February 20, 2010

"Who do you think made the first stone spear? That wasn't the yakkity yaks sitting around the campfire."

"It was some Aspberger sitting in the back of a cave figuring out how to chip rocks into spearheads. Without some autistic traits you wouldn't even have a recording device to record this conversation on."

Said Temple Grandin to the Wall Street Journal, which is, presumably, responsible for misspelling Asperger.

I mean, really, Aspberger? What is it? Cleopatra's last meal?


Ah! I am distracted by a worm! We all have our mental quirks and orientations, and the point is: The world benefits from the diversity of human minds. I'm inclined to tap out endless assorted bloggings to the web, and Temple Grandin's precursor chips away at stone and invents the spear.

Grandin opposes the "handicapped mentality" some people take toward kids with Aspergers:
"When I see these kids with 150 IQ and their parents want to put them on Social Security [disability], it drives me nuts." These kids "will come up to the book table and start talking about 'my Aspergers.' Why don't you talk about becoming a chemist, or a computer programmer, or a botanist?"

She continues: "It's important to get these autistic kids out and exposed to stuff. You've got to fill up the database." Silicon Valley and the tech companies are like "heaven on earth for the geeks and the nerds. And I want to see more and more of these smart kids going into the tech industry and inventing things—that's what makes America great."

Ms. Grandin lives in a simple apartment in Fort Collins, Colo., and has used the profits from her books to put students through school. "Four PhDs I've already done, I'm working on my fifth right now. I have graduate students at Colorado State—some of them I let in the back door, like me: older, nontraditional students. And I've gotten them good jobs."

"You know what working at the slaughterhouses does to you? It makes you look at your own mortality."

"When I was younger I was looking for this magic meaning of life. It's very simple now," she says. Making the lives of others better, doing "something of lasting value, that's the meaning of life, it's that simple."
So Aspergers is not just an aptitude for designing technical things. It also opened a different path into morality.

99 comments:

XWL said...

I suspect the Silicon Valley autism cluster mentioned in this BBC article from a few years back might be linked to lots of folks with Aspergers meeting and mating in one place (as the linked article suggests).

I also think we've become to quick to 'syndromize' all behaviors that deviate from the norm. A certain attention to detail, even at times, obsessively so, overcomes everyone from time to time, it just manifests itself in different ways.

I certainly see more of the rock chipper in myself than the yakkity yakker.

XWL said...

And now I want to go back and redo the last post to correct the incorrect usage of 'to' in place of 'too' before 'syndromize' . . .

(hmmm, wanting to correct the mistake might mean I might be somewhere on the spectrum, but making the mistake in the first place would suggest not)

Xmas said...

I've had a discussion with my Aspy girlfriend as to how to define it. What we've come up with is that Asperger people find certain things comfortable and anything that isn't comfortable to be unbearably uncomfortable. Emphasis on the unbearably.

And I do mean anything, sensory inputs, foods, colors, clothing, emotions, social situations, sounds, ways of sitting, etc. Aspergers sufferers also have a slight tendency to experience synesthesia, too.

So, to jump on your last point, Asperger's definitely leads to completely different ways of looking at things. Certain thoughts would make you uncomfortable, so you have to think around them.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I don't see how a preference for relating to computers, data sets, and animals over people improves one's morality, but I'm willing to entertain the notion that this "different path" Ann talks about isn't a completely bad thing. Certainly the way Grandin made use of her path may have led to ethical improvements. But so did the reactions of those of us who saw Food, Inc., a movie that doesn't require the viewer to have autism in order to draw some basic lessons in the nature of ethics from it.

And I presume autism wasn't required to write and produce the film, either.

knox said...

wanting to correct the mistake might mean I might be somewhere on the spectrum

LOL. I'd say if you went around correcting others' grammar, that'd be more of a sign.

knox said...

Ritmo! It's not a contest!

Big Mike said...

Asperger's syndrome is not a disability. It merely means that one has trouble putting oneself in other people's shoes, and viewing things from other people's perspective. The ability of individuals with Asperger's syndrome to read body language is impaired, and they tend to be socially inept.

(It has not escaped my notice that this perhaps sounds like a few of the regular commentators on this blog.)

But that's nothing that can't be learned, provided one understands what the problem is and is willing to study the human beings around you the way psych students in college study lab rats. High school is Hell, but by college an Asperger's person should be able to get by and even thrive.

One can have Asperger's and still be a champion athlete. One can have Asperger's and still learn to work well in teams, though an Asperger's person will always do better in situations that focus on individual performance. One can still woo and win a beautiful woman. We do have (oops!) brains that are better-wired for mathematics and the hard sciences, and we tend to be well above the norm as problem-solvers. Because we have had to study human beings more thoroughly than regular people, Asperger's people can do quite well as a trial lawyer or actor (not that there's that much difference one from the other).

But high school is really Hell.

Ironclad said...

I listened to a program on NPR one time about autism and how Temple Grandin was one of the few people to be able to communicate clearly what it was like to be autistic. The whole idea of sensory overload and the inability to selectively filter what happens around you from your consciousness. The main thing I remember was her belief that animals are similar - they live in the moment with no sensory filter. She has done much to work with animals to at least help reduce stress in the slaughterhouses by reengineering the paths the animals move through before they are killed.

Her point is well taken, some people with autism (Asperger's type) can function at levels of concentration and focus that would burn out most other "normal" individuals. Of course, they lose the other "unfocusing" parts that make us normal, so it is a Devil's bargain.

I guess what it says is that we need all kinds to push progress forward. No arguing with that.

John said...

Read the history of some of the greatest scientists. The greatest of them all Newton was deeply strange. So was Turing and Paul Durac. A lot of those guys would probably diagnosed with God knows what disabilities now. It takes an abnormal mind with abnormal abilities to focus and concentrait to to work at that level. And as they say "God only deals out so many cards". If you are abnormally good in one area, that usually comes at a price in other areas such as social abilities.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Knox: Regarding contests, I'm not saying this supposed "different path" of the autist is inferior, or even unnecessary. But I am saying that the empathy and people skills of the non-autist, at least in a society of non-autist, is necessary. It doesn't mean that the whole society need consist of non-autists; just enough of them to make the society viable.

I'm not sure what Big Mike is trying to say regarding what hasn't escaped his notice. Certainly Dust Bunny Queen has been open about her issues, and it seems that he is doing the same here. But social skills don't obviate a penchant for contentiousness, or even bombast. I thought that's part of what Althouse loves about Rush Limbaugh, in fact. The fact is that in a society of individuals where emotion, for whatever reason, has not been rendered obsolete, neither will empathy and the ability to put oneself in another's shoes. As such, passionate appeals will make a difference. They don't need to obviate reason.

And politics matters. I'm not sure if high-functioning autists believe that there can be a society of individuals with no collective sensibility to it whatsoever. But as long as there will be rules, laws regarding how society is governed and how people are allowed to behave toward one another, we will need people with empathy and the ability to put themselves in another's shoes to provide input into what those rules are.

