I feel like I am more on Benji's side with this, though I don't know if I think the line is quite as defined as Benji is saying it is, simply because there is no absolute concrete way of diagnosing ASDs at this point, and even when (if) there is one there is going to be a question of where that line is drawn, because as Sophist said, everyone does have Asperger's traits to some degree or another, and I feel like it may be hard to define exactly where Asperger's ends and NT begins, and even then the line drawn may be somewhat arbitrary and open to interpretation from person to person. I think maybe what is most useful is for people to be defined by what works for them, as in the example of the gay-straight continuum. Certainly many people who consider themselves straight, for example, may have at some time or another been attracted to a member of the same sex. Some might consider that to be bisexual, but if the instances are so few or that they are attracted to members of the same sex but have no real desire to be in a relationship with them, they can probably effectively consider themselves "straight" if that is what works for them. I guess this would be similar to the definition of level of impairment, frequency of traits, and amount of traits in the autism vs. NT argument. I feel like the degree to which the traits affect a person (and the degree to which the traits are exclusively "autistic" and not attributed to some other disorder) can define for each individual whether they are truly on the autistic spectrum or just have a lot of autistic traits but don't quite meet the criteria to actually be considered as such. I'm not saying self-diagnosis is key, here, as there do seem to be a lot of people not thoroughly researching the disorder or just kind of claiming they have AS because it's supposedly "cool," but in the diagnostic process I feel like whether the label really means something and "makes sense" for a person is something that should be considered, particularly in cases where they may appear to be borderline AS/NT.
That having been said, I do think saying "everyone is a little bit Asperger's" doesn't really make sense. I can see saying "everyone has some Asperger's traits," however. I guess it's like saying "everyone's a little bit introverted." It's just not true. But what would be true is that everyone has some moments that they want to be alone, or that they need quiet. That doesn't make them introverts, however, it just means that they have traits of or occasionally experience traits of introversion, which I'd guess is likely true of just about anyone.
Benji wrote:Already people often have it in their heads that if you have Asperger's things come easily to you, and I think it can potentially worsen this misunderstanding of the condition when people who have no knowledge of it throw about silly comments. On the other hand, of course, sometimes silly comments have no overall affect on things. Just depends on when and how it's used I guess.
I find that particularly strange as having AS by definition means being impaired and thus things *won't* come easily. These people are probably thinking of savant-like abilities and things like that that are so popularized by the media.
Silly comments sometimes don't do harm but other times I think they can be harmful, because enough silly misinformed comments changes public opinion and public view. A friend on LJ was actually just writing about this issue and saying how it worried her because it made her feel like if people did not take autism or Asperger's seriously then people who really needed support and benefits (as she does) could be at risk of losing them. On a more individual level it also can cause people to make assumptions about what one can and can't do, which can lead to misunderstandings, fights, and stress on both sides.