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Re: [evol-psych] Re: Autism

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  • O'Dea
    ... Julian O Dea: This is precisely the kind of remark that irritates me. There is nothing positive about autism in my experience. It is a disability. I don t
    Message 1 of 20 , Dec 31, 2005
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      >
      > Julian O'Dea wrote:
      >
      >>My third child, a son, has recently been
      >>diagnosed with "mild, high-functioning autism". I don't want him to
      >>be an "Aspie", or someday an "autism activist". I want him to be as
      >>close to neurotypical as possible.

      Cathy Reason:
      >
      > Ah, this may be what you want, but can you be sure it's also what he is
      > going to want? ;-)

      Julian O'Dea: This is precisely the kind of remark that irritates me. There
      is nothing positive about autism in my experience. It is a disability. I
      don't have the luxury of being "cute" about it, because I have seen the
      problems it can cause in my own family.

      Canberra, Australia
    • artemistroy
      Interesting if you compare contemporary H. sapiens and Neandertals. How would these children fare in an autistics dominated world? It s assumed that NTs will
      Message 2 of 20 , Jan 1, 2006
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        Interesting if you compare contemporary H. sapiens and Neandertals.
        How would these children fare in an autistics dominated world? It's
        assumed that NTs will protect and care for them, but how about
        autistics? Aspies can do nothing but disparage NTs, but apparently
        they are managing just fine in our world. I would be very interested
        in observing an Aspie-only society, on an island with no NTs contact.
        Aspies are communicating with NTs here to plead their cause, but what
        if no NTs to listen?

        Artemis


        --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "O'Dea" <jkodea@n...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Alan:
        > >
        > > Yes. The same point is made in a refreshingly amusing way at
        > > www.isnt.autistics.org. Humor is the mode, but the points are
        > > quite serious. The neurotypicals fall just a tad too easily into
        > > the naturalistic fallacy -- whatever IS [typical], is RIGHT
        > > ["normal"]. Neurotypicals can lay claim to superiority when they
        > > clean up the gross mess they have created. R D Laing was right.
        > >
        >
        > Julian O'Dea: I get a little irritated by this. Autistic people
        and "Aspies"
        > who are able to join in this discussion are obviously doing OK.
        However,
        > of my three children, the eldest - a daughter - is seriously
        affected by
        > autism. She had an epileptic fit on Boxing Day, probably due to her
        > condition. She lives in a group home and is completely mute.
        Certainly,
        > she is a dear, sweet girl, much more affectionate and funny than
        one would
        > expect. But she is severely affected.
        >
        > My second child is normal. My third child, a son, has recently been
        > diagnosed with "mild, high-functioning autism". I don't want him to
        > be an "Aspie", or someday an "autism activist". I want him to be as
        > close to neurotypical as possible. This American tendency to turn
        > every misfortune into an opportunity for self-righteous activism
        > irritates me profoundly. Autism is not some "contribution to
        diversity".
        > It is frequently a tragedy.
        >
        > Irritated by my bluntness? Well, put it down to my high scores on
        autism
        > tests!
        >
        > Canberra, Australia
        >
      • artemistroy
        How would autistics behave in a solely autistic world? Would they go the way of Neandertal in competition with NTs?; or we can speculate that there will be no
        Message 3 of 20 , Jan 1, 2006
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          How would autistics behave in a solely autistic world? Would they go
          the way of Neandertal in competition with NTs?; or we can speculate
          that there will be no NTs.

          That's like asking how the second and third world will survive if the
          first world is eliminated through displacement/replacement; ie, for
          example, replacement of archaic Homo by Homo sapiens sapiens.

          Artemis


          --- In evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com, "Cathy Reason"
          <CathyM@U...> wrote:
          >
          >
          > Julian O'Dea wrote:
          >
          > >My third child, a son, has recently been
          > >diagnosed with "mild, high-functioning autism". I don't want him to
          > >be an "Aspie", or someday an "autism activist". I want him to be as
          > >close to neurotypical as possible.
          >
          > Ah, this may be what you want, but can you be sure it's also what
          he is
          > going to want? ;-)
          >
          > I find this one of the most interesting discussions I've ever seen
          on this
          > list. Too many ideas to go through them all, but just to take a
          few:
          >
          >
          > Julienne wrote:
          >
          > >I find that, although my friend (for one) asks for my help, wants
          > >me to listen, and wants information which might help him, he
          > >doesn't want me to bring it up again, and can even seem
          > >offended if I do, and yet he doesn't want to help me, and can
          > >actually ignore such requests, or be non-responsive if I tell
          > >him about something difficult in my life.
          <Snip>
        • Cathy Reason
          ... Julian O Dea: This is precisely the kind of remark that irritates me. There is nothing positive about autism in my experience. It is a disability. I don t
          Message 4 of 20 , Jan 1, 2006
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            Cathy Reason:

            >Ah, this may be what you want, but can you be sure it's also what he is
            >going to want? ;-)

            Julian O'Dea:
            This is precisely the kind of remark that irritates me. There
            is nothing positive about autism in my experience. It is a disability. I
            don't have the luxury of being "cute" about it, because I have seen the
            problems it can cause in my own family.

