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  1. #1
    undergoing self-analysis louiesgonnadie's Avatar
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    Default "The Autism Culture"

    I've noticed that a good bit of people with Autism have touted this disorder as a gift, and how they have special abilities that "neurotypical people" (NTs) don't have. While hyperfocus can be a great thing if used productively, it isn't always limited to Autism or even any psychiatric disorder.

    I've only studied the Autism Spectrum on and off for about a year and a half, so I'm always willing to be wrong. But whenever I google "positive aspie traits" or read people's personal experiences with Autism, and how it's helped them "see the world differently", I see traits that could also be present in a healthy person that is non autistic. I often see these positive traits overlapping with the introverted and intuitive (INxx) brain types.

    Everyone sees the world differently, which is what Jung's theory is about. When you hone into that idea further, I guess I could see why Autism would lead someone to think differently, and that could be an easier way of saying they have a different way of sensing and processing sensory information - but the same could be said about someone non-autistic who suffered through PTSD, or homelessness, or even a more severe degree of teen angst. It's likely that someone with Autism is forced into an introverted state after going through several social failures. That leads someone to develop perspectives on certain things that might not be explored if they were not being forced to live life so withdrawn.

    It seems like these viewpoints that occasionally float around in the Autism culture are generated by wishful thinking, which could potentially be spawned by an inferiority complex. It irritates me when people like Temple Grandin say "if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool, you would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.” which is total gall. So just because people are socializing doesn't mean people can't get anything done? That's funny, because I'm sure many people, even the most intelligent and intuitive, can effectively socialize AND come up with ideas and/or work simultaneously. That also opens the doors for teamwork, which can lead to idea breadth and completion speed. Autism doesn't dictate level of intelligence. Even though people like Gates, Einstein, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Tesla, etc. exhibited some autistic symptoms it does not mean they necessarily were autistic - they could have been gifted, or overly passionate, or just highly intuitive.

    I don't know, I could go on, but the bottom line is - if a brain structure such as Autism is wired a different way that creates major defecits in communication and sensory processing (that sometimes cannot be completely overcome depending on the level of severity), and how NTs (nuerotypicals) aren't usually born with the innate ability to hyperfocus on one thing (which can be compensated for in terms of learning new things or intellectual development, unless the NT has a low iq/intellectual capacity and/or some type of drug induced brain problem or something else) then based on these patterns, and what I know so far, Autism is more than a difference - and it falls into a problematic category. This is what my intuition is telling me based on what I know.

    But I could be totally wrong and ignorant. Who knows.

    What do you guys think?

    As a side note, I was diagnosed as having "Asperger's" when I was about five years old...but questioning it's validity due to other problems that I experienced mentally or physically throughout my life, as the label does not seem to apply to me as of late. Figures. :I
    "For a minute there, I lost myself...I lost myself."

    LOUIS CK: "We don't think about how we talk"
    http://zenpencils.com/comic/95-louis...t-how-we-talk/

  2. #2
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    I was diagnosed as being Autistic when I was a kid (they thought I was deaf before that. Whoops!) and had that diagnosis changed to Asperger's when I was a teenager.

    At best I consider it a quirk, something that sets me apart from most people in neither a good or bad way. At worst, it's a source of irritation as it makes certain social and interpersonal situations difficult for me. It general comes up most noticably in my intimate and interpersonal relationships as there is a big disconnect between what I'm feeling and how I feel about this person versus how I actually go about expressing that. The results can often create confusion/mixed signals/hurt feelings and a lot of frustration on both sides. What seems very simply (almost stupidly so) is apparently missed by people around me

    I don't think I'm better than any one. I think I remember things and have an attention to certain details that others don't but I think other people are much better than me at other things. As such, I think it balances out in the end.
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by louiesgonnadie View Post
    I've noticed that a good bit of people with Autism have touted this disorder as a gift, and how they have special abilities that "neurotypical people" (NTs) don't have. While hyperfocus can be a great thing if used productively, it isn't always limited to Autism or even any psychiatric disorder.

    I've only studied the Autism Spectrum on and off for about a year and a half, so I'm always willing to be wrong. But whenever I google "positive aspie traits" or read people's personal experiences with Autism, and how it's helped them "see the world differently", I see traits that could also be present in a healthy person that is non autistic. I often see these positive traits overlapping with the introverted and intuitive (INxx) brain types.

