The Autistic Maelstrom …

The_Corryvreckan_Whirlpool_-_geograph-2404815-by-Walter-Baxter

In the new, updated edition of “The Autistic Spectrum” (2002), Lorna Wing offered on page 23 a brief history of the chaos which seems to continue to this day, surrounding risen and fallen efforts to decide the main, and sub-categories of what she identified as the Autistic Spectrum. In order to justify my statement, please allow me to quote:

“The changes in ideas about autistic disorders can be seen in the history of the two international systems of classification of psychiatric and behavioural disorders. These are the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) published by the World Health Organisation, and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association. The first edition of the ICD did not include autism at all. The eighth (1967) edition mentioned only infantile autism as a form of schizophrenia and the ninth (1977) edition included it under the heading of ‘childhood psychosis’.
The 10th edition of the ICD (1992) and the third (1980), third revised (1987) and fourth (1994) editions of the DSM take the modern view that there is a spectrum of autistic conditions and that they are disorders of development, not ‘psychoses’.”

On page 29 of the same book, Wing details the reasons for this nosologic maelstrom:

“When an autistic disorder is diagnosed, there is the further problem of deciding which sub-group in the spectrum the individual belongs to. Now that the term Asperger’s syndrome is being used more widely, parents and professional workers as well, want to know how it differs from other forms of autism. Since Asperger’s group, unlike Kanner’s, includes mostly those of average or high levels of ability, the main question is how to tell Asperger’s syndrome from high-functioning Kanner’s autism. There is no simple answer.” Because as she establishes further, while some individuals present all the features of either, other individuals fit neither of these symptoms precisely, having (as myself…) mixtures of features of both.

And we haven’t even touched the serious problem of symptomatic and existential gender differentials, which is becoming more and more obvious, at least for the individuals on the autistic spectrum, because for the diagnostic and assessment services (at least in the UK, in my understanding) the primary diagnostic differentials are only age related. However, the UK’s NAS (The National Autistic Society) proves a genuine awareness of the necessity for further research at http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/gender.aspx

To make things even more confusing, the DSM-5 published in May 2013, factually canceled Asperger’s as a separate diagnosis and included it as an autism spectrum disorder, with adjacent severity stages. It mentions nevertheless, that “Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.”

But if one may think that the ICD-10 is of any better clarity, a quick look at its ‘F84.5 Asperger syndrome’ entry, reveals an opening statement which I would call at least seriously problematic: “A disorder of uncertain nosological validity“, as I’m not really sure that a standard international classification should be based on anything “uncertain”.

The reason for the rather thought-twisting title of this post, can be found in a well hidden -in plain sight- introductory statement, on an oddly placed (right after the front cover page, without obvious authorship or number) page of Uta Frith’s “Autism and Asperger syndrome” (2010) edited book, which opens its last phrase with the statement “Current opinion on Asperger syndrome and its relationship to autism is fraught with disagreement and hampered with ignorance”, followed nevertheless by the reassurance that the book “gives the first coherent account of Asperger syndrome as a distinct variant of autism …” I have insofar found the attempts to systematize Autism maelstrom-like, because as their aquatic correspondents, they absorb all concepts and definitions in their way, just to scatter them on devastated, more or less scientific ocean-floors, without seemingly ever considering that behind words and terminologies, are real-life human beings, suffering the oftentimes indifferent detachment of those we trust(ed) for a better life…

And this very statement would be exactly the conclusion-prelude to a series of open enquiries attempting to discover the adult, gender specific understanding of first of all, the most commonly and widely used autism screening tool, the Autism Quotient 50 (AQ-50). As an incentive for the reader’s personal consideration and most welcome comments, I am providing a link to a short scientific paper from the “Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2001” at http://docs.autismresearchcentre.com/papers/2001_BCetal_AQ.pdf

In my next post, I will attempt to offer for an even more personalized analysis and comments, the first ten (1 ÷ 10) questions of the AQ-50 autism screening questionnaire, in the hope of initiating a “real-life” and “Actually Autistic” blog-forum, where especially adults on the autistic spectrum can evaluate in a safe, anonymously confidential environment their gender specific, unique understanding of the relevance of these questions for their own screening and diagnostic assessments, in an atmosphere of non-belligerent acceptance, mutual respect, civilised ‘agreement to disagree’ attitude and constructive tolerance.

Most sincere apology to my readers and followers, and Word of Caution:

Having painfully learnt my lessons elsewhere, and in order to protect the emotional wellbeing and dignity of all well-meaning viewers and participants, all comments and replies henceforth, will be monitored and subject to approval. Therefore, if your comment and/or reply doesn’t show immediately, please be patient. But if your comment and/or reply doesn’t show at all, please rephrase!

