Asperger’s Syndrome: is it just another way of pathologizing creativity? And genius? Especially MALE creativity and genius? Let’s get on our tinfoil hats.

21 Jul

For a long time, CleverGuy has been encouraging me to read Temple Grandin, assuring me that I would really like her writing.  I know who Temple Grandin IS, but I never felt terribly compelled to read her books.  She designs cattle management and slaughter facilities, and she is a very high-functioning, yet profoundly autistic genius.

Well, I ordered her book Thinking In Pictures, and finally got around to reading it this weekend. In between bouts of making 2000 cakepops (Jesus Christ almighty, what the hell was I thinking?!?).

bok

The book is fascinating, and her descriptions of her childhood and how she functions and thinks as an adult are truly remarkable.  And also eerily familiar.

I suspect that is just what CleverGuy anticipated I would feel.  As you recall, CleverGuy is a software programmer who decided to up his skills by taking a degree in electrical engineering, and for his final project, he built a 3D printer from scratch.

http://judgybitch.com/2013/04/02/westeros-where-men-are-men-and-women-are-women-and-everybody-is-fucking-awesome/

CleverGuy has lots of experience working with (overwhelmingly men) who have been diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome, or who otherwise fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.  In fact, I suspect CleverGuy himself might be somewhere on the spectrum, and hence is able to recognize the traits in others.

nerd

True story:  last summer, me and CleverGuy had a conversation that went on for days in which we tried to determine whether either of us had any flaws in our personality.  No, really.  We did.  Any potential candidate for “flawdom” was recognized as one that we share, and therefore could not possibly be a flaw.

Irrational optimism?  Check

Self-aggrandizing logic? Check

Complete lack of regard for social niceties? Check

Total indifference to rank or social status? Check

Cringe inducing conversational style? Check

Preference for truth and bluntness over diplomacy and deceptions? Check

Difficulty getting along with peers because we find them all so fucking stupid? Check

Obsessive interest in fictional worlds and characters? Check

Ability to not take criticisms personally and focus on the veracity of insults?  Check

couple

Basically, we are totally unbearable socially unless we go into Bald-faced Painful Lying mode, pretending to find other people interesting and their conversation something less than retarded, which neither of us particularly like to do.

So I read Temple, and decided to take a few on-line “Do you have Asperger’s” tests.  Here is one from Wired.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html

When I filled out the questionnaire, I did not answer in terms of how I am NOW.  At some point during my early twenties, I realized that I was not like other people in that I was far more socially awkward and offensive.  I assumed that was the result of growing up, isolated, with violent assholes for parents, disregarding the fact that my brothers had all grown up in the same family, and had none of the problems I did with getting along with my peers.

nerdy girls

Almost always, I was able to find another nerdy, “different” girl with whom I bonded, and we created our own little social world in which our bizarre and obsessive interests, while not necessarily shared, seemed perfectly normal. The summer I spent with Christina collecting, cataloguing and naming frogs was particularly memorable. Many long arguments over whether we had re-captured Mabel or Eloise ensued.

Fun times.

girls

Compared to my friend, everyone else seemed stupid and mean.

But eventually, I matured enough to realize the problem wasn’t with other people.  It was with me. I could see that I lacked certain understandings of how relationships worked, and I set out to learn how normal people interacted.  It was a Social Studies Project, and I used different resources to learn what was considered proper, acceptable behavior.

book manners

I studied etiquette manuals.  I skipped all the shit about forks (who gives a crap?) and went right to how to respond when someone says their grandmother got hit by a bus.  Hint:  don’t laugh.

And I read psychology books.  Lots and lots of psychology books. I found Abnormal Psychology the most helpful. Like a laundry list of what NOT to do.

abnoraml

And I watched films and read fiction books, dissecting exactly how people responded to certain situations.  I examined the musculature of facial expressions, not so I could read them in others (which I can do, to a limited extent), but rather so that I could reproduce them.

It’s actually a very interesting subject.  Try this:  pull the inside of your eyebrows up, like a baby who is about to cry.  Turn the corners of your mouth just slightly down.  You should feel a lump, a tightness forming in your throat, and feelings of sadness may suddenly come to you, because you have tricked your brain into thinking you are sad.

muscles

Neat, huh?

Am I sounding psycho?  I hope not.  It’s not that I don’t have feelings, I was just really inept at conveying them and even though I could READ those expressions, more or less accurately in others, I had no idea how to respond.

So I learned.

Laughing_Data

Like Data, learning to be human.

I honestly thought everyone had to learn those things, and I was just a bit late to the game.

So, no surprise, I tested a teensy bit high on the “Do You Have Asperger’s” quiz.  But I answered the quiz as if I were responding BEFORE I had studied appropriate responses to emotional situations.  If I answer as who I am now, given that I have studied and learned how to respond, I’m perfectly normal.  None of the questions ask if I have to make a special effort to “find social situations easy”.

In fact, I do find almost any social situation easy now.  Because I have a set of instructions and responses I can access to tell me how to behave. And I’m constantly improving on them. I think a lot of people still find me abrasive and impolite and far too blunt, but that’s because I generally don’t give a fuck what they think.  When I’m entertaining my husband’s colleagues, I can put on the Perfect Hostess Apron just fine.

apron

It’s an effort, but one that I’m generally capable of.

And “thinking in pictures”.  Isn’t everyone capable of doing this, to a certain degree? Temple is unique in that she can ONLY think in pictures, but surely most people can visualize their thoughts with little effort? My default is to think in pictures, but I have excellent memory recall of written words.  I can remember and find links for posts with little effort.  If I’ve read something in the last two to three years, I can find what I’m looking for almost down to the page number.  But it takes a conscious effort.

