So I want to tackle an elephant in my room at least, other folks who don’t have my context could be confused about a few things, at this time the evidence points to overlaps with Asperger’s, as a result of most likely the “high functioning” cross-over, but do not think of me in strictly those terms, there are some definite differences. Now, I may fall into this definition at some point, but the obfuscation of what is inherent and what is socially or self-imposed mental illness needs to be cleared out. So I want to go through some of the steps I, often accidentally, went through in determining what for me was inherent fault and not difference, and how that impacted my development and my understanding of the world. Do not doubt that I am “damaged goods” in many ways, I am, I am still trying to dissect learned vs inherent abilities, where my baseline grew and where it was negatively impacted by internalization of societal norms, values, and activities as fault. I will also carry many scars, and those scars will fade a great deal more than they have, but by their nature will remain, so um yeah for all the folks who catch me weeping these days, that is pretty much me processing my past or seeing the same crap being done over and over again, in public, with no understanding of how badly we are damaging each other. But, back to the topic at hand, I will tackle a bit that I can and call it good, not sure my kiddo can tolerate two days in a row of me being engaged in cerebral or intellectual activities, vs making sure Optimus Prime has the best outfit for the catwalk.
So, First things first on the ole autism spectrum, not fault, difference. In some cases, especially in extreme non-verbal autism, this difference can be so substantial, that the difference does inhibit ones abilities to move in the world and experience it the same way as others, but part of that might be just having to reach out in non-verbal communications, I mean I am pure verbal pretty much, and even I find the rules of language limited, inhibitory, I would prefer a far more nuanced way of communicating, but such as it is. It reminds me of back in my undergrad days before the Neanderthal hyoid bone was discovered, and for some the lack of this little bone attached to the tongue was the basis for saying Neanderthal did not have language. Now, if language is the means by which we convey abstract and subjective thought, the very notion that a single bone was the source of this seemed asinine, and I promptly pointed this out, the assumption was language was tied specifically to speech, and we know this is not the case, extreme non-verbal visual autism is but an example of this. Body language is another, and even if they did not have that bone (they do, it just does not survive fossilization well so it was a hard one to find), that simply limited the ability of the tongue to form certain sounds, it did not prevent sounds being formed in the larynx, through expelling breath, etc. The basis for understanding was skewed because of a rigid black and white link to what we knew we utilized with speech, we built our understanding out from ourselves first, missed some details, and made some bad conclusions. I would say that my current understanding of Autism is going through a similar area of growth, at first I had myself, the center of my multiverse as my model to go off, as I build up my understanding, I am expanding and seeing where things have been wrong and not. So at any rate, there is a point to this in regards to fault and difference, the Neaderthal’s are but an example of how easy it is to assume difference is fault or inability, that is not the same. But right now, a lot of folks with “high-functioning” autism, do not only tend to either internalize the fault, or let the label of that fault become self-determination in the form of “I’m not good at this stuff naturally, why bother”, which can be self defeatist. Myself as example as usual, I assure you, I do not like spending much time of things that do not come naturally to me, so to get this stuff done, I have to build up my own understanding of the value of it, from my baseline, my inherent way of thinking. I am an extreme skeptic, and so is my daughter (this will be a wild ride), so many times I do have to fail at something on my own and I am not going to just accept someone’s own perspective. It can be silly, it takes awhile to trust another person’s perspective, especially when you have socialization or trust issues. But, to learn the proper social skills, one has to be able to understand their value as it relates to their inherent epistemology. In short, many people with Autism specturm disorders get to view themselves as defective and not just different, this is mental illness, and it will snowball over time getting bigger, maybe monstrous, maybe just masochistic. Mental Illness is a result of being maladaptive to the current dominant socio-economic model as often as not, but since our focus is on the underlying neuropathy and wiring, it is easy to forget how powerful the socio-cultural epistemologies are that we internalize. So before someone with “high functioning” (btw I use the terms, my use of quotes normally indicates from my perspective, a tone of