longwing: (Infohazard)
Considering Asperger's from a dyslexic's perspective, you'd think I'd be more inclined to defend the legitimacy of Asperger's. I'm not. If anything, it makes me a harsher critic. Are most Aspies legitimate, or victims of a culture of over diagnosis? Is it truly a disability when it doesn't significantly impact one's ability to function? Aspies have a lot of trouble getting dates and interacting in social situations. We have a word for that: Geek.

It's worth pointing out that the number of Asperger's diagnosed individuals rises sharply in the Geek subculture. Proponents of the disease claim that our subculture lends itself well to the acceptance of people with Asperger's. This may well be the case, but if you read the symptom list for Aspergers, it looks an awful lot like a psych profile of the standard brainy geek. A number of the symptom lists read like astronomy charts: "Aspies are bad at math, except for some rare cases that are significantly better at math." Really? So what you're actually saying is that mathematical aptitude has nothing do do with your syndrome, because there's no pattern. Why include mention of math at all? The symptom lists cast a wide net, with a lot of opportunity to get yourself caught.

So on it's face, I'm quickly inclined to disbelieve in Aspergers; but dyslexia stops me from making a snap judgment. I know what it's like to have a disability that no one can see, and that no one really understands.

So I'm left torn. In a culture of massive over diagnosis, is Aspergers merely a parent's attempt explain their child's inability to socialize? In a society of massive stigma against mental disabilities, is such a judgment just motivated by prejudice?

I don't know.
longwing: (Infohazard)
For me considering Aspergers, will always be framed by my personal journey through a completely unrelated mental disability.

I'm severely dyslexic. I know what it is to have a genuine handicap that exists entirely inside my skull. Nothing separates a dyslexic from a crowd. This leaves people constantly suspicious. Dyslexia is often thought of as an excuse to avoid work or to forgive shoddy writing.

For a long time, I mentioned my dyslexia in casual conversation. I felt it was important that people knew about it. I wanted them to see a functioning dyslexic who hadn't been beaten down into pretending to be normal.

I stopped.

Why? Because no matter how open or approachable I tried to be, I felt it did more harm than good. Normal people don't believe in dyslexia, not really. Only other dyslexics believe in dyslexia. Even then, we're so doubtful that we start testing our fellows, we wonder if they're ~really~ dyslexic. "Oh? How many grades of special ed? What's you're WPM? You still flip characters or is that just me? When did you learn to spell?"

We're so suffused in the popular notion of false dyslexia that we turn on each other. And why not? We dyslexics live our entire lives with this condition. I don't know what it's like to be 'normal', because this inner universe is my 'normal'.

The inside of my head isn't really all that fascinating, it's pretty mundane in here. Just every now and again, for no reason at all, I flip a digit or reverse an S. With dyslexia, you start to think we're not ~really~ sick; you're just whining. Oh sure, I should type about twice as fast as I do, and I can't spell to save my life, but are those dyslexia? Aren't they just shortcomings because I'm lazy? Am I bad with names because of the way I'm wired, or am I just a careless person who doesn't really like people?

Trick question. All of that is dyslexia. Even the doubt. The doubt isn't wired in, but it's caused by dyslexia all the same. Dyslexia sneaks up on you. I don't actually ~see~ flipped digits or reversed symbols. I'll read a number off a slip of paper (301-555-5289), then I'll dial it into the phone (301-555-2589) and be confused by the wrong number. What? 5289? Of course, That's exactly what it says. How did I miss that? I'm being careless, lazy, stupid...

No.

I'm being dyslexic.
longwing: (Infohazard)
I fell down a rabbit hole last week night. The internet is full of them, someone really should do something about it before they eat all the eCarrots and iLettuce. The hole in question: Wrong Planet, an internet community for people with Aspergers Syndrome.

You know that really creepy feeling you get when an extremely observant person tells you what you're thinking or how you're feeling? No? Trust me that it's very disconcerting. We like to think of ourselves as individuals, unique to ourselves, and ruled by intellect instead of biology, so it's really eerie to see dozens of people thinking the same way you think. It's like staring at a troop of actors who've all been hired to mimic your movements and expressions.

I was left with a distinct lack of sleep, and an overwhelming sense of "holy crap, that's ~me~!" Problems I've always considered to be quirks of my own personality turn out to fit a distinct and identifiable profile.

Do I have Aspergers? I don't know, but the odds are pretty high. Before I can be comfortable with such a diagnosis, I need to consider my feelings towards the 'condition' itself.

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longwing

September 2010

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