Hi. My name is David, and I’m an Aspie.
That is to say, I’m someone who is afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological condition first diagnosed by the man it is named for in the 1940s, but not fully accepted as a condition until several decades later. As Wikipedia puts it, it involves the appearance of problems with social interaction and non-verbal communication, “along with restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests.”
It’s that last part that is the most important. These restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests imprison most Aspies permanently in their minds. We can sometimes think of nothing else. In some cases, if these behaviors are seen as “disruptive”, or these interests dismissed as esoterica, we become social outcasts.
The media generally supports this latter portrait, as does the psychological establishment, who merely sees the Syndrome as a sub-category of Autism. So, other than perhaps their immediate social relations, Aspies don’t get a lot of love from the wider world.
American television animation, however, is different. It’s always been about people who don’t fit the establishment’s notion of “belonging”. People who think in AC terms when the rest of their world is DC is like catnip to them.
Take, for example, this one girl I know from that world.
Candace Flynn. A red-haired, black-eyed, long-necked beauty. Possesses astonishing amounts of physical strength, agility, athleticism, intelligence, cunning, guile and courage. Has a heart as big as all outdoors, and a personality even bigger than that. And a voice that conveys accurately all her moods, from honey sweetness to sandpaper toughness. Has a largely stable family, a very tolerant best friend, and is in love with a guy as handsome as she is beautiful, and who, best of all, loves her back unconditionally.
She should be happy. But she’s not.
Because she’s an Aspie.
The producers aren’t crass enough to come out and say it. But the signs are there.
The unnatural interests. In continually trying to “bust” her brothers when they get up to mischief she doesn’t like, and with keeping the aforementioned boyfriend at her side forever.
The repetitive behaviours. Screaming, crying, panicking, talking loudly, and kvetching. And above all, after having the wind taken out of her sails on a daily basis, getting back on the horse that threw her and trying again.
And yet, she is also:
Loyal to her friends and family when they’re in trouble.
Able to create detailed plans for potential and actual problems and desired events, sometimes years in advance of their happening.
And able to transform from a confident young lady to a nervous wreck- and back- in seconds.
Which are characteristics of all Aspies, to varying degrees.
Aspies don’t have too many role models. But Candace would fit that bill, if anyone does.
She needs love, all the time. And isn’t afraid to ask for it- and get it- in so many ways.
Not all of us Aspies are brave as Candace is. But we need love, too.
David Perlmutter is a freelance writer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The holder of an MA degree from the Universities of Manitoba and Winnipeg, and a lifelong animation fan, he has published short fiction in a variety of genres for various magazines and anthologies, as well as essays on his favorite topics for similar publishers. He is the author of America Toons In: A History of Television Animation (McFarland and Co.), The Singular Adventures Of Jefferson Ball (Chupa Cabra House), The Pups (Booklocker.com), Certain Private Conversations and Other Stories (Aurora Publishing), Orthicon; or, the History of a Bad Idea (Linkville Press, forthcoming) and Nothing About Us Without Us: The Adventures of the Cartoon Republican Army (Dreaming Big Productions, forthcoming.)