High-Functioning Aspie working with Low-Functioning Aspies

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Sofisol612
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03 Feb 2018, 9:27 am

Nira wrote:
I met someone, who is "lower functioning" Aspie than me. Some of his problems are similar to mine, but to a much greater extent and he has some other problems. It was hard to speak with him. I was not sure, if he underestood or not. I wanted help him with something, but i was not sure whether he wanted or didn't want to. On the one side, it was the test of my patience. On the other side, I understand this problems very well. It was an interesting experience, because I never realized how difficult it must be for NT people to speak with me, how I can act on them.


I had a very similar experience last year, with an aspie classmate at college. He wouldn’t be considered “low-functioning” by most people because he has no language issues, but everyone could know he was different with only looking at the way he walked or stood. A teacher told all the other students about his diagnosis in order to make us feel sympathetic and help him, but it had little effect on the others, who still didn’t bother to talk to him. As the only other aspie in the class, I took it upon myself to start a conversation with him and help him to know what he was supposed to study for the exams (he also had issues with attention and often didn’t even know when the tests were). I didn’t know at first if he wanted my help or if he was embarrassed by it, but after a while I think he was fine with it: he started saying hi to me everyday (and he never greeted anybody else), he laughed in some of our conversations and at the end of the semester he passed most of his subjects. As for me, I was happy to help him and it was interesting to find some of my quirky traits slightly magnified in another person (and some of these traits I hadn’t even acknowledged in myself before seeing them in him). I guess it was a good experience overall, and I wish more aspies could help each other.


_________________
Professionally diagnosed with PDD NOS as a child, but only told by my parents at the age of 21.

Autism Quotient: 30
Aspie quiz: 123/200 aspie; 75/200 NT
RAADS: 135


RubyWings91
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03 Feb 2018, 1:48 pm

Hi. First, I'd just like to say that the fact that you are organizing these groups is great. As someone who has mild AS and has experience working with people with a wide range of disabilities in a group setting, I'd like to say that I think your question about whether people of different functional levels should meet in different groups depends on your situation.

If you want to bring them together, I would suggest looking for games and activities that they all can enjoy or that encourage interaction between them.

As separate groups, it would probably be easier, since the HFA and LFA groups tend to break apart anyway. You could set up activities more specific to each group that way as well.

Another idea could be to have a system where some meetings are for one group or the other while occasional meetings bring everyone together. That way, you can give everyone the opportunity to experience both time within the group that's the most like them, as well as the opportunity to interact with the other functional group. You could plan your activities based on whether it is a small group or large group day.

Hopefully, something here is helpful. Whatever you do, I wish you luck.



B19
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05 Feb 2018, 7:10 pm

A lot of aspies are literate, creative, interested in ideas, and like to discuss them comprehensively. So it doesn't really surprise me that they gravitate to other aspies who share these propensities, because that's their best match peer grouping.

A person on the spectrum who isn't any of those things might quickly feel lost in a group that does, and the literate ones can't automatically switch into a mode that doesn't include their own strengths and interests, and love of more complex language.

Integration is an ideal, though in practice, I can't see how it can work very well. People feel safest within their own peer group (usually) and that works both ways. The more autistic end of the spectrum includes creativity too, not so much the love of ideas for their own sake. So if you want to encourage interaction, you might have to establish events where some common ground can be shared with equal enthusiasm.

I have friends on and off the spectrum. The common factor is that we are all pretty interested in ideas, the environment, politics, literature, so there is shared basis of interests to base communication on. If there isn't some kind of shared base, then people tend to talk past each other, which is frustrating and unrewarding for both.

Have you asked the "low functioning" what they think and what their preferences for what kind of peer group communication are? Like a little pilot study to see if your assumptions about what they want are the same as they report?



cyberdad
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06 Feb 2018, 12:40 am

B19 wrote:

Have you asked the "low functioning" what they think and what their preferences for what kind of peer group communication are? Like a little pilot study to see if your assumptions about what they want are the same as they report?

