Do you like having an autism spectrum disorder?

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AceofPens
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23 Feb 2019, 10:38 am

Why would someone like being disabled?

I don't agree with many Aspies who claim that there are "positives" that come with the disorder. I think the positive qualities that sometimes appear in those with autism are either a) coincidental and unrelated to the disorder, b) qualities that have been fostered by the individual based on their ideas of the traits they should have as an Aspie, or c) not actually goods qualities at all.

I don't think, for example, that a disproportionate number of autistics are actually unusually gifted in math and technology. I think that association only stems from the stereotype of the autistic nerd. Another example would be special interests. Most Aspies do not have interests that break the mold of typical NT interests, but they pretend like it's their "superpower" and tout it as an example of exceptionalism. And then there's the "Oh, we're so much more empathetic than the NTs" or "so much more objective" and other such nonsense. Autism is a disability. Period. If you have positive qualities alongside it, that's great. Humans are complex creatures and a disorder does not wholly define who you are. But claiming that autism is a good thing in any sense makes a mockery of genetic disorders. In my opinion, it's like trying to talk about how nice it is to be in a wheelchair, and usually it's the person with a sprained ankle doing most of the talking. :?


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Prometheus18
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23 Feb 2019, 11:17 am

If you believe that the hyperfocus and ability associated with Asperger's special interests is incidental to the neurological features of Asperger's Syndrome, you're on the wrong side of the research.

If you believe that Aspergians' ability to see through the conformist nonsense imposed on them by an oversocialised society is incidental to the neurological features of Asperger's Syndrome, you're on the wrong side of the research.

As far as I can see, only those who, out of a deficit of self-esteem, seriously believe that by not being oversocialised they're somehow less than NTs, could be blinded to the above.



DanielW
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23 Feb 2019, 11:28 am

I've never understood the concept of liking or not liking something that you cannot change . or being proud (or ashamed) of something you had no say in or control over. To me it simply IS



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23 Feb 2019, 11:38 am

It has its challenges, like being more aware of how stupid NTs can be. But I like it because of the individualist that I am and it's helped my talents and hobbies.



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23 Feb 2019, 12:19 pm

Yes but I hate calling it that.

I like being aspie because it provides me with passions and means I focus better on things. It gives me the confidence to be unique.



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23 Feb 2019, 12:34 pm

Not really. But.....I think some of the traits I like about myself are tied to it. So, I guess sorta.


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AceofPens
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23 Feb 2019, 1:38 pm

Prometheus18 wrote:
If you believe that the hyperfocus and ability associated with Asperger's special interests is incidental to the neurological features of Asperger's Syndrome, you're on the wrong side of the research.

If you believe that Aspergians' ability to see through the conformist nonsense imposed on them by an oversocialised society is incidental to the neurological features of Asperger's Syndrome, you're on the wrong side of the research.

As far as I can see, only those who, out of a deficit of self-esteem, seriously believe that by not being oversocialised they're somehow less than NTs, could be blinded to the above.


Most Aspies I've seen do not suffer from hyperfocus, which is a very real trait of autism. I have, and it's not a pleasant or beneficial experience. Most Aspies only have hobbies and interests on par with those of a NT but tell themselves that they are different. They're not.

As for not conforming...Dude, that's just telling yourself that you're special. There's no research that says lacking social skills makes you one of the Holy Enlightened. It makes you different, sure. You can't conform as easily. But you're not inherently different. You only lack certain skills. You know who else tells themselves that being different from the rest of society makes them better? Every other minority that exists on earth. They wear nonconformity like a badge. It's not exclusive to autism, and it's not a result of our neurology. It's a self-defense mechanism, nothing more.

As for my self-esteem, I don't need to build up a false image of autism as a superpower to feel good about myself. I accept the good and bad in my person, and I accept them for what they are.


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Prometheus18
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23 Feb 2019, 2:57 pm

AceofPens wrote:
Prometheus18 wrote:
If you believe that the hyperfocus and ability associated with Asperger's special interests is incidental to the neurological features of Asperger's Syndrome, you're on the wrong side of the research.

If you believe that Aspergians' ability to see through the conformist nonsense imposed on them by an oversocialised society is incidental to the neurological features of Asperger's Syndrome, you're on the wrong side of the research.

As far as I can see, only those who, out of a deficit of self-esteem, seriously believe that by not being oversocialised they're somehow less than NTs, could be blinded to the above.


Most Aspies I've seen do not suffer from hyperfocus, which is a very real trait of autism. I have, and it's not a pleasant or beneficial experience. Most Aspies only have hobbies and interests on par with those of a NT but tell themselves that they are different. They're not.

