with Aspergers are literal, yes.  However that being literal trait can manifest in many different ways, and can be different for each individual.  Also, Autism is a development “delay”, not a developmental “halt”.  So while some things may be life-long, others may not.

Note – Sometimes Aspies may not mind you saying these things.  After all – we are all different *grin*.  This is just a guide and something to think about.


Disability consumer and activist since 2010. Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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Posted in Autism, Disability
35 comments on “5 Things not to say to an Aspie
  1. OMG love this post!! Everything you wrote is the kind of things that annoy me too! The common one “there is aspie in everyone” GRR I find it offensive too & I know they are trying to make us feel like we’re OK, but I feel OK anyway?
    I can’t stand the passive talk. Makes me irritable so fake!
    The thing is with female’s that have Aspergers a lot of us cope better than men. A lot of females I’ve spoken to say the same thing that the reaction they got when they told people was always a complete shock or the same common phrase “Ohh I wouldn’t of thought you had that” Ok so what are we supposed to look like? Or act like? A lot of us can pretend to fit in etc. I done it all my life being brought up in main stream education but it got to a point I broke down & couldn’t cope anymore.

    Thank you for posting this I absolutely love it 🙂 I have a sense of humor also. Ok I don’t get sarcasm in the slightest & don’t find typical jokes funny but I do find random things funny etc lol..Anyway thanks again & take care 🙂


  2. djpixc says:

    really good post, some good points in there 🙂

  3. Ann Kilter says:

    How do you react when people commit these mistakes?

    • Normally, I find these types of comments online, so I let it go (unless it is part of a discussion where stating my feelings on the subject is appropriate and can be done in a non-confrontational manner). I am a big believer in hitting the “back” button on a browser when required :). That said however, I have not always held back and on a couple of occasions when the person is just being cruel to be an arse, I may have been a little “Fuck you” about it. That is rare though, and usually only to stick up for someone else – I HATE confrontation!!!

      In real life, it has usually been from either someone at my kids school, or a support worker… How I react depends on the situation. Quite often, the person isn’t letting anyone else get a word in edgeways, or is talking about someone they know, in which case I leave it. Again, if I can speak up in a way that is polite and non-confrontational, I will explain how I feel about the particular subject. I always try to let people know how I feel about these things, as usually they are mistaken by chance, and not cruelty, and giving them another point of view allows them to think about it and possibly reconsider their position. If it is a difference of opinion (as in, they know my arguments and just don’t agree), then I definitely leave it alone – we are all allowed our own opinion!

      I have actually lost a couple of friends because I just can’t stand the way they talk about Autism – I can’t bear to be around the negativity and/or assumptions any more. In these cases, it is also their children, and their life, so I have just quietly slipped away.

      That is how I react on the outside. On the inside,… Inside it usually feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach (especially if it’s number three – that one HURTS like you wouldn’t believe!). Once at home and safe – If I am full of self-esteem, I will speak with my husband about it, possibly in a ranty and ravey manner lol. If I have low-self-esteem at that point, I will usually cry on his shoulder. He is my rock 🙂

      • Ann Kilter says:

        Could you forgive them?

        • Unless they are deliberately being an arsehole, there’s nothing to forgive… People don’t intuitively know this stuff – which is why people like me blog about it 😉

          (If you don’t mind me asking) Are you ok?

          • Ann Kilter says:

            I just wonder if we set traps for people when we decide in advance what people are allowed to say to us.

            • Anonymous Aspie says:

              Are you serious? If I decide in advance that I’m going to react badly if someone calls me a dribbling idiot, then I’m setting a trap for them? Metaphorically hiding behind a tree, gleefully rubbing my hands together, and thinking, “This’ll get the bastards”.

              In any event, this blog was obviously written after the comments had been made – many times. It’s a reaction to those comments, saying “Hey, this is not Ok with me.” There are no clever little word traps here, just a smack on the nose with a rolled up newspaper, and a stern “No!”.

              Is your nose hurting?

            • LOL… setting a trap would be deliberately getting someone to say something offensive, and then going mad at them for it.

              I am explaining that these things hurt when they are said. Agree with it for whatever personal situation you are in, or not (and I was quite clear at the end that some Aspies do not find these things offensive), but these are my feelings about things that have been said to (or about) me and/or my children. I am allowed to have thoughts and feelings on events that have happened in my own life.

  4. druidwinter says:

    Reblogged this on winterdominatrix and commented:
    So true!

  5. No. 4 I’ve been told that people have said that about me.

    So basically they just havn’t figured out how strange I am yet. lol.

  6. Candz says:

    I still think you are normal for me. But then again I hate labels and psychologists.
    *hug* sorry if I ever seem to trivialize your diagnosis. It is a cultural background ingrained suspicion thing. I don’t believe in labels because they are limiting, and being human is definitely complicated and multi-faceted. I think you know this better than anyone else. anyway, also wanted to send some love because I am quiet at the moment. and I love you. and I think you are awesome.

