Depathologizing Asperger’s / autism ~ it’s a normal and healthy neurological orientation

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a very long time.  The thought struck me sometime in April of this year, shortly after realizing that I was most likely on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.

At that time, a whole new world was opening its arms and welcoming me.

Suddenly, Asperger’s/autism was not what I thought it was–nothing at all.

Suddenly, my background in neurology, a fellowship program that I had stopped just short of completing, came to my side, as did my genomics (genetics) background.  The two came together to lightning-strike me with a sudden theory: Asperger’s/autism is a normal and healthy neurobiological/neurophysiological variant.

That’s right.  Autism is not a disease.  It’s not some “monster” that “locks us up” in a “cage” (at least, not for many of us).  It doesn’t “steal” us or “distort” who we are.  It doesn’t corrupt us, tangle us, or hover like dark clouds over us.  It shapes who we are; it’s not some extraneous optional appendage that if only we could just drop or shed, we would somehow be “whole” or “pure” or free.

In fact, it’s not the theoretical “cure” for autism that would set us free; our freedom is often sensed when we finally reach our realization, discovery, and/or diagnosis.  That’s when we might finally feel free.

WOW.

I invite you to come on a (rather scenic) journey with me… 🙂

As I delved further into the subject of Asperger’s/autism, it became strikingly apparent how similar the struggles of us, the people on the autism spectrum, are to those of the LGBT/LGBTQQIA community in decades past (and some would–not incorrectly–argue that those challenges continue today).  The neurodiversity and LGBT movements share quite a few common parallels.  This especially holds true for those for whom their autism spectrum status is discovered in adulthood.

Once upon a time, “homosexuality” was regarded as a disease, a disorder, a mental illness.  It was even listed in the DSM, under its own entry.  It had a diagnostic code and everything (302.0).

Society at large made all kinds of ridiculous assumptions.  The accusations were endless… Their mothers were incompetent, they said, failing to bond with them as infants.  They’d been abused or neglected as children.  Or they were burned in a relationship with the opposite gender and now they’re “trying” on the other gender for size, shunning all members of the opposite gender.  Or they’re perverted, mentally ill, deranged, twisted, or otherwise sick.  Or they were tempted by the forbidden fruit or possessed by the devil.  Or some other shit.  And it was indeed shit.

Horrible “treatments” were forced upon many in the LGBT community.  These were all heinous attempts to “cure” their “disease”, to “turn them straight”.  Ha.  To prevent potential triggers, I’ll spare the gory details here, but suffice it to say that the “treatments” were essentially the same as the more controversial ones many of us are still subjected to today….and of course, the lasting equally-horrible effects are the same as well.

As a result, non-heterosexuals have often found themselves (ourselves) having to mask and act.  As children, we may have wanted to play with opposite-gender classmates, but resigned ourselves to those of our own gender, out of apprehension involving being perceived as “strange”.  We may have even wanted to play with opposite-gender-geared toys (I know I did, and I was pretty open about that; I didn’t “know better”).  We may have tried to mask our gender identity by pretending to be interested in activities and objects that we really didn’t care for.  As adults, we may have dated–or even married–opposite-gender partners.  We may have even produced biological children.  While many of us have known all along that we were different, others of us may have even thought that we were “straight”, until later on, well into adulthood; some of us are just gender-divergent enough to not fit the social “default” of cis-hetero identity, but sometimes not divergent enough to notice any blatant difference or to call our identities into question.  (That’s exactly what happened to me.)

Finally, around 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and several other related professional associations saw the light.  There had been growing discord over the idea of “homosexuality” as a disease or disorder, and finally, it was removed from the sixth or seventh printing of the DSM-II in 1974.  Failing to generate enough evidence that it met the criteria of mental sickness, it was no longer considered a mental illness by the majority; it had been effectively depathologized.

Thank goodness.  It was about time.