dislike but sullen acceptance of the common vernacular) can really find their stride, their value, and in many cases a career that will fulfill them instead of a dour crap job. We see in laughter and other expressions, that Joy is not denied to people with autism, if anything I could argue a remarkable ability to find Joy almost anywhere, since often that joy is inside our own heads, and that means, if someone is not finding their joy everyday, they have internalized some faulty crap and are holding onto it for dear life, because to be genuine right now can cost people their job, friends, families, all because we have to keep lying to each other, instead of understanding and accepting something seemingly as simple as understanding difference, but we are not communicating it right, we are failing ourselves and our children, and this can be seen through the increase in autism, there may be some environmental factors, but I do not see enough correlation to just that, maybe somethings do increase hyper-sensory functions in vitro, but for the most part, the spectrum disorders should still be able to function on some level, I am quite certain that Mozart born today to a middle class family that is struggling in someway, would be a very non-functional and damaged individual. Buddha needed to remain safe behind his family’s walls until he felt compelled to leave on his on terms, with rigid life schedules, public schools, the high cost of nurturing a rarer type of human thinker, it is nigh impossible to safely and sanely raise a child such as that, the stimulus is too great, the means of subsisting so chained to a rigid economic means of exchange, and the “Culture of Personality” a la Susan Cain demeans that which is not extroverted, contrary to the facts and statistics that show great value in both approaches to life, this stuff is harmful to us. Especially a verbal pattern person like me, not only do I see the great thoughts of great teachers over and over again, I see the insults, the demeaning language, the failure to even attempt to understand another perspective, and it horrifies me, because it is everywhere, unless you disconnect from the internet and never go into a town center, it overwhelms me these days, crap I digressed.
So finding one’s baseline, I used the Myer’s-Briggs because it was adequate for the task, not going to ignore 100 years of qualitative observation, I am just baffled that it has remained un-grounded in neuroscience as long as it has, seriously, the introvert vs extrovert stuff is a metabolic function, now it has gained more depth in my mind of late, for example, the use of energy by extroverts during testing, the effects of forced focus for too long for some folks can be noticeable in the form of mental fatigue as well. Science seems to indicate that mental fatigue is far more than a caloric deficiency though, so though Introversion vs Extroversion is inherently in my mind a data processing vs data intake metabolic function, the act of suppressing one’s tendencies to accomplish something required has a distinct drain. I know mental fatigue well, there is a correlation between forcing one’s self to do things they find hard, or overwhelming, or just unpleasant. Mental fatigue is a definite factor in fighting against one’s own inherent nature, thus by finding one’s baseline way of thinking, you are able to stop attacking yourself as someone with a fault, understand how you think, and once you do, you can direct your growth consciously in areas of interest.
The problem for me right now, is that my path to mental health has inhibited my ability to function in society, how screwed up is that? I still cannot articulate the difference in my understanding of my own differences, the hyper-sensory functions I managed to long suppress, and I mean that, it is substantial, I now have to wear sunglasses most places, but it sure beats my looking at the ground all the time (made me fairly good in Archaeology, Prof and I used to joke about how we made bad tourists constantly scanning the ground, but we sure did manage to find a decent chunk of lost change over our lives). When you get rid of the cultural detritus, the internalized socio-cultural epistemologies that are damaging too you, you do in some ways really have to start again. I remember many times, and it still happens now, looking at my body and just wondering when I got so old, it is like my conscious mind continued to progress as an adult, but the subconscious baseline that was repressed, has finally thrown off most of the shackles of self doubt and fault, reset to being a child, and it makes sense. I have to relearn things from my baseline way of thinking, so in many ways I did revert to a childlike mental state in some areas, the temper tantrums are going away though, I understand my frustration as a the basis of most of my anger, and I am able to put that into a healthy context. But at the same time, holy crap I suck at day to day living, I do not like leaving my house anymore right now, though I frequently want too, but I am so scattered, so all over the place with only my growing understanding of autism and my faulty context and human communications parity equation giving me any real focus at all.