Sometimes I MUST think in written words, and when I fail to do that, it’s a disaster.

driving

True story:  like every other 15 year old in my highschool, I wrote my Beginning Driver’s Exam and got a Learner’s Permit. I read the Rules of the Road book to the point I had it memorized, and I used that book to help me to drive.

bad driver

I passed my exam on the first try, and then proceeded to be one of the worst fucking drivers you have ever been on the road with.  Our garage door was covered in dents because I could never figure out the boundaries of the car.  Many poles in parking lots had chunks out of them thanks to my superior parking skills. I parallel parked exactly ONCE, and that was to pass my test.  Nearly had a heart attack doing so. The three times I attempted a left turn, I crashed into oncoming traffic.  I only ever made right hand turns after I smashed up the surgeon’s Jaguar in a busy intersection.

When I drive, I have to constantly recite the road rules.  I cannot accurately judge the speed of objects in motion, so I can only use rules that don’t require that (no left hand turns).  But it’s really hard to keep my mind on the rule book, especially when a route becomes familiar.

I switch to pictures and just enjoy the scenery going by.

baskets

One day, I was out driving and I went through a very busy intersection.  Against a red light.  I didn’t notice the light.  I was too busy admiring the pictures of hanging flower baskets that were being added to my memories of “hanging flower baskets” and when I heard the sound of thirty car horns and screeching tires, I absolutely froze and did nothing.

Continued on through the intersection.

red light

A few cars ended up in the ditch, and a few more on the wrong side of the road, but no one was injured.

That was ten years ago. I never drove again. I still have the problem when I ride my bicycle, which is why I mostly stick to bike paths, but I have to remind myself to think about road rules when I approach intersections or ride short distances on the road.

I’m a terrible driver.  I know that.  Lots of other people are, too.  Probably for the exact same reason.  They stop paying attention to the rules and let their minds wander.  Some of that wandering likely includes just admiring the scenery. So I doubt “thinking in pictures” is all that uncommon.

All of this leads me to believe that “high-functioning Asperger’s” is basically just bullshit.  Easily distracted, creative, eccentric, able to become deeply absorbed into topics (like hanging flower baskets rather than red lights) – those are all fairly common traits.

pills

So why pathologize them?  We used to be able to accept the socially eccentric with little problem, but now we need some sort of “diagnosis” and drug-taking or behavioral therapy regime to deal with what used to be considered “normal human variation”.

I started reading around about Asperger’s and the following two facts kept leaping out at me:

Most people diagnosed with this “illness” are men

Asperger’s is highly correlated with scientific or mathematical genius

http://healthland.time.com/2012/07/10/what-child-prodigies-and-autistic-people-have-in-common/

http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-introduction/gender-and-autism/autism-why-do-more-boys-than-girls-develop-it.aspx

Indeed, Simon Baron-Cohen, one of the world’s leading autism researchers, points to several of the world’s greatest minds as meeting all the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome.

Newton

Mozart

Einstein

Darwin

Curie

Bartok

Godel

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539373/

Other famous people who meet the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s include:

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989, winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1969, playwright, poet, novelist, left-handed cricket player)

Richard Borcherds (b. 1959, diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, winner of Fields Medal 1998, professor of mathematics)

Paul Dirac (1902-1984, winner of Nobel Prize in physics in 1933)

Paul Erdos (1913-1996, winner of Wolf Prize in mathematics 1983/4)

Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, polyglot, and child prodigy)

Keith Joseph (CH, PC) (1918-1994, British conservative politician)

Enoch Powell (MBE) (1912-1998, real name John Enoch Powell, controversial right-wing British politician)

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970, philosopher, winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1950)

William Shockley (1910-1989, winner of Nobel Prize in physics in 1956, co-inventor of the transistor, Silicon Valley pioneer, professor, advocate of eugenics, sperm donor with the Repository For Germinal Choice)

Vernon L. Smith (b.1927, diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, winner of Nobel Prize in economics in 2002)

William Butler Yeats (1865 -1939, winner of Nobel Prize in literature in 1923, poet, dramatist)

http://www.aspiesforfreedom.com/showthread.php?tid=3991

With the exception of Marie Curie, they are ALL men.

genius

Is Asperger’s just a code word for male genius?

Why do we need to turn male genius into a disease?  What could be the reason for that?  Why would we want such a self-destructive diagnosis?

I have a few theories.  First, I think it’s not ideologically palatable to acknowledge that men exhibit greater genius than women.  And note that I use “genius”, not intelligence. Men and women may be more or less equally intelligent ON AVERAGE, but men far outnumber women when it comes to genius.

Even when women DO exhibit genius, it is rarely attuned to scientific or mathematical pursuits.

http://judgybitch.com/2013/02/18/her-iq-is-higher-than-einsteins-what-does-she-care-about-her-nails-fake-tanning-and-her-hair-lady-genius-in-action/

If we can’t objectively, quantitatively deny that there are more men than women in the highest echelons of human intelligence, then let’s call those men “brain-damaged” in some way.  Yes, men might be more capable of genius, but since they are violating the core ideological precept of perfect equality, they must be damaged in some way the rest of us are not.

Well, if Einstein’s brain was damaged, can someone please damage mine in the same way?  I’ll take it!

girls class

Secondly, I think the fact that we have structured the formal education system to reflect what girls are good at, and how (most) girls like to behave, we prefer to pathologize exceptionally smart and capable boys rather than address the fact that we are closing down the possibilities for the very best and brightest of humanity to bring their obsessions and interests to fruition.

Because so many of those best and brightest happen to be boys. Boys that act nothing like girls, and indeed, even like most other boys.  Their energy and focus and unwillingness to sit still and apply glitter is all diagnosed as “illness”.

boy

And they are drugged to high fucking heaven rather than celebrated, and encouraged and channeled.

http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10065.aspx

What in the hell are we doing?

A boy named Albert who could barely add and thought school pretty much sucked, who wore flowered slippers and a bathrobe to work, with his hair all crazy nuts all over the place, was obsessed with thinking about time.

How does it work?

pocket watch

He wrote a paper about it, submitted it to a physics journal and the Theory of Relativity was born.

If Albert had had the misfortune of being born today, he would have been subjected to intense behavioral therapy to curb his obsessive interests, he would have been drilled relentlessly and endlessly until his mind learned to add, he would have been hauled down to HR for dress code violations and some matronly bitch from the secretarial pool would have told him to cut his hair.

mother

Unless he had a mother like Temple Grandin’s, who protected her strange daughter fiercely and made certain she had the opportunities to pursue her unusual interests all the way through college to the doctoral level.

