ASD adults and aggression - thoughts?

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skibum
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19 Jul 2022, 10:19 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Of course I'll post.

Thanks again.

:heart:


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19 Jul 2022, 10:59 pm

I wrote to Dr. Roberson, the author of the article after talking to him on the phone about it. He asked me to send him my thoughts on it because he wants to rewrite it. I let him know that I would be posting what I wrote to him with all of you. I want to encourage all of you to let him know your own thoughts as well so that he can have a real understanding of what the community thinks of what he wrote. His email contact and phone number are on his website which is in the link of the article. He is very open and wants to know what we have to say. He is also considering joining WP.

So here is what I wrote to him. Please also let me know if any of you relate to how I think and process and see these things. I hope the many of you will share your opinions because I know that not everyone thinks like me and I want him, as myself, to be able to understand the different ways we see this, not just my way. Here is my email to him:

Good evening ____,
I hope you don't mind me calling you ___. Feels like we are old
friends now! :D But, all jokes aside, it makes me much more
comfortable to call people by their first names no matter what their
titles or professions are. No disrespect at all, it just makes it much
easier for me to talk to you so thank you.

So my first thought about your article is that I was very surprised
that even though it was published in 2019, which is six years after
the Asperger's diagnosis was removed from the DSM, you are still using
the term. I know that many still use it but I thought that as a
practicing psychologist, you would be using the most recent
terminology as it appears in the DSM. That is not a huge deal but
there are some Autistic people who take offense to the term Asperger's
now because of it's tie to Nazi Germany during the second world war. I
don't take any offense to it personally, but it might be good to use
the terms that we are now using in the DSM V, or the DSM V TR or
whatever the latest version is now.

I absolutely love how you state that we are not more prone to feel
aggression than nts are because that is true and many people do not
understand that. I also love that you want to tackle the why of the
matter rather than just saying that some of us tend to be aggressive.
Your first point is correct. I agree with it 100%. And it is true that
the majority of us are very passive and not aggressive. That is one
reason why we are such ripe targets for all kinds of bullies.

Your second point is where we disagree. Yes, there are some of us who
struggle with seeing the big picture or who don't see it at all but
that is not true for all of us. Many of us see the big picture
extremely well and sometimes better than nts do. The issue isn't that
we can't see it, the issue is that we don't always start from that
point. For many or us, even though we see that the big picture is
there, we don't use it as a starting point in order to mentally
process or take action because that is not what makes the most sense.
It's also not efficient for how our minds work. We know that the big
picture is there, but we won't focus on it because it doesn't make
sense to. Also, the big picture grows from the sum of its parts. So it
doesn't make sense to really focus on it. And many of us are using
every bit of energy we have just to survive. We don't have energy to
waste on inefficiency of thought and processing, so the big picture
will often just be thrown out of the equation because it wastes energy
to look at it and focus on it.

Now please understand that I am speaking only for myself and I am
also able to speak on behalf of the Autistic friends that I know very
well. So not every Autistic person will think as I do, just like every
nt is different. But I do believe that there are quite a number of us
who are like me and my friends. This is one reason why I encouraged
you to join WP which will enable you to have access to a global ASD
community enabling you to get to know so many more of us than would be
possible in real life. So yes, there are some who are incapable of
seeing the big picture but that is just not true for so many of us.

Next you talk about compartmentalizing. The way you describe it makes
me think that maybe you don't actually know how compartmentalizing
works. Just because we compartmentalize, does not mean that there is
dissociation and that one compartment has no connection or any idea
what any other compartments are doing or thinking or feeling. That
just makes no sense. It's kind of stupid actually. That is like saying
that when you pull out a pair of socks from your sock dresser drawer,
you are no longer aware that the drawer next to it has underwear, the
one below it has tshirts and the one next to that has jeans. That's
just ridiculous. But, there may be some who are as you describe but I
don't think that is the case for most of us. You only have two hands
so you probably only pull out clothes from one drawer at a time. But
just because you are pulling out socks doesn't mean that you have lost
sight that the other drawers and their contents exist.