As for not conforming...Dude, that's just telling yourself that you're special. There's no research that says lacking social skills makes you one of the Holy Enlightened. It makes you different, sure. You can't conform as easily. But you're not inherently different. You only lack certain skills. You know who else tells themselves that being different from the rest of society makes them better? Every other minority that exists on earth. They wear nonconformity like a badge. It's not exclusive to autism, and it's not a result of our neurology. It's a self-defense mechanism, nothing more.

As for my self-esteem, I don't need to build up a false image of autism as a superpower to feel good about myself. I accept the good and bad in my person, and I accept them for what they are.


There's no arguing with someone who thinks greatly developed concentration ability is a fault any more than there is with someone who believes intelligence or bravery are, but here I go anyway.

Quote:
Most Aspies only have hobbies and interests on par with those of a NT but tell themselves that they are different. They're not.


What evidence do you have for this? Given that almost every reputable autism researcher in the world takes the opposite view, the onus is on you to give us a reason for your view.

Quote:
As for not conforming...Dude, that's just telling yourself that you're special. There's no research that says lacking social skills makes you one of the Holy Enlightened. It makes you different, sure. You can't conform as easily. But you're not inherently different. You only lack certain skills. You know who else tells themselves that being different from the rest of society makes them better? Every other minority that exists on earth. They wear nonconformity like a badge. It's not exclusive to autism, and it's not a result of our neurology. It's a self-defense mechanism, nothing more.



I didn't say that nonconformity in itself was a virtue; I accept Bertrand Russell's dictum that nonconformity for its own sake is as insipid as conformity for its own sake. What I meant was that "aspies" can see through the ridiculous guile that makes up so much of conventional social intercourse. This, whatever its genesis, is a strength and not a weakness.

I agree that the lack of social skills in itself is a slight fault, but more than made up for by everything else. There is no real use for social skills in today's world than to talk rubbish to idiots. Social skills are overrated. There is, on the other hand, ample use for gross intellectual and concentration ability.

The idea of nonconformity as a "defence mechanism" is faintly amusing. The precise opposite is true, as even a few moments' thought about the evolutionary advantages of the herd mentality will convince you.

I don't view autism as a "superpower" or anything else, and parts of it cause me to suffer, but on the whole, it's something I'm more glad than regretful of.



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23 Feb 2019, 3:25 pm

^^^ I agree with Prometheus and he says it better than I could. I did not grow up knowing I was aspie. I developed character traits which I value, things like honesty, integrity, and learning, listening to and reasoning before I made decisions very early in life. It was actually somewhat of a personal admonishment to discover I owed much of this to my neurological wiring.


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DanielW
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23 Feb 2019, 4:54 pm

AceofPens wrote:
Most Aspies I've seen do not suffer from hyperfocus, which is a very real trait of autism. I have, and it's not a pleasant or beneficial experience.


I can't agree more with this. I hyperfocus, but I never choose to. I will miss the need to eat, drink...survive. It's certainly no gift. I've had too many near-death experiences with hyperfocusing.



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23 Feb 2019, 7:42 pm

As someone who is currently going through the diagnostic process, I find this an interesting question, because in many ways it reflects my thinking on what I want to come out of the diagnostic process.

I am the way I am, and I'm currently seeking the appropriate diagnosis (if it's not autism it is certainly some other atypical psychological/neurological profile) so this question boils down to: do I like being who I am, and would I rather be a different person?

The answer: it's complicated.

I would like to not be so anxious all the time. I would like to be able to not have to think so hard when interacting with normal people. I would like to feel free to be myself without worrying if I'm upsetting other people. I would like not having to constantly wonder whether other people hate me or not. I would like to be able to eat most foods that other people eat without having my tastebuds crinkle in disgust. I would like to... the list goes on and on.

But, I like seeing things other people cannot. I like having obsessive focus on the things I'm interested in. And I like being very intelligent.

If I wasn't the way I am, which of my challenges would I still have? Which of my strengths would I still have? Without knowing the exact trade-offs I can't answer this question accurately. I can only assess my current feelings about myself. There's are things about myself I wish were different, but overall I like being me. Would I be happier with a normal mind? Perhaps. But I could also be less happy.

I expect when I'm done with the diagnosis process I'll comeback with a shiny new label, but I'll still be me. And being me isn't such a bad thing.


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AceofPens
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23 Feb 2019, 8:07 pm

Prometheus18 wrote:
There's no arguing with someone who thinks greatly developed concentration ability is a fault any more than there is with someone who believes intelligence or bravery are, but here I go anyway.


You're right, a "greatly developed concentration ability" is a great trait - but most autistics don't have that in a positive sense you refer to. The number of autistics whose concentration skills exist in that sweet spot where it's beneficial but still well above NT standards is vastly dwarfed by the number of those who either lack the hyper-focus trait or have it to the degree that it is harmful. There are very few Temple Grandins in the world.

I wrote:
Most Aspies only have hobbies and interests on par with those of a NT but tell themselves that they are different. They're not.


you wrote:
What evidence do you have for this? Given that almost every reputable autism researcher in the world takes the opposite view, the onus is on you to give us a reason for your view.


