The more I read about variations in neurological makeup, the more confusing it becomes at times. Turns out that I really had no idea what autism is.
(Until relatively recently, I’d vaguely thought that autistic people are shy and quiet, withdrawn.)
I’d never heard of PDA. I knew next to nothing about Asperger’s.
But reading up a bit on Asperger’s made me wonder what distinguishes it from borderline personality disorder (BPD). (I have some ideas about that but almost no experience. I’ll come back to that.)
Turns out I am not the only one!
Wow. If that is the case… That raises lots of questions. I’d already heard – and I understand why – that people with Asperger’s are sometimes mistaken for people with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) with or without psychopathy or sociopathy. Wow.
And I can imagine that any condition with a Jekyll & Hyde aspect – which apparently Asperger’s can have – can make people with such conditions wonder if they are bipolar. Bipolar disorder is probably not well understood either (certainly by people who don’t have it or don’t have anyone with it in their close surroundings?). Wow.
What I have picked up after admittedly only reading a little bit is that autistic people can display physical symptoms and they do not occur in the other conditions, to my knowledge. Things like clumsiness, “flapping of hands” and avoidance of eye contact. BPD does not have that. Neither does NPD. But I also get the impression that not all autistic people have these physical manifestations.
When you read a lot about these things, and this may particularly hold for the spouses of people with some of these conditions (or in general, people who’ve endured years of abuse/gaslighting and isolation), you can find yourself mentally checking if any of it might apply to yourself… That too can be confusing, I bet.
For a moment, it made me wonder what I thought I was doing when I wrote the book that I wrote some time ago. Luckily, I do have the answer to that question. (Phew.)
Here is some information about autism and Blue Badges, for those of you who have caught a bit of British news about that recently:
This is a complicated matter.
A few days ago, I received an e-mail about autistic people in the state of New York not wanting marks on driving licences of autistic people, out of fear of stigmatization as driving licences also serve as ID. In most circumstances, disclosing that you are autistic at the same time serves no purpose. It could be a bit like disclosing you have aids.
In the UK, the
“DVLA has … clarified that you do not have to disclose your autism diagnosis to the DVLA if it doesn’t affect your ability to drive safely, and their online advice to drivers and medical professionals has now been changed to reflect this.” (30 Aug 2019)
Yesterday, I received a petition in my in-box against adding an indication on someone’s driving licence – in the state of New York – that the person is autistic.
I am torn over that.
More confusingly, the e-mail asks me both to help support and oppose the bill and refers a letter in response – by autistic people, that is nowhere to be found (because the link to the document went .
When I searched for it, by clicking on links in the e-mail and clicking on other links, I did find it, here: https://hennykdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/assembly-bill-a08711-transportation-google-docs-1.pdf.
And upon reading that letter, and the entire e-mail, it becomes clear that the word “support” (the bill) in the e-mail should have been “oppose”. A typo.
I can see both sides and I don’t know what the golden compromise would be.
Discrimination is not a good thing.
But it’s happened – and not just once – that police officers unleashed a lot of violence at someone who was (or still is, if the person survived) autistic. Or simply deaf. Because police officers didn’t realise it.
Would an indication on someone’s driving licence help? On some occasions, yes, I am sure. In many other circumstances, not at all.
For autistic people, I can imagine it might help more if they simply call one of their friends or relatives whenever they encounter misunderstandings. Would that work in practice? I don’t know. Police officers often act first, ask questions later. Someone trying to take a phone out of his pocket, it could easily be misinterpreted as the person going for a gun, in some countries.
It wouldn’t work for deaf people as they might not even be aware that one or more police officers are calling out or yelling.
The main problem appears to be that driving licences are also used as ID in many situations in which disclosing that someone is autistic serves no good purpose, certainly in the States, where most people have no passport as Americans have a giant country at their disposal and rarely have a need to cross an international border.
Any good ideas? Is this a real problem or does this kind of stuff happen just as often to people who are not autistic?
Wearing dorky glasses or having become a bit shy because of some things that happened to you does not mean that you’re autistic. As far as I can tell, people who are autistic have brains that work differently and that makes them look at the world differently. Autistic people may lack abilities that other people have in varying degrees (social skills) but they also have abilities that others lack and they’re certainly far from “stupid” or “naive” or whatever else may be said about that. I too find autism very hard to understand, but I watched a video a few days ago that I first found very confusing, but when I thought about it some more, it became highly enlightening. Maybe it is not that dissimilar from, say, synesthesia (in which the senses overlap and words printed in black and white can have colors or pitch, for example).
I just received an e-mail from Henny Kupferstein that was an eye opener. I knew that she works with autistic children via music, often using services like Skype. I had no idea, however, that she too is autistic!
As far as I know, I’ve never met anyone who is autistic or at least interacted with the person extensively. So I’ve been wondering what it is like to be autistic and I’ve watched videos that weren’t very enlightening to me, other than to make me realize that autistic people deal with the world in a different way, and find ways to deal with the expectations of mainstream people.
I’d previously gotten the impression, from Temple Grandin’s TED Talk, that autistic people have different abilities, special abilities.
In this video, Henny explains in detail how the visual/mathematical world works for her and that it is a thing of great beauty.
Now I understand it a lot better!
I watch this and realize that I don’t know a thing about autism…
Campaigners in the UK fear that new legislation may result in the erosion of rights of people with learning disabilities, autism and dementia, as it may take away many of their rights to make decisions for themselves, including how and where they are cared for.
This would be outrageous.
It makes me recall one case in which someone was moved 200 miles (off the top of my head, because the person turned 18) and the parents successfully took a human rights approach to reverse that. That is only one example of what could go wrong.
Legislation drawn up for the right reasons but drawn up badly can do a lot of harm.
I asked her if she would like it if I referred to her as a person living with femaleism. She said, "But being female is not a condition". Is she implying that her femaleism was a choice?
— Henny Kupferstein (@HennyKtweets) September 2, 2018
… playing with autism
See also this post, about tasering of patients.
And this gives even more food for thought:
The stereotypes of autistic people perpetuate a myth that they are socially inept. Yet non-autistics, also known as neurotypicals, portray ineptitudes on the basis of their susceptibility to body language, communication, and perceptual manipulations. How we learn these signals opens the debate for nature versus nurture, and the acquisition of social skill aptitude. Who is more socially equipped? The one who is capable of surrounding himself with pretentious body language, or the one who is mindful of her full spectrum of awareness? A neurotypical who communicates with learned body gestures is currently considered evolved, while the acquisition of those skills are a direct result of the inability to survive otherwise. The autistic who remains authentic in order to adapt to the current environment is potentially most equipped to function in society.
The cycle of life requires attracting a mate, reproduction, and adaptations for exploitation to those who threaten…
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