Here's a brain-teaser: It is empathy, in part, that allows me to be considerate of the autist.

At the same time however, that didn't stop me from needing to break up with one last month.

kentuckyliz said...

You said ass-burgers
heh heh
heh heh heh

Bob_R said...

Spend some time on the ninth floor of Van Vleck (the math dept. lounge at UW). Like most university math departments, the UW's contains several successful people pretty far out on the Autism spectrum. Very common trait in disciplines requiring deep concentration on abstract topics.

Freeman Hunt said...

Every time I read about Aspergers, I think, "Well, it's different, but it doesn't sound like a pathology." I don't see any reason to classify it as a handicap.

JAL said...

It's a continuum.

Some people with "Aspergers" really stick out.

Others? They have traits: The sensitivity to noise, the inability to multi-task, the slightly off kilter social stuff that shows up periodically.

As far as "labeling," it shouldn't be used to limit, as much as to alter the approach to teaching and learning.

A good thing to do for an Aspergers kid, or one with Aspergers tendencies, would be more careful, focused social skills attention.

By the time one is an adult and "set in their ways" it is hard to re-shape some of the annoying personal and social behaviors which make life harder than it has to be for these folks.

As someone above said -- it's like we are each dealt a hand of cards. Learning to play them the best way should be the goal.

There are a lot of people out there who are over 50 (maybe 40) who are undiagnosed Aspergers. It doesn't mean there's something WRONG with them (they probably did help develop the high tech stuff we have now, new ways of doing things which we would be 'poorer' without). It just means they've missed some good stuff in life things they didn't have to. That being said, "normals" (?)don't have to "fix" them.

Grandin has had the ability to pick up on some stuff which has allowed her to bless others. It's old now, but I appreciated Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars. He has a section on her.

Chase said...

You need to add a tag for "breasts".

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pogo said...

Oh, but you who pathologize dissonance,
and criticize all veers,
Bury the rag deep in your face
Now is the time for your tears.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I disagree with Freeman. Anyone who relates better to robots than to people is certainly handicapped. It's not a judgment of the autist's worth as a person; just a recognition that human society evolved emotions, empathy, passion, and even the art and interactive skills that convey those things, as a way to improve its viability as a species.

Along the way, we also evolved a symbolic understanding of logic and numbers. And some high-functioning autists tend to excel at this, even if it's not clear that a number of them are creative enough to advance the field of mathematics at an academic level.

But that can be outsourced much more easily. You don't take a skill that humans have invented machines and calculators to excel at and proclaim that that ability can't be seen as diminishing the functional status of a person - not when it comes at the expense of so many other abilities that cannot be reduced to machines and are a much stronger part of the definition of what it means to be human.

Sorry if anyone is offended by this. But given the opinion proposed by Freeman and the ostensible skill of the autist at reducing things to mere logic anyway, I don't see why anyone should be offended. A handicap is a handicap and not necessarily anything to be ashamed of.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I reposted the above comment at 10:42 in order allow for some minor edits.

Anyway, Pogo, as usual, is being silly. The definition of pathology is often subjective, social, and a judgment call. I'll admit. History shows this. At the same time, no one is saying that diversity is bad. Natural diversity in a population is what allows for evolution in the first place. But health is not synonymous with diversity any more than disease is synonymous with uniformity. It's a complete non-sequitur. The issue is impairment of function, not difference.

Pogo said...

My post was a bad Dylan reference, just a reference to over-medicalization, the modern tendency to make every human difference a "diagnosis".



"But health is not synonymous with diversity any more than disease is synonymous with uniformity."

Coerced uniformity of any species has always failed. Monocultures reduce plasticity and adaptability.

Plant diversity and complexity inoculate a species against devastation.

JAL said...

"But health is not synonymous with diversity any more than disease is synonymous with uniformity."

Sometimes it is.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Who's coercing anyone to do anything? You're a physician. Maybe pediatricians have a different sense of familiarity with the concept of "consent" than others do. But I can certainly tell the difference between diagnosis and forced treatment. And I hope that, at least when it comes to adults, you can too.

Anyway, yes, diversity is good. Diversity is healthy. Diversity is necessary.

And evolution also comes up with a lot of dead-ends.

Still, we need diversity. But I don't see why you aren't distinguishing these ideas from one another. Individual health is not equivalent to divergence. Diversity, and the propensity for it, tends to make for health at the level of a species; it says nothing about individuals. It certainly says nothing about individual members of a species which has advanced the innovation of "health" and medical intervention to the same degree that it has advanced incredibly complex systems of social interaction.

Interestingly, I somehow see myself as more likely to be accepting of oddballs and eccentrics than I can see you in that light, Pogo. You are simply not distinguishing between social ostracism and handicapped or impaired function. Among other things.

Omaha1 said...

XWL, ever heard of the "geek syndrome"? "http://www.aspergerinfo.org/wiredarticle.htm"link

My 23 year old son has Fragile X Syndrome, and I am a carrier, the one who gave it to him. Fragile X is characterized by autistic behaviors, speech impediment, social anxiety and mental retardation. I have a borderline genius IQ per testing but he is delayed enough to qualify for full disability. However there are odd holes in his "retardation", for example he has an excellent visual memory and can often find items that we have misplaced. He was a very challenging youngster but with maturity and proper medication is now a lovely young man who is easy to live with.

The mysteries of autism are legion and even the most severely afflicted have certain insights that surpass those of us "typicals". I believe that eventually a genetic source of autism will be found and that it will be associated with genes that predict brilliance in other areas such as mathematics.

I love Temple Grandin and her insights into animal thought processes. Her books have helped me to understand my pets and my son better. I have often wished I could just have a few minutes in my son's brain to assist me in seeing the world the way he sees it.

Omaha1 said...

oops sorry my html is bad...I can't ever seem to get it right!

link to geek syndrome article is

http://www.aspergerinfo.org/wiredarticle.htm

Pogo said...

"Interestingly, I somehow see myself as more likely to be accepting of oddballs and eccentrics than I can see you in that light, Pogo.


Your high self-regard comes as a total shock.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

I didn't know you considered the assessment a compliment.

Again, it's all subjective.

My shock, for what it's worth, comes at your high regard for diversity in the first place.

If only you could apply that to the cultivation of an appreciation for intellectual diversity. People have different opinions and ideas about things, as well as different experiences. If only you weren't so busy trying to figure out the political import of those differences, your appreciation for social diversity, including eccentricity and the like, might also improve.

There is hope, Pogo. There is hope.

Scott said...

I loved Claire Danes in the HBO biopic Temple Grandin. Apparently Dr. Grandin thought that M. Danes nailed her character; and that the movie shows exactly "how my mind works." It's a moving artistic triumph. If you don't get HBO, I hope you can see the movie when it goes to DVD.

One of my old bosses has a severely autistic child. The kid (well, he's in his mid-teens and chubby) is pushed everywhere in a big stroller by a nanny. He's not very communicative, except when you ask him how to get from where you are to some distant place in New York City. Then, he can give you the exact route to take on public transportation.

