Tag Archives: Neurodivergent

A Medi-Social Model of Neurodivergence/Neurodiversity, an Introduction… (- II -)

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

This article is an expanded and revised version of my previous post, A Concerned Neurodivergent’s critique of Judy Singer’s “There’s a lot in a name… Diversity vs Divergence” article – I – …

I have only incidentally heard about Judy Singer, which is probably due to her self-acknowledged two-decade long absence, succinctly described as: “Returning to the field 20 years later”.

As succinctly described in her article, these motives seem to be complex, motivated mainly as it appears, by Dr Nancy Doyle’s choice of describing “People with Neurodiversity”, as being -in Singer’s own words- “an assortment of people with a range of conditions like Aspergers (sic), Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, etc”.

I hope to correctly remember the author saying (in a tweet I cannot access anymore), that her article was meant as an “opening gambit” to be followed by more “moves”, mentioning also an openness to learning and dialogue and as one might subsequently assume, debate. Having read the article, I considered necessary to express the following concern: “with all due respect, but if ND is ever going to live up to its name, it has to move-on from having come to actually represent only a more or less autistic, loud minority, which has become exclusive by ignorance, of other Neurodivergent conditions…” and I must add, their various levels of severity.

The essence of Singer’s article perfectly overlaps with a development within the Neurodiversity “movement” I have been following for the past couple of years, which I perceive as a theoretical threat to a necessary progression of Neurodiversity from its oversimplified and absolutely inaccurate “biodiversity” origins, onto an umbrella concept for Neurodivergent conditions, as summarised in DANDA’s graphic representation.

 In an effort therefore, to reconcile the double existential divide and dichotomy caused by a lack of balance within the Medical/Clinical Model of Neurodivergence and the Social Model’s denialism, I am proposing what I consider a more objective perspective, which I would call The Medi-Social Model of Neurodivergence/Neurodiversity, applicable to basically all Neurodivergent conditions.

Having worked in forensic mental health for the past few years, I can boldly assert that the structural elements of a Medi-Social Model of Neurodivergence/Neurodiversity have always been present in what has been suggested as the Medical Model, which could have never existed without it’s Social aspects, richly proven by the well-known existence of the Multidisciplinary Teams mandated by legislation to be present at each step of an individual’s journey through their individualised Recovery Pathway.

However, a Medi-Social Model of Neurodivergence/Neurodiversity would open the possibility of exploring new and necessary horizons of how all participants in these multidisciplinary teams, such as the individuals themselves, their caregivers, their clinical team, their social worker team, could change the Recovery Pathway Dynamic from a Clinical Team dependant hierarchical to a more co-participative/intersectional. The proposed model would also represent a justified abandonment of what I perceive as a trend exemplified by Dr Doyle’s “Genius Within” (GW)
revised version of DANDA’s diagram:

Because unfortunately, well-meaning efforts to focus on the ‘good’, have tragically resulted in a complete loss of sight about the ‘bad’ and the ‘ugly’, clearly seen when comparing DANDA’s and GW’s diagrams, where the central, neurodiversity defining areas have migrated from concepts such as “Difficulties…, Poor…, Low…, Anxiety…” to “Evolution has created specialist thinkers, to bring a variety of expertise to humanity”.

I can’t do any better at this moment, than remember the religiously uplifting “blessed are the poor in spirit” and its agnostic translation “ignorance is bliss” …

Because any attempts to romanticise by avoidance, the consequences of being born with a structurally different brain, which translates into oftentimes insurmountable social integration difficulties, are no better than primarily psychiatric, exclusively medication-based approaches to such neurological differences.

And yes, I cautiously agree that most neurodivergent conditions exemplified in the diagrams are not psychiatric illnesses per se; ignoring however, the often-devastating effects these have on an individual’s overall physical and mental wellbeing, which cannot be addressed from a Social Model perspective only, is no less than gross negligence.

In an effort to clarify a vital segment of reassessing and restructuring the Neurodiversity narrative, I was forced to ask the following, probably uncomfortable question: “[…] Unfortunately, current efforts, well-meaning as they are, seem too much about an integrative sociology of lower dependency autism. When was last you heard e.g. Dyscalculia mentioned?”

Because I genuinely believe that a Neurodiversity concept and narrative which ignores its complex Neurodivergence architecture, is in danger of becoming useless and harmful, discrediting worldwide efforts to move away from this completely misunderstood “I came to the ND word from the Green Movement, […] the word Biodiversity…” onto my proposal’s integrated perspective of Neurodivergence, which understands the intrinsic clinical/medical, physiological and/or pathological aspects of Autism, AD(H)D, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dyspraxia, Tourette Syndrome, etc, (the list being still debated), as integrated with the extrinsic correlations inevitable given by a neurodivergent’s inescapable social pertinence.

