The middle ages are often condemned as a time when people rushed to judgment, rather than having compasssion and understanding, for people suffering with various mental illnesses and disorders. I would say, unfortunately, that despite our knowledge and awareness campaigns, that even in our modern world, too many people still jump to conclusions and judgments about those who seem a little different.
Bullies abound in today's world, and the sad fact is, I have known people who would never, ever regard themselves as bullies, yet label, judge and criticize others who, in fact, are not displaying the character flaws of which they are accused, but are struggling with disorders beyond their control. It's like criticizing someone for coming in last in a race, and failing to realize they were running with a ten pound weight on each leg.
Asperger's is a prime example. Although it has no doubt afflicted people throughout history, the understanding of it is relatively new. It is high-functioning autism, and after knowing several people with it, I believe the particular cruelty of it is that the person with Asperger's appears 'normal' enough that they get no leeway, no compassion, such as anyone with a recognized disability would get; yet they appear just 'off' enough that they are often judged, condemned, or ridiculed.
Typical of Asperger's is difficulty in social interactions and restricted and repetitive interests and behaviors. These may show up as difficulty developing empathy and making friends, and impaired nonverbal behaviors in the way of eye contact, facial expressions, gestures, and posture. A child with Asperger's will not have serious language delays, but is prone to taking things literally, talking a great deal, and having limited intonation and inflection of speech. They may miss social cues, and do things outside standard social etiquette, unaware they are breaching unspoken rules of society.
Like earlier periods, there is often a great deal of judgment, both on children with Asperberger's, and on their parents. We have made such strides in learning about so many other conditions and disorders, and developing compassion as a society. It is my hope Asperger's will soon join the growing list of issues understood and treated with a little more kindness and understanding.
Please jump to these other blogs, which are all part of the Autism Awareness Giveaway Bloghop.