Things aren’t perfect today, but society has made some vast improvements.  Members of the LGBT community are generally able to be much more open about their status, and “coming out”, once considered a rare and potentially life-shattering disclosure, is much more commonplace and it raises far fewer eyebrows.  That’s not to marginalize the situation and say that the process of coming out is not still risky–it definitely remains a heavy decision for many, and often (still) with negative ramifications.  But generally speaking, the gravity has very much lifted.

Other improvements include the evolution of terminology, from words like “sex” to words like “gender”, the adoption of “orientation” as an excellent non-inflammatory description, the concept of the gender and sexual orientation “continuums” (or would that be continuua?), and the inclusion of a variety of gender identities and orientations on what is evolving to be a spectrum of its own.  Now considered a protected class, there are at least a few layers of protection against hate crimes, discrimination, etc.  (I’m not naive enough to say that hate crimes and discrimination don’t exist anymore–they definitely still happen; these actions have not magically evaporated by any stretch.  But at least there is legislation in place, for whatever it may–or may not–be worth.  It’s better to have it than not.)  It was no longer considered a “deviance”.

In recent decades, we began to see research into the physical attributes of the brains across genders and sexual orientations.  This research (an excellent review is found at the first link at the bottom of this post) revealed anatomical, genetic, and epigenetic differences among the sexual orientation spectrum.  Suddenly, being LGBT was no one’s “fault” at all – not the mother, not any family member or friend of the family (who might’ve been pointed at for perpetrating inappropriate behavior that was thought to “turn” someone gay), not the person themselves, not having been “burned” by an opposite-gender partner, etc, etc.  It became plainly apparent that people are born the way we are.  And our orientation came to be an “operating system” of sorts that very much influences who we are.  Gender identity and sexual orientation are not just about who we have sex with, find ourselves attracted to, or show affection toward (or if we do these things at all); these factors influence practically every thought, action, decision, etc, in some way, every day, throughout our lives.  They’re reflected in the clothing we wear, the friends we keep, the way we talk, the way we think, the way we act, the subjects we’re interested in, our political and religious persuasions (if we have any), even at times the professions we choose–pretty much everything.  They “flavor” the whole person; take away their gender identity and sexual orientation, and you take away key components of our personality; what would remain is no longer the essence of US, but rather, a different person altogether.

The “story” of the LGBT thus far reveals some striking parallels shared by the autism spectrum community.  Societal assumptions and misconceptions, the pathologizing of what is actually a healthy difference (and not a sickness), the medicalizing of “deviance”, the (dead-wrong) premise that it’s a “behavioral issue” (as opposed to neurophysiology), the assumption of a need for “treatment”, the particular “treatments” administered, the lasting negative effects of that treatment, the self-conscious comparison of oneself to the rest of society, the acting and masking, the self-discovery and resulting relief/liberation (in many cases), the coming-out process and the difficulty/fear and risks faced when doing so, the realization of the influence of the “operating system” on the whole person, the raising of awareness, the activism, the concept of a spectrum classification, the profound impact on identity…these are all key characteristics shared with the Asperger’s/autism spectrum community.

However, that’s where the two paths/stories begin to diverge…

What follows from this point forward is entirely my own perception, based entirely on my own experience and research; yours may vary (and that’s OK!)…

Society at large appears to be further along in its true awareness and acceptance of LGBT than for that of the Asperger’s/autism spectrum.  The American Psychiatric Association came to its senses in 1973-1974 and struck same-sex orientation out of the DSM altogether, whereas it is still (still!  In 2016) listed in the DSM-V as 299.0 (Autism Spectrum “Disorder” only), and in the ICD-10 system as F84.5 (for Asperger “Syndrome”) and F-84.0 (for Autistic “Disorder”).  This is baffling to me since we definitively know that Asperger’s/autism are absolutely not mental disorders at all; at best, they’re considered “neurodevelopmental ‘disorders'”.

LGBT membership seems to carry less stigma than does autism spectrum status.  Society in general does not tend to readily equate sexual orientation with incompetence, ineptitude, or psychopathology (at least, not anymore), whereas these attributes are routinely assigned to Asperger’s/autism.

The coming-out process appears to be a little easier for (many in) the LGBT community than it is for the autism spectrum community (second link at the bottom of this post).