If I react aggressively to someone who is treating me badly, I am
fully aware of the fact that I have reacted that way just like you
would be. I also feel fully justified in my actions. The only reason
that I would act aggressively is if I feel like I am under threat and
it is the only option I have. If no one is understanding my
communication and I am repeatedly not able to get my needs met, and my
needs or pains are constantly being ignored, aggression might be the
only way to get your attention. I am fully aware of this. We are not
aggressive because it's fun. We are aggressive because we are hurt.
The only other option is that we might be spoiled brats. But if we are
spoiled brats, we didn't create that ourselves. So, from my personal
experience and from what I know of my friends, what you say about
compartmentalization is just wrong.

And we are not necessarily acting in an anti social manner. We are
reacting to social abuse and social neglect. What if you were a
soldier at war and the enemy was shooting at you? If you decided to
shoot back, would you say that you were acting in an anti social
manner? I don't think so. Life for us is not that different. It
literally can be like living in a social and sensory warzone. Yet,
when we react to that, we are accused of acting anti socially.

The nts in our lives might not realize that the way they are treating
us is actually torturous. Our behavior is only considered anti social
because people don't understand that aggression is a reaction to
something that is being done to you. It's not something you do just
because you feel like it, unless you are a spoiled brat. One thing
that I have never heard or read about are articles where nts are
wondering what they are doing in order to make us react with
aggression. The focus is always on changing the behavior of the
Autistic person and never on what might you, the non Autistic person,
be doing to create that reaction in the first place.

Next you talk about lack of cognitive empathy and its effects. Yes, it
is true that there are Autistic people who struggle with cognitive
empathy but many of us are actual empaths. In fact, our empathy is so
incredibly overly developed that it can shut us down completely to the
point of not being able to function. Many of us also have incredibly
highly developed Theory of Mind. In fact, for some us that empathy and
ToM is much more highly developed than for nts. And it is also never
mentioned that nts have practically no cognitive empathy or ToM on how
Autistic social structure and on how Autistic communication and
processing works. I know that for me and for some of my friends, the
aggressive feelings we feel are because nts have no ToM or empathy
towards us and how we do things, not the other way around.

It is also true that some Autistic people do not understand the
consequences of their actions. But most of us do. And it is also very
true that many nts do not understand the consequences of their actions
either especially when it comes to how they treat us on a consistent
basis every day. And many nts cannot be told that they are abusing us
because they are in such denial. So living under that constant state
of abuse and gaslighting causes us to become aggressive just like it
would for anybody else.

And be very careful about saying things like, "Such a diminished
capacity, in turn, affects control of one's actions, creating a
sequence of cause and effect wherein insensitivity to aggressiveness,
in turn further reducing that person's ability to understand the
effects of that aggression." I wanted to throttle you for saying that
sentence. Nts have created and insist on maintaining a society that
is absolutely torturous for many of us. Yet they insist that we change
everything about our natural existence and hold us to impossible
expectations in order for us to appear socially acceptable. They
refuse to meet us half way and change the way that they treat us. Most
of them won't even allow us to tell them what they are really doing to
us but act as if they are the authority and be all end all of what
humanity should look like. Well many of us are not able to survive
under that kind of treatment and aggression is just a natural response
to being treated that way every day of your lives. So now I hope that
you can see why an article like this would be so offensive.

Thank you so much for being so willing to learn. I look forward to
hearing your thoughts on what I have told you.
Your friend,
Skibum


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20 Jul 2022, 5:03 pm

Update.
I just got an email back from the good doctor in response to the email that I sent him which I posted above. He responded excellently. I am so glad to know what kind of man he is. I know that he is one psychologist who will really help our community.


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21 Jul 2022, 5:08 pm

Hello Dr Roberson and thank you for agreeing to hear our input.

I've made pages of notes about your article, which could amount to a full-length dissertation if I don't force myself to write in jot notes. Here are some of my thoughts so far. I'll go section by section through your article and point out areas which I found to be offensive, along with my basic rationale.


Intro:

If aggression / violence are no more likely than NTs, then reaffirm this several times
This point gets lost in the article

Personally it makes me wonder why the article isn’t about NT aggression / violence toward autistics
NT aggression against autistics is much more common, and in fact backed by statistics

Autistics of any age are much more likely to be bullied, assaulted, or victimised than NT individuals
They are also more likely to die by suicide than NTs


Offensive words and factual errors in the Intro:

" …. No more likely …than those with other mental health conditions”

This suggests that autism is a mental health condition
ASD should be defined with terminology explaining it is not a mental illness


“ … Aspergers ..”

