Autism, Asperger's and Atheism

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Autism, Asperger's and Atheism

It's a language barrier and social barrier that's rough enough to work through without the added ick of religious platitudes. Whether you have it, know someone who does, or are just interested in knowing more, all are welcome!

Members: 54
Latest Activity: Oct 19, 2013

Autism.

It is the hot buzzword, the disorder du jour, but I dare you to find a news soundbite that even attempts to explain what it really is. At its core it's a language barrier. While science is still struggling to map the mystery that is the human brain, Autism definitely appears to be a sort of hearing-impairment (or profound deafness depending on what end of the scale you're on) in those processes that handle empathic communication, reading-between-the-lines, intonation, body-language, facial expressions, and other communication that takes place outside of, in between, through and around the literal words we speak.

But don't take this to mean we lack empathy or emotion, or can't tell when someone is mad at us. It's that a process which, for the Neurotypical (NT) brain, is subconscious, automatic, instinctive, for us is more of a conscious, active process. The NT child automatically reads Mom's face. The Autistic child, to whatever degree, is having to consciously study, learn and memorize which facial expression means what.

Other elements that go along with this language barrier often include hypersensitivity in one or more of the 5 physical senses (now you know why your Aspie coworker really can't stand the florescent lights or particular source of white noise in the office). Autistics tend to hone in on details of an otherwise larger picture, commonly manifesting into our "specialized interests;" self-taught experts on anything from sports stats to music or film trivia, to planes, trains, or a gem collection. Some are savant-level skilled at their area of interest (and in the workplace this can be a superpower advantage when that singular task needs tons of attention). Many Autistics are high-IQ and are often overly logical and objective in conversation. We are Spock or Data to your Captain Kirk or Picard. We are the kids who got beat up on the playground for trying to intellectualize our way out of a fight at the swing set.

Overall, Autism is a marked difference in how our brains take in and process information. For some, it's profound enough to be a true disability. For Aspies or High Functioning Autistics, the 'disability' is because we're outnumbered by NT coworkers, classmates, family members. But don't mistake social awkwardness for lack of job skill. Because we have a hard time with empathic communication doesn't mean we lack empathy. Just because we have a hard time connecting with people at times doesn't mean we don't want to. We appreciate the party invitation and if we turn it down because we're just not up for the exhaustive chore that is socializing-at-a-party, it's not a poor reflection on you. Really it's not! Some days that exhaustive effort is worth it. Some days, not so much.

And don't mistake our impairment in one way of communicating for a complete lack of ability to communicate. In fact, many an Autistic enters professions like mental health, sociology, anthropology. The fact that human communication is more of a conscious effort for us than the NT can actually end up making us very, very good at reading human behavior. We're just seeing/reading/experiencing it from the opposite side of the auditorium so to speak!

Could it be mirror neurons?

Fantastic overview on how mirror neurons work (or don't).

And from the same site, an article refuting the mirror neuron theory.

It's both the beauty and frustration of science; especially in new, relatively unexplored territory!

Discussion Forum

Theory of Mind

Started by Stuart Bechman. Last reply by Steph S. Feb 11, 2012. 8 Replies

In rooting around the internet for information on autism and asperger's syndrome, I came across several references to something called "Theory of Mind".Calling it a "theory" is a bit of a stretch. …Continue

Tags: conclusion, sports, personal, identity, logical

We are the skilled, reliable, loyal employees. So why so hard to hold onto a job?

Started by Jo Jerome. Last reply by Steph S. Feb 11, 2012. 18 Replies

So I've formed a theory - ok, more like an observation - and just bounced it off a friend; woman who counsels parents of special needs kids and thusly is well versed in issues such as Autism. The…Continue

Tags: politics, boss, coworker, office, job

Introversion and Asperger's....amazing overlaps!

Started by Aggiememenon. Last reply by Steph S. Feb 11, 2012. 1 Reply

Read this article and replace the word "Introvert" with "Aspie" and see if it still doesn't hold (mostly) true. …Continue

The dating double liability: Atheist AND Aspie...

Started by Aggiememenon. Last reply by Steph S. Jan 15, 2012. 1 Reply

Let's face it, we're a minority within a minority.  We're already members of "America's most distrusted minority" = i.e. atheists, but on top of that, we're also Aspies on the Autism spectrum.My…Continue

Any other parents of children with autism?

Started by Grace Fitzpatrick. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 20 Replies

My daughters are both on the mild end of the spectrum.  The oldest has more problems socially than the youngest.  We finally got a diagnois for her when she was three.  We tired to get therapy for…Continue

"Temple Grandin" and "Snow Cake."

