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 Katie on April 26, 2010 at 7:13am
I was diagnosed with Asperger's last year. Thanks for putting this group together :)
Comment by Sandra Stott on April 24, 2010 at 8:29pm
My oldest child has aspergers, she's 24 now, and my youngest son, age 11 is being screened for it. I haven't read the threads in here yet, but I see one of them is about autism and religion. I was still a christian when I raised her, so she's firmly entrenched in religion. I will not attempt to take it from her because once when I tried to talk to her about not believing in god she went completely off the charts and had to be calmed down by the staff at the group home in which she lives. I don't think she ever will come around, but I have to say, my trying to take care of her through her disability, and the hostility that was wrapped around it (her dad had a dysfunctional attitude about her and she responded in kind) was the impetus to my becoming atheist. Started me thinking about god, lack thereof etc.
Comment by Jo Jerome on April 7, 2010 at 10:46pm
Welcome Jacob. I'm not official either. Here in AZ only a psychiatrist can make it 'official' and insurance will only pay for one if I'm seeking medication, which I'm not.

But unofficially ... I'm in a support group here and have talked to a few 'experts' off the record. The general consensus has been 'welcome to our world.'
Comment by Jared Lardo on April 5, 2010 at 1:02am
High sensitivity, introvertedness, and requiring a larger number of data points before taking action: http://www.physorg.com/news189428801.html. It seemed interests-relevant as I started reading it.
Comment by Jo Jerome on April 5, 2010 at 12:29am
->Jared ... Very cute web page! Although out of sympathy for NTs I'd add some of the positives. E.g.:

- NTs seem to have a savant-like gift for communicating almost telepathically with one another through complex codes in eye contact, intonation and body language.

- Due to their diminishment in the 5 physical senses they often have the ability to tolerate otherwise intolerable environmental elements, such as fluorescent lights, multiple TVs or radios going at once, polyester.

- NTs have remarkable ability to socialize with other NTs, which can come in handy. For instance, if you wish to get invited to the VIP lounge at the nightclub, bring along an NT friend who can 'flirt' her way into the lounge for you.
Comment by Jo Jerome on April 5, 2010 at 12:15am
April is Autism Awareness Month!

*Checks around* Yup. I'm still aware of it.
Comment by Little Name Atheist on April 4, 2010 at 11:28pm
I am here because of the amassed jewel-like brains. I am a big fan of teh shiny. Also, it helps me work on my TOOM (Theory of Other Minds).
Comment by Jared Lardo on April 4, 2010 at 8:55pm
Stumbler'd upon this site: http://isnt.autistics.org/. It should be relevant to your interests.
Comment by Jo Jerome on March 30, 2010 at 8:41pm
Thanks for your *cough*faith*cough* Herr. The group is sticking 'round for good now, I promise!
Comment by Herr G. on March 30, 2010 at 6:31am
*Joins in for the third time*
*sigh*
 

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