Autism researchers are not always looking at Aspies exclusively in their research, they are looking at the collective body of autism sufferers. Truly excessive and narrow obsessions are quite common among those who are lower on the spectrum. I referred specifically to Aspies, however, in my post because they are the ones who always claim to make productive use of their special interests (lower functioning typically do not), yet their obsessions are rarely narrow by autistic standards and are much more comparable to NT interests in severity. By the standards I've seen held by Aspies, a significant majority of millennials have special interests (in shows, celebrities, etc).

It stands to reason that autistic traits should be distinct from NT traits. How can "special interests" by Aspie standards be an autism trait when it does not impair their function or affect their behavior but is instead a source of a few hours' recreation or a productive career? What makes it different from a NT pursuing a hobby or academic career? Unless a special interest is unquestionably distinct from NT behavior, I don't think it can be categorized as an example of hyper-focus.

you wrote:

I agree that the lack of social skills in itself is a slight fault, but more than made up for by everything else. There is no real use for social skills in today's world than to talk rubbish to idiots. Social skills are overrated. There is, on the other hand, ample use for gross intellectual and concentration ability.


You make this claim as someone who does not have social skills. We do not, as we often say, have the code book for finding meaning in the exchanges of NTs. We are not built to appreciate them. But just because we can't see it and benefit from it doesn't mean that those exchanges are useless. It sounds a lot like how NTs say that our narrow interests are useless and so don't understand why we pursue them. They don't experience it, so they don't know why we are drawn. And social skills are vastly important. You are on the wrong side of the research - in many fields of study - when you say otherwise.

you wrote:
I didn't say that nonconformity in itself was a virtue; I accept Bertrand Russell's dictum that nonconformity for its own sake is as insipid as conformity for its own sake. What I meant was that "aspies" can see through the ridiculous guile that makes up so much of conventional social intercourse. This, whatever its genesis, is a strength and not a weakness.

The idea of nonconformity as a "defence mechanism" is faintly amusing. The precise opposite is true, as even a few moments' thought about the evolutionary advantages of the herd mentality will convince you.

I don't view autism as a "superpower" or anything else, and parts of it cause me to suffer, but on the whole, it's something I'm more glad than regretful of.



Only those who cannot conform use nonconformity as a defense, because it creates the illusion of having a choice, or having some power over their isolation from the main group, or even some power over the group itself. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em set in reverse. They can't join the herd, and this is the alternative that they have found.

Throughout this conversation, you've sounded a lot like one of those "autism is the next step in evolution" sorts. Look, I'm glad that you feel good about having autism. That's not inherently a bad thing. But I hope that you don't extend that view to all Aspie cases, many of whom have traits that you call "positive" in a way that is definitely not positive. Trying to paint everything in a positive light is rather insulting to those who do not benefit from the "sweet spot" in autism, as well as the NT majority of the human race, which you seem to have a grudge against. The exceptions (I do think they exist) do not free any of us from the fact that autism is a disorder - a disability - and the claim that it is more beneficial than harmful overlooks the vast, vast majority. These traits you promote as defining are not an inherent aspect of autism or Aspergers.


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23 Feb 2019, 8:19 pm

Welcome to the forum, Antrax.

Antrax wrote:
Would I be happier with a normal mind? Perhaps. But I could also be less happy.


I approached my assessment with a similar kind of pragmatism, having already accepted that at least some of my difficulties might be innate. Nothing that has happened or that I've learned since my diagnosis has really changed that. I have some traits which give me immense pleasure, some which are neutral, some which I think I can learn to manage more effectively, and some which I can maybe only learn to stoically accept. Some of these are autistic traits, and some are dimensions of my personality, and it's not always easy to tell which are which, assuming that there is any practical difference at all. One thing that is for certain, especially for someone as predisposed to ruminating as I am, is that speculating about what might have been can become dysfunctional extremely easily, and is best avoided.


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24 Feb 2019, 6:47 pm

AceofPens, I agree.

I do not know how symptoms can "cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning" in order to qualify toward a diagnosis and not be a negative. For example, if your restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior (e.g. special interests) are positive and do not impair your functioning, then how did it qualify toward an autism diagnosis? Would you not just have a social pragmatic communication disorder?

My hyper-focus is not a positive trait. It is not about being able to ignore outside distractions when beneficial (e.g. ignoring distractions when hyper-focused on studying); it is about not being able to focus on anything else though detrimental (e.g. ignoring self-care when hyper-focused on studying). Being stuck on a task like that is, at best, frustrating and, at worst, terrifying.


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24 Feb 2019, 8:22 pm

No point in hating something that just is.



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24 Feb 2019, 10:11 pm

livingwithautism wrote:
No point in hating something that just is.

Yes.