    Everyone sees the world differently, which is what Jung's theory is about. When you hone into that idea further, I guess I could see why Autism would lead someone to think differently, and that could be an easier way of saying they have a different way of sensing and processing sensory information - but the same could be said about someone non-autistic who suffered through PTSD, or homelessness, or even a more severe degree of teen angst. It's likely that someone with Autism is forced into an introverted state after going through several social failures. That leads someone to develop perspectives on certain things that might not be explored if they were not being forced to live life so withdrawn.

    It seems like these viewpoints that occasionally float around in the Autism culture are generated by wishful thinking, which could potentially be spawned by an inferiority complex. It irritates me when people like Temple Grandin say "if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool, you would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.” which is total gall. So just because people are socializing doesn't mean people can't get anything done? That's funny, because I'm sure many people, even the most intelligent and intuitive, can effectively socialize AND come up with ideas and/or work simultaneously. That also opens the doors for teamwork, which can lead to idea breadth and completion speed. Autism doesn't dictate level of intelligence. Even though people like Gates, Einstein, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Tesla, etc. exhibited some autistic symptoms it does not mean they necessarily were autistic - they could have been gifted, or overly passionate, or just highly intuitive.

    I don't know, I could go on, but the bottom line is - if a brain structure such as Autism is wired a different way that creates major defecits in communication and sensory processing (that sometimes cannot be completely overcome depending on the level of severity), and how NTs (nuerotypicals) aren't usually born with the innate ability to hyperfocus on one thing (which can be compensated for in terms of learning new things or intellectual development, unless the NT has a low iq/intellectual capacity and/or some type of drug induced brain problem or something else) then based on these patterns, and what I know so far, Autism is more than a difference - and it falls into a problematic category. This is what my intuition is telling me based on what I know.

    But I could be totally wrong and ignorant. Who knows.

    What do you guys think?

    As a side note, I was diagnosed as having "Asperger's" when I was about five years old...but questioning it's validity due to other problems that I experienced mentally or physically throughout my life, as the label does not seem to apply to me as of late. Figures. :I
    We see this happen with things where biological aspects are connected to how a person process the world. There is a similar aspect to "deaf culture". I think the ambivalence is strongest among people who are on the border. One part doesn't like all the negative consequences, and really wants to have the "good consequences" while removing the bad.

    Unfortunately, we don't have that great a map from genes to phenotype. Especially since many genes are "non-penatrant" (don't lead to any appreciable differences in phenotype).

    I think the reason Temple Grandin and others say the types of things you mentioned is because, we don't want to get into a Eugenics like situation yet. So "Let's not go removing Autism related genes from our gene pool quite yet, because they may have good effects" is the point. But statements like that are too weak to get press. So saying "if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool, you would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.” is a way of safeguarding the diversity that is so strongly feared of being eliminated.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  4. #4
    undergoing self-analysis louiesgonnadie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinker683 View Post
    As such, I think it balances out in the end.
    Not sure what you really mean here - could you expand upon that?
    "For a minute there, I lost myself...I lost myself."

    LOUIS CK: "We don't think about how we talk"
    http://zenpencils.com/comic/95-louis...t-how-we-talk/

  5. #5
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by louiesgonnadie View Post
    Not sure what you really mean here - could you expand upon that?
    By that I mean I think I do things much better than other people...and other people do things much better than me. Ergo, I'm not "better" than them or anything like that...just different from them, as they are different from me
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

  6. #6
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    I think @ygolo has it right. Because autism is seen by neurotypicals as a 'problem' rather than just a genetic difference those with autism fear being labelled as defective, minimalised and targetted for elimination. So they argue too strongly for positive traits out of that fear. The problem isnt with the condition but with societies need to defect notice its own members based on arbitrary standards of normalcy. Human society has a habit of exclusion which causes people to argue for their limitations.

  7. #7
    undergoing self-analysis louiesgonnadie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    We see this happen with things where biological aspects are connected to how a person process the world. There is a similar aspect to "deaf culture". I think the ambivalence is strongest among people who are on the border. One part doesn't like all the negative consequences, and really wants to have the "good consequences" while removing the bad.

    Unfortunately, we don't have that great a map from genes to phenotype. Especially since many genes are "non-penatrant" (don't lead to any appreciable differences in phenotype).

