Creative Destruction

December 12, 2006

DaRain Man

Filed under: Blogosphere — Daran @ 2:29 am

Lifts head above parapet, and looks wearily from side to side

Does anyone remember the film “Rain Man“, and how the titular character, a profoundly autistic “savant”, was enraptured by the Abbott and Costello Skit “Who’s on First?” To him it’s a puzzle. He tries to figure out what it means, but he can’t solve the problem, because there is no solution. It doesn’t mean anything. But Raymond can’t see this, so he keeps on trying to figure it out.

I am an Aspie. Asperger’s syndrome is a neurological condition classified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). How these conditions relate to each other, indeed whether there is a true difference between Asperger’s, “traditional” (Kammer’s) Autism, “Savantism”, and other ASDs and whether it should even be considered a “disorder” are highly contested issues. For me, it creates difficulties in interpetting some neurotypical (meaning non-ASD) utterances.

It was me who derailed the thread, in comment #4, and I’m very sorry for that. I didn’t realise that Q Grrl’s comment #3 wasn’t intended to be parsed for meaning. It wasn’t even grammatical. It was the textual equivalent of a scream. If Q Grrl wants to scream at antifeminists, who am I to say she can’t?

But I did try to parse if for meaning, and the meaning I got out of it was the proposition ‘Those who say “women lie about rape” should also say “men lie about rape”‘. Since I disagree that antifeminists should be required to say “men lie about rape” I proceeded to argue against that proposition. Everything that has happened in this thread since then (apart from a second derailment initiated by what I guess was another scream, this time by ms_xeno) has been a series of arguments, counter-arguments, and counter-counter-arguments between DaRain Man, and the rest of you, in support of our various position as to who exactly is on first. And we’re still arguing it.

It’s an interesting question, and if anyone else is interested, I suggest we continue the discussion here. But I think I should let the rest of you folk get back to discussing the real topic, which was Marcella’s original post.

You may now all commence (or resume) screaming at me.

Posted to Alas. Also crossposted to Creative Destruction and Daran’s Blog.

Edited to add: Thanks to curiousgyrl whose comments lead me to this insight.

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16 Comments »

  1. Interesting. Have you been diagnosed with Asperger’s? When I read up on Asperger’s Syndrome a while ago, many aspects of it sounded like me. I never learned proper social skills, I used to have trouble reading people, I tend to be serious by default, I have strong interests that I pursue semi-obsessively, and I have really strong focus. Also, I have the tendency you describe, which is to treat everyone’s communications as a set of logical propositions to be agreed with or refuted. I’ve always known that I think differently from most people.

    Still, I came to realize that while I shared many traits with Aspies, I was not one myself. I have been able to learn social skills and read social cues very well. My difficulties with those things may have been due to social insolation combined with introversion, rather than impaired social cognition.

    Comment by Aegis — December 12, 2006 @ 6:45 am | Reply

  2. Interesting. Have you been diagnosed with Asperger’s?

    Basically yes. An occupational psychologist explained that she wasn’t qualified to make a diagnosis, but her report said “exhibits characterists similar to other who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s. In fact I scored very highly on the test that was specifically for Asperger’s. She also pointed out a characteristic that I didn’t even know was correlated with Asperger’s: I performed slightly above average in a visual observation test, but markedly below the levels I was scoring in other tests. Apparently that is characteristic.

    When I read up on Asperger’s Syndrome a while ago, many aspects of it sounded like me. I never learned proper social skills, I used to have trouble reading people, I tend to be serious by default, I have strong interests that I pursue semi-obsessively, and I have really strong focus. Also, I have the tendency you describe, which is to treat everyone’s communications as a set of logical propositions to be agreed with or refuted. I’ve always known that I think differently from most people.

    Like my psychologist, I can’t do diagnosis, but it sounds as though you have some ASD tendencies.

    Still, I came to realize that while I shared many traits with Aspies, I was not one myself. I have been able to learn social skills and read social cues very well.

    Yes, you can learn social skills. It’s like learning a foreign language. It doesn’t come naturally, like your native language does, but it can be learned. My problem was that I did not encounter the concept of “social skill” until I was in my late 20s, and therefore did not realise until then that there was something I needed to learn.

    How do you know that you read social cues very well?

    My difficulties with those things may have been due to social insolation combined with introversion, rather than impaired social cognition.

    Why are you socially isolated?

    Comment by Daran — December 12, 2006 @ 9:02 am | Reply

  3. Daran that is a great link. It makes a lot of sense in terms of who calls me when grades go back to students!

    Comment by curiousgyrl — December 12, 2006 @ 10:39 am | Reply

  4. Baahhhh. Daran, you gave in! I’m disappointed, even though I don’t really have any right to be, since my way of dealing with the threads that male bash is just to not post.

