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Joined: 25 Oct 2011
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27 Nov 2011, 6:40 pm

Some of what swbluto posted does apply to me, and now I understand better what's being said about us. Some of it is the kind of thing we complain of amongst ourselves. I get it, because it's some of the stuff that made me wonder if I had Asperger's in the first place. It's just a bad way of stating it, because it's so easy to not know right away what's actually meant by the term.

The fact that some applies and some doesn't reminds me of how different we are from each other, not just NTs. I guess it's like I read in a book recently, when someone was being quoted as saying something like, "If you've met one kid with Asperger's, you've met one." Maybe we get to be even more different as we get older, because our varied experiences and inclinations have more impact over time.

The world is a classroom for a mind without walls.

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Joined: 26 Feb 2011
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27 Nov 2011, 6:55 pm

MindWithoutWalls wrote:
Some of what swbluto posted does apply to me, and now I understand better what's being said about us.

I can tell you definitely have far more "social imagination" than I do, and I'm half NT/half Aspie.


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Joined: 15 Nov 2011
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27 Nov 2011, 7:57 pm

As others have said, I think a lot of it is obsolete theory from 10+ years ago.

Remember, ~10 years ago, to qualify as AS, you had to have exactly one life-dominating obsessive special interest, and it had to be something weird, like memorizing the flight schedule of Bulgarian airlines between 1973 and 1984. The idea that you can have an entire constellation of life-dominating obsessive special interests that you stumble through, and they don't necessarily have to be bizarre or useless (even if you do tend to go overboard on them), wasn't even a footnote.

Ditto, for the idea of lacking empathy. 10-20 years ago, researchers and doctors were officially oblivious to the existence of autism in anyone besides kids. It wasn't until they actually followed an entire generation of kids from infancy to adulthood that they finally looked at the 25 year olds diagnosed as children, realized there were plenty of older adults who acted the exact same way, and collectively said "Oops. It looks like there ARE autistic adults, after all."

Anyway, getting back to the "lack of empathy". Because the researchers were so obsessively focused on kids (many of whom were noncommunicative), they came up with lots of wacky theories that seemed reasonable in light of what were basically "black box" observations, but which proved to be naive (or blatantly wrong) once they started to read the writings of individuals who were known to be autistic/aspie.

Illustrative Example:

Observation: Autistic four year old's grandmother dies. He spends her funeral building a tower from hymn books. Researchers dutifully note that he lacks empathy, because he's clearly not unhappy that she's gone.

Reality: Autistic four year old had no particular connection with his deceased grandmother. She thought he was stupid because he didn't talk to her, and she focused all of her attention on her 5 other (NT) grandchildren. Two weeks before she died unexpectedly, she spanked him for running through the house and breaking something, so he was mad at her. Emotionally, her death affected him about as much as the death of the old lady who lived down the street who yelled at him once for accidentally stepping on her flowers. Fill in the backstory, and his outward behavior looks completely reasonable.

Now, fast forward a few years. As a teen, he might be seen crying for the first time in his life when his dog gets hit by a car. The NT researchers scratch their heads, and can't quite reconcile the boy's reaction to the deaths of his dog and grandmother, because they're fixated on the NT norm that a human death is the supreme tragedy, and the loss of a pet is a mere inconvenience. It just doesn't sink in to them that the dog slept with the boy every night since he was a puppy, and had been a fundamental, inseparable part of his daily existence since childhood in a way that no adult (or other child) ever was. The dog didn't judge him the way his parents, teachers, and pretty much everyone else did. The dog loved him unconditionally, and he loved his dog more intensely than most NT parents love their own children.

The researchers, meanwhile, come to the convoluted conclusion that the boy doesn't just lack empathy, he has Animal Identity Disorder. They tell his distraught mother that he's going to grow up to be a Furry and get arrested for urinating on a fire hydrant someday.

Epilogue: Years later, the boy writes a book telling everyone about his mean grandmother, the wonderful dog who made his childhood bearable, and calls the researcher who said he'd be a Furry someday an idiot.

(OK, the example is contrived, but I think it illustrates the point of how NT observers constrained by their own observations and belief system could come to ridiculous conclusions about autistic children).


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28 Nov 2011, 3:32 am

idlewild wrote:
I don't lack empathy. It just overwhelms me. I don't know how to respond or what I'm supposed to do with it. Then I feel guilty because it makes me feel like I owe someone something because I understand how they feel, but I have no idea what to do with that information. And when I try to "fake it" it's exhausting and doesn't always come out right.

Same here!