Are you talking about all autistic people, or just those diagnosed with Aspergers on the old system?
Please clarify and explain that Aspergers is no longer a diagnosis


“Assisting THEM with this behaviour ….”

The tone of the article is condescending as if you are talking about a different species of human
It’s an “us and them” mentality
Instead of patronising autistic people, concede that a majority of your reading audience might be autistic

You are setting up an antagonistic, elitist, and uncooperative tone despite being an ASD psychologist


“ Act aggressively / aggressive behaviour”

What do you mean by this?
Define "AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOUR" and “ACTING AGGRESSIVELY”

Are you talking about physical violence?
To whom? Each other? NTs? Why?
By aggression, do you mean people perceive our stress or tension?
Do you mean passive-aggressive actions?
Do you mean overly assertive self-advocacy and language?
Threats?
Impulsive decisions? (Many of us have ADHD)

The media often portrays us as spree killers and psychos
Your interpretation of "aggression" and "aggressive acts" can’t be left undefined

“ …. It is important to find out why this is …”

Why?
It sounds like you are trying to stop aggression in an effort to protect non-autistics, rather than fostering a spirit of understanding and empathy between all people


Essentially:

What is the point of this article?
Who is it written for?
What percentage of society are ASD?
How many don’t even know they are ASD?
How will your insights help to ease anxiety in ASD readers?
How will it help their families, researchers, or the general public?

Most of the general public don’t even know if we are ASD or not
Somehow it sounds like ASD people wear scarlet letters and need to be measured, controlled or avoided


“The Scientific Literature ….”

What scientific literature?
Where?
Citations?



Part 1:

Offensive words:

“They TEND TO have ….”
(where is the stat on this? It sounds empirical)


“ … a life-long habit of social and psychological isolation”

Our behaviours and emotions aren’t a “habit” – they are neurodevelopmental and often the result of CPTSD, ableism, abuse, alienation, or comorbid conditions like anxiety and Major Depressive Disorder (often the result of being marginalised by others)

This is judgmental and blames ASD people for feeling “other”, which is the literal meaning of the word AUTISTIC
(aut = self, individual, autonomous)

*** Is NT aggression or violence considered a “habit”?
*** Is isolation specific to ASD people, or can NTs also feel social rejection / loneliness?


“ eccentric behaviour”

Such as?
Who is the judge of our behaviour?
Who sets the standards?
Should we mask and hide our authentic selves?


“resentment about their lives”

NO, I disagree
Many of us are quite happy and proud of being ND
Are NT people incapable of feeling resentment about their lives??


“An attitude of resentment …. Toward the people with whom they interact …”

This makes us sound borderline sociopathic

Do you resent people who abuse you?
Do you resent people who invalidate your needs or your experience?
Do you resent authority figures and doctors who won’t help you?
Do you resent doctors who misdiagnose you?
Have you been labelled Schizophrenic or Borderline?
Were you sent to behavioural programs (ABA) to rewire your brain?
Did doctors offer you psychotropic meds that you most likely don’t need, and can’t metabolise?

Do doctors say your life is less important than NTs?
Do they claim that you have a poor quality of life?
There is evidence of ASD patients being refused care during Covid
Do some people discuss eugenics so they can kill people like you before birth?
Do you resent your neighbour who plays loud music or invades your personal space?


These are all normal, human emotions and reactions ^
Accountability should be expected from those causing our “isolation” or “resentment”


"Such resentment PROPELS (!) them toward aggressive and anti-social behaviour .."

This is libellous
What do you mean by aggressive behaviour?
If we are propelled by resentment are we homicidal?
Define anti-social behaviour and the difference between ASPD / ASD


“ .. in their minds (the NTs) are causing their unhappiness … “

Again this is an “us and them” mentality
It’s patronising
It’s false


I choose not to spend time with people because I prefer being alone
My unhappiness is often the result of sensory discomfort such as:

BRIGHT SUNSHINE
ELECTRIC LIGHTS
BOTHERSOME NOISES (hyperacusis, misophonia)
ENVIRONMENTAL SMELLS (including food, and the products I'm forced to buy)
UNCOMFORTABLE CLOTHES
BEING HYPO or HYPER- SENSITIVE TO THE ENVIRONMENT including our own homes
LACK OF A SENSORY FILTER to block background noises and stimuli - creating overwhelm