I don't know how parents of autistic children can muster the stamina to do their parenting. It's such a huge commitment with such an uncertain outcome. I'm so grateful that I have never been tested like that.

Jamie Irons said...

I mean, really, Aspberger? What is it? Cleopatra's last meal?

Reminds me of the old joke about Cleopatra's suicide.

Turns out she actually had to hold the asp to her breast three times, and only on the third attempt was she "successful."

The first two attempts failed because she was holding the serpent asp backwards.

Well, it amused me when I first head it. But there are those who contend that I have a touch of "Aspbergers" myself.

More seriously, I read the other day that (the hormone) oxytocin may improve socialization skills in autistic spectrum disorders.

Small pilot study:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/ykad6a9


Jamie Irons

Big Mike said...

I'm not sure what Big Mike is trying to say regarding what hasn't escaped his notice.

I'm saying that from what I've read you're in even worse shape than I am. It has nothing to do with your politics -- though they're reprehensible in an adult -- but in the way you engage others.

Me, I'm generally out for a giggle and love to puncture other people's balloons with humor. If you want to know more about me, read the opening lines of Scaramouche.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Evan O'Dorney thanks you for your support!

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

But not in the way Rush Limbaugh "engages" others, eh Mike?

The fact that you have a problem tolerating snark, bombast, dissent, simply based on the political associations of more than 50% of your country - despite not finding those things "reprehensible" when displayed by a minority of people, shows who's having trouble not only putting the shoe on the other foot, but who's likely to be in "worse shape" than the other. Ideally, our own individual lives and our happiness with them should provide the best definition of who (if anyone) is in better shape or worse shape, but all we have to go on here are some words that aren't very personally connected to much of a human context. Unless we want them to.

I'll bother getting to know more about you personally when you bother wanting to know more about me, personally, and in a less aggressive way, Big Mike.

And everyone's humor is subjective and based around what they personally find funny. The operative question when it comes to resolving differences based around such subjectivity is, why?

At least you can't fault me for realizing that.

rhhardin said...

Aspergers is what will give you your first woman President someday.

Scott said...

I have a younger brother in Minneapolis who is like Tedio Brasiliaro. Tendentious, in love with his own voice, domineering. He puts in 120 words for every ten of yours; and if you try to get a word in edgewise, he shouts "Let me finish!"

Last "conversation" we had, I threatened to use the chess timer to illustrate how he sucks up conversational bandwidth without getting to any worthwhile point. He became uninterested in talking and ended the phone call. :)

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

What are you saying, Scott? That a preference for relating to robots is not a handicap, but that being able to challenge and converse with others in thoughts that exceed the lengths of sound-bites, is? Especially on the internet?

I never have a problem letting anyone finish something. When have I ever objected to your (or anyone who agrees with you) posts because they were too long?

Seriously, am I supposed to pretend to be not only stupid, but averse to challenging an idea?

You cons are not getting the idea of dissent down very well. Doesn't bode well for the Tea Party "movement".

Suffice it to say, my phone conversations tend to be a lot different than the ones you have with your kin. Not sure what you're trying to say about yourself there, but I don't see how it's supposed to relate to me.

Paco Wové said...

"What are you saying, Scott?"

I think he's saying that you're a tedious, sanctimonious gasbag.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Which is an unresponsive, opinionated, and unsubstantive reply to anything that Pogo, Big Mike, knox and JAL felt like replying to. That's not being very considerate to them.

Just admit that the point is that you strive for conformity and can't stand being challenged. On a thread devoted to taking a stand against conformity in the first place, no less.

I'm none of the things you mention so much as I'm just not as incurious as you and not as easily threatened by a challenging discussion. Some people here get that. You apparently don't. Which is unfortunate.

Maybe I'll keep gassing away until you do.

traditionalguy said...

Ritmo...It is spring outside today. So what are we doing on the internet? I have actually missed your intellectually courious style around here. Keep on keeping on.

Po Mmi said...

Big Mike is speaking for himself in saying that "Asperger's syndrome is not a disability." It is not a mental illness, it is not a disease, because of the exceptional abilities that are often present among Asperger's autistics it might be better to refer to it as an autism spectrum condition rather than an autism spectrum disorder, but for many of us it is very much a lifelong disability.

It took a long time, but by the time I reached 30 I had learned to socialize pretty well - certainly better than some "normal" people I know. But my impairments from my executive functioning issues and what is sometimes called "autistic inertia" are substantial. My sensory issues are noticeable but do not impair me in a meaningful way, but for some autistic people those can be pretty debilitating.

The notion that we don't have empathy or lack a "theory of mind" is bullshit. Autism is still poorly understood in part because so much of how it is described is the result of normal people making improper inferences about what's going on inside us in connection with behaviors that are seen as problematic or as 'symptoms.'

One thing Temple Grandin is especially good on is emphasizing the importance of sensory issues. That kid having a meltdown in the Walmart doesn't have anger management issues or behavior problems; he or she is being absolutely tortured by the fluorescent lights.

In other respects Grandin goes too far in generalizing her own experience too much.

Here is a recent piece of writing that I think captures the experience of being autistic better than the language of the DSM or by alleged experts like Simon Baron-Cohen:

http://biodiverseresistance.blogspot.com/2010/02/taking-on-triad.html

And here is a good account of autistic inertia:

http://www.autistics.org/library/inertia.html

Lynne said...

rhhardin said:
Aspergers is what will give you your first woman President someday.

That's the most interesting comment on this whole thread, to me.

rhhardin, would you be willing to expand on that? I'm intrigued.

Methadras said...

JAL said...

It's a continuum.

Some people with "Aspergers" really stick out.

Others? They have traits: The sensitivity to noise, the inability to multi-task, the slightly off kilter social stuff that shows up periodically.


Yeah, we call them Nerds and Geeks.

Paco Wové said...

"...unresponsive, opinionated, and unsubstantive..."

So you don't like my interpretation. Fine.

Youngblood said...

XWL wrote:

"I certainly see more of the rock chipper in myself than the yakkity yakker."

This is a false dichotomy based on pure speculation. Despite attempts by the Asperger's community to "claim" certain people who have made significant scientific and technological achievements (based on the flimsiest evidence), there's no evidence that people suffering from Asperger Syndrome have had a disproportionate influence on the course of scientific and technological development.

There's no evidence whatsoever that people with AS have increased cognitive abilities over the "yakkity yaks" or "neurotypicals".

In fact, given what we have learned in the approximately two decades since AS has become a diagnosis, it's more likely that "some Asperger sitting in the back of a cave" wouldn't be chipping rocks, but compulsively collecting attractively shaped stones and arranging them into personally compelling patterns.

Palladian said...

"he or she is being absolutely tortured by the fluorescent lights."

This is one of my biggest sensory problems. I cannot bear to be under fluorescent lights, though I've come to object to them on aesthetic grounds as well so my opinion about them also has a rational justification. I also have difficulty with loud music and loud sounds in general, but I cope with that by wearing earbuds and listening to better, quieter music when I'm walking around New York.

traditionalguy said...

