Monthly Archives: February 2019

The Stockholm Syndrome Symptomatology of Neurodiversity Militantism

me 1I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in June 2017. As I wrote in the “About…” tab of my blog, “Over 50 years of a rather odd life, came to a sudden realisation, with all the clicks and cogs falling to their right places.”

Little did I know at the time, that the sudden realisation was only the preamble of what is as I write, the crawling to a frightening light, of a child I can’t even remember, and whose only ‘happy’ memory is a set of painted wood blocks, neatly ordered in a slide-top box, taken out every day to became the same ‘castle’ in which no toy was ever planned to live, or play.

If I would have to give a name to the featured picture, it would be “Leave me alone”. I never liked being photographed, being looked at; probably because everyone expected me to look back, to show the same colloquial interest which never interested me.

I’ve never understood humans, the reasons why they kept asking stupid questions such as “what would you like to be when you grow up”, just to laugh themselves to urine when the five years old replied “Pensioner, because you don’t have to do anything, and the mailman brings you the money”. Mind you, I was raised by my maternal grandmother, savvy pensioner taking her grandson everywhere, mainly to the popular coffee parlours famous for their Italian expresso machines, dripping the golden bath for my -always at hand- thirsty sugar cubes.

I never had “friends”. My acquaintances could be anything and anyone, from my grandmother’s gossip team, my wooden blocks, collectible Gillette razor blade boxes, match boxes, my blind, talcum powder smelling masseurs (muscular atrophy), to the whole plethora of colleagues blessed or cursed to have met me.

Before being entirely absorbed in 2017 by the Neurodiversity “movement”, my life took a similar, dramatic self-discovery turn in 1990, when following a partly societal, partly family heirloom inherited, devastating guilt crisis, I had “my sins taken away by Jesus” and my civil liberties by a neo-evangelical church. The “love story” ended following nearly two decades of a genuinely successful international ministry, inclusive of two major academic degrees and two postgrads, radio, TV and conferencing.

My fondest memory of the time is a story by the manipulative “pastor” of the emotionally controlled congregation, about an Eastern European dictator, asked by a journalist how is it possible for the nation to adore him, while he basically took away all their rights? Apparently, the dictator asked for a living chicken and to the utter shock of the journalist, he plucked the agonising bird’s feathers clean. Having spread a handful of breadcrumbs on his boots, he put the poor bird down, which obnoxiously started to eat them. “You see?” the dictator said, “you can take away everything from your population, still they’ll mindlessly follow you as long as you give them enough to survive on.”

Keep this in mind…

Returning now to the reason for a title which may stir instinctive reactions I’m expectantly aware of, I remember in 2017 leaving my Autism assessor’s office with a maelstrom of emotions I did not expect, dragging behind myself the barely finished, mostly incoherently  mumbled reply to my diagnosing psychiatrist’s question, “How do you feel now, knowing what you felt all along?”

“Confused a bit…” I said, “both liberated and frightened…” because I did not want to tell her out of respect, that my first thought as I mentioned in my relevant post was “angry”, for all the reasons I describe there.

I was sitting in my car, trying to breathe, nearly crying, or maybe laughing as I usually do at funerals, trying to make sense of 54 years passed by, of a life weirdly writing itself like backwards with each new year.

At that time, I was well aware of Neurodiversity (ND) as an umbrella term for all neurodivergent conditions, but also as a “movement”, which started to ‘absorb’ me deeper and deeper, for all the good reasons I understood and identified with, absolutely in love with Silberman’s brilliant “Neurotribes”, the cosy fellowship of kindred spirits and high hopes to change the world for the better.

Another year of academic effort rewarded me by meeting autistic academic  Luke Beardon from whom I’ve learned that learning’s prime asset is critical thinking, at both its giving and receiving ends.

It was around that time, when I started looking at my autism with a receiving critical attitude, of questioning if self-acceptance and its projected extrapolation through the less and less “diverse and inclusive” Neurodiversity movement and some of its most “impetuous” proponents, is the right way forward.