    You didn’t derail anything, except by not backing down.

    Comment by plunky — December 12, 2006 @ 10:49 am | Reply

  5. Sorry plunky, I ‘derailed’ by diverting the discussion from Marcella’s original post. I will happily argue against male-bashing all day.

    I don’t “give in”. If I come to the conclusion that I was wrong, then I say so.

    Comment by Daran — December 12, 2006 @ 12:18 pm | Reply

  6. Asperger’s is characterized by an inability to understand nonverbal/non-linguistic clues. This is the net. How many non-linguistic clues are you getting (smilies count as “linguistic” in this context). In short, on the net, everybody has asperger’s. Take that you smug neurotypical types. BWAHAHAHA. (Yeah, I’m at least Asperger’s tendency too.)

    Comment by Dianne — December 12, 2006 @ 5:15 pm | Reply

  7. Asperger’s is characterized by an inability to understand nonverbal/non-linguistic clues.

    That is one of several characteristics.

    This is the net. How many non-linguistic clues are you getting (smilies count as “linguistic” in this context). In short, on the net, everybody has asperger’s.

    No, they’re not. They’re sighted people in a dark room. I’m a blind person in a dark room. My blind person adaptations are an advantage, but there are other Aspie tendencies that may not be advantageous, such as the tendency to “to treat everyone’s communications as a set of logical propositions to be agreed with or refuted.”, which can irritate the person being refuted.

    Take that you smug neurotypical types. BWAHAHAHA.

    Error: Unable to parse as a logical proposition. Submitting utterance to humour detection and processing unit.

    (Yeah, I’m at least Asperger’s tendency too.)

    Again, I do not diagnose, but I do not “feel” that you are Aspie in the way that I “feel” that Aegis might be, (and several other people I will not name.) That does not rule out the possibility that you have some Aspie characteristics within NT tolerance limits. (It also does not rule out the possibility that you are an extreme Aspie or are some other spectrum condition and for some reason I am not sensing it. As I said, I do not diagnose.)

    Comment by Daran — December 12, 2006 @ 6:52 pm | Reply

  8. Diane:

    This is the net. How many non-linguistic clues are you getting (smilies count as “linguistic” in this context). In short, on the net, everybody has asperger’s.

    Me:

    No, they’re not.

    Notice my verb error. Grammatically that should be “No, they haven’t”. I have great difficulty in using the word “have” with “Asperger’s”. It’s not something I have. It’s who I am. This is why I prefer the word “aspie”. I do not like it, but it is better than the alternative.

    Comment by Daran — December 12, 2006 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  9. […] Post deleted by author because it was both based on a misunderstanding, and it was being misunderstood by others. Easier to start anew than to try to clean up the mess. See this post for an explanation. […]

    Pingback by Who’s on First? « Creative Destruction — December 13, 2006 @ 8:43 am | Reply

  10. I have great difficulty in using the word “have” with “Asperger’s”. It’s not something I have. It’s who I am

    It’s a good point, although obviously Asperger’s does not define the whole of who you are. I will attempt to correct my language accordingly and ask that you consider any slips as stupidity and/or inattention not intentional insults.

    Comment by Dianne — December 14, 2006 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  11. It’s a good point, although obviously Asperger’s does not define the whole of who you are…

    May be what I am, rather than who. I dunno. Obviously a full description of who I am (if that were even possible) would be much more than just a list of diagnostic indicators.

    …I will attempt to correct my language accordingly.

    Oh good heavens, I’m not asking for politically correct language from anyone else. I’m just saying that I stumble over the verb. It’s one reason – probably the only reason – I prefer “Aspie” to “Asperger” or “Asperger’s”. I am an Aspie and can use the right verb.

    Comment by Daran — December 14, 2006 @ 1:48 pm | Reply

  12. It’s one reason – probably the only reason – I prefer “Aspie” to “Asperger” or “Asperger’s”. I am an Aspie and can use the right verb.