As a culture, we need to seriously question why we are diagnosing smart boys as neurologically damaged, and more importantly, we need to rally the parents of these children to cherish them, protect them, teach them what they lack and love them unconditionally for who and what they are.

Drugs are bad.  Just say no!

no

This ad is from the Church of Scientology, which is as big a steaming pile of bullshit theories and crackpot philosophies as you could hope to confront in a pseudo cult/religion/tax avoidance scam. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s an amazing PSA.

Of course, I would think that though. I lack the capacity to see the social implications of valuing the message over the delivery.

Being an Aspie and all.

Lots of love,

JB

59 Responses to “Asperger’s Syndrome: is it just another way of pathologizing creativity? And genius? Especially MALE creativity and genius? Let’s get on our tinfoil hats.”

  1. dana July 21, 2013 at 18:03 #

    hey judgy, heres something i wrote about being aspy, female and in sales a while back you might find interesting

    http://minarchyblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/an-oddly-personal-post-or-how-i-manage-to-combine-an-aspy-personality-type-with-success-in-sales/

    Like

  2. judgybitch July 21, 2013 at 18:11 #

    Careers as just a hobby to become obsessively proficient in? I can so relate.

    Take these stupid cakepops. I volunteered to make 2000 of them. By September 1st. Never made them before. I’m now about 800 in and I’m becoming a fucking EXPERT.

    I’ve created a special recipe for the cake, using vinegar and baking soda as the leavening agent (based on a British 1940’s Rations Cookbook I read once). I use applesauce to strategically add the moisture I need. Have experimented with pans and volumes to ensure the most efficient use of my stove and energy. Know exactly how to ensure the correct volume using a 1 1/2 TBSP measure and the palm of my hand.

    I can’t just make cakepops. I have to make 2000. And learn everything about cakepops that’s it possible to know. And then innovate on top of that.

    My friends are all “you should start a cake pop business!”. I even picked out a clever name: The Cake Pop Star!

    Will I do it?

    Doubtful. Once I’ve mastered it, I’m bored.

    Time for something new!

    Like

  3. dana July 21, 2013 at 18:16 #

    lol, thats why i have a fishtank, a guitar, knitting needles, bags of unframed finished cross stitch and needlepoint projects, the textbooks for a gemologist certificate, and a law degree gathering dust in the storage room

    next….quilting!!!

    Like

  4. judgybitch July 21, 2013 at 18:20 #

    Ooh, quilting! Good idea! I have containers full of baby clothes and blankets and my plan is to make each of my children a quilt out of their old clothes and blankies to take to college with them.

    In the interim I was thinking of learning JavaScript and trying my hand at writing some iPhone apps…

    Like

  5. Liam July 21, 2013 at 18:35 #

    This is very interesting, and I need to ponder it carefully, but my initial questions are to ask how this reconciles with non-Aspergers geniuses, and where the non-genius Aspergers people fit in.

    I have a good friend who is severely on the Aspergers spectrum, but who is not particularly a genius.

    I completely agree that Aspergers strongly correlates with high levels of success in “geeky” professions (I am such a geek, I mean nothing pejorative by it), but I’m not sure whether its a causation or merely a correlation.

    Like

  6. Modern Drummer July 21, 2013 at 19:44 #

    This is why I started playing the drums about thirty years ago…to drown out all of the things going through my brain at 100 m.p.h. and release my pent up aggression and energy in a harmless way. Sitting in school,being indoctrinated with mostly boring and stupid bullshit for eight hours and then having to deal with a crazy family when I got home is the reason my handle is Modern Drummer.

    Like

  7. Liam July 21, 2013 at 19:57 #

    Yeah, but is that Aspergers? I have a million things going through my head all the time, too, and I over think *EVERYTHING*, but I am so far away from any of the classical definitions of Aspergers that I’m pretty sure I’m a different sort of pathology altogether, one for which we currently have no name or recognition.

    And thinking more on the term Aspergers, I’m not sure it’s an attempt to marginalize or dismiss our geniuses, I think in fact, it may be a way to help other people to understand those whose brains work differently and to help those who DO feel different to know that they aren’t alone, and someone else DOES understand.

    Then again, in my experience (having an Aspergers step-daughter and a mildly autistic son), the diagnosis has led more to allowances for “atypical” behaviors rather than attempts to medicate or “fix”. I look at this from the standpoint of having been the oddball child in my elementary school, I imagine my childhood would have been much more pleasant (and my inner monologue as an adult much less critical) if more allowances had been made rather than trying to force me into the cookie-cutter clone world of public school in the ’70s.

    Like

  8. Sarah July 21, 2013 at 20:08 #

    By way of introduction, I’m new here as a commenter (and only encountered the “manosphere” at all a few months ago), but I’ve read your entire blog and love it.

    I was a initially a little doubtful of the connection with feminism here. I think we have pathologized just about everything that doesn’t fit the norm, which of course means that almost everyone qualifies as having some sort of psychological condition. But if the norm that we are working with is skewed toward a feminine norm, which it definitely is, then I think your connection works, whether or not anyone is sitting around intentionally labeling male genius as pathological. Most people (probably not all, but I’m no expert in the field) who suffer psychological diseases seem to me to have minds that possess certain traits in greater amounts than the average mind, not minds that are different entirely. Labeling a child with Asperger’s as diseased seems to be an instance where our desire to create good worker drones has melded with our woman-worship in an incredibly unhelpful way.

    I have an incredibly difficult time thinking in pictures, but I scored 29 on that test. I’m not sure what that means. 🙂

    Like

  9. David Sutton July 21, 2013 at 20:17 #

    I once taught a boy with Asperger,s syndrome. He functioned well in class, but not spectacularly. But how that boy could draw and paint! He could quick sketch, draw with incredible sensitivity, and paint like an educated, finished artist. That he had few social skills didn’t matter. Because he was able to express himself so well through his art, everybody accepted him.

