Here is the full transcript of Clarice Wang’s TEDx Talk: Don’t Cure – Subdue: Experiences with Asberger’s at TEDxYouth@AnnArbor conference.
Would you call me normal? Do I look even remotely normal? I’m not and never have been. I’m on the autism spectrum, as someone with Asperger’s, which has both been positive and negative for me.
The story started in middle school where it was torturous. The students were nice enough, but there were still demons from a hellish plane with no fire. For some reason, they wanted me around – even after I shot down their terrible ideas. I honestly tried to stay away. The teachers were kind enough, but then a thing, an event happened, and I stopped trusting them.
Trusting authority had become hard for me. That was my lowest point in my life. I tried to blend in but constantly failed with little quirks here and there. The divergent point was probably coming to Community High School. At Community, it was a breath of fresh air for me.
I didn’t really communicate until my second year there. Around the same time, I began exploring blogs, Twitter, and the Internet in general. I came across people who wrote about curing people like me and also disability rights activists who I had some chats with online. It was kind of like a ray of sunshine because these people were relatable unlike the way media usually portrays them as savants. These people were closer to how I was, closer to human.
That began to change me to who I am now. This was a path that I knew I could be something. I wanted to help. I wanted know that when I die, I was someone who actually did something; not worthless, useless. I bring this up because I’m not cured; but the effects have faded to a lesser degree.
Subdued, if anything I say subdued because it’s not truly gone, but the effects are still there. But the effects have stopped for a while. True it means, they will likely come up again. But this is my brain.
If you change even a little bit – I feel like it’ll change also the person. I melded many ideas from what I learned. And so I thought, isn’t the brain the person? It carries your thoughts. It carries your traits. It carries who you are on its metaphorical non-existent shoulders.
Then comes the part of controlling it. Except, you can’t. Because it controls you. Often, there is a logical mindset which makes empathy somewhat hard to do. Autistics have empathy, but logic tends to take control first.
So sometimes, I have to take a buffer moment to comprehend emotions. And I have sensory problems which is why I don’t like going to loud parties. That’s just one example, but you get the idea. But I feel like Asperger’s also gives me an advantage. If I actually focus on an idea, then I’ll get a lot done.
And I have a better memory than others. Recently, a classmate was trying to remember what harmful chemical was in hair dyes, and they just remembered that it started with an “A”; and I thought “ammonia” because I remembered the substance in chemistry class. It just makes no sense that people are trying to cure something that will have some kind of effect later. It just makes no sense to cure something that you can’t completely cure. And it makes no sense to cure attributes and quirks that can help me.
So I come back to the word “subdue”. If Asperger’s were a monster, tame it; please don’t kill it. If you need counseling, you probably should use your IEP if you have one to get speech therapy, help transition through school, and that will help with college. Use logic to be neutral and help those who have problems that they can’t really go through with emotions. And figure out what their problem is.
With Asperger’s, it feels like there is a positive half and a negative half. Treasure the positive and learn to control the negative. With half you can make life better than it originally was. Thank you.