Or

Financial stressors like:

NOT GETTING DISABILITY BENEFITS
NOT HAVING ADULT SUPPORT SYSTEMS -- even when diagnosed as Levels 2 or 3
NO ACCESS TO ASD MENTAL HEALTH SPECIALISTS
NOT BEING ABLE TO WORK FULL-TIME -- often because of sensory triggers
FINANCIAL WORRIES
NON-VERBAL DECIFITS (difficulty understanding movies / TV)
MUTISM and poor self-advocacy
FACE BLINDNESS (Not remembering who people are)
EYE CONTACT -- It physically hurts
NOT READING PEOPLE'S EYES or intentions (feeling vulnerable)
SPATIAL difficulties – Not knowing where I am, getting lost, etc


Or

POOR SLEEP because of my ruminating mind
(ASD people are proven to have poor sleep and more insomnia)

Or

EXECUTIVE DSYFUNCTION
Difficulties with short-term memory, planning, starting, stopping
Cleaning (noisy machines, smelly products, yucky textures)
Poor time management because of rumination and hyper focus on details
Difficulty with auditory or visual processing
Being "stuck in our heads" all the time
Poor physical coordination

I would experience all this ^ discomfort and unhappiness even if I was alone
My unhappiness has very little to do with others
I have NO INTEREST in spending time with NT society, so I'm not resentful of them
I am not jealous or embittered by people I don't want to know
When I go into NT society it's like I'm going into combat for survival
It heightens my adrenaline and my fight / flight response
This is a normal reaction of the limbic system when a person is afraid or overwhelmed
I'm tired of being told that autistics want to join "the real world"
I am perfectly happy in my own little world, and have no interest in yours


Are NTs jealous and embittered by one another?
Do they resent one another's success? YES


“ A conviction of being disrespected and unfairly treated”

It’s not a conviction, it’s true
It sounds like this is all in our heads or we are having a pity party
It sounds like we are delusional, overreacting, or wrong
What should NT readers do to remedy this mistreatment?

“The remedy being an aggressive counter-reaction”

What does this mean??
It sounds like we hit, threaten, or intimidate people all day
It sounds like our emotional response is unjustified
It’s not a “remedy”, because it doesn’t solve the problem
It sounds like we calculate or plan these responses


* I will address the other parts later on, but wanted to get started with my post



IsabellaLinton
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21 Jul 2022, 6:18 pm

Comments about Part 1 from an autistic friend: (reproduced and edited with permission),


Say autistics are 2% of the general population. Say of that 2% the percent of autistics who are aggressive or violent is a fraction of that percentage. What then is the percentage, the number of people in the other 98% of the population that are aggressive or violent? By pure basic math, wouldn't that figure be magnitudes higher than the former?

And when is this obsession, this fixation going to end? The false idea that most if not all autistic people wish they were NT???????? You and I and every other autistic person who would never change their neurology to be NT if it was possible, we're such anomalies that it's not even worth considering? Either that or we must be mentally ill, deranged even for not wanting to be NT? Unbelievable. Straight up delusions of grandeur.

You've heard me say it for years in relation to things like this and the infringement on my individual liberty and choices in general about NT society: Just leave me alone. That's all I want.

Resentment requires caring about something enough to resent it. No one resents something they don't care about, don't have feelings about or don't have an opinion about.

Hear this, NTs: I don't want to be you. Literally at all. I don't want to live my life like you live yours. I don't envy you. I have my own life and I enjoy and covet the freedom I have to live my own life as I choose to live it, struggles and all. As such, I have no resentment of you or toward you. You are not on my radar. But apparently we're on yours?

Who has the resentment here?



