I would like to ask us, we, the Internet population of peers with an overlap of common interests, generally known as "Pee Dee dot com", come together to rethink our usage of the term "aspie" to describe every amusingly incorrect pedant who is too hung up on their own ego to admit when they make a mistake.
I freely admit that until about two weeks ago I used, and would have defended the use of the term, and the use of the term assburger (which I still might use and/or find defensible, I haven't decided yet). I would have defended it thusly: that it is not actually making fun of people with mild autism, but making fun of people who display stereotypical characteristics often ascribed to mild autism, AKA Asperger's syndrome, such as lack of empathy, pedantry, and displaying a poor understanding of normal social interactions. There is, however, one thing all these people share which is not at all typical of autism, which is having an ego so fragile they cannot admit error. In my experience, autistic people may make social blunders, but they care more about being correct than being "right", and will readily admit factual errors. If they make them, which is not terribly common because they like to confirm facts before they insist on them.
Let me explain what changed my mind. About two weeks ago, Telarus, our fellow PD spag and also a local PDX spag, commented that one of our other local fellows, a spag called Kassianne, finds our use of the term "aspie" to describe egobound assholes with shitty social skills insulting and degrading. Kassianne is autistic. She is also lovely and fun and insightful. At one point in time, I would probably have responded with the sentiment that she needs to grow a sense of humor or somesuch shite, but in reflection on a lot of the conversations we've had here over the past year or so, intelligent and insightful and screeching and abrasive conversations in which I felt like all of us confronted some of our ugly habits and assumptions and got a little more bipedal, I concluded that Kassianne is right. It is insulting and degrading. I thought about all the autistic people in my life, including my ex-husband, my daughter, my brother, my good friend's son, and Kassianne, and I have decided that I am not comfortable using that term anymore.
Quoting the OP because I want to say:
Thank you for this, Nigel. The fact that "aspie" has been attached to some of the most egregiously frustrating and intolerable personalities ever to post on this forum is something that I've been uncomfortable with for quite a while. It's not something I brought up often (if ever) because it simply didn't seem to be worth the fight over which words we should or shouldn't use. Maybe I should have had the balls to say so, I dunno.
I have a younger brother who suffers from pretty classic Asperger's Syndrome. In his areas of interest, he's probably one of the most knowledgeable and focused people you'll ever meet. However, it is abundantly clear to anyone holding a conversation with him that he's not quite "normal." It is one of the saddest things I've seen, to see him realize too late that he's offended or hurt someone because he doesn't naturally pick up on the social cues and subtexts that most of us rely on to communicate. Only in the last few years, as he enters late adolescence and gains the resulting increase in cognitive ability, has he been able to supplement his shortcomings through conscious effort.
Even if they are terrible at showing it or recognizing it, people with Asperger's Syndrome DO feel empathy. They DO want to be liked and accepted by the people around them, and are in the unique position where "just be yourself!" is actually probably the worst advice to help them accomplish that.