            CMR:
            But to what extent is it a tragedy for the individual who has autism, and to
            what extent is it a tragedy for their relatives and friends? This is always
            a question with any mental health issue, as you will undoubtedly know.

            As you've said yourself, there are obviously some people with autism or
            Asperger's who are doing all right. So while it may be a tragdy for some,
            it obviously isn't a tragedy for others. That shouldn't be surprising -
            human beings are not all alike, and there will always be some individuals
            who turn every tragedy into an opportunity.

            The danger, it seems to me, comes when people try to impose their own value
            systems on others - and this, I'd guess, is something that "neurotypicals"
            and autism "activists" are both somewhat prone to do. The lesson, if there
            is one, is that children need the space to decide for themselves whether
            their condition in life is a tragedy or an opportunity. But allowing our
            children the space to learn their own values has never been something we
            human beings have been very good at.

            Cathy

            [Catherine Reason]
          • Elizabeth Ross
            Hi Everyone, Part of the problem with autism today is that the name autism is applied so liberally to such a heterogeneous group of people. Some of those are
            Message 5 of 20 , Jan 1, 2006
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              Hi Everyone,

              Part of the problem with autism today is that the name "autism" is
              applied so liberally to such a heterogeneous group of people. Some of
              those are severely disabled, while others are capable of success by
              today's standards. Some may be so high functioning that they need not
              ever acquire an official diagnosis yet nevertheless have the disorder.
              This is not a contradiction in terms. As Lynn said in another post,
              autism is recognized as a spectrum disorder now, yet so often it (even
              high functioning and Asperger's) is understood as black and white, and
              it is assumed that the stereotypical characteristics of classic autism
              or of those from popular media presentations (i.e. the super geek, or
              socially unfit) will present somewhat consistently throughout the spectrum.

              The large increase in diagnosis can at least partially be attributed to
              a combined effect of increase in awareness and increased laxity in
              criteria used for diagnosis (in the Oregon State Dept of Ed it is merely
              a child who: has social difficulty.) I would like to understand better
              why the increase in diagnosis/prevalence reduces the likelihood that
              some aspects of autism could not be an adaptation?

              Some problems faced by those with autism (high functioning enough to be
              in mainstream classrooms) in school can be addressed when educators
              don't have to adhere to a strict "one size fits all" program. Certainly
              I am not saying that all autism is adaptive, but neither is it so clear
              that all autistics have disabilities that would result in reduced
              fitness. The observation that many autistic children with high IQ's seem
              to outgrow their autistic behaviors would indicate that there is
              something to the "development" part of "developmental disorder."

              How is it we can accept that gender differences exist, and even argue in
              support of studying those differences, yet not seem to give much
              consideration to the fact that diversity might extend beyond the sexes
              and even exist in terms of cognitive function? I wonder if we are still
              challenged by the idea of cognitive differences between any groups
              because accepting that might lead to a push to accept the very
              threatening idea of racial differences.

              I hope that children with high functioning autism such as Julian's do
              not have to grow up either to be autism activists or to hide their
              autism. I hope one day they will be accepted as part of the diversity of
              humanity and not have their identity forced on them by some label. I
              know that's a little idealistic but...

              A final note on autism, if anyone is interested I made presentation on
              it for a class in November. I tried to give a solid introduction to
              autism as well as go into some of the current issues regarding various
              aspects of the related research and some evolutionary considerations of
              my own. You can listen and view it here, (you'll need flash):
              http://evolutionarythought.com/presentations/rethinking-autism/player.html

              Happy New Year everyone!
              Elizabeth Pyle Ross
            • Julienne
              ... Cathy, I think what you are missing is that there is tremendous pain involved for most people concerned. Perhaps if we compared autism with Alzheimer s,
              Message 6 of 20 , Jan 3, 2006
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                At 03:02 PM 1/1/2006 +0000, Cathy Reason wrote:

                >Cathy Reason:
                >
                > >Ah, this may be what you want, but can you be sure it's also what he is
                > >going to want? ;-)
                >
                >Julian O'Dea:
                >This is precisely the kind of remark that irritates me. There
                >is nothing positive about autism in my experience. It is a disability. I
                >don't have the luxury of being "cute" about it, because I have seen the
                >problems it can cause in my own family.
                >
                >CMR:
                >But to what extent is it a tragedy for the individual who has autism, and to
                >what extent is it a tragedy for their relatives and friends? This is always
                >a question with any mental health issue, as you will undoubtedly know.