Right now, I am still earnestly trying to wrap my mind around multiple things, I have ordered some books written by people with Asperger’s but my bias is already chewing at something I do not have context for, I see in one of the books that it has devoted some time to “fitting in” and I tell you what, that sounds far more ominous to me than beneficial, I worry I will see yet again more well intentioned advice that sends a subtle message that we are different, and because we are different we have to change our persona to fit the dominat social model, and I call Bullshit, pure and simple. It would be better to humanize our behaviors so other people understand them, accept them, and do not fear them out of ignorance. I refuse to go back to being what everyone wanted me to be, expected me to be, I am sick of going into public and fighting my own natural tendencies, which are not insane, or crazy, or anything else, they might be grounding behaviors, my be a reaction to over stimulus, I might just be thinking and dis-associating from my current surroundings as much as possible to chase a great chain of logic in my head…not fault, and society is fully capable of making room for this, as a child if I failed to notice or respond or stand up to an elder, I was chastised and punished for failing in my manners, which the bulk of the time were not all that bad, but one slip up, one mistake, and back I went to being the bad kid, the devil child, the questioner, the one who could not hold still and sit through class, and when I cracked with anger under the frustration, it again was all my fault, my difficulties, I was the issue and that is not the fucking case, yes my problems were an issue that needed to be addressed in the form of how extreme my difference was, but I never deserved to be beaten (EDIT: on the way to school, sheesh that could have been read in a few ways), I did not deserve to have to go out and pick my own willow switch, for fucks sake I am hyper-sensory, do you know what that experience does to the hyper-sensory, to get spanked yet again for a miscommunication or a misunderstanding, see I am not against logical consequence and punishment, but adults…you had best be goddamn sure that the behavior you are seeing is what it is, and in the case of my childhood, no one around me had a damn clue, and as a result of ignorance, the belittling and fear of difference, I suffered unnecessarily, and that sucks big time, it did a lot of damage, and now at 37 years old I get to put humpty dumpty back together again. So let’s stop this, we must clear the air and not just let a few folks talk about the experiences, we need a massive effort to communicate and discuss this, and right now it is all over the place, trying to find good science amongst psuedoscience amongst the desperate attempts by adults to understand what the hell is going on. And in my case and other’s it takes so long to get a solid sense of self identity because society is constantly attacking, devaluing, and demeaning difference, and this our healthy self identity becomes a flawed self identity based on internalized faulty bullshit. Ok I am gonna stop here, I a dropping “bullshit” and f-bombs again, means my frustration level may begin to interfere with my thought process.
But know this, as calm and compassionate as I often am, I am also angry, and rightly so, we must make room for difference, we must allow for the self-determination of people within a robust and healthy social contract, to do anything less is to continue to sentence some of us to an unintentional hell, and I mean it, the fear, the self loathing, the masochistic vigor of self destruction in an effort to root out fault…that was never there in the first place, just difference, and difference has value, i am not gonna go all Aldous Huxely and recommend that based on inherent epistemologies folks have a self-determined role, that role needs to be discovered based on our baseline and difference, but yes as a social species, we do have folks better at certain things, it makes sense, my best friend is far quicker to act on information than I will ever be, he is more of a leader, but I can generate so many possible scenarios in just a matter of moments, then I pick the best and most likely using mental tools like Occam’s razor, relay them to my friend, he integrates the new information and takes a definitive course of action, it is synergy. We seem to despise the notion of accepting limitations in ourselves, it sets us up for big falls when our expectations are crushed under the weight of object reality or when someone proves us wrong, and a host of other bullshit. I rely on my intellect as one of the foundations of my self esteem and sense of self, but to assume I am not allowed to be wrong, make mistakes, and fail in internalized fault or pure hubris, my self esteem should never suffer because I was wrong about something, I once hear this and I will paraphrase it as my conclusion, wish I remembered the source, and I apologize for not being able to give credit on this “Show me a perfect man, and I will show you someone who has never attempted anything at all.”