The concept of Gay Pride is much-supported and considered healthy, whereas the concept of Aspie Pride is still frowned upon.

Asperger’s/autism is indeed a protected class under the Americans with Disability Act; however, in order to exercise your rights under that law and be granted its protections, you must have an official/formal diagnosis (which for a variety reasons, can be extremely difficult (especially for females) and/or potentially worrisome/risky (especially in the United States) to obtain).

Of course, since same-gender orientation is no longer pathologized as a “diagnosis”, then no diagnosis is needed; one can simply identify as a LGBT person and be automatically protected (which is exactly the way it should be).

However, Asperger’s/autism does appear to be a neurophysiological variant as well.  We are overwhelmingly of sound mind.  Many of us absolutely can lead “normal” lives (this is especially true if there is no other psychological/emotional/physical issue), especially with the right supports.  Many of us are indeed involved in healthy long-term relationships, some of us do indeed have children, many of us are indeed employed, many of us do indeed have talents/skills/abilities/etc, and many of us can and do express ourselves effectively, whether it’s through speaking, writing, another avenue, or a combination.  We are not deviant.  We are not mean-spirited.  We are not hate-filled.  We are not dangerous.  We are not unfeeling or uncaring.  We ARE capable.  (That doesn’t mean that we’re ALL capable of anything we put our minds to, nor do we have it “just as easy” as anyone else, however.)

Asperger’s/autism is NOT a sickness.

Looking back through time, there seems to be a tiny portion of the population that indeed exhibited Aspergian/autistic characteristics.  They perceived the world in a different way, a way sharply divergent (and even often downright oppositional) from the “rest of the world”.  They harbored unconventional opinions/thoughts about politics, religion, humanity, and the world itself.  They saw systems, connections, relationships.  They had ideas, visions, theories, revelations.  They were also perceived to be aloof, distant, strange, particular, extreme, and eccentric, by other people.  Many preferred to be alone, working for long hours in labs and workshops.  Many had irregular sleep cycles.  Some were known to be asexual.

That kind of sounds like some of the more “obvious” aspects of Asperger’s/autism…

These people weren’t mentally ill; they were just different.  And they have existed throughout the ages.

There also seems to be a genetic influence.  Parents of offspring on the spectrum exhibit a higher number of Asperger’s/autism spectrum traits themselves, even if they themselves don’t actually meet the Aspergian/autistic criteria (sixth link at the bottom of this post).  Research scientists are working (almost too) feverishly to uncover and identify the various genetic and epigenetic factors in Asperger’s/autism, and although they’ve uncovered many genes (I saw somewhere a list of 1500, although this was a while back and I can’t find the link now), the genetic associations vary widely and the lion’s share show conflicting conclusions across multiple studies and are therefore inconclusive right now.  But using myself as a familiar “case report”, I look at my own parents and I notice that although they are allistic (non-autistic), I can pick out which Aspergian/autistic traits they demonstrate (and very strongly, at that) and determine exactly whom I inherited each of the various characteristics from.

There also seems to be a devleopmental influence.  Theories involving oxytocin and testosterone exposures in utero are Hot Topics in the academic research community right now, and I can personally resonate with that.

But all of this research is for naught if it can’t be used to prove the fact that it appears to be a normal and healthy neurophysiological variant that manifests as a neurological orientation.

All of the investigation is useless if it’s not used to make the lives of the Asperger’s/autism spectrum community less stressful and more fulfilling.

All of the information gleaned is for nothing if it’s not used to help us become who we could potentially be, without trying to strip away our neurodivergent “operating system” and conform to the boring and nonsensical “ideals”, metrics, and principles of general society.

Asperger’s/autism does NOT belong in the DSM at all, for it is NOT a mental illness, psychopathy/psychosis, or behavioral in nature.

Asperger’s/autism is NOT simply some “buggy app” that our brain trips over while running, and thus must be “debugged” from our systems with the expectation that we will fundamentally be the same people we’ve always been, save for a “cleaner” post-“debug” system.  It doesn’t work that way.