    I think the reason Temple Grandin and others say the types of things you mentioned is because, we don't want to get into a Eugenics like situation yet. So "Let's not go removing Autism related genes from our gene pool quite yet, because they may have good effects" is the point. But statements like that are too weak to get press. So saying "if the autism gene was eliminated from the gene pool, you would have a bunch of people standing around in a cave, chatting and socializing and not getting anything done.” is a way of safeguarding the diversity that is so strongly feared of being eliminated.
    Good point. Though this can lead to wishful thinking, which can lead to misconceptions. I've even talked with psychiatrists about it and they told me "it was a gift, and a totally different way of thinking". Which seemed a little off, because a lot of the Autists/Aspies I've known have struggled to communicate, and in some cases, even generate original insight, and even get their viewpoints and ideas out there in a way where other people might take them seriously.

    Would you say it is a flawed brain structure (as mild as it can be) rather than a difference, or vice versa?
    "For a minute there, I lost myself...I lost myself."

    LOUIS CK: "We don't think about how we talk"
    http://zenpencils.com/comic/95-louis...t-how-we-talk/

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by louiesgonnadie View Post
    Good point. Though this can lead to wishful thinking, which can lead to misconceptions. I've even talked with psychiatrists about it and they told me "it was a gift, and a totally different way of thinking". Which seemed a little off, because a lot of the Autists/Aspies I've known have struggled to communicate, and in some cases, even generate original insight, and even get their viewpoints and ideas out there in a way where other people might take them seriously.

    Would you say it is a flawed brain structure (as mild as it can be) rather than a difference, or vice versa?
    I don't know if "flaw" is the right word, because we know there is a spectrum, and the differences do lead sometimes to beneficial traits.

    Perhaps there some is wishful thinking involved there. But in many ways every weakness has a strength and every strength a weakness. What is beneficial vs. detrimental varies from circumstance to circumstance, and the ability to adapt as a species lies in diversity as a whole.

    This is something I think about a lot.

    I cannot tell you that it would not feel better to communicate better. But I think we will never be rid of struggles in life. Different people have different struggles, and I think this is a good thing.

    The more varied and diverse we are as a species, the more likely we will be able to adapt to something we do not foresee. There is an additional load, however, to the individuals, to the society, etc. Should we be like Sparta and kill off the "malformed"? Would we be stronger? probably, yes. But victories won this way usually end in total destruction afterwards. So I do not think, you or I or anyone else who displays autistic traits (whether or not we are actually Aspies) should have been killed off at birth.

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  9. #9
    undergoing self-analysis louiesgonnadie's Avatar
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    I somewhat ranted about this on the Asperger's subreddit, and I got some interesting comments (maybe I was a little quick to pull the trigger) http://www.reddit.com/r/aspergers/co...h_but_hear_me/
    "For a minute there, I lost myself...I lost myself."

    LOUIS CK: "We don't think about how we talk"
    http://zenpencils.com/comic/95-louis...t-how-we-talk/

  10. #10
    Member Debaser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by louiesgonnadie View Post
    Even though people like Gates, Einstein, Jobs, Zuckerberg, Tesla, etc. exhibited some autistic symptoms it does not mean they necessarily were autistic - they could have been gifted, or overly passionate, or just highly intuitive.
    This. It seems like everything you are talking about is related to a movement I have observed recently that seeks to retro-diagnose all sorts of people, real and fictional, with Autism or "Asperger's." (Even though the latter has been recently removed from the DSM.) I have seen everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Lisa Simpson to Dr. House to Kanye West "diagnosed" with Asperger's. It's all gotten rather ridiculous, and it all seems to be coming from a recent surge in "autistic spectrum" diagnoses that mirrors the ADHD overdiagnosis fad from a few years earlier. The thing is, I think the root of it is a misunderstanding of exactly what Autism really is. The fact is that we still don't know or understand it as well as we would like. That's why there are still so many idiots who believe it's caused by vaccines and such. As for me, I think we should take a step back and figure out how much of the "autism spectrum" is just a label given to people who differ from social norms slightly, and how much of it is a serious impairment. And I believe there is a significant distinction between the two. That's why I am cautious with saying anyone is an "Aspie" or is on the "spectrum." I'm not even sure about the spectrum's existence. As with any disease, I believe we should draw clear lines in relation to the consistency and severity of symptoms.

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