Sunday, November 23, 2008

Defying diagnosis.

Psychology is one of those subjects that's borderline scientific. As a subject, it's becoming more 'hard science' because of the methods used, but so many practitioners have to rely on impressions and feelings they get from those they study that it's difficult to make it fully science. By that I mean hard-data no-question science, like chemistry or physics (although apparently physicists are currently debating whether time exists or not and wondering how long it'll take them to work it out. And they call me 'fringe!').

The paradox is that, if you look strictly at methodology, parapsychology is nearer to mainstream science than psychology, because no information based on feelings or impressions is ever going to get us anywhere. It's hard data or nothing.

Anyway. I went back into the psychology world briefly to look up this Asperger's thing. I have never read so much patronising drivel in all my life. What happened to being more scientific in approach? The whole autism-spectrum thing is overrun with well-meaning do-gooders who love nothing more than to pat people on the head and say 'there there, there's nothing wrong with you really but let us look after you anyway.'

No. I have looked after myself perfectly well so far and will continue to do so in exactly the same way as before.

Apparently one in a hundred, in the UK, are diagnosed with Asperger's. One in a hundred. And that's not the rest of the autism-spectrum, that's just the little sideline they call Asperger's. One in a hundred does not count as 'abnormal', not 'odd', not even 'eccentric'. One in a hundred who don't think and act like the others is normal, no matter what criteria you apply.

I have never had any part of my body pierced (apart from the incident with the drill, but that wasn't intentional. And I didn't adorn the wound with a gold dangly thing. I let it heal). I bet more than one in a hundred have holes in them somewhere and Christmas decorations hanging out of them. I find the idea of someone letting someone else punch a hole in them somewhat disturbing. Likewise, letting someone poke you repeatedly with a needle and then fill the holes with ink has no appeal. Those people need counselling. And yet they are regarded as normal.

I wonder if anyone has worked out how many in the UK work in science and science-based subjects? One in a hundred? Less than that, probably. I'll put money on the table and say there's going to be a huge overlap between the 'scientist' set and the 'Aspergers' set.

Because, as I found here:

To try and make the world less confusing, people with Asperger syndrome may have rules and rituals (ways of doing things) which they insist upon. Young children, for example, may insist on always walking the same way to school. In class, they may get upset if there is a sudden change to the timetable. People with Asperger syndrome often prefer to order their day to a set pattern. For example, if they work set hours, an unexpected delay to their journey to or from work can make them anxious or upset.

Every scientist I know is like this. Just replace 'anxious' with 'enraged' and we're all in there. We do not like our timetables messed with. We don't like interruptions and unexpected visitors. We don't like being late and we're not tolerant of others who are late. That's not a disorder. That's scientists.

Okay, I fit most of the criteria in there, I find it much easier to communicate through written means rather than speech and so on, I don't 'read minds' by watching the twitches and tics of body language, I do it through verbal cues. It's called cold reading and it's a cheat - I'll use it for demonstration purposes, never for real.

But I think almost every scientist out there would fit those criteria.

As for this:

In order to help a person with Asperger syndrome understand you, keep your sentences short - be clear and concise.

If you're planning on talking to me as if I'm a five-year-old, watch my hands. The moment anything appears in one or both of them, run. And don't run in a straight line. I'm a good shot.

I think that diagnosis should have been 'scientist'. There's nothing wrong with me (although I'll have to assume they were right about the cholesterol/diabetes/angina, just in case).

It's other people that are deranged. As I've always known.


Anonymous said...

Some might argue that one can simultaneously view the Asperger's and broader autism spectrum diagnoses as legitimate classifications while also recognizing that they represent something that doesn't need to be fixed and that shouldn't result in people being condescended to or forced into normalization programs. Actually, the direction of the consumer-oriented disability rights movement (rather than the parent or provider oriented ones) teaches that disability is a function of society more than anything else. In addition, the research on the autism spectrum would tend to validate some of your comments in that those with the Asperger's diagnosis and other speaking autistic diagnoses are overrepresented in engineering, economics and other classification-heavy fields. A lot of the folks with these diagnoses are coming to view them in a context similar to how homosexuality, which was once viewed as a mental disorder, is viewed by most today.

Catana said...

I share your pain. I self-diagnosed a couple of years ago after much, much reading and self-examination, and I'm constantly appalled at the ignorance surrounding Asperger's. "In order to help a person with Asperger syndrome understand you, keep your sentences short - be clear and concise." I ran into the article with that bit some time back, and nearly went through the roof. What made it worse is that the quote is apparently taken from a book, so this and other degrading ideas are being passed around as coming from authoritative sources.

Even as a very mild aspie, I'm offended on a daily basis, so much so that I'm working on a website and blog called Inside Asperger's. If you're interested, I'll drop the URL by here when it's ready for the public.

Romulus Crowe said...

Anon- Agreed. I don't feel the need to be 'fixed'. I'm comfortable with me and from what I've seen of humanity at large I'm not inclined to join them.

The link between those referred to as Aspergers and jobs in science and similar fields has been done? Good. Doctors might like to consider the type of training those fields use when making diagnoses.

I'd like to see the study. Is it online?

Romulus Crowe said...

Welcome, Catana.

I haven't read too far on the subject yet, just enough to get the impression it's another of those categorising things that seeks to put everyone in a slot. If you have a website, drop a link here when it's ready.

Perhaps mentioning this (both offline and online) wasn't the best idea. In the real world, some people act as though I have something catching, some laugh it off as ridiculous, some think I'm making it up to get attention (which is insane - inventing something that means you don't want attention in order to get attention?), some flatly refuse to believe it, one thinks I'm going to die of it, and so on.

I didn't tell all those people. I told two, but failed to consider that they'd tell others.

Now I keep getting people at the door wanting to 'talk it through' and sympathetic phone calls.

In fact, I've had more people at my house in the last couple of weeks than have been here in years.

Why is it that when people find you don't want to be sociable, they feel an overwhelming desire to socialise with you? They left me alone before and can't seem to understand that I liked it that way.

They're driving me crazy. I've started hoping someone else catches something soon to distract them.

Catana said...

Oh my, that's the funniest thing I've heard in a while. But if it was happening to me, I'd be gnashing my teeth, not laughing. Some of those responses are brand-new to me. Talking it through? By all means, laddie.

Romulus Crowe said...

The UK is currently plagued by the helpful, or so they think. They just come across as patronising and infuriating.

So far I have managed not to hit anyone.

Southern Writer said...

I had a mouthful of coffee when I read that. I can wipe off the monitor, but may have ruined the keyboard.

I fit all those "symptoms" too, and I am neither a scientist nor have Aspergers. I get ticked off as hell about all kinds of things. Being kept waiting is one, being ignored while someone talks on their cell phone is another, and having a customer service person answer a phone or begin a conversation with someone else while they're supposed to be helping me is a third. As the old song says, And the beat goes on. I believe these irritating little rudenesses used to be called pet peeves. Remember those?

ver: audist

is that a cross between autism and oddest?

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