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nirrti_rachelle
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31 May 2014, 4:50 am

I've been wondering about what are the differences in moral judgment and development in people on the autism spectrum. My sense of morality has always been strong. Even as a 6 year-old, I found it hard to misbehave like the other kids in the classroom because I couldn't understand why anyone would want to be "bad" on purpose. I also never hit back kids who hit me since it never occurred to me to hurt anyone. The fact that people hurt each other for pleasure has always been a concept I never understood.

I've been looking for research about moral development in people in autism but it seems every article puts a negative spin on it. I'm not comfortable with trusting scientists since they already accused people on the spectrum with lacking empathy which isn't true. But I can't find anything written by autistic people.


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EzraS
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31 May 2014, 4:56 am

my grandpa said i have a "remarkable level of integrity" (or something like that). following rules and doing what's right and being good is very important to me. it's really difficult for me when i get out of control when i have meltdowns and stuff. i know it's not my fault but i still feel guilty about it after.



Eccles_the_Mighty
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31 May 2014, 9:07 am

This is something that has puzzled me for some time. Like you I have a very strong sense of morality and I can't understand these tales of people who commit crimes and then use their AS as an excuse.


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31 May 2014, 9:42 am

I'm currently reading The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. The book mentions autism, and describes it as a range of personalities who are high in systematization and low in empathy. This relates to the discussion of the history of moral philosophy and psychological research into moral behavior. If that kind of thing interests you, you'd probably enjoy reading it.



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31 May 2014, 9:55 am

I've always tried to be good and do the right thing. But when I was younger, I didn't know the line between being helpful and being obnoxious, but at least my heart was in the right place, haha. I never really got why people were mean on purpose, either. It still doesn't make sense; you've got noting to gain from it, right? So why do it?

Now that my social skills have developed more, I've got a very strong sense of what's right to me personally, and I try to stick to it the best I can.



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31 May 2014, 11:16 am

Hi nirrti_rachelle, have you read this article? Its from NAJMS, (I'm unfamiliar with the organisation).

A Commentary on Autism and Moral Development: What Can We Learn from the Sandy Hook School Shooting?
July 25, 2013

[N A J Med Sci. 2013;6(3):163-166. DOI: 10.7156/najms.2013.0603163] PDF File

Michelle Hartley-McAndrew, MD, FAAP;* Donald Crawford, PhD*

I've tried to paste a link, najms.net/v06i03p163w/

I would do the article a disservice if I attempted a summary :) . It refers to the main theories and studies about moral development, in relation to ASD.



MrGrumpy
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31 May 2014, 11:40 am

jrjones9933 wrote:
I'm currently reading The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. The book mentions autism, and describes it as a range of personalities who are high in systematization and low in empathy. This relates to the discussion of the history of moral philosophy and psychological research into moral behavior. If that kind of thing interests you, you'd probably enjoy reading it.


I looked at the book on Amazon, and it looks extremely interesting - I will check its availability at my public library!

Morality is a code of conduct, a set of rules, right? But one of the characteristics of autistics is that they do not see any need to conform to anyone's rules but their own, right?

I will follow the rules of society for as long as it remains to my advantage, but I have no problem at all with the idea of going my own way, just so long as I feel reasonably certain that my actions will not come back to bite me on the bum.

How many of us have never stolen anything, nor taken advantage of somebody else's weakness or vulnerability?



AndrewtheFiddler
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31 May 2014, 12:45 pm

I've always found that as we value order and structure to such as high degree, this leads to us following common morality which exists to preserve these. Of course I have found that most other Autistics I know will do drugs, and lack sexual morality because these things do not threaten order and structure.



jrjones9933
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31 May 2014, 1:17 pm

As regards the issue of lacking empathy, I don't believe that it means what people think it means. People generally care when they learn that they have hurt other people. With autists, the learning differs but not the caring. If anything, I think we feel it more keenly once we realize that we have hurt someone else. It can even feel overwhelming and shut down our ability to express that we understand and care about our wrongdoing or mistake.