Lynne...Rh just said that Sarah Palin has aspergers. Who knew?

Youngblood said...

JAL wrote:

"Others? They have traits: The sensitivity to noise, the inability to multi-task, the slightly off kilter social stuff that shows up periodically."

They may have traits, but it doesn't mean that they have Asperger Syndrome, or that those traits are "Asperger traits". They exist completely outside of the disorder in people who fall within the broad category of "normal".

Not everyone who gets the blues suffers from depression. Not everyone who gets worried from time to time suffers from an anxiety disorder. Not everyone who has problems focusing because they have excess energy to work off suffers from ADHD.

Mental disorders represent perfectly "normal" traits amped up to 11. The same is true of AS.

meep said...

I, too, want to know what rhhardin meant.

Or maybe he didn't have anything particular in mind, he just wanted to intrigue.

In any case, I had a misunderstanding of what autism was [or rather the spectrum], as I thought it meant that one had a hard time connecting with other people or reading cues, which caused me not to recognize issues on the part of my son. Oddity has long been a feature in my family, and we've all got "engineer's minds". D [my son] was pretty social in terms of being able to charm people, smile, connect, loves being hugged, etc. But he obviously sees the world in a different way.

He goes to a preschool in Yonkers that specializes in ABA, one technique to teach these kids how to do stuff like say "hi" and "goodbye" appropriately, ask for stuff, and stop some of the "stimming" behavior that's common [my son's main stimming is riffling pages in books. I was giving him all the Yellow Pages books to do this with, as he was destroying books, but this really isn't helpful in dampening behavior and thought patterns that aren't going to help.]

Big Mike said...

I had to run into the office and I see that a number of things I'd like to respond to were posted in the interim.

@Ritmo, I love the way in which Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter skewer the left, often using your own language or pointing out, reasonably enough, contradictions in what liberals say and what they do (e.g., Geithner and taxes). I appreciate that it must hurt to be so effectively skewered, but there's a simple fix -- stop saying such foolish things. Yes, I mean you.

@Po Mmi, there's a spectrum between autisum and Asperger's syndrome. I sympathize with your problems, truly I do. And thanks for the links.

@Youngblood, I'm sorry to say that I don't think you completely get it. There is one test I'm aware of that is very diagnostic of Asperger's in a youngster. The child sees a picture of a girl putting some object into a particular drawer. A second picture shows another child moving that object from the first drawer to a second. A third picture shows the original girl reentering the room, and the test subject is asked which drawer she will open to find the object. Normal children say that she will go to the first drawer -- they know that she isn't aware that it's been moved. Asperger's children always say that she'll go to the drawer where that the object was moved to -- the Asperger's child (the test subject) knows where the object is, so everybody knows where it is.

So, Youngblood, I agree with you when you say that assigning Asperger's syndrome to historical figures is reasoning from zero evidence. I even agree with you when you say that Asperger's does not necessarily imply strong scientific and mathematical skills, though I assert that for whatever reason, we tend to do well with mathematics, the hard sciences, and/or music. The correlation is not one, but neither is it totally uncorrelated.

I disagree on that bit about arranging rocks into "personally compelling patterns" -- that's obsessive-compulsive disorder, and OCD is orthogonal to AS.

Joe said...

Aspberger's has become romanticized bullshit. Does it exist? Yes, and people who really do have it are socially dysfunctional. Not just limited or eccentric, but incapable of dealing with people at a profound level. Because of some outlandish claims about eccentricity and intelligence, the definition of Asperger's became greatly expanded so that anyone who is smart and introverted claims to be Asperger's as though that now endows them with being an eccentric genius ala Einstein.

It's nonsense.

The entire autism movement is so chock full of bullshit that its become almost useless. Most autistic people are retarded, but that's not PC so we all pretend it's something else and that there is hope of a cure or a fix. As the diagnoses of autism has increased, the diagnoses of mental retardation has decreased proportionally--add them both up ant the number is constant. As one doctor put it; nobody wants a retarded child, but will accept an autistic child. Autism is the disease du jour. A few years back it was ADHD. Who knows what it will be in a few years.

That Temple Grandin is purely functional is pretty much proof positive that she is completely full of shit. She doesn't have high functioning autism or asperger's she had a misdiagnosis and is capitalizing off it. This is not the action of anyone remotely with autism. It's exploitative bullshit (along the same lines as someone who is misdiagnosed with cancer, prays, turns out they don't have cancer and proclaim a miracle and they have the faith of Job.)

Christy said...

You mean not everyone arranges their M&Ms in pleasing symmetrical patterns and eats them in an order to maintain symmetry?

Palladian said...

Joe, you seem awfully angry about the subject. Very much like my mother's ex-husband, who when I was 13 used to force me to work for his tree trimming company and operate a chainsaw whose sound was so painful to me that it seemed preferable to endure his repeated abuse rather than operate it.

Sometimes shouting BULLSHIT and GET OVER IT BWOY! is not enough. I agree with you regarding the excessive nonsense that's accumulated around Autism spectrum disorders and especially among some in the autistic/Asperger's syndrome "community" (the word "community" attached to a condition or state of being automatically makes me want to hurt people), but that doesn't make it "bullshit" and doesn't negate the positive effects of the greater understanding of the conditions that has grown over the past 20 years.

JAL said...

@ Joe
She doesn't have high functioning autism or asperger's she had a misdiagnosis and is capitalizing off it.


You, sir, are a idiot.

John Lynch said...

Temple Grandin is fun to read. She thinks a lot of people make things not only more complicated than they are, but also obscure the truth.

Words are supposed to convey reality. Often they bury reality instead.

And yes, Asperger's exists. People will not think anything more of you for having it. I'm always amused at people who dismiss it, when anyone who has it has no doubt at all. It isn't an advantage.

Po Mmi said...

meep,

Re: the stimming and ABA... I'd recommend at least giving a look to this angle:

http://adeepercountry.blogspot.com/2009/11/they-hate-you-yes-you.html

I stim for very good reasons sometimes. Though I'm very "high functioning," there's just no way I can keep myself from stimming, and for a kid who isn't injuring himself or putting others at risk I'm skeptical of the wisdom of trying to eradicate what to many of us are simply normal behaviors for people like us. I mean I minimize it as much as I can in public, but it's something my body starts doing without me being conscious of it. It also has some enormous positive aspects, for example when I am writing.

(Of course losing books isn't a good thing - I'm not saying it's not okay to try to see if somebody can learn to restrict stimming to certain places, times, and or sorts of ways, but if it's not working after awhile it's probably not a good idea to keep it up. It's liable to be torture to the kid and possibly to diminish his or her performance or development in other areas. Also, it would be good to bear in mind that an aversive that would seem fairly mild to a normal person might be extremely painful or disturbing to some autistic people.)

Po Mmi said...