    Like

  10. earl July 21, 2013 at 20:28 #

    “So why pathologize them?”

    Because people that think for themselves…scare those that are trying to make everyone think the same. It’s harder to control a population when you have those “rogue” thinkers.

    Like

  11. Radical Suburbanite July 21, 2013 at 20:29 #

    I’ve run into a lot of people online who share my interests and world-view that also tend to be Aspberger-ish like myself. I won’t link to it but I wrote a post about this a long time ago because I was having my son evaluated for Aspberger’s and it was the kick in the teeth I needed to realize that I had my own social awkwardness to deal with. My son and I are both just a little bit on the spectrum and, like you, need to be aware of our tendencies when in social situations because we can be overly analytical and hyper-focused on our own interests.

    But it’s not something I think about too much or worry over because I think the Aspberger’s label is thrown out rather hastily and has been co-oped by people who are really just assholes because saying “I have Aspberger’s” sounds better than saying “I’m a douche.”

    Like

  12. Modern Drummer July 21, 2013 at 20:39 #

    I don’t believe I have aspergers. I took a test for myself(not very scientific I know) and I have much of the same ways of thinking and behaving as JB described about herself. My comment was much more about how much I hated public school than anything else.
    I hope the people in charge of education will encourage and facilitate any child who has a different way of thinking. Parents should be fiercely proactive in ensuring their children don’t get incorrectly marginalized.

    Like

  13. Flaming Man of Iron July 21, 2013 at 21:05 #

    As a Statistician, I’d curious to see some papers investigating the nature of Aspergers and seeing the relationship with a few other variables. It would be interesting to see what the results are.

    Like

  14. feeriker July 21, 2013 at 21:38 #

    You’ve nailed it. Non-conformists (i.e., independent critical thinkers) are a threat to the established order and must be dealt with accordingly.

    Like

  15. AnonymousBosch July 21, 2013 at 21:52 #

    Nothing scares a teacher more than a child who asks an entirely logical question that the teacher is unable to think critically about to answer. They’re supposed to shut up and accept the process, for that is how it’s done.

    “Why are you always questioning what I’m teaching? How dare you be intelligent! You make Little Janie Mouthbreather feel bad, Why do you use big words? Why say Constellation when you can say Stars? Why do you read the dictionary when you don’t understand a word. You want to be a writer? That’s not normal. You should want to be a fireman or a football player. I know it only takes you 3 hours to do the assigned schoolwork for the week because we expect so little from the other children, but if you sit there quietly you can read those books you like so much for the rest of the week and no-one has to find out. I can trust you to leave school to buy my cigarettes from the corner store. Oh, don’t be silly, there’s no proof smoking causes lung cancer. Why can’t you be like the other 10 year olds?”

    Women are quite prepared to drug male children to make their jobs easier. This from the ‘nuturing’ sex. Mothers used junk food and television in the same way – it’s acceptable to deliberately harm the child for some peace and quiet.

    Remember, people are suspicious of intelligence and achievement, for it reflects how ordinary and unaccomplished they are. Equality is the goal, where no-one is more attractive or intelligent than anyone else.

    Like

  16. desperada57 July 21, 2013 at 21:54 #

    Wish there was a “love” star to click! I can relate to a lot of that, and my son was diagnosed with Aspergers. I have an avatar which says, “I’d rather be weird as fuck than boring as hell.”

    Like

  17. judgybitch July 21, 2013 at 21:56 #

    Amen, sister!

    Like

  18. earl July 21, 2013 at 23:22 #

    The best teachers I had were the male ones. They weren’t threaten by questions such as “Why?” or “How?”.

    The easiest way to get your normal herd accepting woman scared is to ask “why”.

    Like

  19. Liam July 21, 2013 at 23:56 #

    I do remember in second grade having a teacher tell me “you’re not supposed to know that yet” when I answered a math question using multiplication.

    Like

  20. Bob Wallace July 22, 2013 at 00:28 #

    I learned about Temple Grandin through Oliver Sacks (another must-read).

    I realized I was quite different when I was 12. Middle School, of course, was a catastrophe.

    I once took an Aspergers test….I came out mostly Neurotypical (normal brain) but there was a large chunk of “Aspergers” in that normal brain.

    These days I look for that bright, imaginative, funny, introverted kid…they need mentors, ones who understand them.

    Like

  21. Pill Scout July 22, 2013 at 01:22 #

    JB, great post. Have you read Koanic Soul yet?

    The blog author there writes a lot about the whole autism thing as being connected to Neanderthal gene expression, and how it is expressed in facial features. Deep-set eyes, “haunted ghost” look and a large occipital back of the skull are telltale signs of a Neanderthal-expressed individual. A handful of people I’ve met with autism or who might as well be diagnosed with it have these characteristics. Too close for coincidence, and all of them are very bright and misunderstood people.

    As an aside, I think females are not persecuted as much and go undiagnosed much more compared to males because this eccentricity and introverted “weirdness” is either just tolerated or expected from women.

    So back to the topic, if you combine neanderthal genes with testosterone, either prenatal or later, and you have the potential for a genius male like the scientists mentioned above. Tesla should also probably be on that list too. These Thal types also have: visual-spatial navigational skills, thinking with visuals rather than words, strong intuitive facilities, and so on. It’s very intriguing stuff and I recommend reading through his site one day.

    Also, my hunch: Asperger’s syndrome is tangentially related to autism and thal gene expression but only because of the resultant social awkwardness. I think both groups have potential for genius in different spheres of intelligence. Aspies being more verbal and analytical and autistics in intuition and visual, and perhaps logic and mathematics to a lesser extent.

    Like

  22. judgybitch July 22, 2013 at 01:25 #

    Fascinating.

    I will have to check it out.

    Thanks!

    Like

  23. Days of Broken Arrows July 22, 2013 at 01:51 #

    My God, reading this just brought back a memory I’d apparently suppressed.

    When we were in first grade, we were given a “reader,” which was a collection of dozens of stories. We were assigned the first few. I read the entire book, because I was already a good reader and figured I could get ahead.