The kind of empathy described by psychologists doesn't require rational thinking or being told, and our lack of that unconscious understanding puts autists at a disadvantage for others perceiving that we care.



VisInsita
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31 May 2014, 1:25 pm

MrGrumpy wrote:
--Morality is a code of conduct, a set of rules, right? But one of the characteristics of autistics is that they do not see any need to conform to anyone's rules but their own, right?

I will follow the rules of society for as long as it remains to my advantage, but I have no problem at all with the idea of going my own way, just so long as I feel reasonably certain that my actions will not come back to bite me on the bum.

How many of us have never stolen anything, nor taken advantage of somebody else's weakness or vulnerability?


Autistic people don?t live according to some self-righteousness principle or innate structure which makes them conform solely to the rules of their own. Even severely autistic children conform somewhat to the rules of their parents and school. Most do not harm others, even if they otherwise seem self-contained and their social and verbal understanding makes them beyond reachable. Even I behaved well towards others when non-verbal, and according to my mother I was actually the easiest of her children to raise.

I, like all people make mistakes, especially when emotions take over (for example I might say something mean when feeling being hurt), but ?not getting bite back to the bum? is no principle of action for me. Actions and the reason to keep reaching for good stem rather from an innate feeling. I also have a sense that doing good ultimately leads to a more enjoyable life than looking for pleasure and gains on the expense of others and then on living off excuses and lies to cover your ass and conscience. Or is it so that some people who don?t mind hurting others and merely seek own gain, don?t even need to lie, for they firmly believe they are entitled to act that way?

It's a very hard question to answer, why some do more harm than others and what (to each of us) harm means.



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31 May 2014, 2:31 pm

I was a little hellraiser, but I also had firm opinions about right and wrong. I was never a stickler for rules and righteousness, but I did like specific kinds of order and knowing what was ahead.



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31 May 2014, 3:42 pm

I find I have a hard time not following the rules, even when there is no good reason for the rule to apply. Since I also seem to not be bothered by a lot of things that NTs get very upset about, I suspect I lack the normal instinctive moral framework and have had to consciously construct one for myself.



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31 May 2014, 10:23 pm

I also have a strong sense of morality. I like to do the right thing.


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31 May 2014, 10:47 pm

I understand morals as rules, but i don't agree with alot of it so i choose to ignore them. for some reason i always want to be the bad kid, perhaps to show rebellion against social norms. I really don't like the social norms anyway. I used to have a very strong sense of right and wrong, but after the system in place failed me repeatedly to bring justice to those who have wronged me (without me doing anything to them!). i have turned my back to doing the right thing, ever. i only do 'right' things now because i figure it will buy me good karma for all the bad things i do all the time.

i used to follow the rules strictly (in public) only because i wanted to stay under the radar so no one would suspect me of any wrong doing. away out of the view of others i did whatever i wanted and i did alot of immoral and occasionally unethical things. these days i try to keep it to a minimum because i'm no longer a minor and hte consequences of being caught are pretty severe. i still reject social norms and their rules (i never joined society voluntarily or agreed to follow their rules, they have no right to force their ways upon me) and i go by: "if you didn't see it i didn't do it"



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01 Jun 2014, 2:47 pm

aspieZim - I think your approach to morality is fairly similar to mine, although I have to say that now that my time is my own, there is usually no great advantage to me in 'cutting corners', and I have become rather boringly conformist.

Every other week, I take my grandchildren swimming. The boy is nearly eight years old, and is a very competent swimmer. The girl is only just 5, and needs my undivided attention. There is a rule that under-8s are not allowed in the deep end without supervision, and it is really inconvenient. My grandson badly wanted me to tell him to lie to the life-guard about his age, and I badly wanted to comply with his request, but I managed to resist the temptation.

There is also a blanket prohibition on diving into the pool (jumping is OK, but not diving) - my grandson and I play a little game and whenever the life-guard is looking the other way, we both dive into the pool together.

I think that the failure to accept the need to comply unquestioningly with petty regulations is symptomatic of ADHD rather than of Aspergers. But it has also led to some awesome results, both positive and negative.