Social handicap is worse than missing a limb

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Atom1966
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01 Jul 2014, 11:26 am

There are times when I think that the inability to handle social contacts is worse than, for instance, missing an arm, an eye or a leg. That doesn't mean I underestimate fysical handicaps though. The point I am trying to make is that someone who is fyscically disabled but gifted or at the very least average when it comes to dealing with others can get more out of life than someone for whom social interactions are disastrous. I usually get annoyed when someone stresses the point that we humans are social animals because that is exactly what I am not. The problem is that we need others to get on in life and having autism or issues like social anxiety makes makes contact with fellow human beings difficult and sometimes even almost impossible. This means that life itself can become an exhausting and depressing battle against all odds. A social handicap can lead to difficulties in so many areas of life. From getting and keeping a job to finding friends or a partner.

Luckily I am not that gloomy about having aspergers all the time. It is only when I am clearly and seriously confronted with my own inability and axiety whilst trying to connect with others that I think I should never have been born. Living with aspergers or another social disibilaty can take a lot of strength and stamina from time to time. It is best but on the other hand far from easy to just carry the load. I have learned with great difficulty to behave as normal as possible in social situations, with varying success, but what other people don't see is how much energy it takes and how tense, utterly scared, hurt and uncomfortable I feel.



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01 Jul 2014, 12:14 pm

Being a lower limb amputee, I feel I can weigh in on this, but I don't have the time at the moment. I'll think something up to share this evening.


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01 Jul 2014, 12:27 pm

I know, right! I don't have any friends or family members who are physically handicapped, so I don't know for sure, but from my point of view, that would be easier. I mean, I'm sure being physically handicapped isn't fun, but at least everyone can see that, whereas with mental differences, people have trouble understanding. Like, people would never expect someone with paralyzed legs to just get up and walk, yet people with Asperger's Syndrome are expected to "be more friendly", or "socialize" without realizing how difficult that is for us. I mean, yeah, it's not impossible for us to socialize, but just telling us to "talk more" won't help if we don't know what to talk about, or how to read nonverbal cues like body language. However, I don't want to make this sound like people with physical differences don't have struggles, because I'm sure they do. I'm just saying their struggles are better understood, that's all.



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01 Jul 2014, 1:15 pm

I don't really want to compare one to the other, I think each is worse than the other in really different ways...but like WHOperhero said, people put more expectations on you when they can't SEE your disability. Being expected to do things you can't do can become a social handicap in and of itself, even if your neurological problems are not inherently social to begin with.

Not all physical disabilities are immediately visible or understandable either though, like I know someone who has congestive heart failure and she really needs help taking care of herself but people just keep telling her she "looks good." And people who suffer chronic pain may be disabled by it but no one can really see or understand how much pain they are in. Only a handful of physical disabilities are really obvious enough to be understood by people.



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01 Jul 2014, 1:17 pm

Of the two friends I have, one has autism and the other has a missing leg.

They have both being bullied throughout their lives, though it has far more deeply affected the friend with one leg, as he is more affected by society/other people.

People with one leg aren't expected to stand up and walk, but they're forced to watch others enjoy being able to run, play sports, dance etc while maintaining the regular pressures of life (if NT, with full emotional engagement towards society). My autistic friend does not worry what others think of him in the slightest, and it completely oblivious to most negative emotions - if someone teased him about being autistic, he really wouldn't care. Autism can lead to these psychological benefits that I believe are overlooked in the contention here (and many other places).

While nothing you're saying is incorrect, I disagree that having ASD is by default worse than physical disability. I acknowledge that you phrased that only 'at times' you consider that point of view, but you can apply that logic to anything. As a simple analogy, a blind person will struggle less than a deaf person at times, and vice versa.

Undoubtedly you know this already, but life is far too complicated for any black and white thinking.


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kraftiekortie
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01 Jul 2014, 1:20 pm

People with amputations, especially when they are young, are often able to compensate for their loss--through both their own willpower, and the plastic, flexible nature of the brain. The movie, "My Left Foot," illustrates this idea well.

People with Asperger's could compensate as well--but it might be somewhat more difficult, due to the more "subtle-abstract" nature of their disorder.



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01 Jul 2014, 3:07 pm

I've always felt that way. Sure, people with physical handicaps have their own difficulties, but from my experience, people get on better in life if they have the right brain (social or intellectual or both). I remember at school there was a girl who only had half an arm, but otherwise she was a normal kid. She was socially accepted, and did all the things most kids do and wasn't lonely at all. OK maybe some kids might have got uncomfortable about seeing a girl with half an arm, but it was just one of those things everyone got used to. Having Asperger's, I was often left out and no matter how hard I tried to fit in and be nice to people, they still couldn't get used to the fact that I had some challenges.


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01 Jul 2014, 3:22 pm

Yea, I feel that as well... being able to engage other people is better than being able to run across a field or play a harp. Heck, oftentimes the reason you want to do those things is so that you can share it with other people. Interacting with objects in this world does't really matter all that much if you're the only one engaging in it, if something can't be shared then a lot of the joy is stripped from it.



