Before I get properly started, I’d better explain the words and terms I’m using:
AS = Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that is sometimes defined as a form of autism and sometimes as a separate condition very closely related to autism. The ‘classic’ form of autism is known as Kanner’s Autism. I consider Asperger’s a form of autism, so I use the word ‘autism’ as an umbrella term for both.
Aspie = Slang for ‘person with Asperger’s Syndrome’. Some people instead use the word ‘Asperger’ (pronounce it out loud and you’ll see why I don’t) or ‘AS’ (normally this is used as an adjective, as in “I do this because I’m AS”).
AC = Autistic Cousin, a term used about those who wouldn’t qualify for an AS diagnosis, but who are very similar to aspies. ACs are sometimes also referred to as ‘geeks’.
NT = neurotypical, i.e. ‘person with a normal brain’. Of course it can be argued that normalcy is a very fabricated term/concept, but in this context, ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ simply means ‘does not qualify for any kind of permanent diagnosis’.
Basically, if you put the human race on a spectrum, you can say that it would go like this:
NT — geek/nerd (still falls under NT) — AS — Kanner’s Autism
(There’s another end of the spectrum to the left, but I don’t know what’s over there, because I specialize in the geeky end. :P)
Asperger’s is sometimes called a mild form of autism. This makes sense if you see autism as a kind of disease or disorder that doesn’t hit aspies as hard as it hits ‘properly’ autistic people. If you, like me, consider the condition simply a different kind of wiring in the brain, the word ‘mild’ seems a bit strange to use. But it’s good for understanding the difference between Kanner’s and Asperger’s autism, I guess. I’ll try to define AS and autism in more detail in my next post.