    When the teacher found out, she exploded, embarrassed me in front of the class and I ended up sitting outside the classroom (they put my desk in the hall).

    This had a domino effect of me getting in trouble that I don’t feel like going into here, but the main point is that I was clearly way ahead of the class — and that’s what I ended up in trouble for.

    Schools are idiot factories.

    Like

  24. judgybitch July 22, 2013 at 01:52 #

    You got punished for READING????

    Good grief.

    Like

  25. Days of Broken Arrows July 22, 2013 at 01:59 #

    Yes…I got punished big-time for reading the whole book because it wasn’t assigned, only the first two stories were. I “didn’t follow instructions.”

    My assumption was that if I finished one book, I could get another, etc., because I liked to read. What ended up happening was she called a parent-teach conference, which created havoc for me at home, blah blah blah. I ended up banned from reading books in the house for a while and was not allowed to take books with me when we went on long car trips. I am NOT making this up!!

    Like

  26. judgybitch July 22, 2013 at 02:02 #

    That’s just so…. what the fuck are some people thinking?

    Like

  27. CleverGuy July 22, 2013 at 06:25 #

    On the other hand, sometimes a bitch is just a bitch.

    Like

  28. Wallace Black July 22, 2013 at 06:48 #

    I’ve been thinking about something for a good while, about how I’m a computer geek and love hanging out with other computer geeks. It’s a predominantly male community, simply because I don’t know, we’re awkward around girls? I don’t know. I grew up at a time when personal computers were just taking off, and being a teenaged boy who liked computers and hung around other guys like me wasn’t a big deal. And when guys hang around other guys we trash talk each other, and we’re brutally honest about how we think of each other’s code (THIS SHIT SUCKS MAN, ARE YOU HIGH?) and no one went sobbing to a corner because of honest criticism (with a dose of awesomely crude language to go with it – because it’s FUNNY dammit).

    Then all of a sudden, computers became IMPORTANT and the onus was on us to make our mainly male-oriented community to be “more welcoming” towards women. It’s fine if ladies want to join in, but then suddenly miss manners and feminists pop up and try to regulate behaviour in a group of people that are comfortable with the social norms of brutal honesty and dorky humour. The policing is terrifying at times (See Adria Richards).

    I find it alarming that feminism is trying to police people into conforming to the PC “let’s everyone be nice” bullshit, because honestly that kind of policing just makes it stifling. Can women only exist in these sanitised bubbles that feminists create? It’s really maddening.

    Well, if I said this anywhere else I’d be branded an evil sexist, but there you go. I hate feminazi policing. I think men and women can work together just fine, just not with the whiny ones who wave a victim card every time someone has a criticism, or is blunt.

    Like

  29. Radical Suburbanite July 22, 2013 at 07:28 #

    See, I totally agree with you here. Why does everyone have to socialize in the same way? I’m rather blunt and I have to soften my personality to conform to what is essentially a female-oriented social norm. I understand social niceties and don’t disagree that we should try to agreeable when around other people- and I am a nice person. But I’m not fake nice- if I have an opinion I’ll share it. I don’t go up to people I don’t know and blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, but if you’re my friend and you’re screwing around on your husband I’m going to tell you I disapprove (I have had this happen and I was told that *I* was being judgmental- go figure).

    Like

  30. Eli July 22, 2013 at 09:59 #

    I remember some feminist autistic women talking about how not as many females as males got diagnosed because of a sexist or biased view. They had been diagnosed with many other behavioral disorders before being diagnosed with autism in their mid to late teens, so. I don’t know.
    I’m a classically autistic female that was diagnosed at eighteen months. I can’t say I function as well as the genius people in the article. Savant autists are a minority, and many of us are not that intelligent or even generally functional.

    Like

  31. Aye. July 22, 2013 at 15:13 #

    I had similar experiences in American public school. And at home, too… I Reading too much. Not engaging with group activities. Day dreaming and doodling or reading ahead when I caught on early, and had to wait for the teacher to explain everything to everyone else…

    Like

  32. feeriker July 22, 2013 at 18:23 #

    None of this is surprising when you look at the statistics on those who graduate from “colleges of ‘education.'” Teachers, far from being the intellectual “cream of the crop,” are overwhelmingly actually at the very bottom of the academic and intellectual barrel. The only reason these people attend “colleges of ‘education'” is because they can’t hack it in any other field and wouldn’t be able to get into college at all if it weren’t for a “soft” academic discipline like “education.”

    Like

  33. angelowal July 22, 2013 at 18:37 #

    I always had a feeling that “CleverGuy’ was artistic…………;) In my day we called it ‘eccentric’ ………….some would say ‘weirdo’……….

    Like

  34. judgybitch July 22, 2013 at 18:41 #

    He’s brilliant and has trouble caring what other people think of his plan to build world dominating robots.

    Eccentric is just the word.

    There is no way in hell he will help me make cakepops, but he will happily amuse me with ducks chasing cats on a roomba videos.

    For hours!

    He’s awesome. Can’t wait til he gets back!

    Like

  35. earl July 22, 2013 at 21:34 #

    No wonder our kids lack intelligence. It might make the teacher or other students feel bad.

    Like

  36. James Versluis July 23, 2013 at 00:29 #

    Test.

    Like

  37. Take Back Your Face! July 23, 2013 at 02:33 #

    I’m a female and from the reading I’ve done about Aspergers, I think I might have it. At first I thought maybe I am just not culturally acclimatized here because I didn’t “get” these people nor they me, but as someone who globe trots a lot I find myself not understanding most humans, no matter their culture.

    I just don’t value what most humans I meet seem to value.

    Like

  38. Random Angeleno July 23, 2013 at 04:01 #

    Hated school. With. A. Passion. Public or Private? I did both. Made no difference as I hated been cooped up until 3:15. or 2:30. or 2:45. or whatever. Didn’t matter. Because. I. Hated. Being. There. Every. Single. Day. College wasn’t so bad. But I burned out on it at the end badly enough that I averaged 12-14 hours a day sleeping for the first month after graduation.