Big Mike @4:04,

Not for long, it seems. The proposal for DSM5 is to unify autism spectrum disorders into a single category:

http://www.dsm5.org/ProposedRevisions/Pages/proposedrevision.aspx?rid=94#

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123527833

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/03/health/03asperger.html

fboness said...

Does anyone doubt that Microsoft Windows was written by people with Aspberger's?

ckoz said...

As a parent of an "Aspie", I don't necessarily disagree with Joe...

My oldest son was "diagnosed" before he entered Kindergarten. The public school wanted him immediately thrown into Special Ed. I'll never forget the IED planning session, with six "specialists" all salivating over their time they would spend with him outside of regular class, no doubt to augment their budgets.

I would have none of it. I knew he just took after my dad - an aeronautical engineer - so my wife & I enrolled him in a small Catholic school to keep him away from the bureaucratic mess and being labeled at such a young age.

He's now in 7th grade. No friends, but top .5% on standardized tests and just completed an online C++ class through Northwestern University.

So is this a "disability"? Hell no. It does break our hearts that he can't seem to connect with other kids, but as I tell him, nerds rule the world.

Joe said...

Palladian, I wrote that the hype and expanded diagnoses are bullshit. As I stated, autism and Asperger's exists, but a) affects a much smaller group of people and b) is much more debilitating that the romanticists claim.

One indication that much of the autism material is nonsense is how many symptoms it covers. Just about any introvert lining up symptoms would conclude they have Asperger's.

Bottom line; this has become big business and to ensure it remain big, the net keeps getting wider. Just wait until the drugs start showing up and it will become an even bigger business. Same thing happened with ADD/ADHD.

Unfortunately, all this short changes the people who legitimately have these conditions and need help; they get lost in the shuffle of the masses trying to get their share of the money and power.

(And anyone holding a university position who can make speeches and write books doesn't have autism or Asperger's of any type; at best they are hypochondriacs, at worse they are opportunists, plain and simple.)

Christy said...

Fboness, I for one am grateful. Also, I'm convinced almost all hard science fiction is written by people with Aspergers. Not so grateful.

Bruce Hayden said...

Does anyone doubt that Microsoft Windows was written by people with Aspberger's?

Yes, because if it had been, it might work better.

Actually, there may be some Aspies on the design team back then, statistically speaking.

Bruce Hayden said...

Is Asperger's a disability? I think it really depends on the severity and how well the person has been trained and/or learned how to cope with it. My experience with the one I know the best, is that if someone wants to fit in enough, they can adapt quite a bit - but that doesn't mean that they don't have it, but rather, after decades, they have better coping skills.

How easy is it to detect? Again, I think it really depends. According to Baron-Cohen, it is far harder to detect in girls than in boys, and I think that that is partially because girls spend more effort in trying to figure out people and interactions. He would possibly suggest though that it is because Asperger's puts girls over where many boys are, and then puts boys way out on the far end, when it comes to social interactions.

Rick Lockridge said...

I take the point of this to be: let's do a better job of helping autistic children function and deploy their (often considerable) gifts in a neurotypical world. That's my mission statement as the dad of an autistic 8-year-old boy: celebrate his gifts, help him overcome his obstacles, don't make him miserable, never let him feel he's "disabled."
Nearly every school SUCKS at helping autistic kids. There's no other word for it. And if you believe the current stat--that 1 out of 58 boys born today will turn out to be autistic--man, that's an epidemic.

Alex said...

Public schools are a terrible place for any kid who isn't alpha for whatever reason. Bullying is out of control.

tom.skarda said...

A certain segment of the intellectual community wants to label virtually everyone as "deficient" in one way or another. Why? It is about power and marginalizing people. If everyone is "deficient" those who aren't get to make all of the decisions for everyone else. It is always the same with these clowns.

Sure, I have an autism related problem. It makes watching things like certain kinds of comedy very uncomfortable to watch in the movie theatre. I have to leave. It also makes me really awkward around members of the opposite sex.

The plus side. The ability to focus like few people you have ever met. Due to this I mastered several different forms of esoteric yoga that most people struggle to get through individually in a lifetime. I also graduated from a service academy, have been a decorated officer, and lived on five of the seven continents.

To those who say I have a problem, I say "fuck you!"

Youngblood said...

Big Mike wrote:

"I disagree on that bit about arranging rocks into "personally compelling patterns" -- that's obsessive-compulsive disorder, and OCD is orthogonal to AS."

What I was getting at with that is the strong tendency for those with AS to display an intense, highly personal, and idiosyncratic interest in a narrow topic or hobby -- an interest that borders on obsession.

My example was far from perfect, but that's what I was trying to convey, someone whose interest in a particular topic doesn't necessarily have any connection with its practical utility. In essence, I was trying to imagine a prehistoric trainspotter or spelling fetishist.

Beyond that, the point that I made earlier stands: there is no evidence that people suffering from (or living with) AS display a higher degree of mathematical, technical, or scientific aptitude than the general population.

There is no evidence that those with AS have been at the forefront of innovation and technical advancement, as Grandin suggests.

Bruce Hayden said...

I've had a discussion with my Aspy girlfriend as to how to define it. What we've come up with is that Asperger people find certain things comfortable and anything that isn't comfortable to be unbearably uncomfortable. Emphasis on the unbearably.

I agree, but also note that some of this can be partially grown out of. Not entirely. And it may also be partially learned behavior, that the person with Asperger's learns what situations to avoid and how to handle them when they happen.

Never totally though - we were in a club a couple of years ago, and, shouldn't have been. The noise coupled with the lights and the social dynamics just flat shut down the Aspie I was with. Bouncer came over and wanted to throw her out for drunkenness, and I had to threaten an ADA suit before he would allow us to just stand there until she was again able to cope, and we could walk out.

But another thing that I have seen is the blinding speed of an Asperger's brain. And this may be even more so with Autism.

That is one of the reasons that I take the "kids with 150 IQ" with a grain of salt. One of the problems with IQ tests is that they partially measure how fast we can think, and that doesn't always translated into how thoroughly or how deeply. And the tests are calibrated to "normals", and not those who, Baron-Cohen would suggest, don't have governors on the speed of their brains, like Autistics and Aspies.

BTW, I say this as someone who has neither condition, but tests very high on standardized tests, and does so, I think because I test very quickly. For example, I was able to reread the entire MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) test, double check each of my answers, and still finish with more than a half an hour to spare each session (allowing me to exit the room), and still test near the top (1-2%). Plenty of smarter lawyers out there - I just test better than most of them do.

But I don't think nearly as quickly as that Aspie I mentioned above. She gets somewhere mentally immediately, as I am just getting going. Sometimes it is downright scary.

Bryan C said...

This affinity for pathology sounds familiar. A few years ago there was a book that claimed a bunch of famous historical figures must have been bipolar. After all, they were really happy sometimes and really depressed other times. That, like, never happens with boring normal people. Clearly all that creativity must have been fueled by amazing manic-depressive superpowers. How tragic, yet inspiring. Let's all be bipolar!

"Aspergers" as now popularly understood seems more like a newspaper horoscope than a useful psychological diagnosis. The swarm of random symptoms are so diffuse and vague that they can apply (or be applied) to anyone. What good is that?

auntulna said...