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01 Jul 2014, 4:48 pm

See, that whole 'lack of empathy' thing that some Aspergers and HFAs on here are so confused about, and some claim is a straight up lie invented by the big bad non-autistic society?

This thread is a prime example of that. That, and lack of imagination. God damn.


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01 Jul 2014, 4:57 pm

dianthus wrote:
I don't really want to compare one to the other, I think each is worse than the other in really different ways...but like WHOperhero said, people put more expectations on you when they can't SEE your disability. Being expected to do things you can't do can become a social handicap in and of itself, even if your neurological problems are not inherently social to begin with.

Not all physical disabilities are immediately visible or understandable either though, like I know someone who has congestive heart failure and she really needs help taking care of herself but people just keep telling her she "looks good." And people who suffer chronic pain may be disabled by it but no one can really see or understand how much pain they are in. Only a handful of physical disabilities are really obvious enough to be understood by people.


^ This. (Pretty much sums up what I would have said, hope you don't mind)


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01 Jul 2014, 5:55 pm

dianthus wrote:
I don't really want to compare one to the other, I think each is worse than the other in really different ways...but like WHOperhero said, people put more expectations on you when they can't SEE your disability. Being expected to do things you can't do can become a social handicap in and of itself, even if your neurological problems are not inherently social to begin with.

Not all physical disabilities are immediately visible or understandable either though, like I know someone who has congestive heart failure and she really needs help taking care of herself but people just keep telling her she "looks good." And people who suffer chronic pain may be disabled by it but no one can really see or understand how much pain they are in. Only a handful of physical disabilities are really obvious enough to be understood by people.


Well said.

From my experience, being an amputee and having ASD don't really overlap and I don't think they're really comparable. I'm a pretty active person, and being an amputee doesn't really slow me down, and is not that big of an issue. Having autism causes a lot more problems and difficulty in my life.


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01 Jul 2014, 6:17 pm

Are such comparisons really helpful?

Personally, I don't think they are.



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01 Jul 2014, 7:12 pm

On a more generic level, I think the comparison is valid. Not to dismiss the hardship of others, but I believe purely physical (also more readily understood) handicaps are going to have a certain level of social support and friendships.

My brother has been completely deaf since infancy. He had extra support throughout his education, has a close knit group of friends, and works full time as well. His needs are well-defined and accepted by family and the general public.

I was diagnosed after a complete breakdown in my teens. My mother still shys away from any behavior that's "not normal". There's still an expectation that I should understand subtle social signals. My father seems to feel I just don't try hard enough. I visit about four times a year, because it's still hurtful and anxiety provoking.

Sure, part of it is a little sibling rivalry. It's hard to know that I will always be misunderstood, when that support is so abundant otherwise.



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01 Jul 2014, 7:12 pm

On a more generic level, I think the comparison is valid. Not to dismiss the hardship of others, but I believe purely physical (also more readily understood) handicaps are going to have a certain level of social support and friendships.

My brother has been completely deaf since infancy. He had extra support throughout his education, has a close knit group of friends, and works full time as well. His needs are well-defined and accepted by family and the general public.

I was diagnosed after a complete breakdown in my teens. My mother still shys away from any behavior that's "not normal". There's still an expectation that I should understand subtle social signals. My father seems to feel I just don't try hard enough. I visit about four times a year, because it's still hurtful and anxiety provoking.

Sure, part of it is a little sibling rivalry. It's hard to know that I will always be misunderstood, when that support is so abundant otherwise.



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01 Jul 2014, 7:18 pm

I went through a quiet phase when I was in Grade 9, because I didn't want my peers to find out what my interests were. I also didn't know what to talk about unless I was with my closest friends. I also wasn't interested in the mundane things that my peers were talking about like celebrities, guys and makeup.


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01 Jul 2014, 8:43 pm

No one in my family and none of my friends are missing limbs, but I do have something to say regarding this.
My twin sister has dysphonia, which is a physical handicap regarding speaking. I have AS.
My twin spent every day since her diagnosis (2 years ago) actively making her dysphonia worse, to gain sympathy and get out of work she didn't want to do.
While I was only diagnosed with AS 3 years ago, I've spent the past 13 years actively trying to improve and get rid of ,or at least lessen, symptoms.

My sister and I share some classes, and teachers have repeatedly sung my sister praise for "overcoming her handicap", and constantly disparaged me for having an attitude or being emotional- in both cases, they made certain the class could hear. One of my teachers insulted me outright when I had a meltdown and asked to go to the bathroom so I could distance myself and calm down, in an attempt to not disrupt class any more than it already had been. All of my teachers are aware of my AS, and of my twin's dysphonia, and have been thoroughly informed of the problems and implications of each.

This difference in treatment made me angry because it wasn't deserved. If my sister actually had been doing anything the doctors told her too, as opposed to doing the exact opposite, I'd have been a bit more understanding. It was made worse because she would brag about getting out of assignments or about the praise she got.

My sister stopped this recently, but now she's out of therapy completely and I can tell her voice is getting worse.

In my mind this raises a question- if you actively make a disability worse, especially for purposes like my sister's, can it still be considered a disability or is it faking one?