    Low grade dyslexia which I overcame. Low grade Asperger’s which took a lot longer to overcome (think decades). And a dysfunctional marriage to show for it. I’m better now, but just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to get the red pill and the understanding that came with it.

    Like

  39. Cid July 23, 2013 at 05:09 #

    God I know how you feel. I’m a girl but I hang out in those exact places you talk about (IRC mostly…) Most of them just troll the shit out of feminists until they leave, but a few communities have been totally taken over by their BS.

    The worst is that this trend has now been bleeding over into video games, which is my number 1 hobby and has been since I was a kid. It’s irrational to think they’ll manage to change much of the industry at all, but I really wish I could browse gaming websites without seeing feminist articles EVERY DAY.

    Honestly, it’s like women who go to work with a bunch of guys but can’t handle how guys act. So they get all pissy and start demanding changes and constantly ragging on everyone for being such pigs all the time (and of course they are 100% perfect angels.) Why oh why do so many people bend over backwards for these assholes?

    Like

  40. Take Back Your Face! July 23, 2013 at 22:13 #

    I find that rather than get all “pissy” with guys for acting “how guys act” as you say, I just show some flirty attention to the ethnic minority men in the group and that usually shuts the rest of them up.

    😉

    Innuendos about the HBD of penis size works too.

    Of course in a work place you can’t get too graphic, but you might be surprised how “sensitive” men can be to pick up on some subtle sexual innuendo or body language when it comes to a woman and a minority man.

    Like

  41. Take Back Your Face! July 23, 2013 at 22:51 #

    Is Autism a “hard” diagnosis while Aspergers is a “soft” one? By this I mean is Autism determined through biological tests, as in matter that can be measured like genes or blood, while Aspergers is diagnosed via behavior?

    I’m asking because perhaps Aspergers is just “not fitting in”.

    Like

  42. Take Back Your Face! July 23, 2013 at 23:38 #

    “He’s brilliant and has trouble caring what other people think of his plan to build world dominating robots. ”

    He’s working on Jacque Fresco’s “Venus Project”?

    Google it.

    Like

  43. Take Back Your Face! July 23, 2013 at 23:42 #

    “And when guys hang around other guys we trash talk each other, and we’re brutally honest about how we think of each other’s code (THIS SHIT SUCKS MAN, ARE YOU HIGH?) and no one went sobbing to a corner because of honest criticism (with a dose of awesomely crude language to go with it – because it’s FUNNY dammit).

    Then all of a sudden, computers became IMPORTANT and the onus was on us to make our mainly male-oriented community to be “more welcoming” towards women. It’s fine if ladies want to join in, but then suddenly miss manners and feminists pop up and try to regulate behaviour in a group of people that are comfortable with the social norms of brutal honesty and dorky humour. ”

    This is odd. The complaint these days is that “Miss Manners” has been removed from the gene pool and women are just as, if not more, crass than men.

    Certainly the under 45 crowd doesn’t have a problem with crude, crass and vulgar language.

    So who and where are these Miss Manners and what is their age group?

    Like

  44. Goober July 25, 2013 at 00:30 #

    BAM! Earl wins the internets for the day…

    Like

  45. Patrick J. July 25, 2013 at 16:09 #

    I know, late response. I thought I was a high-functioning autistic until a stint in the funny farm (panic attack after coming off of a high profile, high intensity project, which was successfully completed, and they still haven’t promoted me or given me a distinct bonus two years later).

    Turns out in my case I had generalized anxiety disorder which promoted my social awkwardness. Now, I have to work through my issues, I’m a “young”(er) science Ph.D., an extrovert with stunted social skills, seriously overweight, sharp as hell, bit devil may care, heart of a puppy, reactions of a mistreated puppy, etc. The anxiety issues doubled what a lot of people see as high-functioning autistic. If you think about how it would manifest from an early age with such latent anxiety it makes sense… but it wasn’t put together until after the meltdown. In my case due to anxiety and other things you end up developing socially separate and as a result you don’t share the proclivities of the “culture”… of course I’m also remarkably stubborn but that’s hardcoded 🙂

    Bottom line though, if you look at the Aspies, there are plenty of aspies WITHOUT the genius. It is not a prerequisite. We just don’t deal with them because we also associate them with other pathologies… that guy who mumbles to himself and won’t look at people is likely an aspy but we refer to him/her (often fairly in terms of impact to us) as nutballs and derelicts. Fair, no; life, yes.

    There’s also the idea that nerds fixate upon the technical and that many of the non-nerds are suitably intelligent but they focus on honing social aspects, sometimes to their own detriment… but then again, sociopaths are usually liked and are seen as able because they can communicate, even if they are useless at non-communicative marketable skills. Invention and genius may come from those who fixate in those means… but the lack of socialization capabilities can often be a consequence of the self-selected specialization. And let’s face it, as a competitive person, its frustrating to see the social success of those you deem as lesser (because they’re jerks or otherwise)… you put in your time to be worth something… blah. I’ll stop self-ranting.

    OK, I’ll admit I haven’t read the full blog post so I’ll go back to that… but I don’t think its as, at least the title, there may be an attempt to pathologizing those who fixate on the technical and non-social, but there are plenty we NEVER see in the non-technical and non-social.

    There are surely other factors that come into play. The real problem is that society seeks to penalize as opposed to guide the young man/woman. Ideally, if you can find a real pathology then it can open up both doors for the person. If there isn’t a pathology… well, that’s just life 🙂

    Mine’s been figured out… now its about resolving the related effects.

    –Pat

    Like

  46. Chromesthesia August 23, 2013 at 13:50 #

    Asperger’s is actually underdiagnosed in women to be honest. *on the autism spectrum herself* The problem is it isn’t an illness, it’s a variation of the norm and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s a double edge sword because it can come with sensory issues which are a pain to deal with but also cause me to be able to taste, smell and see colours in music which is something people WISH they could do and need drugs to do.

