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Dr-David-Banner

Defending Hans Asperger

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Dr-David-Banner

In my opinion, I would have to describe Asperger as a genius in his field of research. To date I've read lots and lots of essays by expert psychiatrists and neurologists but Asperger just stands out a mile by his totally different take on the subject and the fact he was broadening his approach to effectively maximise information processing. Pretty much "all" other experts in this field just look at autism in its own confined boundaries and how to treat it. There is no broadening of the field.

For example the quotation here is spot on:

"Their ability to study is significantly lowered . It is very difficult to teach them systematised processes". (i.e. organised, structured classes). "They are not wired up to be taught by others or a teacher." (Hans Asperger)

Asperger had noticed his patients couldn't be "schooled" in the way that education normally depends upon some kind of emotional and personal interaction, hierarchy and social grouping. So he tried different methods and then found the results surpassed normal standards.

As in quote: "School knowledge to the greater part depends upon 'exogenous factors'" (Hans Asperger). "Exogenous" = adjective, having an external cause or origin.

Therefore, with Asperger's autism it is pointless to try and "teach" someone, expecting the individual is going to connect to any group or "connect" with the teacher because outward stimulate tends to be blocked out by "inward" thought processing (daydreaming, imagination and so on). More to the point, we don't "all" function well in groups or learn at the same rate or process information exactly the same. We may be thinking of something else while the teacher is giving a class.

Now here below is the most amazing observation on autism I have ever read:

"We wish to demonstrate that the reason behind the autistic childrens' deviation from normal standards is the breakdown in actual (physical) relationship with the world." (Hans Asperger)

What he means here is a breakdown of "physical connection" with the world which personally I found takes place the more you make an alternative connection with the mind. All people are high-functioning biological robots who physically integrate with the world through physical projects. This sounds complicated but if you think about it knowledge can be broken down to applied and theoretical. Asperger's children viewed the world around them in a different way. They didn't interact with it normally.

Here is what I learned from Asperger that helped me 1000,0000 times over any of his rivals (or detractors): Once you understand how to "manage" your thinking processes or work around your weaker points, you can accomplish whatever goal you choose, provided you make the right choices. To give an example, like most autists, I have this more dominant linguistic ability but I learned this linguistic skill isn't very strong in the applied sense. That is, I tend to struggle with oral communication and verbal communication but, on the other hand, have terrific eye for detail in spotting translation mistakes in movies or in print. So I tend to steer in a different direction and be guided by abstract approaches.

 

 

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Dr-David-Banner

To save confusion I ought to point out that Asperger dealt with a narrower selection of austic kids than seemingly exist on a broader spectrum. Some autistic children have been known to do O.K.at regular school but in Asperger's case "all" shared poor performance at school. They were sent for that reason to be helped. People who read Asperger for the first time are often shocked these were not geeky nerds at all but problematic failures who showed potential in less obvious ways. Later there was more classification and groupings that covered a wider range of behaviour traits. 

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Dr-David-Banner

This is not the priority of my work but I am involved, nevertheless, for a reason. Probably just like Dr Asperger I don't find autism interesting within its own narrow confines. What does fascinate me is how to "tap into" different ways of processing information more effectively and how with autism you can view subjects away from the constraints of mass opinion and influence. My view is the majority of people use only 20 per cent or less actual analytical power each day in daily activity. Most of this is based around work activities, social interaction and social media. Someone who can't take active part in the cycle of work, relationships, socialising (and so on) may learn how to compensate in other ways. This is what interested Asperger. Personally i see autism as an initial steep negative cycle where you are behind normal people in all spheres from personal interaction to functional ability. This downward cycle lasted for me till maybe 21 or around but then started to feebly go into a positive cycle. A large portion of this was just catching up. Much later comes an ability to function far more individually without reliance on systems or pecking orders or approval of others. You can develop your own morals, beliefs and ideas without blindly following the pack. Ultimately you can max your own potential by simply redirecting your energy away from less important demands - such as striving to be popular and accepted. Personally I figure Asperger had bigger ideas than that in as much as he appeared to be interested in the subconscious mind and potential. "Everbody" else just sees psychological deviation and disorder as if normality is an absolute virtue.

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Dr-David-Banner

Just been reading a tiny bit of Lorna Wing's paper (the part referenced to Hans Asperger). For those who may not know,  it was Lorna Wing who created the "Asperger Syndrome" diagnosis around 1981. To do this she borrowed from the studies of both Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. I notice with interest that Wing dismisses Asperger's positive evaluation about autistic intelligence when relevant. She states her own autistic child patients were probably rote-learning and that Asperger could show no proof of his conclusions. As I recall what Asperger stated was "some" of his patients showed striking ability in abstract thought. Not all of them.He also points out his patients often had at least one intellectual (eccentric) parent. This.I found tends to be confirmed in USSR patient histories. Above all he (Asperger) explains carefully that standardised school tests don't work very well at all with children who are very individualistic. However, my major disagreement with Lorna Wing's whole take on Asperger is she seems to dismiss many of the symptoms listed as "co-morbid, superimposed psychiatric illnesses". Important here to note Lorna Wing considered Asperger's case studies as extreme cases. Not true. I find pretty much "all" the cases studies match similar profiles of patients in the USSR clinics (Viktor Kagan describes these around 1975). What research in Austria, Germany and the USSR suggested was autism can have both biological, hereditary, psychologically reactive or other varied causes. 