Asperger’s/autism IS an “operating system” of its own; if you gut our operating system, you’ll end up with a blank hard drive that doesn’t do anything.  We would cease to be who we are.

Asperger’s/autism has ALWAYS involved 1-2% of the population–for centuries, or even millennia, or longer.

“Different” is NOT “defective”.

“Eccentric” is NOT “broken”.

“Neurodivergent” is NOT “mentally ill”.

We DO deserve to be able to partake in a Pride movement of our own, if we choose.

Because of the way our brains work, we should actually not only be free to disclose our status, but perhaps recruited for our abilities.  Our status should almost be a selling point, at least for various professions.

The American Psychiatric Association finally saw the light in regards to sexual orientation (yay!!); when will they see OUR light, too?

That is all.


Related Posts:

Depathologizing Asperger’s / Autism ~ The Diagnostic Criteria Edition ~ November 6, 2016

Depathologizing Asperger’s / Autism ~ In a Way, Neurotypical People Might Meet the Criteria Too ~ January 21, 2017

Further Reading:

The Genetics of Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior” – Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology; Oct 15, 2010; research study review; link to free full text.

Coming Out As Gay Was Easy; Coming Out As Autistic Was Hard” – The Establishment; May 17, 2016; no paywall.

Are We Protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act?” – discussion thread on WrongPlanet; no account needed for reading/lurking.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Diagnosis Barriers For Autistic Women and Girls” – Autism Women’s Network; Oct 17, 2013; no paywall.

Seeking Official Autism Diagnosis in the United States May Get (Much?) Riskier” – The Silent Wave post; Oct 10, 2016; (this blog).

Parents of Kids ‘With’ Autism More Likely To Have Autistic Traits” – LiveScience; July 2, 2014; no paywall.

Autism is a Normal Neurological Variance” – Rhi at AutNot, WordPress blog; July 31, 2016; no paywall.

Out of DSM: Depathologizing Homosexuality” – Behavioral Sciences; Dec 4, 2015; research study review; link to free full text.

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49 Comments

  1. What a fantastic post! I’ve never personally been able to see why homosexuality is considered “wrong”. Surely if two people make each other happy, everything else falls into insignificance. The similarities you draw on here are painfully true. People on the spectrum are not wrong or sick. I see out pragmatic approach to life as common sense and far more sensible than many “normal” ways of thinking. I always go back to a quote by Einstein;
    ” Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing it is stupid.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I love your entire comment 😊

      I’m totally clapping and cheering in agreement with what you said (in my head–it’s 2am here lol) 😉

      Einstein is one of my favorite role models, too! ❤️

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I wrote many of my thoughts in my own (just published) post, but I did want to specifically point out that in most of the United States there’s little or no protection for sexual orientation under the law. Here in Texas, for example, it’s perfectly legal to fire someone or deny them housing simply because they are gay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg!! Thank you so much for your info. I had no idea – that’s horrific! Part of me is really shocked by that (it’s almost 2017, after all, not to mention how cruel that is!) but part of me isn’t surprised (Texas finally struck down some of the antiquated and horribly-ignorant “sodomy” laws merely 13 years ago).

      I’m in Texas as well (howdy, neighbor!) 😊😊 – South Texas specifically. 💞

      I left the Republicans 14 years ago and joined the libertarian movement instead. I’ve never looked back, not once. I say Live and let live – liberty and justice (and equality) for *All*. I want to work to CHANGE this. ❤️❤️

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Texas actually defended the sodomy laws up to the US Supreme Court where they were struck down in Lawrence v. Texas. Those laws are still on the books and subject to the whims of future courts. Only a minority of states (the deeply blue ones) have implemented state level equal protections laws. There are no federal protections and SCOTUS has only extended equal protection status on the issue of marriage to date. And even that depends on the whims of future courts.