    Really schools don’t need to be catered to males or females but more to individual students because individual people VARY. I hated gym, but would have loved martial arts. I hated math, but with the right help I might have been better at it. American history sucked, Japanese and European was more interesting. They really need to adjust schools to individuals because not every girl is quiet and obedient and not every boy is rough and tumble.

    Also the problem with the concept of high and low functioning is we underestimate so called low functioning autistic people. Just because a person cannot speak, it doesn’t mean they are stupid. Amanda Baggs is one of the smartest people ever and she cannot speak. We also overestimate the capabilities of people who can speak because it doesn’t mean they don’t have problems like the aforementioned sensory issues.

    Really autism isn’t just about male creativity. The best solution for autistic people on all spectrums is acceptance, working with them instead of against them and less stupid stereotypes, please. Thanks.

    Like

  47. Chromesthesia August 23, 2013 at 13:56 #

    Also, that nonsense about autistic people not having empathy is NONSENSE. If anything most of us have too much of it. You try seeing someone with a broken finger and having your finger hurt. ow.

    Like

  48. Sarah Daniels August 29, 2013 at 01:27 #

    There are women with AS diagnosis as well. I was formally diagnosed as having it when I was 8 years old along with ADHD and I was medicated until the age of 14.

    Like

  49. JBfan August 31, 2013 at 08:16 #

    I see your point JB, if guys like this ARE boxed in because they’re clever, that is retarded. However, AS is real. I was diagnosed with it as a kid and it played havoc with me growing up (socially anyway). One problem with AS is that because it can compensate for the awkwardness by adding a level of talent or genius (I myself possess perfect pitch and have further talents in acting, writing and music), a lot of awkward people want a piece of the action. Like Walter Mittys in the military (where non military people pretend to be elite soldiers and such), these bastards give others the impression that AS is a made up code word for “asshole” as opposed to a genuine condition that affects people.

    Like

  50. hijackthemicFrank December 18, 2013 at 02:44 #

    This is more about pop psychology being given a wrong idea as to what Asperger’s is, and in ignorance selecting it the disease du jour. AS isn’t just some social problems, it’s severe cognitive deficits. It’s not being a creative genius, it’s having an impossible time understanding complex systems or conversations that aren’t very simple and direct. It’s not saying mean things, it’s having a funny walk and not having the intellect to recognize social norms. It’s not being Einstein, it’s being incapable of understanding other people’s thoughts, or realizing how many ways you can see the world and therefore be largely incapable of real life problem solving. Asperger’s may cause you to have “original” ideas, but they’re born out of confusion and naivety. People afflicted with AS can still have successful lives, but when a majority of those actually diagnosed with it cannot even maintain regular employment and must rely on their parents for a lifetime of support, the idea that this condition is some wonderful gift or is simply a different evolutionary branch is ignorance.

    Like

  51. Jon January 23, 2014 at 01:08 #

    I always find it really off-putting when people try to correlate aspergers to genius. Yes, there are some people with aspergers that are really smart, but there are also people with aspergers that are really dumb…….just like people that don’t have aspergers. In short, you aren’t special and don’t have the audacity to subtly compare yourself to albert einstein.

    Like

  52. Sasha March 12, 2014 at 01:52 #

    Hi! Really enjoyed this article. I actually stumbled across it a couple of days ago, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since – so I had to track it back down. Sorry if this was asked earlier in the comments somewhere (did a quick search but didn’t see anything), but would you be able to name a couple of the etiquette/ psychology books you found to be most helpful? I’ve tried going this route, but nothing I’ve read so far has been particularly helpful. Thanks so much!

    Like

  53. caprizchka March 12, 2014 at 15:40 #

    Get with the program, Ms. Judgy Bitch, you’re a “survivor” and that’s what makes you special. Coping with trauma during childhood should *not* include producing something of value when you could be productively spending your time wailing and moaning or helping others to wail and moan or supporting wailing and moaning in general as being a superior form of productivity. You’re not special. You’re just another evil, rational person who decided to occupy yourself in meticulous, creepy, and probably even rapey pastimes when you ought to be properly entertaining yourself in the approved forms provided to the proletariat and collecting rewards for remaining a child forever. Your parents must be so ashamed that you haven’t turned out just like them. That must be why I just can’t get enough of your writing you unfeeling bitch. Love you more than you could possibly know.

    Like

  54. judgybitch March 12, 2014 at 15:42 #

    🙂

    Like

  55. Scotty G. April 23, 2014 at 13:54 #

    My sister works with “special needs” children, and she opened my eyes to the correlation between the “nerds”and “geeks” in high school and Asperger’s Syndrome. But then she made a comment that really disturbed me: She basically said that if those kids (technically inclined, mathematical geniuses with poor social skills) were diagnosed properly, then they could have received the “treatment” they “needed.”

    My response was this:

    “If it’s true that most of the scientific geniuses who propelled humanity forward in quantum leaps of technological advancements, and in such a short period of time (70 years between horse-and-buggy and holy-shit! moon landings,) Why in the hell would we fuck with this? Sure, it’s unfortunate that these guys will have trouble getting dates in their teenage years, but I’m sure the boatloads of cash coming from military and corporate contracts after graduating college will improve their sex lives.”

    She didn’t have much of a response afterwards.

    Like

  56. markpostgate July 28, 2014 at 01:21 #

    You’ve echoed some of my suspicions here. I know that had my teenage years been in this century rather than last century, there’s no way I would have escaped without a diagnosis of Aspergers; I still don’t like small talk, I feel uncomfortable around inauthenticity, I spent the first twenty odd years of my life marvelling at how people could cry at films when after all “it wasn’t real”; when I am depressed or my self-esteem is low I avoid eye-contact..

    My self-cures were
    1) Acting (aged 14) – in am dram at first, taught me social skills, team work and a way of practicing expressing myself, and connecting with people.
    2) Cannabis (aged 18) – throughout my student years; I swear that helped.
    3) Having children (aged 30) – I definitely feel that opened a pathway emotionally

    The fourth, that I’m not sure about, is studying Psychology; bits of it are actually very useful at understanding motives like the theory of cognitive dissonance; and other bits are bunkum – perhaps the most important thing studying Psychology taught me was to be sceptical about the claims of Psychologists.

