020716 copyP smallThree Neurotypicals and an Aspie

Asperger’s Syndrome, frequently referred to as high functioning autism, is a life-long disability. It’s estimated that 1 in 500 people have Asperger’s Syndrome and 1 in 100 people are on the autistic spectrum. People with this condition have difficulty making friends, experience extreme isolation, and as a result being misunderstood and rejected have very low self-esteem. They are often honest, reliable, dedicated, and intensely absorbed in a special interest. Great advances in science and art have been attributable to people with Asperger’s Syndrome. Ludwig van Beethoven, Albert Einstein, Thomas Jefferson, and Vincent van Gogh are thought to have Asperger’s Syndrome. People with Asperger’s sometimes refer to themselves as ‘Aspies’

Neurotypical (NTs) is a term used in the autism community to refer to people who are not on the autism spectrum.  A typical Aspie comment on NTs is: They make up about 99% of the population, so they’re everywhere. It’s very likely that you know neurotypicals and you probably have at least one NT in your family. While there is no widely accepted diagnostic test, NTs are fairly easy to spot once you know what to look for. Jon Prosser is a neurotypical. Try not to hold this against him – he’s just wired differently.

There is a saying ‘If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism’. This image is a portrait of one person with Asperger’s Syndrome. I was on my way back from a National Autistic Society conference on a 63 bus in London, aware that the woman sitting nearby was an Aspie although I didn’t know her well. By chance key elements of this person’s life came together in the moment I took the photograph.

People on the autistic spectrum have sensory integration difficulties. The slight flickering and the intensity of the fluorescent lighting can by very distressing and, to some, painful.

They are often loners, preferring to be on the outside looking in, unnoticed by neurotypicals. Aspies are major contributors to the arts and sciences and play a key but silent role in maintaining the fabric of society. They are the silent unheralded but critical bricks and mortar that hold society together.

On seeing the image depicting her within the wall unseen by ‘normal’ people and under the flickering fluorescent lights she said “Yes that’s me . . . that’s what it’s like . . . that’s my life.”

The image is a visual representation of her everyday experience.