Monday, September 14, 2009

Article: Life as an Aspergian female (Part 2a)

I've already covered part one of this article but it was so intriguing that I felt I should cover part two as well. I read it when it was first posted but have been so busy lately that it's taken a while to get to it.

If you haven't read it, the article is on John Elder Robison's excellent blog;

Part II of the Female’s View of Asperger’s guest post

  • Apologies and Disclaimers
    The article starts out with apologies and disclaimers. They're a bit belated and I really think they should have been at the start of part one, but we "live and learn".

    I used to start my posts with disclaimers until my wife told me that they didn't make for good reading. I've since dropped them from my posts but they're always only a click away from the front page.

    Nearly everyone in blogging generalises in one form or another and although these generalisations can be harmful in promoting sterotypes, there's not a lot you can do about them without resorting to overly "fluffy" language.

    I find myself constantly correcting my own phrases, adding words like mostly, usually, often, nearly, "seem to" and generally. The aim is to break causuality and remove absolutes but sometimes I forget.

    Sometimes I re-read my posts and realise that I've accidentally made a generalisation but I don't correct it. I'll edit my posts immediately after posting to correct typing mistakes but I don't agree with editing content. If I've made a mistake, it sits there, a proud testament to my own humanity.

    My point here is not that Deborah McCarthy (she introduces herself in a later post), makes generalisations but that we, the readers, should probably concentrate on her wider message rather than on any mistakes in her posts.

    If nothing else, her posts serve to tell us how one particular aspie feels.

  • Suicidal
    I'm not sure that I agree with Deborah's claim that more people on the spectrum commit suicide than any other group but I do agree that depression is a major trait. Her figures came from a reputable source but seem only mildly supportable regardless. The rest of this section seems to be quite belief-centric and I've seen aspie beliefs at various extremes and everywhere between. I don't see that religious beliefs are particularly "driven" by aspergers though there does seem to be some effects.

  • Self-Absorbed
    Again, this is something I don't particularly believe in. It's perhaps because in my old age, I'm beginning to open up and see that everyone has a different perspective. It probably does describe me accurately about ten years ago.

    I guess that even today, I do come across as a self-absorbed person because although I think about others often, it's only relatively recently that I've begun to "experiment" with actually asking people about themselves. I still feel very weird when I do it. I wonder how many aspies are like this? In the NT world, actions and words speak considerably louder than thoughts.

  • Routines and Organizing
    I really can't argue with these points. They describe me perfectly.

  • Prefers Objects to People
    On first reading this heading I had a bit of a knee-jerk reaction but then as I read it, I started to relate.

    All of my objects do have a story to tell. As you may realise, I'm something of a collector of films, and I have large collection of Doctor Who DVDs (which are slowly replacing all my old VHS tapes of the series).

    I bought "An Unearthly Child" when it first came out on DVD and although I have some recent memories of purchasing it, it seems that the memories of the DVD are linked to memories of the VHS tape it replaces.

    My Nanna, who died over 20 years ago, gave me that one. It's a particularly special one because it's the first Doctor Who story. At the time, she asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I mentioned that tape because it would always sit at the front of my collection. That was because she came "first" in my life at that time (long before I was married).

    Her VHS present has long since been replaced but her memory wasn't with the object, it was with the concept of that object. It will be there forever and I can't watch it, can't even look at the label on the spine, without her memories flooding back.

    All of my objects have stories. All treasured gifts I have been given carry the person with them. I can remember being about six and treasuring a particular (and very beat-up) matchbox car because it was given to me by a friend of my father who tragically died shortly afterwards. He wasn't a relative and my parents almost never spoke of him a year or so after his death but his name lives on in the memory of the car he gave me.

    Yes, maybe I do prefer objects to people but its because it's not simply because of the objects themselves. It's because of the people connections they provide.

  • Prefers Solitude
    This is a weird one. Sometimes Aspies like solitude but sometimes they don't. I personally love alone-time and I have a feeling that if I were locked away from people but still with access to my special interests, that I wouldn't feel lonely at all. Of course, I've never ever been truly alone. I lived with my family until I moved out with my girlfriend who became my wife. I've never known any different.

    I get a completely different story from many of the aspies I talk to. They talk to me about loneliness.

    It's certainly true that aspies need a lot of alone-time to "recharge our batteries". Recently I said to my wife that a relative had used up my "empathy quotient" for the month and that while I feel for her condition, I really need to have some alone-time to build it up again. That's probably an accurate description of the need for alone-time.

    I don't think that the majority of aspies prefer solitude all of the time.

I'm only about half-way through an analysis of the post and I'm already pumping out too many words. It's a problem I have. My parents used to say, "Don't ask Gavin the answer to anything. He won't just give you the answer, he'll give you the history of how the answer was worked out.

I'll leave it here and continue in my next post.


Anonymous said...

I don't think disclaimers are a bad idea, provided you use them infrequently and are very concise.

I don't think generalisations are a problem if you get the right wording in. I guess it also depends on the relative importance of that particular topic. The more incidental and insignificant the point, the more generalised you can make.

I wouldn't be too worried about rambling on, it's your blog after all.e s

M said...

I'm certainly a big fan of generalizations. Without them, 99 percent of my communication would vanish.

However, i'm not completely comfortable with the direction she goes with a lot of the generalizations. I guess that's the key, the end result. The trend in her writing is to frame it as "Aspies Are Like This", and I think there's quite a bit of diversity in AS, how it impacts people. Even the diagnostic criteria can look very from person to person. So, it is interesting hearing her perspective, but I'm a little uncomfortable with that aspect of it.

Also...and this is just to nitpick, but in one of her comments she defended her statement regarding obese people by adding, "Eating meat causes obesity." I only mention it because it's an example of generalizations leading to a false conclusion. Overeating causes obesity, not eating meat.

I like your reactions, because of the way you go about it. You're not countering her statements by saying, "No, Asperger's is like THIS for everyone". You're just relating it to your own life, experiences. I think that's much more the way to go.

My comment is lengthy. Whoa.

Fanny said...

"Don't ask Gavin the answer to anything. He won't just give you the answer, he'll give you the history of how the answer was worked out."

That sounds like my father to me. And that's why I don't like it when he has something to say about responsibility, caring for others, etc. (which are the main topics that he talks over -with me-). He just won't get straight to the point, and I can't stay focused for a long time. I often don't know what he was talking about at all, or maybe I just remember half of it. He gives too many examples even if I say I did understand what he meant with the first one.

By the way, my father talks over that kind of things with me because I'm eighteen and it looks like he thinks I'm not responsible enough yet. I believe that all I need is a schedule.

Anonymous said...

re solitude.. i wld say its that most NT's are full of crap. also, i need massive dollops of time in countryside, still, quiet distant views to cleanse me of the dross attracted like a magnet of ordinary days. cannot work among others. as a self diag aspi i wld say i enjoy talkng to others tho it has to be a certain kind of person that can keep up with me and / or accept me ... and not necc bright or learned. I have a rythmn of three days work (max) then a day off .. gotta or my safety valve blows. state (uk) trick cyclist refused to acknowledge me as aspi .. tho I am screaming aspi ... twit!