    I became aware of theories of Autism about that time because my girlfriend was doing a dissertation in it. Except this was the old definition of autism, that had something to do with retardation in developing a sense of self and therefore autistics lacked a theory of mind. The kind of autistics that model was about was the kind you see in Rain Man. Some of them were Savants – that is they had one particular skill taken to absurd extremes.

    That was 1992; a couple of years after that I became aware of Aspergers. The BBC had run a documentary on the disorder. It was understood to be similar in aetiology to autism, but less severe in that people could have reasonably normal lives but had extremely obsessive hobbies like photographing TV aerials! People with Aspergers supposedly had trouble understanding metaphor, and didn’t have much of a sense of humour. They also were good at being analytical but bad at being empathic. Naturally it was more commonly diagnosed in boys because it was the male side of the Mars Venus dichotomy taken to it’s extreme.

    At first I was immensely interested in the idea of a continuum of thinking styles, and would diagnose friends for how far along the scale I thought they were. But the definition of aspergers seemed to broaden further – the obsessive hobbies that characterized aspergers seemed to be less obscure, and I heard from a friend that according to his reading, not only was it diagnosed more often in boys, but it was diagnosed more often by female educational psychologists. Perhaps falsely, we thought, after all many of the symptoms sounded a lot like “being a teenage boy” (particularly an intelligent teenage boy). Naturally male psychologists would be less likely to diagnose it because they’d look at the teenage boys and think “that’s just how I was when I was his age – he’s fine; he’ll grow out of it”; the female psychologists, on the other hand, having no memory of being teenage boys would think “gosh, this kid has problems!” In fact as the rates increased the signifying symptoms seemed to all drop by the wayside – a lot of so called autistics had a fantastic sense of metaphor and allegory, and as for sense of humour, there was lots of comedians who were aspergers – after all spotting an absurdity or contradiction and feeling discomfort with absurdities and contradictions were defining features of the continuum and a sense of humour was the best way of coping with that dissonance, as well as seeing those absurdities quickly, before anyone else, and then drawing attention to them, was one of the chief skills in creating comedy. I rarely hear the metaphor or humour blindness used in discussions about aspergers any more.

    Then they stopped calling it Aspergers and started calling it “Autistic Spectrum Disorder”. I thought this was a bad move, because Aspergers certainly wasn’t Autism – it was just on the same continuum, but hardly the same thing, and most people are just going to hear the word Autistic and think Rain Man – when they should be thinking Alan Turing!!!! But nowadays I think they just say “Autism” – the whole spectrum is covered by the one word.

    All psychological definitions are social constructs – we decide as a culture how we lay down definitions. In fact all illness is a social construct – we culturally decide what is a disease and what is just a natural process. That is, we haven’t shifted the goal posts on defining autism from Rain Man to anyone who is a bit of a nerd, simply because “we made discoveries” as people often suggest. No we didn’t. If we discovered a continuum, so what? That doesn’t make aspergers autism anymore than one glass of wine gets you drunk – that just means they share similar mechanisms in their aetiologies. So it is a purely cultural decision to describe the thinking style of a Bertrand Russell by using a term that conjures the image of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. It’s not the result of breakthrough research, whatever people assume. I am deeply suspicious of the reasoning.

    Like

  57. comslave September 20, 2014 at 12:47 #

    Now you’re drugshaming. You’re shaming parents who put their boys on drugs to make them more like girls. With all the privileges these boys have, how dare you expect them to live a drug free childhood. After all, we know that if we don’t drug them early, they’ll end up raping everyone. You don’t want to be seen promoting rape, do you?

    Liked by 1 person

  58. MeByMyself February 13, 2015 at 06:16 #

    I am a woman with Aspergers Syndrome (formerly called autism? now called autistic spectrum disorder). Because of my differences, I grew up with the constant threat of the state placing me in a group home looming over me. No thanks to the social workers, child psychologists, psychiatrists (aka drug pushers who see nothing wrong with pumping children full of vaguely understood, untested drugs not approved for use in children), therapists and special ed teachers, I taught myself the social skills I needed to get by in life, starting in my late teens after I effectivley emancipated myself from the disgrace that was the mental health system. I believe I have done a very good job at mastering certain aspects of social interaction and desensitizing myself to certain social situations I would have previously found unbearable, however when I was in my late 20s I realized I still fell short in my abilities to form close social relationships such as friendships that were actually friendships rather than acquaintanceships. Autism and Aspergers Syndrome can have a rather insulating effect from lonliness, and as a child, feelings of loniness, when they arose, were fleeting, but as I grew older and became more socially aware and proficient, this insulating shell started to thin and I started to wish I had a group of friends to hang out with, and to birthday parties, and who would invite me to theirs too, like everyone else. So I took it upon myself to seek help with this. I was only further dismayed, however, by the lack of resources for adults, and particularly women on the spectrum. Even more upsetting, of the professionals I met with who claimed to work with adults on the spectrum, I discovered “adult” usually meant 19 year old boys who had yet to master the skill of eye contact, not almost 30 year old women who had spent a decade trying to better themselves socially, so my revalation that I have Aspergers Syndrome was often doubted the second these professionals laid eyes on me, before I even had a chance to explain my history. In theirs eyes, I was female. I made eye contact, and thus I could not possibly have Aspergers Syndrome. I began to realize through this that I am more alone than I had ever thought I was, and as I approach 40, and my social prospects fade, I find myself wishing that I had not had the social awakening that I did, and that I had away to destroy all of those new neural connections I had formed, as atleast that way I would still be insulated from the bitter chill that is being alone. The irony is, I happened to be walking passed an auditorium where Temple Grandin had been giving a talk a while back. It was packed with neuroscientists and clinicians in white coats from the neuropsych center across the street. They had jammed in there and were flowing out the doors trying to get a glimpse of the elusive species that is the autistic woman, but their backs were still towards me.

    Like

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