ASD

Oct. 16th, 2010 12:56 am
delta_mike: (Default)
[personal profile] delta_mike
This interview with Ari Ne'eman was good reading on the subject of providing support for people with Autism-spectrum conditions. For a chap of 22 years, he's surprisingly articulate, and rather good at explaining things in ways that my brain can synthesize rapidly.

In particular, I read the line, There are a lot of social rules that we don’t understand, and tremendous consequences inflicted on us for violating them, and nodded knowingly.

The reference to Temple Grandin was also great -- I'd stumbled across her book, Animals in Translation, a few years ago, and devoured it. It was fascinating, and helped me understand myself.

This is because I have traits in common with some people on the Autism spectrum: I think visually; I'm sensitive to bright lights, and sound, and -- as anyone who's ever tickled me -- probably touch, too. I have a highly systemizing mind. I was generally poor at handling social interaction -- I understood computers better than people. Bullying in school was a problem.

Somehow, somewhere along the way -- perhaps through brute force trial and error -- I've developed a better model of people, meaning that I'm now typically as good as most neurotypical people at understanding and inferring other people's mental state. I have social skills!

But they took a long time to develop -- towards the end of undergraduate degree and beyond -- meaning that I now feel that I missed out on a huge range of social opportunities I didn't understand.

I've never been diagnosed with an Autism-spectrum disorder, and thinking about the concept now, I'd be worried about acquiring that particular label. I wouldn't even call it a disorder; merely a specialization.

But it's only just occurred to me after all the discussions here that I can reasonably describe myself as 'not neurotypical', too.

Date: 2010-10-16 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] rjw76
Um. Yes. I could basically have written that post myself.

The interesting thing to me is that every time I see an "Autistic people do weird things" post/news article/whatever, the things *aren't weird* to me. Almost like I can... ummm.. translate?

Am I making any sense?

Date: 2010-10-16 10:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] spiker-uk.livejournal.com
*nods* I recognize myself as being somewhere on that spectrum -- towards the "highly socially functioning", but still, distinctly on it.

In fact, I think a lot of geeks of our generation do -- mainly because understanding of the "highly-functioning" end of that spectrum is very new (as in, last ten years and, in general, too late for us).

Date: 2010-10-20 03:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kozue.livejournal.com
I didn't know you were undiagnosed :S

It's without doubt horribly insensitive of me to say such things, but someone once had a huge rant at me for being mad about something you did once on the grounds that you were diagnosed whereas I was just an aimless freak (my embittered and utterly biased interpretation of their meaning, not an accurate reproduction of the actual words they used). I wish I'd known then; being more than a little odd by popular standards myself, I found it a tad squicky to be expected to treat someone differently in the first place on the basis of a piece of paper signed by a doctor, but at the time I had no counter to the sudden assault rehearsed. My approach has always been to treat everyone in the same harsh way unless they tell me in advance that they don't like that. I'm trying to be more like that as I get older.

It seems that there is a scale of social dexterity, mostly split halfway as introversion and extraversion (Those aren't actually the correct words at all in anything more than a superficial sense, but I don't know what the correct words would be. Neurotypical/not doesn't feel solid enough, especially if the idea of what is typical may change as studies delve deeper.). It is definitely desirable to be on the 'extraverted' side of the line in our everyday western society. Exhibiting traits which mark you as an 'introvert' will often lead to a person being branded as mentally ill - or at best unpleasant to be around - very quickly.

For the purpose of my mental image, higher-functioning autism and AS are likely on the extreme end of the 'introversion' scale along with those of us with other social ailments, though I'm not sure what an extreme 'extravert' would be. Other than profoundly annoying, in my case; much as I suspect that a person like me is to socially buoyant human beings.

I rambled, whoops. Maybe it was an excuse to air my outdated moan about being yelled at, or maybe it was just because I find the subject you brought up interesting. Sorry!

Date: 2010-10-20 09:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kozue.livejournal.com
I don't really have much faith in doctors; my mother is one, so I'm acutely aware of how little they know about anything. Especially things which cannot be seen or prodded. Ultimately what 'they' say is AS today might be seen as quaintly extreme eccentricity tomorrow or an evil invisible mind-eating cancer which people should zap on sight next week, so I prefer to judge people by their own merits and my own rules.

I suppose it annoyed/jarred/shocked me that this person (embarrassingly, I don't actually remember who it was, although I barely know anyone so have a fairly good idea) expected me to react differently to someone due to a fairly arbitrary label. I am certain that their intentions were good, and I am the kind of person who is often cast as the Evil Villain type because of the way I communicate, so they were trying to protect you based on their superficial estimation of how I Should Be Spoken To. As it happened, we had started off on a very bad foot, but once you talked to me in a normal way [online] I was able to judge the real you and found you were a decent chap after all. I find it's so much simpler just communicating directly instead of relying on labels, recommendations and sympathy as social glue :)

It's weird, because in my mental model I have married introversion to unsociable personality types, but I have met a few introverts now (including you, of course) who crave and thrive upon social interaction in spite of their natural 'build'. It must be cruel to want it and not be able to enjoy it without putting in so much extra work. In my case, I am very much happiest with my own company, so I've been trying to understand this other flavour of introvert for a long time with some difficulty. When I speak with one of my friends who is similarly caught between wanting friends and suffering being around "noisy" social situations, I find it hard to understand why he compromises so much of himself to be part of this unfairly skewed world because my own agenda is so different. It is good reinforcement to see more introverted socialisers around. Maybe I'll come to understand the perspective one day if I hear enough about how it all fits together from various people!

It's tricky for me to accept without understanding, and I'm not sensitive enough to understand unless people show their true selves, so I end up just ignoring most of humanity where possible to avoid getting caught up on masks and expectations and rituals and other nonsense. But when someone talks to me frankly and there's no mess, it's most refreshing. Have to keep that kind of person around.

Good luck with your thesis, anyway! I imagine that it will feel so good when you have it behind you (says someone who has never done anything like that in her life). Catching up sounds interesting, though I'm rather averse to real world things. Coaxing me through my more sensible other half is usually the only way to make me leave the hermit cave.

Date: 2010-10-27 07:19 pm (UTC)
ext_197528: (Maelstrom - 2)
From: [identity profile] kurenai-tenka.livejournal.com
Somehow, somewhere along the way -- perhaps through brute force trial and error -- I've developed a better model of people, meaning that I'm now typically as good as most neurotypical people at understanding and inferring other people's mental state. I have social skills!

Though with ASD, it will always be only an intellectual understanding, not the same ingrained, instinctual one.


I've never been diagnosed with an Autism-spectrum disorder, and thinking about the concept now, I'd be worried about acquiring that particular label. I wouldn't even call it a disorder; merely a specialization.

It's both costy and... distressing to be diagnosed as an adult. If you have the skills to function normally now, then does it even matter? Odds are, it really is just something you have in common with people on the spectrum, rather than that you actually have it.


Aaand late reply is late. I had this bookmarked to reply to, I was just being slow. :P

Date: 2010-11-03 10:43 pm (UTC)
ext_197528: (Coconuts)
From: [identity profile] kurenai-tenka.livejournal.com
I think you're right that they are merely traits I have in common. In various ways I have aged slowly -- mostly mentally, though given people tend to underestimate my age, possibly physically, too.

Heh, well that could be good old 'guy' syndrome. :)


Seriously though... if they weren't so present before and are now, it could have something to do with your younger years. Obviously without knowing anything about your childhood/teenage years I can't really comment further, but it could be as simple as an 'environmental' issue. It's all speculation though, surely alls that matters is that you function normally now? :)

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