        I was never a Republican, though there was a time in the 80s and early 90s when I could find individual GOP candidates for whom I could vote. In my youth I considered myself independent with Libertarian leanings, though never as harshly as many. I’ve always believed we have a shared social responsibility to care for each other. As I grew older, I came to consider Libertarianism, at least in its common US manifestation as more of a young white male affectation that some (e.g. Paul Ryan and Ron Paul) never outgrow. But honestly, the term “libertarian” covers such a broad spectrum of potential beliefs today, it’s hard to fit under any single umbrella. Someone would almost have to detail each and every one of their individual opinions before I could express agreement or disagreement with those opinions.

        I still don’t consider myself a Democrat either, though I haven’t been able to find any political candidate for whom I could stomach voting at any level in Texas in more than 15 years.

        But yes, many freedoms and supports hang by a thread in the US. That’s been true, but is particularly true today.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Holy moly, I just read your utterly amazing post!! All I can say is “awesome!!” and all I can do is clap and cheer! This is fantastic! Everybody needs to head on over to Scott’s blog (linked to from his username above; I’m on my mobile phone and can’t switch browser windows without potentially losing my comment thus far) and read his post today! 😊👏🏼❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi. I am also a geneticist. I am on the autism spectrum and identify as asexual. Your message embodies exactly what I have been thinking for the last few years since I received my diagnosis and began researching asperger’s (funny, my autocorrect just changed asperger’s to superhero). Based on the numbers alone, it doesn’t make sense for asperger’s/autism to be a disorder. 1 to 2 % of the population is a significant portion of the population. From an evolution standpoint it wouldn’t make sense for a “defect” to be present at such a large ratio for such a long time. True genetic disorders are extremely rare and would be weeded out of the population before long due to the evolutionary disadvantage they pose. It is known that populations maintain certain genetic variants at lower percentages (1 to 2 % for example) because there is an evolutionary advantage to having a few people around with those unique characteristics. I believe those on the autism spectrum are one of those variants. I could go on for days with more examples to support this idea, but I will spare you that for now. In any case, I have been very interested in learning more about what is currently understood on the neurobiology of people on the spectrum. I see that you probably wish to remain anonymous, but I would really love to pick your brain as a fellow scientist.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow, thank you for your comment! I love your information, and I totally agree with your statement that spectrum conditions being so common, would be weeded out if they were indeed that much of a pathology. But instead, they persist (and some might say they’re increasing, whereas others would say we’re just getting better at recognizing them). And so, like you, I think they’re actually a normal and non-pathological variation. I support Temple Grandin’s notion that the world needs people on the spectrum. One stereotypical example would be Silicon Valley, but it doesn’t stop there 🙂

      That’s so neat that you’re a geneticist! Genetics are utterly fascinating to me. I even look at my cats and wonder what their parents looked like lol 🙂

      Anyway, thank you for your insight! Please feel free to post as much as you like about this; I think it’s really valuable information 🙂

      Like

  4. Thank you for your post, it is really well written and I agree with you. The only thing, though, is that people on the spectrum benefit from supports, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, etc., plus individualized learning help (my daughter, for example, is very strong in math, but has issues with creative writing, or even with word problems in math). How would you make sure people got those supports without a given diagnosis? Or even, how would they get supports at work, and protection from discrimination? I do understand the comparison with homosexuality, but being gay doesn’t mean you learn differently, while being autistic most likely does…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment! This is very true. Like your daughter, I now have an official diagnosis, since I might be going back to school and would benefit from having certain supports in place. To be clear, the ICD-10 (international diagnostic code system) currently has entries (and insurance-ready codes) for both Asperger’s and the autism spectrum; I do currently support the idea of maintaining these ICD-10 entries. My only claim is that since Asperger’s/autism have been proven to be neurodevelopmental conditions and not mental illnesses, it’s inaccurate and stigmatizing to continue to include them in the DSM (Diagnostic & Statistics Manual for Mental Disorders). Keeping it in the ICD-10 (or encouraging the locales that use the DSM to drop it in favor of the ICD-10, like we already do for any other health condition) would still maintain the supports that are currently in place, while bringing it in line with current scientific research/knowledge. I think it would actually be a very big win-win, with no downside that I can see. 🙂

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  5. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    I’ve been saying this too. But, I disagree with the point where you say this is where the LGBTQ/autism similarity comes undone. I think it’s more that the autistic movement is about 30 or so years behind the LGBTQ movement. People ARE now coming out as autistic, are now claiming it proudly, whereas in the past, either didn’t identify as autistic or were too scared/ashamed to do so.