                Cathy,

                I think what you are missing is that there is tremendous pain involved
                for most people concerned. Perhaps if we compared autism with
                Alzheimer's, you might get a bit of the depth of the issue. When a
                person develops Alzheimer's, what is missing is the ability to communicate,
                to feel, as far as we know. I say as far as we know because we are not
                inside the
                heads of those with Alzheimer's, and so don't know for sure what they are
                experiencing or understanding, but all the evidence we see is that they lose
                their ability to understand, feel, or communicate. With Autism, there is a
                similar challenge - the Autistic is unable to feel or communicate feelings
                as does an NT. Now, we can say that Neurotypicals are trying to impose
                their standard on the Autistic, but, whatever is going on, there is a great
                deal of pain. Just as we grieve when someone close to us develops
                Alzheimer's, so we grieve when we can't fully communicate with an
                Autistic person. Depending on the degree of effect, there is a lack of
                the feeling and emotional qualities which many feel is what makes
                us human. For those who love someone with Autism, it can be
                heartbreaking to deal with a son, a partner, who is uncomfortable
                with eye contact, with expressing love, even, sometimes, with
                touching. Autistics do, sometimes, even marry, but both partners
                go through a lot of difficulty usually. The NT feels unloved, or as
                though the Autistic just doesn't really care, or is incapable of
                expressing that care. The Autistic person, often, doesn't see what
                the big deal is, and can be disconcerted by the NT's need for "love".
                I am painting with a broad brush here, but I have seen so many
                discussions about this, with partners struggling and in real pain.

                I remember when my first son was born, and I couldn't wait for him
                to talk - I wanted to know what was inside that little soul, what he
                would have to say. For many parents of autistics, the child never
                speaks, or never says anything intelligible or particularly cogent
                or connecting. When one gets to high functioning Asperger's,
                still there is so much discomfort. Those with Asperger's are
                said to be suffering because of the way they are treated by
                society, but it may be that the depression, the ADD, the anxiety,
                and other sometimes attendant conditions are not so much
                caused by society but may be side effects or components of
                the Asperger's itself. We don't know yet, as research is so new
                into this, but my intuition is that it is not just society's "fault", as
                I have seen so many parents giving their all to hep these
                children. Also, Asperger's and Autism do not seem to develop
                later, as the "result" of early childhood trauma, they seem to
                be there from the beginning. That doesn't mean they might
                not be caused or triggered by prenatal influences - we might
                find that is so.

                >As you've said yourself, there are obviously some people with autism or
                >Asperger's who are doing all right. So while it may be a tragdy for some,
                >it obviously isn't a tragedy for others. That shouldn't be surprising -
                >human beings are not all alike, and there will always be some individuals
                >who turn every tragedy into an opportunity.

                This is not a Pollyanna situation. Someone with no legs may learn
                to get around, but that doesn't mean having no legs is a ho hum,
                or something one would choose. A tragedy is a tragedy, no matter what
                one one works to do to ameliorate or work with a situation. Positive
                thinking does not regrow legs in humans.

                >The danger, it seems to me, comes when people try to impose their own value
                >systems on others - and this, I'd guess, is something that "neurotypicals"
                >and autism "activists" are both somewhat prone to do. The lesson, if there
                >is one, is that children need the space to decide for themselves whether
                >their condition in life is a tragedy or an opportunity. But allowing our
                >children the space to learn their own values has never been something we
                >human beings have been very good at.

                I don't think the lesson is about choosing between "tragedy" or "opportunity"
                at all. There are no choices here. Bifurcating the situation only leaves out
                too many aspects of the situation. Children don't just need "space", they
                also need loving support and guidance. They don't have the experience,
                the knowledge, or even the brain development to have to assume the
                responsibility for any such "decisions". If adult, parents, psychologists,
                neuroscientists, don't know the whole story here, how on earth can a
                child be expected to make any kind of choice other than a purely
                arbitrary one? This is not like deciding whether one wants to be a
                doctor or a lawyer, or work on one's character.

                I have seen a lot of pain all along the spectrum here, of people
                with autism of one degree or another, and those people who
                love them and feel responsibility to help and love them. One
                of the sources of the greatest sadness seems to be for those
                who love them, and find that love not reciprocated or expressed,
                r their own love for the autistic understood or appreciated.

                Julienne
              • Leif Ekblad
                ... You are clearly refering to NTs now. It is NTs, that expect a NT child, that perceives tremendous pain when they get an autistic child. ... Bad
                Message 7 of 20 , Jan 3, 2006
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                  Julienne:
                  > I think what you are missing is that there is tremendous pain involved
                  > for most people concerned.

                  You are clearly refering to NTs now. It is NTs, that expect a NT child,
                  that perceives "tremendous" pain when they get an autistic child.

                  > Perhaps if we compared autism with
                  > Alzheimer's, you might get a bit of the depth of the issue.

                  Bad comparision. Autism is not a disease, and comparing
                  it to a disease is not justified.

                  > When a
                  > person develops Alzheimer's, what is missing is the ability to
                  > communicate,
                  > to feel, as far as we know. I say as far as we know because we are not
                  > inside the
                  > heads of those with Alzheimer's, and so don't know for sure what they are
                  > experiencing or understanding, but all the evidence we see is that they
                  > lose
                  > their ability to understand, feel, or communicate.

                  Very possible.