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21 Jul 2022, 7:02 pm

Brava Isabella.
Your response the article is absolutely excellent. Thank you so much. I hope other people will share their opinions with Dr. Robeson as well. :heart:


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21 Jul 2022, 8:19 pm

Part 2

Offensive language:

"Doing so allows someone to act aggressively while disassociating oneself from the act itself"

I don't understand this, or how you made this judgmental conclusion
Readers might think we have DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder)
Please explain where you get this information or data about our behaviour

Dissociation is a calming strategy, not an excitatory one
I do dissociate from much of the world because I'm trapped in my head
It's a self-defence mechanism to endure C-PTSD and Sensory Processing Disorder
Dissociation doesn't "allow" me to act aggressively toward others

This language suggests I have no control over my behaviour or choices
It suggests I avoid accountability, or I'm not smart enough to know what I'm doing

You make it sound like we dissociate and harm others in a delusional state
You make it sound like aggression is inevitable or to be expected from people with ASD


" ... as if it had not occurred and/or is not as harmful as it actually is."

What?! 8O
We don't know what we do?!
What do you mean by "as harmful as it actually is" ??
What harm do we do to people?
What harm do NTs do to us?!

Again, you leave too much to the reader's imagination
What type of harm are you referring to, and who is harmed?
Most of the harm I cause in my life is self-harm, whether emotional or physical
Autistic people often self-harm in meltdowns, shutdowns, or from hyposensitivity
Lack of self-care is our biggest concern, not "harming" others when dissociated

You suggest we experience derealization and aren't accountable for our actions
This sounds somewhat like an insanity defence and it's unacceptable for you to say


"A result is a person who believes himself to be a law-abiding, rule-following person while at the same time acting in an anti-social manner"


Wow. I'm incredulous.

Image

This is the public perception of "anti-social" behaviour
You're suggesting that we are sociopaths who aren't "law-abiding"
This makes us sound like potential criminals without any empathy for others
In fact, we are often overwhelmed by empathy that we can't articulate verbally

We are not "anti-social" whether it involves ASPD or not
We are autonomous -- There's a huge difference which you fail to explain


-----

My personal thoughts:

I agree that we focus on parts and details more than the whole
That doesn't mean the "whole" is absent, or I don't understand the big picture
For me, it means I process all the parts simultaneously
This leads to overstimulation and overwhelm

Physical world example:
When I step outside I'm struck by every "part" at the same time
I'm aware of every smell, sound, colour, shape, texture, memory, connection, and feeling
I can't filter out what is more or less important, or ignore any of the composite parts
Despite this I am still aware of the totality, or the "whole thing" in front of me
I still have to function, smile, and act like a "normal" person to be accepted in society

Emotional world example:
Most of us including myself have Alexithymia
My emotions are either like a wall of feeling, a fog, or a sudden flood
I can't always name the gradients or understand what they mean
I learned in therapy that I can't process two emotions at the same time
When I have two emotions together (even good ones), I short-circuit
Rather than "harming" people with aggression, I shut down
Shutdowns mean that I withdraw away from people to self-soothe

With Alexithymia, it's very difficult to analyse the "parts" of my feelings
I can feel the "big picture" emotion strongly, but I don't know how to explain it
My mutism makes it hard to express myself verbally
People might perceive that I'm tense and anxious but I'm not "aggressive"

I turn to writing to self-advocate, since I have difficulty with verbal communication
Writing, thinking, and feeling make me very introspective and introverted
I start analysing everything around me to find clues about what's going on
This is why I likely seem detached or dissociated
It's not because I'm unaware of the big picture or I'm out of control

I ruminate about all the details of everything
I think or write endlessly, trying to deconstruct my feelings and experiences
That's the only way I can make sense of Alexithymia and autism
Please don't suggest that I'm aggressive just because I'm stuck in my head
It seems NTs need more education about our inner life

Interoception:
I don't know the names for many of my physical feelings
In 2020 I had to be taught to differentiate flavours (salty, sweet, sour, etc.)
I seldom know when I'm sleepy or hungry, because it's all a dull monotony
I get lost in the details when trying to advocate at my doctor
I'll describe sensations for 15 minutes and have her say "that's heartburn ..." :(
I don't have the lexicon for labelling sensations without endless detail
It's like I live in a dictionary or thesaurus, with none of the key words given
All I see, feel, or experience are the descriptions and synonyms



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21 Jul 2022, 8:31 pm

Isabella, Your descriptions are really incredible.


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21 Jul 2022, 9:41 pm

Part 3:

Offensive or inaccurate language:


"Some experts believe that a prominent trait of adults with Asperger’s is a deficiency of cognitive empathy, or difficulty appreciating how other people feel"


Who are "some experts"?
Does that include you?
Did some experts write the DSM5 definition of ASD?
I don't see cognitive empathy listed anywhere in the DSM5.

