I feel embarrassed asking this but since you mentioned your husband is PhD, and since he is a psychology major, I’m positive that he is familiar with Aspergers, otherwise known as high functioning autism. In May a psychologist diagnosed me with Aspergers, and around the same time I did some research and found out that Aspergers is genetic, which means if I have a child then there is a high chance of them having Aspergers. Also, ironically, I’m in kind of a long distance relationship with a Chinese guy. (I haven’t told him.) If he and I should ever get together and if he proposes to me, I feel that I must tell him about it because I know that there’s a possibility it will bite me back in the future and will create resentment. The thing is I don’t know how to go about it. I doubt that he has heard of it or is familiar with it. How can I make it seem normal or casual without making me seem like a freak or whatnot?
Asperger’s as normal or casual? Not in China — as this story suggests:
In China, there is no tolerance for anything “abnormal”….
Which is why children with autism are not accepted into kindergartens or schools. If they can’t work in the classroom like the other students, they must not be in the classroom. If they stand out in any way, either by their appearance (students in China follow strict rules for uniforms, shoe color, even hairstyles) or their behavior, they are seen as a distraction to the other students and hinder their learning. Even the few special education schools that do exist in China cater to the hearing- and visually-impaired and those with intellectual disabilities; they lack the knowledge and skills to educate children with autism. Autism (孤独症, literally “the loneliness disease”) is still a new term in China, and there is very little awareness of the condition. Children with autism are therefore rejected from both the mainstream and special education system.
Let’s just say that your news could turn into a serious “information firecracker” for your relationship.
But here’s something you probably never considered — do you even need to tell him? From my Chinese husband’s perspective, no. Why? Because, as he said, “many Chinese behave as if they have Asperger’s.”
What he means is, more Chinese than you might think struggle with social interactions, act clumsy, and even have trouble empathizing with others — doesn’t this sound familiar? The difference is, the Chinese consider this sort of thing normal. When John did a literature review last summer on the socialization of Chinese children, he discovered most Chinese parents don’t value social skills as much as their child’s achievement — which is like saying they would kill to have one of these Aspie science whizzes in their family. As he told me, “as long as her IQ is normal, she doesn’t need to say she has Asperger’s.”
But, you say, I should tell him the truth. Here’s the thing, though: you’re thinking about this from the perspective of a society that pays far more attention to social skills deficits. That’s not China. You don’t need to pull a “Scarlet Letter” here and reveal the great big A on your chest, risking your entire relationship with this guy — because there’s nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. For many average Chinese, your syndrome really isn’t a syndrome at all. (Which reminds me of something I once read — some people even think Asperger’s isn’t really a syndrome, just a different “cognitive style.”)
So go forth, enjoy your relationship, and leave the “Asperger’s Syndrome” labels to your psychologist.
What do you think? What advice do you have for Alhana?
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