Autism is not a new phenomenon. It was first described by scientist Leo Kanner in 1943, but the earliest description of a child now known to have had Autism was written in 1799.
In 1944 an Austrian psychiatrist and pediatrician, Hans Asperger, published a definition of autistic psychopathy (an unfortunate choice of words in today’s world). He identified a pattern of behavior and abilities that included “a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversations, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements”. (Tony Atwood) Asperger called children with this type of Autism “little professors” because of their ability to talk about their favorite subjects in great detail. He noticed that many of the children he identified used their special talents in adulthood and did have successful careers. But the sad truth is that the future for many Autistics, especially those of us with Asperger’s Syndrome (named after the man who first described it) is stark indeed.
Most of us are not Einsteins or any number of famous people who have been lately identified with Asperger’s. Nor are we violent sociopaths, as some tried to label us after the tragedy of Sandy Hook. Although we are all quite intelligent, we are not savants. Some of us excel in our chosen fields; others of us struggle to find any kind of decent employment.
It is for the latter reason that we decided to form Watercooler Live! (aka Merrimack Valley Aspies), a support group for and by Aspies. We believe that by discussing our problems in a safe, non-judgmental environment, we can find a way to help one-another and forward the mission of our parent organization, Asperger Works.
We hope that you will join us in our quest to learn from and help one-another.