The first time I became aware of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, I developed a deep respect for this man that had been diagnosed with Asperger’s.
Do not misconstrue this respect with pity; if there is a derivative let us label it as empathy.
The film I was watching at the time showcased a young male who was exceptionally talented at what he did. The man’s name is Clay Marzo and is seen in pinup posters across the world. He has been featured in many magazines, advertising campaigns and documentaries.
He is a professional sportsman, and this documentary (Just Add Water) was designed to reveal more about this young man and raise awareness for autism and Asperger’s. The young man exhibited signs of social dysfunction, yet he was content with this. His corporate sponsors had insisted on conducting an interview with him while he wore their designer pink colored board shorts and asked him frivolous questions. The setting was, by average standards, perfect. The questions were, by average standards, fairly general and non-invasive. And by average I mean ‘generally accepted.’
Clay Marzo, however, was not your average interviewee and showed his uneasiness in this situation with a natural disdain. I noticed how clear-cut it was for Clay to speak his truth, not blinking an eye as he promptly told the media representatives what he thought of them, the interview and the ridiculously bright pink shorts.
Forgetting about what his clinical diagnoses was, what was seen was a young man completely steam rolling his interviewers, and not out of spite either. He spoke freely and with conviction.
It has been said that some diagnosed with a social disorder, such as Asperger’s syndrome or autism, have some area that they are able to excel in or something they master exceptionally well. In Clay Marzo’s case, it was surfing. He is and has been since a young boy, a professional surfer, and is able to enjoy life in a way that he chooses. His family allowed him to fully express who and what he is, and exuded an understanding that far surpasses any clinical rendition of the syndrome. At the time, Clay had a girlfriend plus enjoyed the company of his many friends.
The difference noticed in this case is that the focal point was not on any fact that Clay had a disease, only that the way in which he expressed himself was different. Could we perhaps say that it is superior? Perhaps not, however it is noted that the truthfulness of someone with Asperger’s syndrome is refreshing, and I will push the boundaries here and say that it is not in fact a problem. How you would or you do deal with it is the more apt location for the problems that arise.
Having worked with many young children myself, I have grown to see that children (and adults) with these types of ‘social disorders’ are extremely sensitive. Sensitive in the sense that the environment for social exploration needs to feel completely safe, and I am of the opinion that as one learns to relate to someone with such a diagnoses, the communication and relation barriers can be rendered null and void.
It is recognized that an autistic human being has certain psychological and neurological constitutions and viewpoints that differ dramatically from the average Joe. This I am not disputing. However it has also been admitted that scientists and doctors currently know the bare minimum about Autism. With this in mind, we realize how many variables there still are within this spectrum.
It is worthwhile for one to see a broader perspective, and perhaps we can then acknowledge the gifts and teachings about ourselves that those diagnosed with autism and other seemingly social disorders could possibly show us.
Please note that the author, Jessica Rosslee, is not an official scientist or doctor and is only sharing information deemed valuable and stimulating.
Written By Jessica Rosslee