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BaalChatzaf

DSM-V cha, cha, cha

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In the revision of diagnosis of mental conditions DSM-V, Asperger's Syndrome is now officially on the autistic spectrum. Objectively, this is probably correct, but there are some practical consequences. Severely autistic children have a very hard childhood. They are late in talking (some never do) and they are very backward in acquiring social skills and the ability to relate to others. Asperger folk, aka Aspies, generally are verbally advanced at an early age but have a hard time in understanding the externals of behavior shown by others, such as face and body language. This leads to a difficult childhood and learning to navigate socially is hard going. That is why so many Aspies and other high functioning autistics end up in science, mathematics or the software trade. In these venues one is dealing with precise rule structures. There are abstract subtleties but they can be gotten at logically.

I cannot object to the reclassification of Asperger's Syndrome on objective grounds. Aspies have a genetic variation in the way they think. A way of imagining this is to regard the wetware working under a different operating system. The world at large is MicroSoft ™ and the Aspies are Mac or Linux or some such metaphor.

What I am concerned about is how the general public will use this re-classification. Aspies are NOT mentally disabled. They have some social difficulties which many manage to cope with as they grow up. I had a strange childhood and a difficult adolescence. I never got to date a girl until I was in college for example. But I learned social navigation incrementally and by empirical means (rather than the built in ability that neuro-typical folk have). Eventually I learned to pass for human. My good wife who is a Normal but with a good heart found my brains sufficiently attractive so I got married (and am still married to her) going on 53 years. I think I lucked out in the department. Even so, my condition is not a true disability in the current society. Aspies, by and large, are gainfully employed, in somewhat disproportion numbers in science, mathematics and the computer based trades. I do not want folks in the general public to believe that Aspies are defective, deficient or even mentally ill. It is just not the case. In the words of Temple Grandin; we are different, not less.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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Well it's always a good question to ask "mentally disabled?" Given that disabled implies a handicap...

Some possible definitions include:

1. functioning that does not encompass the full range of abilities present in the average human

2. functioning that handicaps a person's ability to operate successfully in society

And how might mentally disabled differ from mentally ill? In one case, we have disabled functioning, but ill suggests something more detrimental and negative.. I feel a difference, but I can't put my finger on what that difference is.

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Well it's always a good question to ask "mentally disabled?" Given that disabled implies a handicap...

Some possible definitions include:

1. functioning that does not encompass the full range of abilities present in the average human

2. functioning that handicaps a person's ability to operate successfully in society

And how might mentally disabled differ from mentally ill? In one case, we have disabled functioning, but ill suggests something more detrimental and negative.. I feel a difference, but I can't put my finger on what that difference is.

#2 and a bit of #1

Since I did not do body and face language well, getting along with others had its rocky moments. Eventually I picked up on the social cues but it was not natural or intuitive for me. It was like painting by the numbers, a rather clumsy empirical mechanical process (at first). Also I am very literal-minded. I have had to repress my literal minded responses to questions and things I read so I do not "weird out" the folks around me. Also I have had some near-accidents driving because I take turn signs literally. If the turn sign is slightly out of place I end up in people's driveways. I have that under control now so I am safe on the road.

I was also the target of some bullying since I was a bit weird. Being weird in the 1940s and 1950s was not well tolerated. I had to fight a lot, so I learned how to fight dirty. After breaking some wrists and arms people stopped bothering me. I have been reasonably at ease since college. I married a Normal in 1957 and we are still going strong.

Also I did not introspect deeply or well and I still don't. I can remember what I thought but I cannot remember what I felt (or even if I felt). And I cannot drill down too deeply. I rather dislike introspection. It is like going into a messy basement or a messy attic, full of dust and cobwebs. Besides, most of the things I am interested in are outside my skin. Also talk about feelings makes me very edgy and creepy. I do not like to discuss emotions much, especially mine.

Profoundly retarded people do not abstract well and they don't reason well. This (happily) does not nor did not apply to me. I was always ultra smart in the abstract sense and I learned mathematics very early. I taught myself calculus when I was 13, because they not teach it in the tax loot funded public school in the 8th grade. I got into mathematics early. In my freshmen year the deptartment of Mathematics at Syracuse University approved of my taking graduate courses. So I was a happy scout. After I got out of graduate school I immediately went into applied math and computer programming as a trade. When in college I programmed an IBM 1401 drum memory machine. That was in 1955. But I did not start making a living at it until 1959.

Here is what it was like. Until I was about 17 or 18 I was convinced that I came from another planet and I was living in the wrong place. I had this fantasy that some of my ancestors landed on earth many years ago and were able to interbreed with the locals. Essentially, I thought I was Spock.

Oddly enough one of the forums on which I correspond is

wrongplanet.net

odd, yes?

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf

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Given what you wrote Ba'al, I think a nice way to differentiate mental disability from mental illness is the following:

disabled: not capable of performing the full spectrum of expected human functions

illness: malfunction within some human function that one is currently in access of performing

Hardly precise, but I think that illness represents malfunctioning that is present-tense in terms of how a person operates; whereas disabled tends to reflect an inability more than a malfunction. Malfunctions, since they are present within the human consciousness, tend to destabilize the ego and may therefore result in unpredictable behavior. It is the aspect of unpredictability in illness that I think leads to some level of social fear or distancing, whereas disabled doesn't have the same fear connotations. (and I don't think the fear is justified regardless, but I understand it as representative of a natural emotional response to unexpectedness).

A mentally disabled person can be more predictable than a mentally ill person. And few are the people who have never at some point experienced temporary mental disability or illness

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A mentally disabled person can be more predictable than a mentally ill person. And few are the people who have never at some point experienced temporary mental disability or illness

I consider being an Aspie a gift, rather than a disability. I carry a lot less unnecessary mental baggage compared to a neuro-typical. My literal-mindedness conduces to clarity and precision of thought.

Temple Grandin in the talks she gives sometimes refers to the normals who sit in front of the caves yakking up, while the aspie is in the back figuring out how to make better flint spears. Grandin claims that it is the autistic aspects of mind that sometimes show up in mostly normal folk that is responsible for science. I am inclined to agree with her.

You might find this address by Grandin interesting:

Ba'al Chatzaf

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A mentally disabled person can be more predictable than a mentally ill person. And few are the people who have never at some point experienced temporary mental disability or illness

I consider being an Aspie a gift, rather than a disability. I carry a lot less unnecessary mental baggage compared to a neuro-typical. My literal-mindedness conduces to clarity and precision of thought.

Temple Grandin in the talks she gives sometimes refers to the normals who sit in front of the caves yakking up, while the aspie is in the back figuring out how to make better flint spears. Grandin claims that it is the autistic aspects of mind that sometimes show up in mostly normal folk that is responsible for science. I am inclined to agree with her.

You might find this address by Grandin interesting:

Ba'al Chatzaf

Thanks. You might will find this interesting: http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/04/wall-street-excerpt-201004?currentPage=1

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