Thinking about Aspergers

As usual, a jumble of apparently unrelated topics has been weaving itself together in my racing brain. And, as happens now and then, even though I think I’m through with the topic, it comes down to Aspergers. Because, yes, I’m on the autistic spectrum — specifically at the high-functioning end of what used to be called, officially, Aspergers Syndrome. With a swipe of its powerful arm, the latest incarnation of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) shuffled all us aspies off this mortal coil and decreed that henceforth we are merely autistic.

I say merely, not because autism is somehow a more shameful or disgraceful condition than Aspergers, but because so many aspies believe it makes differentiating between the functional and less functional members of the autistic spectrum that much more difficult. Practically, there is no solution to this dilemma, which has become highly politicized, and I choose to stay out of it.

However, there are good reasons for me to be slightly more concerned about adults with Aspergers than with other age groups or levels of neurodiversity, as the whole ball of wax has come to be called. After all, I’m a member of that group and have been affected by it on many levels all my life, even before I knew there was such a condition. Because of the way that a new insight about my brain and its functioning dropped on me recently, I am once again considering whether to start a blog about elderly aspies (having given up on it a couple of times) or just talk about it here when it’s relevant to writing and creativity.

What led me into this post was thinking about early influences on writers and remembering that I scoured the fairy tales and folk tales section of my junior high library, reading every single book in the collection. Before I was finished I had already recognized that the stories, no matter what country or part of the world they come from, fell into a number of patterns. It wasn’t a particularly meaningful insight at the time, but it was interesting enough to stick in my memory for all these years, available to be brought to awareness with the right trigger.

I won’t pursue that further right now, except to say that I reached a point in my life when I understood that pattern recognition had always been an important part of my thinking. Later on, I learned that it was also one of the “symptoms” of Aspergers.

And there I’ll live it for now, to ponder further.

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6 thoughts on “Thinking about Aspergers

  1. Have written to you. Let me know if you don’t get the email.

    I always love to hear of Asperger’s writers – fiction should be for everyone, but some perspectives really need to come from the inside, to counter people writing it who don’t really understand.

    What is your opinion of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime? I never read it because I heard many people with Aspereger’s disliked it intensely. Maybe I should read it just to find out what I’m talking about.

    1. Yes, I got your email and will respond later. Thanks. I haven’t read Curious Incident. Have read a lot *about* it, but it didn’t seem like something that would speak to me. I don’t like first-person narratives by children, and the protag of the book is too typically autistic for me, even though he is very high functioning. Taking a quick look at Amazon’s listing, “imposing arbitrary patterns” as his way of dealing with the input of too much stimuli might serve as one marker for maintaining a line between autism and aspergers. There’s a behavioral rigidity in autism that I think isn’t always a part of aspergers, or is at least less dominant. But every point is arguable on some level and the line isn’t firm. We each draw the lines we’re comfortable with.

      1. I think it used to be a useful line. Now it will be smeared, and the usefulness will disappear.

        Sometimes that’s good; other times, it hurts the people affected for the convenience of someone else. We’ll see on this one, but I’m not hopeful.

        1. The human brain is one of those things that’s impossible to pin down, put in boxes, or draw lines on. That has its good side and its bad side. Life persists in remaining open-ended and we have to find our own way of understanding it and dealing with it. That’s difficult for people who need everything clear-cut, frustrating and/or liberating for everyone else.

            1. I know how that feels. To the point where I wonder sometimes why I bother to write at all. But that’s all I have. My only way of trying to make things better. No guarantee of success. In fact, less success than failure, if I’m honest, but that’s no excuse for not trying.

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