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Dr-David-Banner

Here are the symptoms described by Asperger:

(1) Motor impairment and physical clumsiness. Poor spatial navigation (hard to catch a ball). Scrawly handwriting.

(2) Stimming and repetitive movements. Solitary withdrawel from a group or collective.

(3) Low emotional response and lack of eye contact. Lack of facial expression, monotone voice. Unusual use of vocabulary in some cases. Swearing.

(4) Resistance to collective educational processes and education based on any personal interaction.

(5) Abstractism and tending to view people as "objects" without deeper connection (psychopathy, pathological avoidance). 

(6)Sensitivity to noise, taste and touch.

(7) Anger and bottled up emotion.

(8) Obsessive interests in later life as a development of repetitive behaviour.

(10) Heightened sense of "self" and tendency to process information inwardly or more independently from group influences. Finding patterns in given areas others don't notice.

(11)Definite problems being excluded or bullied due to odd behaviourisms (Asperger's patients had required protection  walking home from school).

I think over the decades, this actual representation of Asperger's has faded so the idea became established it concerns "mild autism". Yet psychiatrists were often shocked after reading Asperger's analysis. It was all in all pretty serious childhood autism and not biased towards those with "superimposed, psychiatric illnesses" as Lorna Wing claimed. The only comorbid factors I can recall mentioned by Asperger was in reference to a thyroid irregularity and excessive weight gain. Personally I'd like to see the old Asperger "Syndrome" substituted by Asperger's Autism in its original format (and with emphasis on its positive implications).

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Ace

Interesting to read these symptoms as most of them describe me pretty well but particularly #1 doesn't at all. I noticed I seem to have very quick reflexes (although coordination might not be great). 

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Dr-David-Banner
10 hours ago, Ace said:

Interesting to read these symptoms as most of them describe me pretty well but particularly #1 doesn't at all. I noticed I seem to have very quick reflexes (although coordination might not be great). 

In the USSR psychiatrists noted the autistic children with speech delay grew up with more motor impairment. They tended to be less intellectual. The other autistic children who had early speech tended to have less motor clumsiness. Some Soviet psychiatrists called group one as Childhood Autism and group two Autistic Psychopathy (pathological avoidant). What I like to stress though is Asperger's kids don't cover all of the autistic spectrum. I had a very autistic best friend who did very well at school, whereas Asperger's kids were unteachable in normal school. What connected Asperger's kids I think was the resistance to conventional teaching. I think if we list all the symptoms described by Asperger we still get one (partly limited but useful).diagnosis. The friend I refer to funnily enough had far better classroom attention span than me but stimmed much more. He also had very poor stance and some clumsiness. 

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Dr-David-Banner

It's been suggested Hans Asperger may have been on the spectrum himself. Whatever the case, he seemed to notice some overall pattern with regard to his patients. First and foremost, Asperger had a lot of questions he needed to resolve. I believe what he found matches my own conclusions, based on every.angle I looked at: Autistics process information differently. It's not that they're smarter or superior to neurotypical people but just "different". An autistic person may perform below average as a student but then somehow see things from a new angle. For this to happen there will be a level of isolation and not being connected to a group at a psychological level. The isolation.causes bottled up frustration and often depressive symptoms. Yet the mind will continue to process information differently. Such people are frequently dismissed as "stupid" because at some levels they perform badly. They are often accused of having simple things explained but failing to understand or even pay attention. This is what Asperger saw close at hand. What fascinated him though was some kids were solving textbook problems in a different way. Sometimes they used a less efficient method than the one established by teachers but often the method worked. We all know by now comparing autism to genius is a bit of a stereotype that's been hyped up over two decades. I think what Asperger was interested in was the "different" processing mechanism and why it happened. Whereas pretty much all other psychiatrists viewed autists as "mentally disadvantaged". Now it seems even Lorna Wing had a pretty orthodox view of autism as a disorder. In the USSR the opinion was more or less that autists had suffered biological infection of the brain (possible in some cases) but then drugs were pushed to "normalise" patients. The huge point Asperger made.though was this: The ideal of the "perfect" human being is a mirage. Disorders are likely part of an evolutionary mechanism. Both physical and mental. You have to take the good with the bad. 

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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