                  > With Autism, there is a
                  > similar challenge - the Autistic is unable to feel or communicate feelings
                  > as does an NT.

                  Not true. The problem is with NTs. The autistic child is perfectly able to
                  communicate, but the NTs around it doesn't understand. Perhaps this
                  is a tragedy, provided the autistic child is surrounded by NTs, but
                  this is not always the case, and even perhaps seldom the case.

                  > I remember when my first son was born, and I couldn't wait for him
                  > to talk - I wanted to know what was inside that little soul, what he
                  > would have to say. For many parents of autistics, the child never
                  > speaks, or never says anything intelligible or particularly cogent
                  > or connecting. When one gets to high functioning Asperger's,
                  > still there is so much discomfort. Those with Asperger's are
                  > said to be suffering because of the way they are treated by
                  > society, but it may be that the depression, the ADD, the anxiety,
                  > and other sometimes attendant conditions are not so much
                  > caused by society but may be side effects or components of
                  > the Asperger's itself. We don't know yet, as research is so new
                  > into this, but my intuition is that it is not just society's "fault", as
                  > I have seen so many parents giving their all to hep these
                  > children. Also, Asperger's and Autism do not seem to develop
                  > later, as the "result" of early childhood trauma, they seem to
                  > be there from the beginning. That doesn't mean they might
                  > not be caused or triggered by prenatal influences - we might
                  > find that is so.

                  The suffering might still be related to society, even if the Aspie
                  has comorbid conditions like ADD. Anxiety and depression clearly is
                  not inborn in Aspies, no more than it is inborn in anybody else.

                  > This is not a Pollyanna situation. Someone with no legs may learn
                  > to get around, but that doesn't mean having no legs is a ho hum,
                  > or something one would choose. A tragedy is a tragedy, no matter what
                  > one one works to do to ameliorate or work with a situation. Positive
                  > thinking does not regrow legs in humans.

                  Another bad comparision.

                  > I have seen a lot of pain all along the spectrum here, of people
                  > with autism of one degree or another, and those people who
                  > love them and feel responsibility to help and love them. One
                  > of the sources of the greatest sadness seems to be for those
                  > who love them, and find that love not reciprocated or expressed,
                  > r their own love for the autistic understood or appreciated.

                  Many things would improve if more people on the autistic
                  spectrum were involved with autistic children. However,
                  this requires people to recognize that autistics will communicate
                  better with each others and that the troubles are related to
                  differences in communication style rather than inability. I
                  guess the cure-autism-now organizations that is founding
                  much of today's reasearch will be hard-pressed to fund
                  any such research, but it really would be in the best interest
                  of autistics.

                  Leif Ekblad
                • Elizabeth Ross
                  Lief: (snip)It is NTs, that expect a NT child, that perceives tremendous pain when they get an autistic child. Are parents who are highly extroverted or
                  Message 8 of 20 , Jan 4, 2006
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                    Lief: (snip)It is NTs, that expect a NT child, that perceives "tremendous" pain when they get an autistic child.

                    Are parents who are highly extroverted or socially oriented more
                    disturbed by having a child with high functioning autism or asperger's
                    than parents with more autistic like qualities? In other words, does
                    parental desire to have children similar to themselves impact the
                    reception of an autistic child and type of treatment sought? In my
                    experience, this is true, but apparently not born out with further
                    examination. In "The Limits of Family Influence" David Rowe mentioned
                    that family members were unable to choose correctly which
                    child/sibling/parent they most resembled. Have their been any other
                    studies on this?

                    Julienne: With Autism, there is a
                    similar challenge - the Autistic is unable to feel or communicate feelings
                    as does an NT. (snip)
                    Lief: Not true. The problem is with NTs. The autistic child is perfectly able to
                    communicate, but the NTs around it doesn't understand. Perhaps this
                    is a tragedy, provided the autistic child is surrounded by NTs, (snip)

                    Simply because autistic people may not express their feelings (which no
                    one who actually knows an autistic person can claim they do not have)
                    the same way as other people does not make them any less human.
                    Unfortunately, misinformation tells many people that autistics do not
                    have feelings (including some well meaning autistics). Imposing
                    standards on anyone can cause pain to all involved, but for many
                    autistic children, pain and anxiety is caused by bullying and teasing by
                    other children. Yet, oddly, it is not the mean spirited bullying,
                    teasing, and occasional abuse by "normal" children that is questioned,
                    it is the humanity of the autistic child. It is important to note that
                    the number of people with autism spectrum disorders (or ASD such as
                    Asperger's) is nearly twice that of those with the classic autism, so
                    chances are when you hear about someone with autism it is someone with
                    an ASD.

                    Julienne: (snip)Those with Asperger's are
                    said to be suffering because of the way they are treated by
                    society, but it may be that the depression, the ADD, the anxiety,
                    and other sometimes attendant conditions are not so much
                    caused by society but may be side effects or components of
                    the Asperger's itself.
                    Lief: The suffering might still be related to society, even if the Aspie
                    has comorbid conditions like ADD. Anxiety and depression clearly is
                    not inborn in Aspies, no more than it is inborn in anybody else.
                    this is not always the case, and even perhaps seldom the case.