    I’m 55 and I’ve seen the immense changes for the LGBTQ community over the past 38 years since I first began to be aware of being lesbian. I’ve only recently discovered and begun to identify as autistic and I am hugely confident that the autistic community will follow a similar path. There are for example Autistic Pride events starting to happen. Nowadays Gay Pride is a relatively safe, relatively mainstream thing in most cities of the Western world, and now often attended and celebrated by ‘everyone’ no matter their sexuality or gender orientation. I foresee the same happening for Autistic Pride some years into the future. AND I think that process will be a lot quicker for autism BECAUSE of the precedent of the LGBTQ movement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Thank you so much for your comment and sharing your thoughts! Actually we do agree because you’re right! 😊 I tried to say something closer to what you said but I didn’t express it as well. At the time of this writing (only two months ago lol, but a lot has changed in terms of my knowledge base 😊), I hadn’t been aware of the extent to which autistic people *were* “coming out” as autistic (publicly). But like I mentioned, a lot has changed for me – I’m now much more aware of people coming out in recent months and years, and I’m so excited to see that! I have high hopes for the coming years, as more of us start realizing our truths and telling our stories, and it becomes no big deal to be autistic. I long for that day, and I don’t think it’s too far off, given the massive progress I’ve become aware of. 😊

      Again, thank you very much for your comment! You make an excellent point ❤️

      Like

  6. I would go a lot further than saying that autism/Asperger’s isn’t an illness. The more I read and experience, the more inclined I am to say that there’s no such thing as autism. That is *not* an attempt to “disappear” people on the spectrum. Given the multitude of way in which the brain functions, all we can really say is that there will always be groups of people who have a large number of traits in common. When we label something as complex as brain function, all we’re doing is lumping together people who have some traits in common, but not others. In other words, we have something that can be broken down to an infinite number of groups or categories and trying to find a way to limit them. It’s understandable but unrealistic.

    Everyone is neurotypical and neurodivergent to one degree or another. Either one can be anywhere from invisible to something that clearly defines a person. I don’t think we can depathologize until we find more useful terminology. At the moment, neurotypical and neurodiverse are probably the best we can do.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for your comment! This is true! (At first I thought, huh? Which is why it took me a little while to respond–I wanted to think about it clearly and chew on it for a bit. And now I see! :). (Don’t worry – you’re fine – it’s my own processing…process 😉 ) )

      It’s true – I haven’t yet seen one person who is 100% NT or 100% neurodivergent; we’re on a grander continuum than the narrowly-defined autism spectrum (or range of neurotypicality) as it is described. The Myers-Briggs typing is but one example of this phenomenon.

      Thank you again for sharing your perspective! I like the way you think 🙂

      Like

      1. I have a habit of coming up with offbeat opinions that sometimes do inspire “huh?” So I appreciate it when someone takes the time to think it through. It would have been fine if you’d disagreed — more conversation.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hehe I get’cha 😊 I agree with the depathologizing, too – the terminology is woefully inadequate and lacking in specificity, accuracy, and clarity. I think that the powers that be involved with the writing of the manuals haven’t yet embraced the new information from the pioneering findings from the psychology and neurology realms. I personally think that there are probably several different etiologies of autism, and some people may not like the idea that Asperger’s is probably a whole separate thing (albeit with a lot of overlap with autism), but all the evidence that I’ve gathered points to this being true. (That doesn’t mean that I think one is superior to the other, just different.) 😊 But yeah, the diagnostic “experts” still haven’t quite grasped how the spectrum looks in females or adults, etc. And what seems to ring true for one instance of autism doesn’t explain or apply to another. Some have epilepsy, some don’t; some have gut issues, some don’t; some have a precocious talent, others don’t. Some experience more disability than others. Some are more prone to mutism, others are verbose with flowery expressive speech. There’s a really wide range of “presentation” or characteristics, and two people on the spectrum could exhibit totally different sets of traits and theoretically have very little in common. And yet, they’re all considered under the same umbrella. I’m not sure that’s very useful. So yeah, it’s still pretty muddy 😊 It’d be beneficial to start splitting hairs a little bit, just for the accuracy and applicability of the info we’re trying to establish. But that’s just my view of it ❤️