Here are the DSM5 criteria for the social deficits of Autism.
Note that none of these traits describe cognitive empathy or the lack of empathy:


Image

It mentions:

- social communication and interaction
- social / emotional reciprocity (this means we don't always express our emotions)
- abnormal social approach
- failure of back and forth conversation (this is a processing issue, or from lack of confidence)
- reduced sharing of interests (everyone tells us that our interests are boring, or we infodump)
- reduced sharing of emotions (this doesn't mean we don't feel them)
- ... or affect ... (we have difficulty with facial expressions - that doesn't mean we lack empathy)
- failure to initiate social interactions (because we don't feel comfortable, or want any ...)
- failure to respond to social interactions (we are tired of being judged and criticised)

* None of this means that we can't appreciate how others feel, or we have limited emotions

We can't always intuit how they feel, because NTs can control/ fake / hide their emotions
We have difficulty reading facial expressions or people's eyes (NVLD)
We can't always make inferences based on context clues (details --> big picture)
Our auditory processing speed is much slower - we often clue in hours later
NTs often have experiences we've never been exposed to, so we don't understand

If they tell us how they feel, we care deeply and we do relate
Sometimes we care so much we get overwhelmed and shut down
Most of us are overwhelmed by empathy and sympathy but can't show it in NT ways
That's part of why we avoid people -- it hurts too much

We are natural problem solvers so it's hard to avoid giving advice when others are upset
Many of us have also been exposed to years of emotional abuse and neglect
Emotion might cause us PTSD flashbacks about our own feelings

We may lack the vocabulary to express empathy because of Alexithymia and/or mutism
We may lack the ability to display NT facial expressions or body language in response
We don't like looking into people's eyes to demonstrate emotion because IT HURTS US

Most autistics are very empathetic toward animals
We can read their body language with much more intuition than people
That doesn't mean we don't care about people or care about their feelings

Most of us are burnt out from trying to conform to NT emotional standards
Do NTs spend their lives trying to express emotions properly for us?
Do autistics measure, test, and criticise NTs' levels of empathy or concern about ASD?

This argument about empathy always seems like passive-aggressive gaslighting
We may not jump through NT hoops, but it doesn't mean we don't care
It makes us sound like psychopaths, especially when you say we are aggressive


"Lacking such an appreciation of what emotional damage their actions can cause ..."

Our actions cause emotional damage?!
How and when?
What types of emotional damage do we inflict on people?
Is it because we don't act like them?
Are they the gold standard?

How does a minority cause grievous emotional harm to a majority?
Does anyone care about the emotional damage we've received from NTs?

Do we really lack awareness of our actions?
Again, you are making us sound insane
This is more gaslighting, published by someone who should be our advocate


"It is common for adults with Asperger’s to react aggressively upon feeling offended, criticized, or in some other way mistreated ... "

Honestly, I can't stand this double standard anymore
Now we're "reactive" and butt-hurt
I'm still waiting to learn what you mean by "aggressive" actions, too

How do you feel when you are offended, criticized, and mistreated?

Are you teaching self-advocacy and assertiveness skills to autistic adults?
How should they deal with a lifetime of being mischaracterised and maligned?
Is there an NT handbook?


"Without realizing how hurtful they can be, such aggressive actions seem entirely justified to the aggrieved Asperger’s adult."

Without realising how hurtful they can be, NTs are responsible for the emotional and psychological abuse of autistics, leading to increased rates of self-harm and suicide.

Please stop.



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21 Jul 2022, 10:37 pm

Kenneth Roberson is a legit specialist in Asperger-type autism. When I was first realising I might be on the spectrum I read his book "Adult Asperger's Syndrome: The Essential Guide", which is decent as a first primer or to get an overview on the topic.

I'm just looking at his post on aggression now, and these are my thoughts:

Firstly, I'm in agreement with Dr Roberson that we should not shy away from discussing aggressiveness in AS adults, it is an important topic, as long as we stress that we are talking about a very small number of people - a minority within a minority. Whether we like it or not, there does seem to be a link between certain loners with AS traits and acts of extreme violence, and there are also some AS adults who behave aggressively in milder ways, and denying this does nothing to help with understanding why this might be so or what can be done about it. But at the same time, we do need to stress that AS alone does not cause people to become aggressive, it is just one factor, and the vast majority of autistics have absolutely no wish or intent to harm others.

