On World Asperger’s Day, February 18, Daniel Johnson said that there’s a simple thing people can do to make his life easier: ask questions.
Daniel, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, said he can exhibit certain behaviours - like flapping his hands around, rocking back and forth, or reacting to lights and noises - that help distract him when he is feeling stressed.
People “tend to think they’re being rude” if they bring them up – but actually, that’s the best way to form a meaningful connection.
“If they witness something that I’m doing that seems a bit odd, or if they see that I’m struggling with something and they don’t understand why – they can ask, ‘why are you doing this?’,” he said.
“If they don’t ask questions, the ignorance only spreads, but if they do, I can explain what’s going on.”
Daniel uses a Lego analogy to describe what it’s like to have Asperger’s. Think of a neurotypical brain as being a standard Lego set. The brain of somebody with Asperger’s has Lego pieces added – giving them heightened senses, higher intelligence in many cases, and the advantages that come form being able to see patterns that other people can’t. But for those extra pieces to be added in one area, they have to be taken away from somewhere else – like the ability to read social cues and body language.
“It comes with a lot of struggles, but I find I can be quite intelligent and insightful,” he said.