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Why do others here seem Neurotypical-like at times?

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Dr-David-Banner

There was speculation too over Grigory Perelman. Apparently Baron Cohen the Asperger specialiast flew to St Petersburg Russia to try and consult Perelman. Perelman however never answers the door. Cohen is probably right though but many people with.HFA have no interest to be diagnosed or classified. Indeed many are so engrossed in their worlds of music or maths they could care less about diagnosis. I just think though that viewing yourself in the context of behavioural irregularities may lead to better ways to harnass potential. Often I wonder how many elite scientists or artists ever applied their resolve to personal psychology? Probably none.

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Dr-David-Banner

Here is the James McCartney interview: I thought it would be interesting to collectively analyse all three of them! This is not to take the extreme view James "definitely" is Aspergic just on the basis of this interaction but I can show how some of this depicts communication:
So, the man on the extreme left seems to be not really taking part much in this debate. James is physically seemingly relaxed and even uses his hands a bit as he starts to chat. The woman shows far more communication skills and you can see is really making efforts to project her personality through body posture, facial expression and relaxed smiling as well as eye communication. The thing I notice a lot though is James here somehow appears disinterested and not expressing emotion but his hands show he is relaxed and not genuinely nervous. I read a few comments by a Soviet psychologists who pointed out autistic people tend to be on a kind of "low charge". There is little physical movement such as leaning forwards, no broad smiles, grins or facial movement. The main point though is the YouTube commentators are noticing "something". If this had been me being interviewed I confess I'd have probably bored them all even more than they suggest James did.


 

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Dr-David-Banner

Now, another example in light of the following: "“Vladimir Putin,” she writes, “is our focus because his movement patterns and his microexpressions, analyzed on open source video so clearly reveals that the Russian President carries a neurological abnormality, a profound behavioral challenge identified by leading neuroscientists as Asperger’s Syndrome, an autistic disorder which affects all of his decisions."
Now here is an example where you wonder how can Putin be considered autistic by experts? Not only is Putin accepted a "leader" in a society that idealises "macho" "leadership" values but he's revered and admired by all his many friends and contacts. He's also a very normal family man. The interview here shows "a lot" of facial expression and emotional projection and clear communicative skills. Eyebrows, lips, forehead, eyes and so on.
I don't think we should rule out what facial expression can indicate. Alone it is never enough to actually diagnose someone but I figure where there are clear signs, any extra information in family history and so forth will add to the overall picture.
That is, I'd dare to suggest James fits a pattern that Putin doesn't.
The core difficulties that surround autism I think are wrapped up in emotional, instinctive interaction attributes (lack of) and the lack of emotional, instinctive connection to other human beings. Darwin would go so far as to state our faces simply mimic the basic expressions of chimpanzees such as putting, chattering and grinning.
As for myself, well, "very wooden". Kind of expressionless eyes and a face that seems rigid and non-changing. Some have compared my own performances to that of a corpse.
 

 

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Sanctuary

We come across this speculation that famous people of today or from history are "autistic" or "on the spectrum" quite frequently. While I understand the temptation it's something I prefer to avoid because it is so often based on limited, often cherry-picked, evidence which often reflects wishful thinking on behalf of the speculator. This can come in two forms:

1. The more well-meaning kind is when a person admires a particular individual or is more broadly fascinated with them. He or she then looks for parallels (not always with good foundation) between their own personality and those who impress them. This can lead those who are autistic to believe they see autism in others - perhaps strengthening their bond with them.

2. The more alarming kind is when someone dislikes another person and then links them to some personality or behaviour they see as discreditable. They may see autism as an undesirable condition and therefore seek to label those they dislike with it. These may not be people who are hostile to autism but they see it as something like a mental illness or disability.

In a sense both motivations rest on wishful thinking - a desire to either see someone as being "just like us" or "not like us" or "one of them". This is not to deny that sometimes the speculation is well-informed and absolutely correct. However even in those cases I prefer not to air these ideas in public - if someone is autistic it's a matter for them to declare should they wish and I'm particularly wary of suggestions that may prove to be wrong.

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Dr-David-Banner

Lots of celebrities or famous people have been associated with autism. Albert Einstein has been the most contested perhaps. A bit more recently mathematician Grigory Perelman. I find the scientific mind and autistic mind are incredibly closely woven. A dedicated scientist has to be socially awkward, isolated, untidy, tending to shun company. When autism specialist Baron Cohen tried to call Grigory Perelman, he was turned down with all the others who were curious. Einstein is still quoted as being autistic although I've never really been fully convinced either way. I once read Einstein's biography and he did seem to be able to form relationships and even marry! His school years were neither the disaster period many pro-autism commentators described. Einstein did well in Latin and French and he mostly failed his uni electrical exams due to his preference for abstract theory. To my mind classic Asperger's reveals actual learning difficulties in early school but these are often overcome later. The subject is highly complex. At least for science autistic characteristics are pretty much a "must" but may not be quite the same as actual autism. These are ability to think independently away from influence of accepted theory. Need to spend, time alone and socialise less. Abstract thinking and associative horizon. Whether one is truly autistic or a highly abstract scientist to my mind doesn't matter. What matters is the result. In music it seems this is harder as sadly talent alone can't compensate the need to build social bridges.