Started by Jo Jerome. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 3 Replies

Just finished watching "Temple Grandin." First and foremost Claire Danes TOTALLY needs an award. It's one of those performances where you completely forget who the actor is and just get wrapped up in…Continue

Tags: Cake, Sigourney, Weaver, Snow, Grandin

Temple Gradin (The Movie)

Started by Grace Fitzpatrick. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 8 Replies

For those who don't know her, Temple Gradin is a woman with autism who grew up in the 50s and became very successful in the cattle business.  She went on to write a number of books about autism and…Continue

So, does Autism increase one's resistance to the religion virus?

Started by Jo Jerome. Last reply by Aggiememenon Jan 11, 2012. 17 Replies

Simply put, we tend to use more prefrontal cortex to compensate for our lack of instinctive/empathic communication. We tend to be more objective, more logical, more likely to require evidence before…Continue

Comment Wall

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You need to be a member of Autism, Asperger's and Atheism to add comments!

Comment by Kritzia on April 1, 2013 at 12:08am
I noticed it"s been a while since we've had any activity up here. I'm a mother of a 31 month old with autism. I recently ended the therapy provided to us by the state. We've been so much happier and so has my son. He's started copying us, making more eye contact and saying more words. He is such a happy and fun kid. I just fail to see how anything is all that "wrong " about him and I'm ready to live whatever kind of life we get.
Comment by Steph S. on June 13, 2012 at 5:31pm

Thanks for the articles Dustin.

Comment by Dustin Arand on June 13, 2012 at 5:19pm

Btw I've never been diagnosed with Aspergers, though I did score a 41 on Baron-Cohen's AQ test, and I think the Scientific American article I linked to below succinctly sums up my experience feeling intellectually alienated from the religious culture of the Midwest where I grew up.

Comment by Dustin Arand on June 13, 2012 at 5:17pm
Comment by sk8eycat on June 7, 2012 at 9:48pm

Colored underwear?  LOL!  Excuse me, but you must be at least 2 generations younger than I am (I'll be 73 in a few months...gack!  I don't feel it at all!); when I was a kid, and even a teen, everybody wore white underwear...girls, boys, men, women.  A girl who wore black bras, etc., was considered a slut.

Oh, well.  At least you didn't have to wear "magic" Mormon underwear.  Gross!

Comment by Marc Draco on June 7, 2012 at 8:31pm
Probably explains why I eschewed being cuddled. Oddly enough I'm ok with it now, but back then it have me the heebies. Mind you, so did wearing coloured underwear, despite everyone in my peer group doing precisely that.
Comment by sk8eycat on June 7, 2012 at 8:08pm

Marc, It's true!  When my sister had hysterics and ran home screaming from kindergarten every day (until they took her out of school for a year - in 1950) NObody knew what to do about it.

They didn't even know much about autism back then; usually blamed it on the mother...that she wasn't warm and cuddly enough.  Or something.

I remember when my sister was about 6 months old, seeing Mother holding her and crying because she didn't respond to hugs and kisses.  Our mother loved little children, and to be "rejected" by her own infant was devastating.

That's one of the (many) reasons I was afraid to have any children of my own.  And I didn't.  No regrets, either.  I have my "fur children."

Comment by Marc Draco on June 7, 2012 at 5:43pm

I just found out (!) that Aspergers wasn't recognised in the UK until 1994! So that's why everyone thought I was just a naughty boy!

Comment by Aggiememenon on June 6, 2012 at 9:32pm

I have noticed that I have, as a defense mechanism, tended towards paranoia and cynicism as (over-)reactions to coping with the NT world.  It's not much of an exaggeration to say I'm generally distrustful of everyone and usually assume the worst about people until proven otherwise.

I've met other Aspies that are far too trusting/gullible and seem to have a history of getting taken advantage of...but I probably go to far in the other direction.

Comment by toriauru on May 21, 2012 at 4:03pm

Another thing that I get a lot is "you're rude" or "you're so outspoken" or "you're very uncaring".  Um, no?  I don't wrap facts in tact, like society demands we do.  I call a spade a spade and people rightly or wrongly see this as being the above: rude, uncaring, boorish, or uncouth.  All of which I never intended to be.  Like this whole business of Obama coming out in favour of marriage equality.  I'm not shy in saying "yeah, go Obama, right on, that's the right attitude".  But I know that that is seen as an assault of others value.  Well fuck them and their values. It's still wrong and I'm not afraid to say "hell yes, your version of marriage is stupid".  Hence, I'm called "rude".  Can't win, some days, can we?  Anyhow, I am what I am:  caring,  honest, forgiving, and a wonderful mother and wife.  Fuck those who don't like me.

 

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