I'll try not to push too hard, but I think those who are interested should look into the role Vitamin D deficiency may play in the autism spectrum. Check out Vitamindcouncil.org

As a medical worker, I am skeptical of money grabbing programs that have no proven outcome, like constant behavioral shaping day care equivalents. Vit D is very cheap.

Autism spectrum is a bummer for 90% of those affected and their families.If you are pregnant, take Vit D.

Po Mmi said...

Tyler Cowen:

"A recent investigation found, with conservative methods, that about one-third of autistics may have exceptional skills or savantlike abilities."


Tony Attwood:

"[T]he unusual profile of abilities that we define as Asperger’s syndrome has probably been an important and valuable characteristic of our species throughout evolution."

former law student said...

First, an Aspberger is a Swiss living on what we would call Snake Mountain.

Second, I doubt that Aspies are just INTJ's raised to the second power. The introverted nerds I know find hanging out with other people tiring -- an hour or two of socializing is enough. Fluorescent lights are not what's bothering them -- otherwise how could they work 12 hours a day under fluorescent lights in their cubes?

But third, I think autism is correlated with parental intelligence. Engineers used to marry their secretaries. Now they marry other engineers. For example, my friend with an autistic child is an engineer married to another engineer. Autism rates are high in Silicon Valley, where engineer-engineer marriages are common.

JAL said...

@ Joe (And anyone holding a university position who can make speeches and write books doesn't have autism or Asperger's of any type; at best they are hypochondriacs, at worse they are opportunists, plain and simple.)

Let me be more clear.

Joe, you are an idiot.

former law student said...

omaha1 -- are you Jewish? The woman I know who is a Fragile X carrier is Jewish. Her brother is Fragile X, and she had her tubes tied to prevent giving birth to one.

As far as Turing goes, he was gay during a time when being gay was 1. "Queer" 2 A criminal offense; 3. Meant the loss of any security clearance. So maybe suppressing his sexuality made him seem a little weird.

mga said...

I have never been diagnosed with Aspergers' syndrome, but a recent New York Times Magazine article described the syndrome and my condition to a T. I am physically clumsy and socially awkward. Since the age of 6 I have been aware that I am different from normal people. And I have also been driven to know all I can about things I'm interested in -- baseball, Worl War II and the law. And that fascination has allowed to me to suceed as a lawyer far more than I ever expected possible.

Joe said...

JAL, let me be clear; you are a very gullible sucker.

Milwaukee said...

ckoz said...
As a parent of an "Aspie", I don't necessarily disagree with Joe...

My oldest son was "diagnosed" before he entered Kindergarten. The public school wanted him immediately thrown into Special Ed. I'll never forget the IED planning session, with six "specialists" all salivating over their time they would spend with him outside of regular class, no doubt to augment their budgets.

I would have none of it. I knew he just took after my dad - an aeronautical engineer - so my wife & I enrolled him in a small Catholic school to keep him away from the bureaucratic mess and being labeled at such a young age.


ckoz: Good for you. The public schools love to have students classified as "In need of special services." Funny how learning disabilities only exist in public schools. Adults find jobs that suit their personalities. A person with ADHD does real well being an over-the-road truck driver: the scenery changes 70 miles-an-hour.

Schools that are interested in teaching children find the ways to do it, regardless of the students baggage, if the student and parents care. Drop your child off at the front door and expect schools to do all the work, and it aint gonna get done.

And former law student you might be on to something there. It really is alright for parents to have differing personalities, if they can make the marriage work. I can't imagine growing up in a household with both parents being engineers.

Children who are loved, nurtured and challenged will grow up with the skills they need to live and love.

Milwaukee said...

Jamie Irons said...
I mean, really, Aspberger? What is it? Cleopatra's last meal?

Reminds me of the old joke about Cleopatra's suicide.


I thought your story was hilarious. What does that make me? Although I am ENFP, I'm spacey enough that sometimes I miss really obvious stuff, socially, that others see right away. If OCD is orthogonal to Aspergers, how does being blond relate to those two conditions?

And by the way, cheerful people are just out of luck: no therapy and no medication and no support groups. Bummer man.

orbicularioculi said...

This has been a exceptionally interesting read. Thank you Ann.

@tom.skarda. You made me laugh out loud. I am very proud and appreciative of people who serve in our military and I have a nephew who has graduated from one of the military academies.

Your comments were especially appreciated.

Sonar said...

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man”

-George Bernard Shaw

Rick Lockridge said...

@ Bruce Hayden:

The blindingly fast thing is dead-on. I watch my son play a video game that demands lightning fast decision-making and physical reflexes, and I am at my best just barely okay at it. (And I try--HARD).

My son plays the game one-handed while simultaneously videotaping the screen using an iPhone with the other hand and sets records. He kicks my ass, and I honestly am not pleased with that at all.

It's a surreal experience to see in action a small child whose mental gifts far surpass one's own, after one has come to think of one's self as a fairly bright, accomplished adult.

And yet he can't have even a 30-second conversation with me.

Being the parent of such a child is alternately thrilling and anxiety-inducing. I have a little mantra I use to try to maintain the right balance of patience and tenacity: Vance (my 8-year-old) doesn't have to be fixed by tomorrow. But I owe it to him to try as hard as I can to help him today.
"Fixed" is a poor word to use, because it implies he's broken, which of course he's not. What I really want is for him to be able to make his way in the world without me, when and if that day comes. Every parent feels this acutely; it's just that we parents of autistic children feel it a little more, I think.

Rick Lee said...

I love Temple Grandin. I always enjoy listening to her when she's being interviewed. I saw her on CSPAN recently and she recommended this little book: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" as a really good book to get inside the head of an autistic kid. The book was amazing. I could not put it down. It was really great how quickly I began to see the internal logic of the way the kid saw the world.

John Lynch said...

I'm an INTP. I doubt the worth of Meyers-Briggs. I know INTJs who are nothing like me at all, and aren't remotely autistic.

Speculating, autism may be more prevalent now than previously because technology has made it more useful and less of a disability.

I don't know, but it seems to me that being really smart with poor social skills and physical clumsiness wasn't too useful as a peasant or a hunter. It would certainly be harder to get married and have children.

JAL said...

Like orbicularioculi.

Thanks. All three of you.

JAL said...

@ Joe JAL, let me be clear; you are a very gullible sucker.

Ahhh.... the "let me ne clear" move.

POTUS does that all the time. One may be sure that it means it is anything but clear.

OK. You're not an idiot.

You are ignorant.

Apparently, now that you are being clear, that is by choice.

Palladian said...

"And anyone holding a university position who can make speeches and write books doesn't have autism or Asperger's of any type"

I'm a college teacher and an excellent writer, though I don't have any books to my credit.

John Lynch said...

I write books (none yet published). I have Asperger's. I don't understand the contradiction, since one defining characteristic of Asperger's is a large (typically 30 point) difference between verbal and non-verbal IQ, with verbal being higher.