    • Candz says:

      And this comment was meant to be a reply to P.Amazing. *sigh* my humblest apologies. As you have figured I am one of those ‘label’ people (5 I guess), but mainly because of my serious mistrust on Psychologist and Psychiatrist parts. It is unfortunately easy to misdiagnose something, especially if you are looking for it in the first place. This is bad for both people with the condition (as you said it becomes ‘trendy’ and negative) as well as people who do not have the condition who now come to think of themselves in the limit of the label.
      This is from a cultural perspective though, and I am not on a war path to discredit any one or belittle an actual condition.

      • I welcome any comments here 🙂

        I get your point, and feel much the same way when it comes to mental illness labels (having been labelled myself many times in different fashions over the years). I see Autism as a neurological disorder though (which it technically is – still unsure as to why it is in the DSM other than for differential purposes) – so (for me) the same theory doesn’t apply… There is a lot more to ASD than what is in our brains (the social aspects, and the literal thinking etc) – it also affects our physical body too (esp senses and intestinal systems, and also muscle tone in a lot of people).

        I like that you don’t judge 🙂 You are welcome here any time 🙂

  7. […] 5 Things not to say to an Aspie. […]

  8. Aspie Story says:

    Very recognizable. Thank you for posting this.

  9. dcardiff says:

    My wife and I have just been told that our forty-two year old son may suffer from Asbergers. We were advised this by a psychologist and a family physician. We were told not to inform him of this because it would set off depression; something he is already being treated for. He doesn’t like to go to doctors, to be photographed, to be hugged, to show affection or clink glasses. On the other hand, he is very intelligent and has a full time job as a computer assembler.

    Reading your post has given me a clearer understanding. Do you have any other recommendations.


    • In the interest of “cultural differences” and not judging and whatnot, I am just going to say this – I don’t know of any recommendations in the form of other websites or blogs, as I have never encountered the situation before where a grown man has his parents talk with his psychologist and family physician as though he were under-age.

      There is a lot of literature regarding telling children – some people do not like to for fear of “the label” however there seems to be a growing consensus that kids know that they are different and having a name for that difference can mean that they can accept it, make adjustments as necessary and move on with living their life. Personally, I was depressed because I DIDN’T know what was going on! I knew there was something “different” about me, but I had no idea what and we tend to think the worst in such situations. Having a diagnosis meant that I was just “different”, not “bad”. It was awesome! And my depression lifted overnight!!!

      I would suggest that you consider the possibility that your son may be depressed because he feels different but doesn’t understand why… He’s a grown man and you specified that he was intelligent – this is HIS life – even if he takes it badly (bearing in mind there are good and bad ways of breaking the news) – don’t you think he has a right to know?

      Whichever way you decide to go – I wish your family all the best!

  10. Wonderful post! I totally agree with all of your points! Another thing that I struggle with is when people tell me that I simply have poor social skills because I don’t try. Worse yet is when these same people turn around and say I am “too normal” to have aspergers. Hopefully people will continue to be educated on aspergers so that they will be more understanding of it.

  11. Love this post! I hate when people say this to me as well 🙂

  12. snababo says:

    That’s a pretty good list, actually it’s pretty damn awesome. I would add one thing to the list which I tend to find annoying.

    “This other person I know has Asperger’s Syndrome, so I know how to act around people with it”

    ….. *facepalm*. Sure I know lots of people without Asperger’s Syndrome and I know how to interact with all of…. no I can’t say it, people are stupidly unique even if they have some ways of categorizing some of them.

    • LOL… a quote from the second part to this (which I haven’t decided to publish yet) – your reply reminds me of this 🙂

      “””7 – “My child/spouse/dog has Aspergers therefore I know what it’s like to have Aspergers.”

      I have been surrounded by Neurotypical people all my life yet I do not know what it is like to be Neurotypical.

      Get my point?”””

  13. A while back, I replied to comments here, but they seem to have disappeared. If this is just a glitch for me somehow, and I have now commented twice, I apologise. I also apologise for the lateness of some replies – I haven’t been doing too well lately.

  14. I actually found this post because of speaking to someone today. They’re also an aspie, and so am I. But they somehow tonight managed to make me doubt everything about my diagnoses and make me feel like total crap and have a teary panic attack because I don’t fit their cookie cutter for Aspergers.

    They’ve decided in about 6 very short conversations that I’m actually very normal, and an extrovert (I’m REALLY, REALLY an introvert) and that if I try to use my (non existent for them) Aspergers as a reason for being as I am doesn’t work for them… all the while telling that because they’re an aspie they’re a certain way.

    Reading your post actually helped me realise that I shouldn’t be doubting myself in that respect because actually how I am still fits with being an Aspie, yes I can get loud and hyperactive when around people I’m comfortable, and every time they’ve met me, bar one time, I’ve been with someone that makes me feel safe, so I was a bit more open with my interactions in general.

    I know that was kind of a babble, but thank you for the post. It helped me.

    • Hi Ro 🙂

      I’m sorry that someone left you feeling that way. Unfortunately some people are arseholes whether they are on the spectrum or not.

      Feel free to babble away 🙂 I’m a babble princess lmao.

      (((Aspie hugs)))


  15. ouremuk66 says:

    Non 3, omg! The number of times I’ve wanted to punch someone in the face over this. Yes, I am very lucky that I have articulate intelligent children, but if anyone ever dares tell me their problems (especially the sensory ones) aren’t severe I might totally lose my sh*t.

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Pissed off since 1995. Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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