24 November 2008

I am not an ass burger

  • Nov 24, 2008

I am not an ass burger

First of all, I wish to formally express my displeasure that the scientists and therapists were thoughtless enough to name a condition without giving thought to its potential for school yard ridicule.
They already have trouble with socializing, and are likely to be identified as different, (even though the in class helpers generally do a good job of hiding the fact that they are there for anyone in particular).  Eventually the term is gonna leak to the general public, and it won't be long after that until it trickles down to the school yard.
There was a time when "retard" was not an insult, but simply a descriptor of a person whose intellectual development was significantly slower than average.  It meant "mental disability".  "Cripple" just means "physical disability".  No matter how many times we change the names, kids will start using the new term as an insult, because its the content that carries the offensive meaning, not the eventual term.
But did we really have to give them "Ass-Burger"?

But I digress (and that's pretty bad, since I haven't even started yet)

I noticed quite a while back that I seem to attract a disproportionate number of teachers into my life - there can not possibly be as high a percentage in the general population as the percentage of my friends, dates, and clients are.  Who would do all the other jobs that need doing in society?  I don't know why this is.  I don't go looking for them.  They find me.  I am not, and have no interest in ever being, a teacher.  I haven't even gotten a bachelors degree.  And the chances are pretty high that I never will. 
But as it turns out, it gets even more specific than that.
Of all of my favorite people, 4 of them are currently or have in the past worked as in-class therapists/tutors for autistic/aspergers grade-schoolers, or in some similar way worked closely with them on a regular basis.
I realize it is being diagnosed more and more these days, but that's just weird.

Or is it?

"...difficulties in basic elements of social interaction, which may include a failure to develop friendships or to seek shared enjoyments or achievements with others...
This social awkwardness has been called "active but odd".  This failure to react appropriately to social interaction may appear as disregard for other people's feelings, and may come across as insensitive. The cognitive ability of children with AS often lets them articulate social norms in a laboratory context, where they may be able to show a theoretical understanding of other people's emotions; they typically have difficulty acting on this knowledge in fluid, real-life situations, however. People with AS may analyze and distill their observation of social interaction into rigid behavioral guidelines and apply these rules in awkward ways—such as forced eye contact—resulting in demeanor that appears rigid or socially naive.
Abnormalities [in language use] include verbosity, abrupt transitions, literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuance, use of metaphor meaningful only to the speaker... unusually pedantic, formal or idiosyncratic speech...
Children with AS may have an unusually sophisticated vocabulary at a young age and have been colloquially called "little professors", but have difficulty understanding figurative language and tend to use language literally."


I obviously don't come close to many of the other common components (a narrow range of interests, for example, or repetitive behaviors)

I am not an AssBurger.
But I'm not sure I could claim to be "Neurotypical" either.

I always thought I was perfectly normal.
That it was everyone else around me that had the problems.
But there has certainly been an obvious pattern.  The same complaints, especially about my misinterpretations of people's language (which people who don't know me assume is deliberate), at least since high school (chances are I just didn't notice before that).
A lack of awareness of peoples emotional states or reactions.  All that subtle non-verbal stuff which I am told makes up the majority of communication... (not mine!).  Interpreting things literally (come on, honestly, wouldn't it just be so much easier if people just said what they mean?)  Annoyance that I am "too logical" (like that's supposed to be a bad thing?).  I have noticed sometimes that I can monologue with people who don't really care.  And that, I guess, is part of what distinguishes me, that I recognize it on my own (albeit only in retrospect)

Of course the number of DSM IV entries increases every year, and the number of people who fall into one of them does even faster.
At first there was just autism.  Either you were autistic, or not.
Then it was recognized that it isn't always exactly the same, and the definition was expanded to a "spectrum" of disorders.

10 years ago someone with Asperger's - socially inept, often physically clumsy, extremely well versed in some narrow subject, literal use of language - would have been referred to as a "nerd" (or possibly a "geek".  I get them mixed up).

It is now debated among professionals whether or not Asperger's should properly be considered as a subset of autism.  It can't be diagnosed by any one characteristic, risk factor, or written test.  In fact, it is usually diagnosed by not just a doctor or therapist, but by a team of them.  This is implicate of how complex and imprecise it is.

Given that I seem to fall somewhere in a range between aspy and neurotypical, I have to wonder if it is really something you either have or don't have.  But if there is a smooth and continuous range between them, and Asperger's itself is a part of a range of ASD (Autistic spectrum disorder), and there is no definitive way to draw concrete and consistent lines between these categories, perhaps the categories themselves are an artificial construct.

I am beginning to suspect that Asperger's (along with a great many "conditions") is perhaps the product of psychology professionals obsessive need to label and categorize everything.
isn't that a characteristic of mental disorder?

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