To address his points individually:
1. We all recognise that living with AS has its challenges and sometimes it can feel as if the world is against us. I see this in some of the posts on WP, some people do have a bit of resentment against NTs or the prevailing culture. So, regardless of my personal feelings, I agree that this can happen.

2. No, I disagree with this link between narrow focus and acceptance of our own aggression. I only have my subjective experience to go on, but in my view the reason why I can "seem" to dissociate myself from my own aggressive (or aggressive-appearing) behaviour is that I get into a condition of emotional overwhelm at those moments and have no control over it. This means that I can continue to see myself as a good person despite behaving badly, on the basis that there was no intent behind my words/actions. It has nothing to do with narrow focus. If there is any element of dissociation involved, it is a protective measure to stop my self-esteem sinking even lower, from fully understanding how badly I've inadvertently behaved towards others.

3. My view is that AS adults are rarely completely incapable of cognitive empathy, it just takes longer in us to develop. It probably is more difficult for us, but we can still learn cognitive empathy through conscious practice at trying to understand people (i.e. LIFE). So I believe there is a degree of truth in this, for some AS adults, mostly those with more severe social limitations and of younger age and less experience in life, but it becomes less relevant with increased age and intelligence.

4. Well... I agree we can develop quite "sticky" obsessions and compulsions that it is hard for us to break out of. But I think most of us learn not to become aggressive on being interrupted during childhood, and it's quite rare for that sort of aggression to carry over into adulthood. Of more concern to me would be when we develop obsessions on unhealthy, anti-social or violent topics. I can imagine (rare) situations where someone's need to satisfy their obsessive interest in something illegal or antisocial might end in aggression or violence.

5. Hm...maybe? I agree that some with AS can become quite detached from society, and I know that detachment can lead to some rather divergent ways of looking at things. We are the out-of-the-box thinkers, after all. But I'm not sure that this connects with aggression, as such. Many who become detached from society like this are actually depressed and more likely to harm themselves than others. It is possible that a minority might get caught up in divergent ideas about the nature of society or conspiracy theories, and I could see this leading, in an even smaller minority of people, to some form of violent action - but in this case it might not be coming from a place of aggression so much as a need to set society to rights. Unfortunately, a warped world-view might lead to a harmful way of achieving what is, in their mind, an altruistic goal.

I definitely do not agree with the final comment:

Quote:
Such a diminished capacity, in turn, affects control of one’s actions, creating a sequence of cause and effect wherein insensitivity to aggressiveness reduces one’s control over aggressiveness, in turn further reducing that person’s ability to understand the effects of that aggression.


Where does this come from? What basis is there for saying that those with AS have insensitivity to aggressiveness (if anything, many of us are hyper-sensitive and become extremely distressed by aggression)? Does this supposed insensitivity really reduce our control (when for most of us the lack of control comes from emotional dysregulation, not conscious thought processes)?

While I agree with some of the points Dr Roberson brings up, this last one seems completely misguided, and more descriptive of the process of developing personality or conduct disorders than in AS. At least, if he is going to make potentially harmful statements like this, he should provide some evidence to back them up.

I kind of hope he reads this and reflects on it! (And understands that I'm generally a fan of what he does in trying to explain neurodivergence to the general public - just not entirely onboard with this particular post).



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21 Jul 2022, 11:03 pm

That was well-written Mrs Peel.

"Whether we like it or not, there does seem to be a link between certain loners with AS traits and acts of extreme violence, and there are also some AS adults who behave aggressively in milder ways, and denying this does nothing to help with understanding why this might be so or what can be done about it."

I agree with this statement of yours. Unfortunately, I found that the introduction of the article did not explain the demographic he was discussing. The article reads like it is about all people with Aspergers (ASD) because he used phrases like "they tend to ..." without naming "they", or declarative statements without giving context or examples. Most importantly, nothing I read inspired me to feel empathy toward people on the autism spectrum. If anything, this article triggered me to feel more intimidated and vulnerable around my own ASD friends, not to mention the wider, Allistic world population.