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Alice
12 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

We come across this speculation that famous people of today or from history are "autistic" or "on the spectrum" quite frequently. While I understand the temptation it's something I prefer to avoid because it is so often based on limited, often cherry-picked, evidence which often reflects wishful thinking on behalf of the speculator. This can come in two forms:

1. The more well-meaning kind is when a person admires a particular individual or is more broadly fascinated with them. He or she then looks for parallels (not always with good foundation) between their own personality and those who impress them. This can lead those who are autistic to believe they see autism in others - perhaps strengthening their bond with them.

2. The more alarming kind is when someone dislikes another person and then links them to some personality or behaviour they see as discreditable. They may see autism as an undesirable condition and therefore seek to label those they dislike with it. These may not be people who are hostile to autism but they see it as something like a mental illness or disability.

In a sense both motivations rest on wishful thinking - a desire to either see someone as being "just like us" or "not like us" or "one of them". This is not to deny that sometimes the speculation is well-informed and absolutely correct. However even in those cases I prefer not to air these ideas in public - if someone is autistic it's a matter for them to declare should they wish and I'm particularly wary of suggestions that may prove to be wrong.

Great post @Sanctuary I dont think its possible to tell from external behaviour - especially in hindsight. Also plenty of behaviours that could be one of many disorders seem to always just fall back on aspergers. Plenty of these people could have had OCD, social issues, other learning disorders - or be eccentric or a genius without being on the spectrum. You are right, there is the tendency to either glorify or vilify through the label.

A lot of us get frustrated with how our behaviour is interpreted by others. I had a meltdown in the supermarket a few weeks ago, possibly my worst in public to date - and it felt like I had a big neon sign screaming "Hysterical Woman! Manipulative woman! overly emotional woman! Mentally unstable woman" - while all the lights and sounds were still yelling as well as a checkout lady being unreasonably hostile - which was my body's tipping point. It was so awful. I was trying to say Im not crying! im just overwhelmed! I literally cannot help what is happening right now. I was red, sweating, shaking all over, couldnt really breathe, I couldnt stop saying "no" over and over - as if I could correct reality by just repeating the words, blocking my eyes - I had to sit down on the floor. It was like a seizure where I was actually conscious - such an intense physical experience outside of my will. The crying is more a response to what is happening in my body, its not the main event. If it was a guy, people would have assumed something must be wrong and this person needs help, but with me - it felt like only scorn and judgement, averted or staring eyes. Not that I would want anyone to do anything, it would just be a different tone to the situation that helps it feel not so overwhelming.

Regardless - I think mens behaviour is more often attributed to positive attributes. A man is rather deemed eccentric, specific, has quirks, is powerful/strong, or has a sensitive heart. Whereas a woman displaying the same behaviour is crazy, neurotic, bossy/bitch, hysterical. This leads to the mans behaviour is being deemed within normal or placed in more positively-viewed diagnostic categories whereas the woman is tranquillised, vilified, hospitalised, ostracised. Both in hindsight, historically and in the present day.

There are studies on this showing regular people and trained professional both giving females a harsher judgement or diagnosis based on written outlines of the exact same behaviours.

 