                    Many well meaning parents try to force their children into being a type
                    of person that the child may not be well suited to be or even capable of
                    being. This happens in all types of families, autistic or not. Any
                    person will be unhappy, with depression and anxiety if they spend their
                    lives feeling that they are not "normal," that they are failures. This
                    is not even including the bullying in school which is known to lead to
                    depression. The evidence that becoming depressed once primes the brain
                    for further episodes would seem to put the onus on the family and
                    community to learn what situations promote self esteem and healthy
                    behavior, and not try to push a square peg into a round hole. All of
                    this does not require that the child have any undue responsibility in
                    choosing whether or not to accept their label as tragedy or opportunity,
                    only that the adults be sensitive to the different needs of different
                    children.

                    No one will argue that a person severely disable by autism is tragic.
                    But lumping the entire continuum together brings on problems of its own.
                    There is a wide variety of all kinds of people, and I would just hope
                    that the intelligent people here on this list not make the mistake of
                    thinking that because a person has a form of autism that they are
                    somehow less human, that they are more like animals.

                    Elizabeth
                  • Julienne
                    ... No. I am also referring to the pain expressed to me personally, and in various fora, by Autistics, especially those with Asperger s, living in what is
                    Message 9 of 20 , Jan 4, 2006
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                      At 08:22 AM 1/4/2006 +0100, Leif Ekblad wrote:
                      Julienne:
                      I think what you are missing is that there is tremendous pain involved
                      for most people concerned.

                      You are clearly refering to NTs now. It is NTs, that expect a NT child,
                      that perceives "tremendous" pain when they get an autistic child.

                      No. I am also referring to the pain expressed to me personally,
                      and in various fora, by Autistics, especially those with Asperger's,
                      living in what is primarily an NT culture.

                      Perhaps if we compared autism with
                      Alzheimer's, you might get a bit of the depth of the issue.

                      Bad comparision. Autism is not a disease, and comparing
                      it to a disease is not justified.

                      That is what we have to find out. We don't know yet whether, as you suggest,
                      autistics are just a different breed, perhaps descendants of Neanderthals,
                      or whether there is brain damage or lack of some kind, or whether autistics
                      are just different. We don't know yet.

                      When a
                      person develops Alzheimer's, what is missing is the ability to communicate,
                      to feel, as far as we know. I say as far as we know because we are not
                      inside the heads of those with Alzheimer's, and so don't know for sure what
                      they are experiencing or understanding, but all the evidence we see is that
                      they lose their ability to understand, feel, or communicate.

                      Very possible.

                      With Autism, there is a similar challenge - the Autistic is unable to feel
                      or communicate feelings as does an NT.

                      Not true. The problem is with NTs. The autistic child is perfectly able to
                      communicate, but the NTs around it doesn't understand. Perhaps this
                      is a tragedy, provided the autistic child is surrounded by NTs, but
                      this is not always the case, and even perhaps seldom the case.

                      My point i s that the autistic does not communicate feelings in the
                      same way as an NT. Put it, if you like, that an NT does not communicate
                      feelings as does an atistic. The tragedy, as I have heard it expressed,
                      and as I have experienced, is in the lack of communication and
                      understanding between the two, wherever one might place the
                      responsibility.

                      I remember when my first son was born, and I couldn't wait for him
                      to talk - I wanted to know what was inside that little soul, what he
                      would have to say. For many parents of autistics, the child never
                      speaks, or never says anything intelligible or particularly cogent
                      or connecting. When one gets to high functioning Asperger's,
                      still there is so much discomfort. Those with Asperger's are
                      said to be suffering because of the way they are treated by
                      society, but it may be that the depression, the ADD, the anxiety,
                      and other sometimes attendant conditions are not so much
                      caused by society but may be side effects or components of
                      the Asperger's itself. We don't know yet, as research is so new
                      into this, but my intuition is that it is not just society's "fault", as
                      I have seen so many parents giving their all to hep these
                      children. Also, Asperger's and Autism do not seem to develop
                      later, as the "result" of early childhood trauma, they seem to
                      be there from the beginning. That doesn't mean they might
                      not be caused or triggered by prenatal influences - we might
                      find that is so.

                      The suffering might still be related to society, even if the Aspie
                      has comorbid conditions like ADD. Anxiety and depression clearly is
                      not inborn in Aspies, no more than it is inborn in anybody else.

                      We don't know that. In fact, there have been studies of neonates
                      which have predicted personality at birth, including tendencies
                      to depression. As anxiety and depression and other characteristics
                      seem to run in families, then it would follow that at least a tendency
                      to these is inborn, whether genetic or due to influences prebirth,
                      in the womb.

                      This is not a Pollyanna situation. Someone with no legs may learn
                      to get around, but that doesn't mean having no legs is a ho hum,
                      or something one would choose. A tragedy is a tragedy, no matter what
                      one one works to do to ameliorate or work with a situation. Positive
                      thinking does not regrow legs in humans.