I witnessed horrified and in utter dismay, mobs of self-proclaimed ND “advocates”, advocating nothing else but basest attitudes of hunting into silence perceived “dissidents” for taking themselves the liberty to think, having hijacked and mutilated much of what Neurodiversity would have been good for, oftentimes turning it into a lucrative merchandise, and a gathering ground for attention seeking individuals trying to force acceptance of their “valid” “selfDx”, so desperately necessary to stabilise the insecure reflection of themselves trembling together with the shallow social waters they are looking into.

Traveling for a while with the group, I more and more felt the unease and suspicious dread of a deja-vu which scarred what should have been the best two decades of my life.

I also met “the enemies”; scared, sometimes scarred autistic thinkers bravely unwilling to forfeit their liberty of thinking for belonging anywhere, exhausted yet hopeful mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, carers of autistic children and adults, many angry and frustrated to have their words and thoughts twisted by self-proclaimed ND representatives, unable to understand which part of “severe autism” can’t these “inclusion and diversity” vigilantes understand?!

I also met the counter-hijackers, same sort of self-proclaimed experts, mostly of their hate and bitter dissatisfaction with life’s immutable unfairness, living of the margins of counter-arguing every shade of neurodiversity they could find, throwing out in an identically destructive frenzy, not only the “baby with the bath water” but the bathtub as well.

And then, I finally understood, my life’s twisted entanglement with a condition I tried beyond “accept” to love…

A “love triangle” sort of relationship with neurodevelopmental conditions which claimed a brilliant mind, with physical conditions which claimed for daily torment my talented body, shaping who I am, hardly ever getting to know whom I should or could have been, or who my destroyed by alcohol, neurodivergent asocial father could have been, or who my benzodiazepines dependent neurodivergent mother could have been, or who my hero partner of 26 years, severely neurodivergent wife could have been, fiercely doing all I can for my neurodivergent children to become the best they could be …

I realised that I have desperately tried to consciously legitimise the subconscious, Stockholm Syndrome attachment to my Autism, to make all the suffering it caused a “love story”, forgetting that from Romeo and Juliet to Hiller’s Love Story, death and suffering rip afresh the deep wounds and scars of all such stories.

I sadly understood that, exactly as in the trading of my liberty in exchange for an only hoped religious absolution from guilt, my efforts to “love” my autism were nothing else but desperate attempts to transform accept and tolerance, into romance…

Wandering deeper, I must ask the hate-magnet question: “Is the derailed part of the Neurodiversity “movement”, with its priestesses and priests preaching and demanding acceptance, while ostracising anyone and all questioning them and/or their motives, their agenda and their Autism narrative representation validity, a real example of a double Stockholm Syndrome, where autistic individuals desperately want to love something which has probably taken away more from their lives than what it gave them, being further afraid to think and speak for themselves, for fear of having the (remember?) breadcrumbs of an illusion of belonging taken away from them”?

The reason I’m extrapolating my own existential struggle, is having worked with, taught with and been with diagnosed autistics clearly going through such soulquakes more or less openly, yet afraid to break free from this double attachment?!

I accept myself as disabled.

I “love” myself in spite of my disabilities.

But no one should expect me to love my disabilities.

I tolerate my disabilities trying to rearrange my life around them, in order to allow myself the space to live, create and care; for as long as I can.

So, what now?

I know that both the Neurodiversity side and the Severe Autism and Autism Parenting side have at their cores brilliant individuals surrounded by even more brilliant individuals, tired of being misrepresented by abusive mobs of questionable entities, diagnosed or not, causing more and more harm to a silent, often unseen majority.

Isn’t it high-time to bridge the shameful divide with a dialogue and alliance of interests already thought of, necessary to advance a unified agenda of making living with autism, a life beyond mere survival?

How? By listening instead of judging and by supporting instead of policing.

Because I can’t love autism, but I can respect and care about us.