If this was meant to be a sociological review about crimes committed by a small number of extreme loners I would prefer that he said so clearly. Likewise, he doesn't address the significantly higher number of crimes committed against people with ASD, through sexual violence, exploitation, manipulation, coercion, or deception.

Regarding "milder ways" of aggression, again, he doesn't elaborate on what this means or differentiate those actions from similar behaviours in people who are not ASD. I agree that my stress levels might cause me to seem angry or tense when I'm interacting with people in "the real world", but that's related to adrenaline, hyper-vigilance, and self-protection - mostly from sensory bombardment but sometimes from the fear of people. I have no intent to relay aggressive signals to anybody, and it's unfortunate if that's how we're often read.

It's also interesting that he didn't detail autistic meltdowns, given the topic of aggression and social stress. What many perceive as an aggressive or threatening outburst is often a meltdown. Most people having meltdowns don't harm others although they might be scary to observe, they might throw or smash objects, and they might self-harm.



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22 Jul 2022, 12:09 pm

I’ve displayed very aggressive behaviour myself recently which I’m concerned about but this took place under pretty extreme circumstances and isn’t normal for me or for other AS adults I’ve met (and I have comorbid anxiety, adhd and sleep issues, asd is only part of the picture). In the past, when I’ve displayed aggression it’s come from frustration at not being listened to or taken seriously. I find it hard to express anger in a way people will listen to until it becomes really extreme, probably a common issue for people with communication problems. As others in this thread have mentioned people with asd have very sensitive boundaries - I can see how that would predispose them to anger, though that doesn’t necessarily imply aggressive behaviour.

I see how emotional dysregulation could lead to aggression but there’s no reason to assume there’s a significant relationship. Traits found in some AS adults like strong moral rules, caution and hyper-empathy probably guard against aggression.



Last edited by NotHolyRomanOrAnEmpire on 22 Jul 2022, 12:35 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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22 Jul 2022, 12:24 pm

I remember one study I read on aggression in autistic people - it said to the extent there was increased aggression it was explained by comorbidities such as adhd, and asd actually *reduced* the risk of aggression for those comorbities.



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22 Jul 2022, 12:52 pm

skibum wrote:
People assume that we have a motive or an agenda that we do not


This sums up my life. People assume I am asking questions for some kind of hidden motive or agenda. But I just want to know the answer. They give me stupid answers like 'why do you want to know?' 'why don't you understand?' etc.

Clearly, I don't understand and I just want to get a clear answer. But they think I've got some ulterior motive :shrug:


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ASDpsychologist
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23 Jul 2022, 4:52 pm

Hello,

I am a psychologist in San Francisco specializing in working with Autistic adults. Skibum invited me to join Wrong Planet, and I am grateful for this opportunity to communicate with others who appreciate all that is unique and special about Autism. One of the things I do is write blogs about Autism in adults, and skibum alerted me to concerns about some of my writings, one, in particular, being aggression in adults with Autism. I would very much appreciate hearing from forum members with an interest in this topic and those with concerns about my articles. In particular, I welcome feedback, criticism, and suggestions that would help me communicate a more accurate understanding of what being Autism is about, including aggression and similar topics.

Although I consider myself knowledgeable about Autism, in truth I think of myself as a student, eager to learn and understand, and it is this attitude and goal that I bring to my membership in Wrong Planet.



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23 Jul 2022, 4:55 pm

ASDpsychologist wrote:
Hello,

I am a psychologist in San Francisco specializing in working with Autistic adults. Skibum invited me to join Wrong Planet, and I am grateful for this opportunity to communicate with others who appreciate all that is unique and special about Autism. One of the things I do is write blogs about Autism in adults, and skibum alerted me to concerns about some of my writings, one, in particular, being aggression in adults with Autism. I would very much appreciate hearing from forum members with an interest in this topic and those with concerns about my articles. In particular, I welcome feedback, criticism, and suggestions that would help me communicate a more accurate understanding of what being Autism is about, including aggression and similar topics.

Although I consider myself knowledgeable about Autism, in truth I think of myself as a student, eager to learn and understand, and it is this attitude and goal that I bring to my membership in Wrong Planet.


Thanks for joining us.
It's always better to be able to discuss with someone what was actually meant vs. how we interpret it.

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