That's the big difference between Asperger's and high-functioning autism, because high-functioning autistic people have verbal and non-verbal IQs that are roughly similar.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

TG: By 2 I had left but I don't announce those things any more ever since you know who took advantage of a previous absence in order to capitalize on my inability to respond.

After reading over this thread, I find it interesting that a much higher proportion of Althousians claim Aspergers than exists in the general population. Make of that what you will; its simultaneous contribution to great abilities and social dysfunction has already been discussed to death.

Palladian: Try full-spectrum lights. Verilux. My deduction is it's the flickering inherent in all fluorescent lights that would bother you, but for a regular bloke without the ability to take sufficient notice of those rapid cycles, the color improvement is phenomenal. You can also get incandescent full spectrum lights, though. Try putting one in a corner near you if replacing the fluorescent panels is not an option.

I would respond to Big Mike, but his assumptions are so ridiculous that I cannot do so without speculating in a way that he would find condescending and the others would find offensive. Honestly, I have never felt personally skewered by such a numbnuts as Limbaugh, or an attention-seeking harpy whose 15 minutes are long past, like Coulter. Nor am I aware that they ever took aim at me personally. Of course, you want to lump me in with their targets, so I'll let you go ahead and have them do the arguing for you. It's not as if you're actually responding to anything I have ever said or actually believe. And that is because you don't know a thing about me.

If your aim is to prove that you can make a good point about someone else, and you wish to avoid risking the label of socially dysfunctional, it might be a good idea to prove that you are not afraid of asking them some things about who they are or what they believe, first. And why. It makes you more credible.

Just some advice from a non-Aspies.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Friendly advice, that is.

Bad Penny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bad Penny said...

As aspie president? Not likely.

Aspies are blunt. Too blunt. They are not interested in power or popularity.

I have learned to socialized somewhat normally. I had to teach myself. It was slow and unpleasant. I can go to a party and fake being normal, but I do not enjoy it and if I had to do it twice a day for 18 months I, well, it would never get that far. I wouldn't do it. I can't imagine anyone like me would do it.

I was really surprised to read the Temple Grandin credits taking anti-depressants for the last 30 years with helping her a lot. I have been taking them since 1992. What they help with is not depression. It's this overwhelming tornado of frustration and anxiety that whirls around in my brain and stomach. Without the drug I am much less able to function normally. I was disabled. With the drug, and time, I have become more normal and able to blend in. I still have a limited tolerance for you yakkity yaks, though. Ha ha. I love that term. Much better than NTs. Yakkity yaks.

wGraves said...

I have had close contact with one young man diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. While in no way handicapped, he did have a different approach. That approach made him one of the most talented mathematicians I have ever had the pleasure to deal with. With a little help coping, I expect him to make some very serious positive contributions to humanity. So support these folks, and don't think of them negatively.

Palladian said...

"Palladian: Try full-spectrum lights. Verilux. My deduction is it's the flickering inherent in all fluorescent lights that would bother you, but for a regular bloke without the ability to take sufficient notice of those rapid cycles, the color improvement is phenomenal. You can also get incandescent full spectrum lights, though. Try putting one in a corner near you if replacing the fluorescent panels is not an option."

Already done. I use Verilux bulbs in many of my lamps, as well as regular incandescents. I even occasionally use old Edison bulbs because I like their flame-like light. I did try different color temperature balanced compact fluorescents just to make sure and I couldn't stand them. I think you're right about the flicker, but I also hate the color. Not right. And regular fluorescent lamps (the tube kind) are too bright. I can't bear intense light, sunlight included. It's one of the reasons that I love the winter.

Lee Reynolds said...

Our nation is sick with the disease of everything-itis.

Anything and everything is either a condition, a disability, or a syndrome.

People are assigned a disorder and then taught to define themselves by it.

It is only a matter of time before a new disorder is invented to describe those who truly are average in every way. Their very averageness will be defined as a disorder. Perhaps will will be called Exceptionality Deficit Disorder (or something close to it.) Anything to draw them into the personal-disorder industry.

There are people like Temple Grandin whose deficits in certain areas are truly disabling.

Then there is everyone else. The rest of us are better at some things than we are at others. Not everyone is good at math. Not everyone is good at art. Not everyone is good at music. Not everyone has a good sense of direction. Others out there have an excess of talent in one or more of these areas. Yet no one thinks to define anyone as disordered or disabled when they're not as good at math as someone else is. Meanwhile someone who has problems in social situations gets marked as disabled.

It's complete bullshit invented by people whose paycheck comes from finding disabled people to assist. If there aren't enough disabled people to pay the bills, normal people will be cast as disabled. What's more, these disabilities are defined as life-long and without end, ensuring that those paychecks are also without end.

Perhaps worst of all, this crap encourages people who might struggle and stumble when it comes to social interaction to make excuses for themselves, or to define themselves as exempt from having to be normal and have normal interactions with other people. They're "aspergers" and so the rules don't apply to them. Meanwhile other people want nothing to do with them.

If someone is truly having trouble in some area, the thing to do is help them with whatever it is that they are not getting. Defining them as deficient or disordered does nothing to help them overcome whatever trouble they are having. If anything it does the exact opposite.

Severely Ltd. said...

I wasn't even aware of the condition until this fellow came on the scene. For proof that Aspergers extends to athletic ability, watch this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_plb73QjJ8

I don't care for the choppy, disjointed nature of this trailer (if you're interested in better footage of Clay Marzo surfing, it's on Youtube), but this video addresses Aspergers directly.

Omaha1 said...

hmmm...I thought I had posted a comment but it's not displaying for some reason. Hope this is not a duplicate.

fls, I am not Jewish, Fragile X Syndrome appears in all ethnic groups as far as I know. It is X-linked and the most common inherited cause of mental retardation. Our situation is very typical, wherein the grandfather and mother are not noticeably affected, but the son/grandson manifests all of the disabling features of the disorder.

Interesting thread for sure. On distraction/discomfort, my son has always had a problem with wearing new shoes. He will wear old ones until they are literally falling apart in spite of numerous pairs of fashionable new shoes in his closet. He also tears the labels out of new shirts as soon as he gets them.

He takes Zoloft now which seems to help with his perseveration (the inability to "let go" and move on from unpleasant stimuli). When he was in grade school, a tree was cut down outside the building. He obsessed over the loud crack for several hours and it completely ruined his concentration for the rest of the school day.

Wacky Hermit said...

Joe, I think you are confused. If a person with one leg climbs Mount Everest, it isn't proof that he has two legs or that he could climb it as easily as a person with two legs. Just because a person with a disability can accomplish a feat doesn't mean it cost them the same amount of strength as it would for a person without a disability.

I used to think that these diagnoses were overhyped, until my now 5 year old Aspie came along. I'll use the pseudonym I use for him on my blog, "Bagel."