There should be more to our neurodivergent lives than breadcrumbs…

Restructuring the Autism Spectrum Disorder Narrative around the Core Symptomatology of Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism

Museo_del_Prado_-_Goya_-_Caprichos_-_No._43_-_El_sueño_de_la_razon_produce_monstruos

[Rev.] Romulus Campan FDScMH, LTh(Hons), CertEd, QTS,
PgCert Religion, Spirituality & Mental Health
PgCert Special Psychopedagogy,
PgCert Autism & Asperger’s

“The theoretical understanding of the world, which is the aim of philosophy, is not a matter of great practical importance to animals, or to savages, or even to most civilised men”.
Bertrand Russell

Keeping in mind my Theoretical Philosophy positional disclaimer, I have arrived at the point of my scientific inquiries, where, theories of intersecting dimensional planes aside, I must allow a superfluity eradicating convergence of objectivity in the Autism narrative, which should dethrone impostor monsters, born as painted by Goya, from the minds asleep of scientists, and subsequent masses of dilettantes.
However, in all its simplicity, the Autism narrative’s only problem, is the underlying conflict fuelled by what has become known as Learning ≠ Intellectual Disability (e.g. Dawn, Fragile X syndrome, etc.), formerly Mental Retardation. I have deliberately used the non-equal sign, as a form of silent, dignified and resigned protest, against the frustratingly careless use of Learning Disabilities (rebranded now as Learning Difficulties) which shouldn’t encompass more than reading disabilities, written language disabilities, and mathematical disabilities such as Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, also Dyspraxia which has a profound impact on perception, therefore all afore enumerated.
I do respectfully understand and acknowledge why it may be emotionally less intrusive to use Learning Disabilities instead of the Mental Retardation reminiscent Intellectual Disabilities, however, subjective rebranding in the name of political correctness does never change objective inherence. And obviously, this isn’t influenced at all by the fact that Intellectual Disabilities could co-occur with Learning Disabilities, with the former having at the core a genetic or traumatic incapacitation of the brain to process/convey information, while the later are the brain’s non-typical modalities of processing/conveying information, caused by its structural and functional differences.
The Autism narrative therefore, must once and for all, separately consider Intellectual Disabilities, regardless of common identifiables, present at the time being, in what is reluctantly acknowledged as Low Functioning Autism, or more recently, “courtesy” of DSM 5, as Severity Levels 3/2 of ASD.
Now as a tangent thought, I must mention my genuine concern that this ‘reluctance’ has morphed unfortunately in the contemporaneous trend called “Neurodiversity” which has long left its Neurodivergence gathering meaning, home for ASD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Tourette’s etc., having mutated from initially a High Functioning, Asperger’s Autism forum, into a “HF/Asperger’s Autism plus…” stage, for an alarmingly increasing number of “self-ID(Dx) autistic”, more probably narcissistic individuals, unhappy of their probable Personality Disorder traits. These share the stage with the “thinking for myself may hurt + OMG, OMG, you’re so wrong…” vigilante crowd, the “stuck in-there, too proud to admit this is wrong” rather silent minority, and the “more-or-less personal, but good business” opportunists.
Returning briefly to DSM-5, I certainly appreciate the following clarification/condition:
“E. These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder) or global developmental delay. Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur; to make comorbid diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, social communication should be below that expected for general developmental level” (emphasis mine). However, the statement’s last sentence, seems in my opinion to rather seriously muddle the already dark waters of practically understanding what the expected level of general development would be, in case of Intellectual Disability.
On a further thought, comparing symptoms of ID/IDD with symptoms of ASD, the similarities are beyond a reasonable horizon of reassurance that the two conditions wouldn’t be misdiagnosed for each other. Because if anyone is naïve enough to look for repetitive behaviours and/or communication deficits as some sort of failproof sign of ASD, let them be reminded that stereotyped, repetitive behaviours are also typical for passive traumatic experiences such as external stimuli deprivation, just to mention one…
Without even attempting to explain beyond theoretical philosophy the reasons for my suggestion, I propose as a valid and beneficial alternative to the present epistemo-semantic chaos, that the Autism Spectrum should selectively integrate what has been previously known as Asperger’s Syndrome and High Functioning Autism, hoping that Autism research would resume the vital dialogue of identifying specialised diagnostic patterns for the core aspects of both.
Unfortunately, otherwise, the very real and oftentimes devastating, Intellectual Disability or Intellectual-Disability-identical criteria, will continue to overshadow and therefore ignore the maybe less visible but drastically life shortening symptoms of Autism.