    Looking back, I see I already said that. So much for my super Aspie memory. :-/

    Comment by Daran — December 14, 2006 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  13. I’m not sure if it was the poster’s intention to present the notion that ‘we’re all autistic on the net’, but actually it’s a seriously interesting notion. Before going on to read the comments I was intending to post something anyway, just to say how great it is to find Aspergic/Aspie (??) bloggers – I hadn’t even been searching specifically – I was led/summoned-by-fate/prompted here from Alas A Blog… My younger brother was diagnosed with Aspergers nearly 10 years ago – along with tourettes and ADHD – and knowing where one started and another finished is what probably took me and my family so long to identify the Aspie-in-me… I’m female – which meant I was never a prime suspect for the condition, whereas my brother was! ANYWAY (NTS: can’t really allow myself the indulgence of digressing on a comment post! – That’s why I have a blog…!) I just wrote my thesis on our existence/s in (cyber)space and Dianne’s comment must make us think about how the removal of face-to-face contact and allowances for delayed responses may level the playing field on general communication, and seeing how many misunderstandings occur because it’s so difficult to read ‘tone’ and ‘cynicism’ in a blogging and net-chat context surely gives non-Aspies insight into how it is to be/with/have Aspergers… Maybe from a certain perspective we ARE all Aspies in cyberspace…

    Comment by Jenny — December 14, 2006 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  14. I’m not sure if it was the poster’s intention to present the notion that ‘we’re all autistic on the net’, but actually it’s a seriously interesting notion.

    That was Diane’s suggestion not mine.

    You could make just as good a case saying “We are all neurotypical on the net”. Some Autistics who cannot speak or write, can type, and are able to express themselves in fluent, articulate English. Others (or the same ones at different times) write broken but nevertheless comprehensible English. For many of them, who otherwise would be severely restricted in their ability to communicate (and perhaps have been damaged as a result of that restriction/inability in the past) the keyboard is a great communicative enabler.

    My view is that the net (or more precisely) non-realtime, text-based communication generally, is a leveller. NT’s communicative advantages are neutralised to a considerable degree, as are Aspies/Auties disadvantages.

    That’s true even for Aspies like me for whom the mechanics of speech are no problem. I have no difficulty whatsoever in turning my thoughts into grammatical English, and uttering them in real time. However, I don’t ‘do’ smalltalk – I just don’t have any smalltalkish thoughts to articulate. When in a social environment in which smalltalk dominates, I tend to fall silent, and usually end up being ignored. If someone attempts to engage me, I can make a stilted response, but I feel embarrassed and am uncomfortably aware of just how much like Rain Man I sound.

    Now think for a second about the function of smalltalk as a social lubricant, and you might realise just how socially disabling that deficit really is.

    But on the net I don’t have to do smalltalk. There isn’t much of it, and I can ignore what little there is.

    Before going on to read the comments I was intending to post something anyway, just to say how great it is to find Aspergic/Aspie (??) bloggers – I hadn’t even been searching specifically – I was led/summoned-by-fate/prompted here from Alas A Blog…

    There is a vibrant community of Aspies/Auties on the net. I haven’t been a part of it, but I’ve been watching it for a while out of the corner of my eye.

    My younger brother was diagnosed with Aspergers nearly 10 years ago – along with tourettes and ADHD – and knowing where one started and another finished is what probably took me and my family so long to identify the Aspie-in-me… I’m female – which meant I was never a prime suspect for the condition, whereas my brother was!

    By “Aspie-in-me”, do you mean that you are an Aspie, or that you have Aspie tendencies and/or that you are an Aspie wannabe (there are quite a few)? Or do you mean something else?

    Assuming you meant that you are an Aspie, then yes, I would imagine that your brother’s additional characteristics would demand so much attention that yours would be overlooked.

    ANYWAY (NTS: can’t really allow myself the indulgence of digressing on a comment post! – That’s why I have a blog…!)…

    Good comments can make great blog post material. This comment will become my next.

    …I just wrote my thesis on our existence/s in (cyber)space and Dianne’s comment must make us think about how the removal of face-to-face contact and allowances for delayed responses…

    That is another key feature of the medium. I don’t ‘do’ IRC, because the speed of medium encourages smalltalk, and because I can’t be completely invisible (the presence of a person on a channel is visible to other people there, even if they are not speaking). I haven’t tried other kinds of instant messaging, but I would expect that they would pose the same problems to me.

    Comment by Daran — December 14, 2006 @ 8:07 pm | Reply

  15. […] (This post was adapted from a comment I made over at Creative Destruction.) […]

    Pingback by On the Net, Everybody is… What? « DaRain Man — December 14, 2006 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  16. There is much speculation that aspergers is indeed on the spectrum. I gather that some people think that all aspergers ‘sufferers’ are always high functioning and a ‘little quirky’.
    To me that means most of my friends…lol! And me!
    More seriously though, aspergers is mainly a wide ranging condition that ranges from severe to mild, and the gentleman who wrote this post seems to be able quite compellingly to communicate perfectly. As with autism, there is always a way to learn and progress, and I and my wife spend most of our life trying to bring our son out of the terrible shell he is in.
    Posts like this, and other people who have had similar diagnosis always give us hope that we will make it.

    Thanks

    Comment by Eric Chiverton — February 8, 2007 @ 11:02 am | Reply


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