                      Another bad comparision.

                      Well, positive thinking does not seem to improve communication
                      between NTs and Autistics.

                      I have seen a lot of pain all along the spectrum here, of people
                      with autism of one degree or another, and those people who
                      love them and feel responsibility to help and love them. One
                      of the sources of the greatest sadness seems to be for those
                      who love them, and find that love not reciprocated or expressed,
                      r their own love for the autistic understood or appreciated.

                      Many things would improve if more people on the autistic
                      spectrum were involved with autistic children. However,
                      this requires people to recognize that autistics will communicate
                      better with each others and that the troubles are related to
                      differences in communication style rather than inability. I
                      guess the cure-autism-now organizations that is founding
                      much of today's reasearch will be hard-pressed to fund
                      any such research, but it really would be in the best interest
                      of autistics.

                      Are autustic people drawn to others on the autistic spectrum?
                      Speaking for yourself, or your experience, do you choose other
                      autistics to befriend, or NTs, or neither? Does friendship, or
                      love, matter to you?

                      Julienne
                    • Jay R. Feierman
                      Leif Ekblad: Autism is not a disease, and comparing it to a disease is not justified. Jay R. Feierman: To say Autism is not a disease is a true or false
                      Message 10 of 20 , Jan 4, 2006
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                        Leif Ekblad: Autism is not a disease, and comparing it to a disease is not justified.
                         
                        Jay R. Feierman: To say "Autism is not a disease" is a true or false statement depending on how you define "disease." There is an emerging terminology that makes a distinction between illness, disorder and disease, as these terms relate to behavior,subjective experiences and feelings. An illness is some combination of unpleasant experiences, feelings and behavior. A disorder is the outcome of a classifying illness into categories. A disease is a disorder that has diagnostic, pathophysiological correlates. As such, Alzheimer's is a disease and the DSM-IV TR diagnostic categories of such things as Autism and Schizophrenia are disorders. There could be ways of classifying illness into better or more meaningful categories of disorder than what is currently in the DSM-IV TR. There are movements to remove certain disorders from manuals, such as the DSM-IV TR. Homosexuality was removed. Pedophilia remains in the manual as a disorder. The transsexual community is lobbying to have Gender Identity Disorder removed from the DSM-IV TR. The feminist lobby had Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder removed. Whether illness, categorized into a disorder is in the manual is based primarily on political clout. The gay lobby was very strong and the pedophile lobby is very weak, as well as being abhorred. Autistics are not able to lobby for themselves and if their parents lobbied to remove it as a disorder, the funding for research into its cause would be reduced.
                         
                         
                      • Julienne
                        ... Why do you extrapolate to less human ? It is that kind of suggestion which only heats already concerned feelings. ... This kind of bullying is not
                        Message 11 of 20 , Jan 4, 2006
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                          At 10:00 AM 1/4/2006 -0500, Elizabeth Ross wrote:
                          >Julienne: With Autism, there is a
                          >similar challenge - the Autistic is unable to feel or communicate feelings
                          >as does an NT. (snip)
                          >Lief: Not true. The problem is with NTs. The autistic child is perfectly
                          >able to
                          >communicate, but the NTs around it doesn't understand. Perhaps this
                          >is a tragedy, provided the autistic child is surrounded by NTs, (snip)
                          >
                          >Simply because autistic people may not express their feelings (which no
                          >one who actually knows an autistic person can claim they do not have) the
                          >same way as other people does not make them any less human.

                          Why do you extrapolate to "less human"? It is that kind of suggestion
                          which only heats already concerned feelings.

                          > Unfortunately, misinformation tells many people that autistics do not
                          > have feelings (including some well meaning autistics). Imposing standards
                          > on anyone can cause pain to all involved, but for many autistic children,
                          > pain and anxiety is caused by bullying and teasing by other children.
                          > Yet, oddly, it is not the mean spirited bullying, teasing, and occasional
                          > abuse by "normal" children that is questioned, it is the humanity of the
                          > autistic child. It is important to note that the number of people with
                          > autism spectrum disorders (or ASD such as Asperger's) is nearly twice
                          > that of those with the classic autism, so chances are when you hear about
                          > someone with autism it is someone with an ASD.

                          This kind of bullying is not confined to autistics. Autistic children can be pretty abusive themselves, as you must know. That abusiveness may be the result of their treatment, but the abusiveness of other NT children is also caused by the abusive homes and society in which they live.