Because no one shall be bullied or harassed in my own blogyard! 👾🤓

 

Photo credit: By Walter Baxter, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33579199

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13 responses to “The Autistic Maelstrom …

  1. Another fantastic, informative post. And your reason for moderating the comments just proves what I already knew… anyone who says Aspie/autistic folks don’t have empathy or emotions has obviously never known an Aspie/autistic person!💝

    Liked by 4 people

    • Dear Gran, thank you from the heart for your kind comment and understanding 💐
      I know it’s a stick in the mud, including for myself, but I hope it won’t deter anyone from commenting 🤓
      As for empathy, it’s an ongoing, contentious issue, as it’s true that what I (to talk only about myself) experience in regard of someone else’s feelings and/or reactions can rarely be categorised as empathy, in the generally understood way. However, it seems more and more clear, that NDs have a very low threshold of tolerance for what we rationally/sequentially perceive as “threat” in others.
      For example, and please bear with me 😶, the sight/knowledge of pain in others causes absolutely no reaction in me, if I know that it’s something which would result in a positive outcome for the individual(s) experiencing it, e.g. birth pains, surgical interventions, dentist etc. This has caused me a lot of trouble, being called or sorts of horrible names, because I can’t physically experience something which goes first through my analytical/rational cortex and comes out as logically right. To this day, I haven’t been forgiven for my unwillingness to join the trend of assisting to the birth of my own children, simply because for my brain, that suffering is for a better outcome and therefore causes no genuine display of empathy.
      But, if my rational brain perceives the slightest unjustifiable threat and/or injustice, or probability of threat and/or injustice, the reactions are completely different.
      For example, I witnessed as a bus passenger a horrendous accident where a chemical fluids transporting truck overturned on a field. There were around 20-30 witnesses, seeing what proved to be a father and his young daughter injured in the cabin, but no one wanted to get close because the unknown fluid was leaking. I jumped off the bus with my colleague (100% autistic himself), ran across the field, pulled the agonising girl out of the cabin and carried her in my arms to safety, while the father nearly crawled his way to safety helped by my colleague. I took the girl to a nearby house, left her there as she seemed stable and the ambulance was on it’s way, got back on the bus and went to college as planned applauded by the emotionally overcharged, but absolutely useless crowd. Next day, the local paper carried a front page article entitled “Unknown heroes save family …”
      To this day I don’t know their names, as that’s of no importance.
      That’s the kind of empathy I experience.
      But I would have no emotional problems whatsoever, about flushing down your unwanted fish, but only because a better option would be to fry it in a bit of olive oil and eat it with a slice of lemon, should it not be poisonous 🤓
      And now you know why I don’t keep pets 🤓😜👾🖖

      Liked by 3 people

  2. You are beautiful human being…and I see that you are right to not have pets. =)
    ~Ron

    Liked by 3 people

    • My dearest Ron, how truly great to hear from you 🤓
      Thank you so much 🙌
      My colleagues, whom most of them have house pets, canine, feline and rodents mostly, hate me for not subscribing to their rage against the gastronomic habits of some Asian and South American nations. Because who am I to judge anyone’s diet? 🤓😜🤓😜
      Yes, here I am, bare chest, throw the stones!
      Oops, shields are up captain Kirk 👽🖖👽🖖
      All the best, my friend 🤓

      Liked by 2 people

      • I have come to believe that those of us with so-called disorders are capable of higher levels of empathy than those who are considered disorder free. An analogy if I may, borrowed from your gastronomic comment:
        Those of us with disorders are considered to be lower in the food chain than the disorder free among us. I jump to the conclusion that the lower in the food chain you are the more you are capable of empathy. Perhaps empathy is innate? But the ability to decide to act on it is learned. Those of us lower in the food chain learn very early that deciding to act on empathetic feeling is more desireable than not. Therefore in the practice of empathy we are more highly developed than our non-disordered kin = more empathy because the only empathy that matters is the empathy you act on! On this logic the lowest member of the food chain which is an atom of a mineral is more capable of empathy than its so-called higher developed kin who do not understand that empathy requires action. Absence of action = non-empathetic no matter how much empathy you are capable of feeling.

        I know this is silly and probably not logically sound, however, I stand by my conclusion.
        ~Ron

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh, how much I agree my distinguished Friend 🤓
          It’s exactly like where I live, the most common greeting is “Are you all right?”
          But if you’re not, and your honesty compels you to say, “actually no…” trying to elaborate, you find yourself as lonely as a planetless moon 🙄 Empty, useless niceties, disguised as small talk…
          Would it be too much to ask a bit more about your use of “those of us”?
          Just ignore me if you prefer silence 🤓

          Liked by 1 person

          • My disorders are chronic depression and bipolar. My wife is ADD and somewhere on the spectrum of Asperger’s (but then aren’t we all somewhere on that spectrum? and all other spectrums as well?) My nephew is somewhere on Autism Spectrum. He is young and still he is capable of immeasurable love, just as any other human being is capable to act on love, he acts on his love.

            Liked by 3 people

  3. Hi Moshe,
    Season’s greetings and long time no ‘see’! I hope all is well. I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. https://mydreamwalden.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/liebster-award-nomination/

    Liked by 1 person

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