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Dr-David-Banner

I agree with you, Alice, that Asperger's or autistic psychopathy, is one of various "disorders". I still rate Nichola Tesla as the greatest ever scientist and he had OCD plus Synthesia. The meltdowns you describe I don't get quite the same, but "depersonalisation" I have experienced and that was very scary. It was like being slowed down as if being pulled on strings like a puppet or wading through thick goo so movement is slowed. This meltdown was caused when I was asked to pack and scan on a conveyor. The more I tried the slower and more unreal it got and it was a humiliation. It was this disconnection from reality I later associated with Carnival Of Souls. It happens very rarely. As to the other, Asperger's Psychopathy or maybe Kanner's Early Childood Autism both take pains to explain the total disconnect of emotional, instinctive bonding or communication with other human beings. Put simply we communicate badly - some worse than others. As I shared before I can get around this a bit these days by clowning or acting a non-serious role but still my real communication skills are poor. I've been told by friends (who know nothing of my HFA side), that I look away when talking and often no eye contact. It's important I think to address how to identify below par communication. Asperger and his team did take pains to describe how eye expression differs with autism. Much is said about a vacant gaze or lack of personal connection. Not only facial expression but vocal characteristics - autistic males often have a higher voice or just plain loud. These days I like to analyse neurotypicals on film and study facial expression. In the past I never realised how much "normal" people communicate in ways they are not consciously aware but that matter. All of this I see as super important as the one major handicap of HFA is "communication". I used the video of James above as all over the web people were noticing some issue. This may come across as a bit nasty of me or cruel but really I have these same issues and, sure, people notice. Even if we step back and say J.M. does not have probability of ASD, said interview went down very badly for the same reasons described above. "Everyone" is dominated by an expectation of adequate social communication skills. The more handicapped at this you are, the more rejected or frustrated you will feel. I've know autistic people (very high- functioning) who will get noticed as plain odd just seconds into a conversation. Stuff like stepping back, strange posture, over polite, hesitant, vacant expression, inappropriate overly formal speech or just seeming stand-offish or a know-all. Autists very often just fail to adjust to expectations.

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Sanctuary
On 6/29/2019 at 9:40 PM, Dr-David-Banner said:

Lots of celebrities or famous people have been associated with autism. Albert Einstein has been the most contested perhaps. A bit more recently mathematician Grigory Perelman. I find the scientific mind and autistic mind are incredibly closely woven. A dedicated scientist has to be socially awkward, isolated, untidy, tending to shun company. When autism specialist Baron Cohen tried to call Grigory Perelman, he was turned down with all the others who were curious. Einstein is still quoted as being autistic although I've never really been fully convinced either way. I once read Einstein's biography and he did seem to be able to form relationships and even marry! His school years were neither the disaster period many pro-autism commentators described. Einstein did well in Latin and French and he mostly failed his uni electrical exams due to his preference for abstract theory. To my mind classic Asperger's reveals actual learning difficulties in early school but these are often overcome later. The subject is highly complex. At least for science autistic characteristics are pretty much a "must" but may not be quite the same as actual autism. These are ability to think independently away from influence of accepted theory. Need to spend, time alone and socialise less. Abstract thinking and associative horizon. Whether one is truly autistic or a highly abstract scientist to my mind doesn't matter. What matters is the result. In music it seems this is harder as sadly talent alone can't compensate the need to build social bridges.

One of my bugbears is the TV programme / video / article, etc, which trots off a list of supposedly autistic famous people, scarcely any of whom with any actual diagnosis or personal admission of autism. Quite apart from the fact that I think it's wrong to suggest people are autistic when this has not been proven I think it's deeply patronising - the idea that autistic people need to have their self-esteem boosted with some invented links with famous people. Even if these people were genuinely autistic it also the helps fuel the illusion that autistic people are exceptionally talented or even geniuses. Such a stereotype can then make those with autism feel lacking because they don't have such abilities. 

I'm glad that you made the point about Einstein because it now seems to be accepted "fact" that he had autism when of course he had no such diagnosis. If these claims are repeated often enough they become "fact". I should stress I'm not saying he or any of the other famous people were not autistic. I don't have the evidence to make a judgement and I suspect very few people do. Even biographies or autobiographies may be misleading as full, frank and honest information is often not available. Even with those we think we know very well there may be many things we don't know. Therefore I feel speculation is often unwise.

There is no typical pattern of autistic life history. While some have very difficult childhoods and school lives, others find it is one of the best periods in their life or at least where they felt most comfortable. I had a pretty good childhood, did well at school and had very few problems with anxiety and self-esteem. However I was still very "different" from other children and the autistic traits were there but ones I found easier to manage. Many with autism are academically successful and so school can be a success story although the social side of school can be problematic. For me college and university were okay but I was starting to become aware of being different and being an outsider. However the wheels really came off in adult life and especially in employment which has always been difficult. Maybe for some with ASD the reverse is true and their adult years have been far more successful. Some will have struggled all their lives and a few may have seemed to sail through. What will almost always be true though is they have had some sense of "apart-ness" in their life history.

As regards science and other fields I feel we can overestimate the importance of individualism and the breakthroughs made by lone individuals. I don't deny these sometimes happen but most people - including those with autism - make most progress by collaborating with others or at least having their support and guidance, or someone to bounce ideas off or keep them focused on the task at hand. Most of the problems I have had in life have come from trying to struggle through difficulties by myself, or not being guided in more productive strategies by others. It's certainly true that being around others who undermine you, belittle you, let you blunder on or give well-meaning but bad advice can be very damaging, even destructive. However on the whole most of us learn better and are ultimately happier and more successful with some support - and that is the key word - from others.