                          >Julienne: (snip)Those with Asperger's are
                          >said to be suffering because of the way they are treated by
                          >society, but it may be that the depression, the ADD, the anxiety,
                          >and other sometimes attendant conditions are not so much
                          >caused by society but may be side effects or components of
                          >the Asperger's itself. Lief: The suffering might still be related to
                          >society, even if the Aspie
                          >has comorbid conditions like ADD. Anxiety and depression clearly is
                          >not inborn in Aspies, no more than it is inborn in anybody else.
                          >this is not always the case, and even perhaps seldom the case.
                          >
                          >
                          >Many well meaning parents try to force their children into being a type of
                          >person that the child may not be well suited to be or even capable of
                          >being. This happens in all types of families, autistic or not. Any person
                          >will be unhappy, with depression and anxiety if they spend their lives
                          >feeling that they are not "normal," that they are failures. This is not
                          >even including the bullying in school which is known to lead to
                          >depression. The evidence that becoming depressed once primes the brain for
                          >further episodes would seem to put the onus on the family and community to
                          >learn what situations promote self esteem and healthy behavior, and not
                          >try to push a square peg into a round hole. All of this does not require
                          >that the child have any undue responsibility in choosing whether or not to
                          >accept their label as tragedy or opportunity, only that the adults be
                          >sensitive to the different needs of different children.

                          This is true of any children, and foes not help us to separate out the
                          differences between the autistic spectrum and NTs.

                          >No one will argue that a person severely disable by autism is tragic. But
                          >lumping the entire continuum together brings on problems of its own. There
                          >is a wide variety of all kinds of people, and I would just hope that the
                          >intelligent people here on this list not make the mistake of thinking that
                          >because a person has a form of autism that they are somehow less human,
                          >that they are more like animals.

                          Again, Elizabeth, I find your leaping ahead to conclusions not stated in the
                          discussion is not helpful, and only raises conflict rather then light on
                          the issue.

                          That said, I consider myself part of the animal family - a human animal.

                          Julienne
                        • Elizabeth Ross
                          Julienne, words and allusions can easily be twisted, or shifted slightly to mean what the speaker did not intend. I did not leap to conclusions or jump when I
                          Message 12 of 20 , Jan 4, 2006
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                            Julienne, words and allusions can easily be twisted, or shifted slightly
                            to mean what the speaker did not intend. I did not leap to conclusions
                            or jump when I spoke of your referencing the ability of autistics to
                            participate in "what makes us human" I was responding to what you said:
                            > Julienne wrote: (snip) we grieve when we can't fully communicate with
                            > an Autistic person. Depending on the degree of effect, there is a lack
                            > of the feeling and emotional qualities which many feel is what makes
                            > us human.
                            Judging from your reply to me, you did not intend to insinuate that
                            autistics lacked some human qualities, nevertheless, that was the
                            result. I am trying to point out that words are important, especially
                            when they contribute to public opinion.
                            > Julienne: This kind of bullying is not confined to autistics.
                            > Autistic children can be pretty
                            > abusive themselves, as you must know. That abusiveness may be the
                            > result of
                            > their treatment, but the abusiveness of other NT children is also
                            > caused by the
                            > abusive homes and society in which they live.
                            I completely agree, but that does not mitigate the point that many
                            difficulties for autistic children arise from the negative reception
                            they receive from others. Many personal accounts report that most
                            difficult part of being a high functioning autistic (or parent of one)
                            is just that.
                            > Julienne: This is true of any children, and foes not help us to
                            > separate out the
                            > differences between the autistic spectrum and NTs.
                            I was not trying to look at the differences, I was trying to point out
                            the similarities. Earlier posts in this thread suggested that future
                            genetic testing would enable people to rule out potential mates with
                            genes associated with autism. That, combined with the examples comparing
                            autistic children with "solitary wild animals" kind of rubbed me the
                            wrong way (and Steven Pinker compared people with with autism to robots
                            and chimpanzees in "The Blank Slate"). I thought it would be useful to
                            think how similar people are. It's much more difficult to marginalize
                            people or feel they are truly foreign when you feel you have something
                            in common with them.
                            > Julienne: Again, Elizabeth, I find your leaping ahead to conclusions
                            > not stated in the
                            > discussion is not helpful, and only raises conflict rather then light
                            > on the issue.
                            > That said, I consider myself part of the animal family - a human animal.
                            I agree, I feel the same way. We all exist on a continuum. That makes
                            any marker of divergence somewhat arbitrary. Individual differences
                            clearly exist, yet careful deliberation and forethought is essential in
                            this area. My concern is for the high functioning people with autism who
                            are able to function in the world, yet must be confronted on a routine
                            basis by people who assume that ALL autistics share the stereotypical
                            traits and are unable to empathize, don't care about being with other
                            people, are unable to experience emotion, are unable to love. Not all
                            these stereotypes have been mentioned in this discussion, in the real
                            world, though, they exist. Just as many people agree that cultural
                            stereotypes have negatively impacted certain minority groups, I suggest
                            that the increasing number of high functioning autistics present in our
                            society constitutes a minority in a similar way. It is simply not the
                            case that all autistics are the same, just in differing degrees. The
                            heterogeneity of the disorder is something that continues to hinder
                            autism research.

                            I know that you are being thoughtful, and I was not attacking you
                            personally. I just felt that someone needed to make some of these other
                            points.