      Like

      1. LOL — I’m sure it will be considered “splitting hairs.” So be it. There are very good reasons why some people and organizations don’t want real clarity. I would include the “diagnostic experts.” I doubt they *want* to grasp the differences between females and males, adults and children, or acknowledge that a certain amount of overlaping isn’t an excuse to put everyone in the same bag. That would just complicate their job. The decision to eliminate Asperger’s as a separate diagnosis raised holy hell, much of it for the wrong reasons. But I suspect many aspies were probably struggling to figure out the root reason why the decision was wrong, and weren’t on an “Oh no, I’m not like *them*” ego kick.

        “Splitting hairs?” More accurately, it’s teasing out a tangled ball of threads.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. ^^ Totally agreed! A tangled ball indeed. I love that term – that’s great!! 👏🏼👏🏼

      Agreed, too, on the part about the separation having raised holy hell but for the wrong reasons. Personally, I’ve had a lot of contact with the community at large and observed a wide variety of different personalities, which, while all unique, can also be broadly classified into a few distinct patterns. I definitely identify with the Asperger’s pattern, which I’ve observed to be a slightly detached, less-outwardly emotional, more technological set that is either apolitical or politically independent, or perhaps subscribing to a third party; philosophical views are unconventional and relatively open. (This isn’t a compliment or a criticism; it’s a completely neutral assessment of what I’ve seen.) 😊 And then there’s another set that’s a bit more activist, particularly from the left (but sometimes from the right), who are more artistic in nature, and a bit more touchy-feely (again, not a criticism or compliment, just my perception). For the record, I think that the world needs all types, I love and care for all types, and I have friends of all types, many of whom I’ve become close with. I don’t think one type is better than another; they’re just different. I think we’re pretty much all cut from similar cloth; to use my OS analogy, we’re all running Mac systems in a Windows-based world; we just might be running different versions, and each version has its quirks, niches, advantages, and drawbacks. 😊

      I think you’re probably on to something, too, about the powers that be, not wanting to detangle the mess. There is indeed a *lot* of money raised, whether it’s via organizations (“charity”, “support”, etc), movie producers (Vaxed, etc), the scientific community (research studies, etc), and even crowdfunding by families or individuals. There are also the egos of the informational authorities who decided the current criteria, who don’t want to admit that they might have gotten it all wrong all this time. Showing the most dire of images of children said/thought to be on the spectrum pulls in more financial support, garners more sympathy, scares more people, makes better news headlines, and reinforces a(n artificial) “need” for continuing to consider us a pathology, which then is followed naturally by more “treatments” and “therapies” (with high price tags, of course).

      *Sigh* I think it’s going to be interesting LOL 😊😊

      Like

      1. Oh yes, those poor little poster kids for autism. Sort of like the photos of starving children in Africa. Always good to get people to dig into their pockets without much concern about where the money is actually going and who’s benefitting.

        You’re giving me lot of ideas that I want to pursue, but have to rein myself back to not get obssesive about it if I’m going to get anything else done.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Omg what a beautiful and kind intro! Extremely touched 😘💜. Thank you ever so much for reblogging! ❤️

      Like

  7. Reblogged this on Celebrating Individual Abilities and commented:
    It’s about self-acceptance and self-advocacy in the LGBT community have laid the groundwork for the same in the autism community. Noteworthy is the 2016 book, NeurTribes, by Steve Silberman. Silberman, long active in the gay community, has created a masterpiece about Autism acceptance. This blog article is in that way similar. Further reading with links is included.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. We’re a group of volunteers and starting a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with valuable information to work on. You have done a formidable job and our entire community will be grateful to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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