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Sanctuary
23 hours ago, Alice said:

Great post @Sanctuary I dont think its possible to tell from external behaviour - especially in hindsight. Also plenty of behaviours that could be one of many disorders seem to always just fall back on aspergers. Plenty of these people could have had OCD, social issues, other learning disorders - or be eccentric or a genius without being on the spectrum. You are right, there is the tendency to either glorify or vilify through the label.

A lot of us get frustrated with how our behaviour is interpreted by others. I had a meltdown in the supermarket a few weeks ago, possibly my worst in public to date - and it felt like I had a big neon sign screaming "Hysterical Woman! Manipulative woman! overly emotional woman! Mentally unstable woman" - while all the lights and sounds were still yelling as well as a checkout lady being unreasonably hostile - which was my body's tipping point. It was so awful. I was trying to say Im not crying! im just overwhelmed! I literally cannot help what is happening right now. I was red, sweating, shaking all over, couldnt really breathe, I couldnt stop saying "no" over and over - as if I could correct reality by just repeating the words, blocking my eyes - I had to sit down on the floor. It was like a seizure where I was actually conscious - such an intense physical experience outside of my will. The crying is more a response to what is happening in my body, its not the main event. If it was a guy, people would have assumed something must be wrong and this person needs help, but with me - it felt like only scorn and judgement, averted or staring eyes. Not that I would want anyone to do anything, it would just be a different tone to the situation that helps it feel not so overwhelming.

Regardless - I think mens behaviour is more often attributed to positive attributes. A man is rather deemed eccentric, specific, has quirks, is powerful/strong, or has a sensitive heart. Whereas a woman displaying the same behaviour is crazy, neurotic, bossy/bitch, hysterical. This leads to the mans behaviour is being deemed within normal or placed in more positively-viewed diagnostic categories whereas the woman is tranquillised, vilified, hospitalised, ostracised. Both in hindsight, historically and in the present day.

There are studies on this showing regular people and trained professional both giving females a harsher judgement or diagnosis based on written outlines of the exact same behaviours.

As you say Alice autism seems now to be the catch-all label for a whole range of behaviours. One of the things I meant to mention in my earlier post is that sometimes speculation is done by others who have no particular stance on autism but feel the urge to classify others and apply labels. Amateur psychology is a perfect example of where a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing so almost anyone who seems to be "different", "a loner", "odd", etc, seems now to be billed as autistic. There are also people who have the urge just to find "interesting" and "unusual" angles on others so speculating that someone is autistic becomes a topic for conversation whereas speculating that they were "normal" or neurotypical would not be. Other speculations go on and so talk often develops based on flimsy evidence that a particular person is gay or lesbian, having relationship problems, having an affair, financial problems,  problems at work, in trouble with the police, etc. Sometimes these claims are malicious but often they are just misinformed and motivated by a desire to have something to talk about - and often literally to make something out of nothing.

You're quite right that gender affects many judgements and the same behaviours done by a woman compared to a man can be judged much more harshly, even by supposed experts. Autism also plays its part though so even when an autistic and neurotypical person behave the same way the autistic person is judged more negatively - whether or not their condition is known. As David suggested in his most recent post there almost always seems to be something which neurotypicals believe we are not doing "correctly". Facial expression, body language and tone of voice in particular seem to be areas where we are deemed not to be acting appropriately. Often even the neurotypicals would struggle to say what we are doing "wrong" but they feel adamant that we are "out of line".

Edited by Sanctuary

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Dr-David-Banner

I would these days stick to my somewhat provocative line that autism characteristics and abstract science are connected. I am swayed that the greatest scientific advances were never made in any classroom or collective. It boiled down to the "associative horizon" Paul Cooijman mentioned often. This is ability to see connections and patterns as opposed to concrete facts. In fact I'm convinced Hans Asperger was the only researcher who understood some parallel between autism and abstract science. Practically all other researchers from Leo Kanner to Van Krevelin tended to view autistic kids as eloquent dullards. There is the point though, how come so many autistic people do not whiz through exams or have success in some field? Simple answer: Autism is a hugely stressful condition so 90 per cent of us remain bogged down by anxiety over what we can't do. There are no special schools. Hell, even dyslexic John Lennon resented for decades the failure by his school to get him into arts. Some of us are at odds with family, unsettled at school, "programmed" to view success in social terms. However it was Tesla himself who stated isolation is the key to inventiveness. Really it's time to question the priority given to "social virtue"  just as Socrates questioned the elitist education in Ancient Athens as a lone philosopher. Anyone who reads Paul Cooijman will find he writes of this often.

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