There used to be a few posters on WP who classified themselves as "LF" but I haven't seen them for a while.

Well I can tell you what some of them want...my daughter is friends with two kids who are on the lower end of the Aspergers scale (like my daughter probably moderate functioning)
The girl misses her NT friends from primary school but she her mum tells me they have drifted apart as their interests have diverged and she has not coped with the developmental changes...she wants to be friends with NTs (rather than autistic kids) but she has limited opportunities now. She likes reading...computers

The Boy has NT friends but prefers friendship with autistic kids (he seems to enjoy the fun of silly physical play that he misses when he is around his more serious NT friends) he's flexible and easy going but has problems with social skills. he likes art

My daughter wants to be friends with everyone but gravitates toward kids who have similar levels of function to herself. She likes physical activities and outdoors

So (guess what!) there's plenty of variability in the so called lower functioning kids and what they want in play friends and in their own personal interests. no cookie cutter kids on the lower end of the spectrum so anyone organising groups needs to be creative and put some effort into how they interact with kids on this end of the so called spectrum



B19
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06 Feb 2018, 4:32 am

I especially agree with your cookie cutter comment in the last paragraph.

The whole functioning levels thing disturbs for a lot of reasons. Not least that this way of "sorting" AS people was created by clinicians who so actively promoted (and still do) the medical model of disability as disease and aberration.

I would be (I think) classified as "high functioning" - highly educated, had a professional working life, married with children, IQ in the top range. I started life as "low functioning" - slow to walk, talk, withdrawn (some of that was no doubt a trauma response from losing my parents at such an early stage of life), weak physically, poorly co-ordinated, hampered by severe unrecognised allergies which were not well understood, automimmune issues like undiagnosed coeliac disease, poor eyesight. My hampered childhood was not predictive of my adult life.

And that's the main thing that bothers me: this idea that the "low functioning" are doomed from the outside by the medical model mindset.

My eldest grandson was "low functioning" in childhood too. He is now at university, lives overseas on a scholarship, plays professional basketball at a very high level of ability, has girlfriends (too many for my comfort!) and friends, lives a "normal" life. But to the medical model, it's classifications are treated as if they are fixed realities, unchangeable, and it's a way of writing kids off and pressuring their parents into behavioural programs, as if they need training like rats in Skinner boxes. Kids internalise the write offs, if they are constantly labelled as inferior.

I realise that not everyone agrees, but not everyone has witnessed the changes I have, which happened without any clinical input, ABA or any of that. It did help that my grandson had older relatives on the spectrum or BAP to guide and support him, for sure. We were on the same wavelength by and large. Clinicians are oblivious to those realities. But even if their attention was drawn to them, I don't believe they would care. To them, disease is just disease. To be cured or deemed incurable, essentially. But AS people are not diseases. They are human beings with strengths and weaknesses, who face enormous barriers of prejudice.

Yes, some "low functioning" don't change much, just as some do; there is a lot of variation. But once you label kids as low functioning, people are not attuned to looking at the variation, or the strengths. Only the sameness and the weaknesses. And I really object to that.

Yes, some people are more gifted than others, from birth. That's true of NT populations too. In science we are trained (supposedly) to look at within group differences, as well as between group differences. In AS, the clinicians only care about the latter, and from their own contracted perspective.

This writer also has views on the issue which are somewhat in tune with my own:
https://autisticacademic.com/2014/08/12 ... autistics/



cyberdad
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06 Feb 2018, 5:50 am

Yes I like your post B19 and it's very inspiring how you and your son have managed to learn and thrive in our competitive world.

The developmental trajectory for ASD is always a wild card and (yes) many a specialist has made assumptions that turn out to be poor predictions.

I guess there's the also the contrast between LF Austistics (low functioning??) and LF apsies...(I guess these are moderate functioning?) the variation is immense within and between everyone in these little pigeonholes - and its important to keep an open mind engaging with these kids whether the child is just socially withdrawn or non-verbal and stimming...