Bagel is my third child, so I wasn't a clueless noob at motherhood. At a few months of age, as soon as he gained enough control over his hands he began pinching me until I bruised while he nursed. I tried every technique that I or anyone I knew could think of to get him to stop, but the bottom line was that if I prevented him in any way from pinching me till I bruised, he would starve. Later he bit his baby brother to the point where the poor baby was covered in O-shaped bruises. I had to keep the two of them on separate floors of the house and literally spend all day running up and down the stairs. Around 4 or 5 pm I would get so exhausted that I had to sit down; I would literally count to five and hear the baby's scream of pain.

At age 2 Bagel had a breakfast routine; if you deviated from it in the slightest he would spend his entire morning screaming. Breakfast had to be served by me and no one else. The milk, cereal, bowl, and spoon had to be brought to the table in the proper order, with the proper timing and accompanied by the words of the formula; the bowl had to be filled to the precisely correct level with cereal and with milk; the verbal component of the ritual had to be observed exactly and any addition of a word, even an additional "and," resulted in screaming. All day long I had to repeat back to Bagel everything he said and if I added a detail or gave him information he needed, he would scream at me. Only God could help me get through the days when I had laryngitis and had to whisper all my responses; this made him very, very angry. Once he knocked my tooth loose. Again, remember this is a 2 year old boy.

He was extraordinarily mechanical. At age 18 months he removed two bars from his crib without breaking anything, and escaped. Shortly thereafter he learned how to pick the locks on the bedroom doors. He figured out how to defeat just about every type of baby gate. We had to settle for putting up enough gates that it would slow him down enough that we could catch him when he tried to run outside into the street. Our house was a maze of gates.

I could go on, but you get the picture. When I took him in to see the team of doctors that made his diagnosis, they told me they had scarcely seen a case of Asperger's so clear in a child of two. He is now on medication. He still has a breakfast routine but it's a lot more flexible now; occasionally he'll allow someone else to serve it to him. And he still bites, but afterward he can recite "Teeth are not for biting. Ouch! Biting hurts!" He spends a good deal of time telling me how much he hates me, but that's an improvement from the death threats he used to utter.

To be sure, an Asperger's diagnosis can *sometimes* be more like a case of Munchhausen's by proxy. But I wouldn't be so quick to conclude that therefore they *all* are. And there's no doubt in my mind that many diagnoses are pursued for the purpose of getting services out of the school system, but there's a feedback loop there; if the school systems weren't defining "normal" so narrowly as to exclude these kids, a diagnosis wouldn't be necessary. But please don't use this as an excuse to tell me that I was just making up the bruises and the screams. I can assure you, I had absolutely no desire, subconscious or otherwise, to receive the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse I get from this child daily.

Omaha1 said...

wacky hermit, I admire your patience in dealing with your child. I can relate, it was very hard when my Fragile X son was young, to take him anywhere. Even when he weighed 45 pounds it was easier to carry him than to hang onto his hand and try to keep him from running away and touching everything in the store.

He was my youngest so I did not have to cope with him abusing a younger sibling. I imagine that would be very hard emotionally. My son once hit his stepsister with a branch and I was so upset I had to go for a very long walk by myself to keep from teaching him a lesson in a very inappropriate way. These are the kind of painful episodes that result in abuse of children on the autistic spectrum.

Lee Reynolds said...

Wacky Hermit:

Your son has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome? I must confess that I am NOT an expert on this issue at all, but I do deal with people every day who are clearly Asperger's cases. None of them are anything like what you are describing your son being.

I fear that Asperger's syndrome may be being used as euphemism for Autism in your son's case. The two are related conditions after all, but the term Asperger's doesn't have all of the baggage that the word autism does. So rather than give an accurate diagnosis, a doctor might be tempted to describe a clear case of autism as Asperger's syndrome.

Tom Billings said...

The subjective speculation that so many participants here are making is a bit depressing when one sees the physical evidence for ASDs, including Aspergers, piling up. It is evidence like MRI work showing that people on the Autistic Spectrum have fewer connections between portions of the brain, and many more differences.

That results in lower bandwidth communications between different portions of the brain, and such expressions as slower emotional cue response. Since emotional cueing transfers the vast majority of information in "the social dance", they find themselves out of phase with NTs, at best. At worst, they can be clueless without a fully rehearsed "script" for each social situation, and can be considered "wooden" in social responses even with such aids.

That is a large portion of why Aspies like explicit rules to follow, ...they don't have to interpret what seems like the interactions of telepaths. Yes, like other Aspies, I spent at least half my time in JHS wondering if it wasn't just that everyone else were telepaths, who'd simply decided not to let me in on the joke. It isn't hypochondria, Joe, it's hardwired.

Perhaps people like Joe, who think the growing ASD population are bullshiters simply haven't heard of the physical evidence,....Well, I can hope.

Please note that a massive component in the expression of any ASD is the result of interaction with the neurotypicals around an individual. In my school system, between 1956 and 1969, there was almost no recognition that anyone a few standard deviations off the norms should be at all tolerated. Indeed, in SW Washington, the general cultural outlook was that no matter how badly a child was treated, in the family or the schools, the standard reply was either, "that sort of thing doesn't happen in our family", or, "you've just got to learn how to get along".

The idea that others *did*not*want* someone who could not do "the social dance" to get along was ignored, much less the point that NTs wanted them to get out! That last is what was repeated to me by some family members and many students repeatedly during the entire 12 years I was in public school. It was emphasized by 5 different planned attempts on my life, and several "opportunistic" attempts. Remember that the social reaction against someone with an ASD can be even more disabling than the ASD.

There were 2 steps to the growing ASD population of today. The first step came when the industrial revolution opened up more niches for someone who could focus intently. That allowed a larger number of Aspies to survive, and have children. Then came the 1970s, when large numbers of Aspies were induced by relatively huge amounts of money to climb into cubicles side by side with members of the opposite sex with similar traits. Not surprisingly, large numbers of them had children in which an even larger percentage of genes caused ASD traits, resulting in far spectrum autistic children.

It can be better. By 2008 the Vancouver School District had a policy that suppresses violence against a child with an ASD so effectively that no assaults have been recorded in over 5 years against such kids. It simply took them 3 years of grinding hard work to get staff to not close their eyes when violence against "nerds" happened. It now seems that with the accelerating rates of neurological knowledge, we will start seeing Phase 1 trials of ASD "cures" in utero somewhere between 5 and 10 years out. It may well take 10-20 years for substantial amelioration of ASDs' negative traits in adults.

Again,...it isn't just hypochondria.

Regards,

Tom Billings

PaBo said...

Married to an Aspergers, he can not sit on the sofa and watch a movie over 90 minutes long, but he can sit for hours and hours pouring over MS Excell spread sheets. His lack of awareness of other things is starting to get to me big time. I am very sick and can't do much around the house, but if I don't do them it doesn't get done. He is totally oblivious to dishes piling up or the trash is overflowing.

Our marriage is falling apart. I try to allow for his Aspergers, I have known other Aspergers who are very aware and do help out with household chores and help others around them. My husband made it through the army and University. I just don't see why he can not, or will not take interest in the things I am in.