                            Elizabeth
                          • Julienne
                            ... Because you misinterpret my intention does not change my intention. It is as easily your projection. ... I agree, and will go further: I believe that the
                            Message 13 of 20 , Jan 7, 2006
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                              At 03:04 PM 1/4/2006 -0500, Elizabeth Ross wrote:
                              >Julienne, words and allusions can easily be twisted, or shifted slightly
                              >to mean what the speaker did not intend. I did not leap to conclusions or
                              >jump when I spoke of your referencing the ability of autistics to
                              >participate in "what makes us human" I was responding to what you said:
                              >>Julienne wrote: (snip) we grieve when we can't fully communicate with an
                              >>Autistic person. Depending on the degree of effect, there is a lack of
                              >>the feeling and emotional qualities which many feel is what makes us human.
                              >Judging from your reply to me, you did not intend to insinuate that
                              >autistics lacked some human qualities, nevertheless, that was the result.
                              >I am trying to point out that words are important, especially when they
                              >contribute to public opinion.

                              Because you misinterpret my intention does not change my intention.
                              It is as easily your projection.

                              >>Julienne: This kind of bullying is not confined to autistics.
                              >>Autistic children can be pretty
                              >>abusive themselves, as you must know. That abusiveness may be the result of
                              >>their treatment, but the abusiveness of other NT children is also caused
                              >>by the
                              >>abusive homes and society in which they live.
                              >I completely agree, but that does not mitigate the point that many
                              >difficulties for autistic children arise from the negative reception they
                              >receive from others. Many personal accounts report that most difficult
                              >part of being a high functioning autistic (or parent of one) is just that.

                              I agree, and will go further: I believe that the problems of most children are
                              because of socialization - not just parents, but also teachers and the side
                              effects of growing up in a world at war, a greedy society, etc.

                              That said, the actions of autistics do not only seem to arise from
                              poor parenting or abuse. Autistics may well believe that their reception
                              is worse than it is, just as happens with other human beings.

                              >>Julienne: This is true of any children, and foes not help us to separate
                              >>out the
                              >>differences between the autistic spectrum and NTs.
                              >I was not trying to look at the differences, I was trying to point out the
                              >similarities. Earlier posts in this thread suggested that future genetic
                              >testing would enable people to rule out potential mates with genes
                              >associated with autism. That, combined with the examples comparing
                              >autistic children with "solitary wild animals" kind of rubbed me the wrong
                              >way (and Steven Pinker compared people with with autism to robots and
                              >chimpanzees in "The Blank Slate"). I thought it would be useful to think
                              >how similar people are. It's much more difficult to marginalize people or
                              >feel they are truly foreign when you feel you have something in common
                              >with them.

                              I agree. But there is also some evidence ( I use the word very loosely) that
                              autism is not about one gene, but a complex of genes, as are most human
                              traits. There is, for example, not just one gene for blue eyes, or for most
                              anything else. Autistics may just be people who have an overload of one
                              collection of genes acc0ompanied perhaps by a shortage of genetic
                              development of other traits or parts of the brain. Temple Grandin's piece
                              on here spoke about some of the studies so far indicating possible
                              underdevelopment of parts of the brain which have to do with the traits
                              which we note along the autistic spectrum.

                              >>Julienne: Again, Elizabeth, I find your leaping ahead to conclusions not
                              >>stated in the
                              >>discussion is not helpful, and only raises conflict rather then light on
                              >>the issue.
                              >>That said, I consider myself part of the animal family - a human animal.
                              >I agree, I feel the same way. We all exist on a continuum. That makes any
                              >marker of divergence somewhat arbitrary. Individual differences clearly
                              >exist, yet careful deliberation and forethought is essential in this area.
                              >My concern is for the high functioning people with autism who are able to
                              >function in the world, yet must be confronted on a routine basis by people
                              >who assume that ALL autistics share the stereotypical traits and are
                              >unable to empathize, don't care about being with other people, are unable
                              >to experience emotion, are unable to love. Not all these stereotypes have
                              >been mentioned in this discussion, in the real world, though, they exist.
                              >Just as many people agree that cultural stereotypes have negatively
                              >impacted certain minority groups, I suggest that the increasing number of
                              >high functioning autistics present in our society constitutes a minority
                              >in a similar way. It is simply not the case that all autistics are the
                              >same, just in differing degrees. The heterogeneity of the disorder is
                              >something that continues to hinder autism research.

                              This we all know if we have any familiarity with the autistic spectrum.

                              >I know that you are being thoughtful, and I was not attacking you
                              >personally. I just felt that someone needed to make some of these other points.

                              If you are trying to defend and protect autistics, then I agree with you.
                              But you
                              saw one father responding to you with real angst when you spoke as though
                              people didn't care enough. There are always dolts and insensitive people
                              who treat others unkindly and even cruelly, including autistics, but most
                              of the people
                              I have dealt with care very deeply. I feel, from your remarks, that you
                              have not delved
                              deeply into this topic, or you would have seen the suffering on all sides.
                              Anything
                              that can be done to alleviate this can only be good. Casting blame here or
                              there
                              only adds to the difficulties.

                              Julienne
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