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: 56
Latest Activity: Nov 12

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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Comment by Aggiememenon on May 17, 2012 at 6:17pm

Fish, there was news recently of research showing that people with ASD's reject teleological reasoning almost reflexively.  For example, a neurotypical theist will experience something in their lives and then ask "what is God trying to teach me with this?"; A neurotypical Atheist hears this and has to think through how this doesn't actually make any sense.  But our ASD brains jump straight to "that's bullshit. Stuff just happens, dude."; Indeed, I've always hated with a passion the common admonition of "everything happens for a reason", usually said with an insipid smile.  I find it infuriating.  More than once I've posted on Facebook by way of response "sometimes bad sh*t happens to good people for no goddamn good reason at all, and you are a shallow person indeed if you deny this basic tragedy of the human condition."; I usually garner a few "likes" for this from other atheist folks on FB.

Comment by Steph S. on May 14, 2012 at 12:43am
Fish I am so happy to hear that you don't have to depend on your parents and that you are independent! How wonderful!
Comment by The_Fish on May 14, 2012 at 12:10am

btw, sorry for the bad grammar. I am doing this on my mobile phone.

Comment by The_Fish on May 14, 2012 at 12:08am

Thank you for all of your support, especially Jedi and Steph! :)

@Rose I never been to an autism group unfortunately, but it sucks that parents have to force the religious BS on their children. I don't know if such research exists, but I would not be surprised if autistics\aspbergers have a better chance of being non-religious. Even though we went to church every Sunday, I can never understand the concept of what people call "god's teachings." I can never concentrate on what the priest talks about. Because of their parents, those who are autistic\asperger have to be dragged in to religion just because since they are more likely to be dependent on them, they have no choice. I am glad I am on the spectrum level where I don't have to depend on my parents. I am even living on my own without any government assistance. Don't you think that their strengths with math\science connect to possible chances that they could be less religious than those who are not autistic\aspergers? If I had the money, I would do a research like this.

Comment by Marc Draco on May 13, 2012 at 5:10pm

Eek! Rose & Fish. I can't stand being around creationists and if I meet one I tear them to pieces.

I can't imagine what it must be like living in America around these bufoons.

Comment by Rose on May 13, 2012 at 3:20pm

Hi Fish, not personally, but I think I know what you mean. I have a 19 yo with asperger's and every time we try to get involved with some autism group we meet sooooo many families who are ultra religious and I feel so badly for their kids. Sometimes I think that aspies wouldn't feel nearly so self conscious if they didn't have to deal with the anxieties that are caused just by religion and the religious people around them. My son just wants to make friends but where we live any friend he seems to find comes with religious parents. 

Comment by Steph S. on May 13, 2012 at 11:27am
Jedi is right Fish. Avoid those people and disregard what they told you!
Hope everyone is doing good.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on May 13, 2012 at 10:37am

My son has autism, so I don't know if maybe I have some predisposition to it or not but Prozac definitely did not help my anxiety either. In any case, sorry to hear about that Fish, the fact of their ignorance only hurts matters. Ignore such comments and avoid such people. Welcome to our community though!

Comment by The_Fish on May 13, 2012 at 1:59am

I am in my 20's and I have autism. People that I usually I run into don't notice it. I still do get a lot of anxiety when I talk to people, especially if it is in a group setting. My parents are strictly Catholic and almost everyday, I hear a lecture from them telling me that they "thank god" for giving them miracles that I my autism is mild. I even feel anxious to talk to people who are like minded because I am always afraid what they will think of me. I do take Prozac for my anxiety, but I feel like it doesn't help. 

Comment by Steph S. on February 11, 2012 at 12:34am
Things actually worked out with that friend of mine. So good news here.
 

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