Beneath the surface, it appears that article author’s real problem seems to be associating “her” Neurodiversity, with Disability, or in her own words, “The problem with the expression “People with Neurodiversity” is that it turns Neurodiversity into the latest fashionable synonym for Disability” …

Reading this, it becomes hopefully clear that the danger of what I have several times called a “hijacked” and “derailed” Neurodiversity narrative is real, leaving not much doubt about a  deep-seated desire of a mostly high-functioning autistic and “autistic”, loud minority, to dissociate themselves from the less fashionable, disabling aspects of autism and all other neurodivergent conditions, by following a restrictively enforced set of agreed rules, reminiscent of vigilantism, e.g. language policing, disability terminology avoiding, “autism parent” abusing, etc…

Further analysing the article, everything seems to have taken a surreal turn when it read: “The role of the ‘NeuroDiversity Movement’ then is to be a federation of different Neurotribes […] I argue therefore that ND must remain ‘sacrosanct’, a universal truth that we can point to when insisting on the necessity of our existence.” (emphasis mine).

I do not remember, reading Silberman’s “Neurotribes”, that any of his intentions were anywhere close to Singer’s grandiose ideas that “the role of the Neurodiversity Movement is to unite all the people with simple neurological variants behind the same advocacy banner: i.e. the syndrome formerly known as Aspergers, ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Stuttering, etc.” (emphasis mine).

I do sincerely hope, that thinkers with a much more complex understanding of these conditions, with a scientific and lived-experience understanding of “Asperger’s, Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, Dyspraxia, Stuttering etc”, will understand the discriminative reductionism resulting from redefining these oftentimes severely debilitating and disabling conditions, as “simple neurological variants”, moving away from what has become a questionable attempt by proponents of mainly social sciences, to unilaterally rewrite a neurodivergence narrative pioneered by illustrious figures of medical sciences…

To be continued…

https://www.geniuswithin.co.uk/blog/theres-a-lot-in-a-name-diversity-vs-divergence/

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The importance of Asperger’s Syndrome as a unique clinical diagnostic category…

Aspergers and Ignorance (2)

On page 1 of his fundamental summary of (Classic) “Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome”, S. Baron-Cohen (2008) lists as “Key Points” the two, overlappingly different subgroups of what has come to be known as the “Autistic Spectrum”.

“Classic autism and Asperger syndrome share two key features:
         -Social communication difficulties
         -Narrow interests and repetitive actions.
 But they differ in two key ways:
         -In Asperger syndrome, IQ is at least average and there was no language delay
         -In classic autism, IQ can be anywhere on the scale, and there was language delay.”

However, these key, common and differentiated features make only for a minimal area of understanding, assessing and living with either condition.

In my opinion, DSM-5 has managed with its promotion of an Autistic Spectrum “umbrella”, to both simplify, but also confusingly complicate the clear understanding of exactly those specifics which could make the lives of neurodivergents, less miserable. Luckily (I hope) for the neurodivergents living in the UK, while the clinical diagnosis implicitly reflects the DSM-5 when mentions “Autistic Spectrum Disorder”, still retains (at least in my case) the ICD-10’s “Asperger’s Syndrome” definition, making easier setting up a post diagnostic assistance and support program. Because regardless of how emotionally stabilising may be to have adult, male and female, HF Autistics and Asperger’s individuals considered together for our rights to exist as we are, the uniqueness of each of us is so important, that this arbitrary “one umbrella fits all” approach becomes discriminatory in itself.

Why?

Simply because from my perspective, the developmental aftermath of a language delay (and oftentimes subsequent learning disabilities) is absolutely different from that of a no language delay (and the oftentimes present special learning difficulties), further “complicated” by the bio-psychological specifics of males and females.

It’s probably much “easier” for some professionals, but certainly for the health business to bother less with tailoring both the pre- and post-diagnosis services by favouring the “uni” part of our individual uniqueness, instead of developing better, more updated assessment/diagnostic tools, which could offer findings vitally important for identifying the exact life needs of each of us, neurodivergents.

Looking forward therefore to my upcoming post-grad training, I have decided to challenge especially the over-generalised screening/assessment establishment, calling primarily for Asperger’s individuals, preferably diagnosed as adults, both females and males, to share their own understanding of some major Asperger’s screening/assessment tools, which will form in a staged form, the core of my upcoming posts.  The posts, comments and replies are planned to become anonymous points of reference for my future academic endeavour(s).

All comments and replies are absolutely welcome, with a respectful and special call to any qualified, clinical colleagues (yes, Laina that would include you 😊) whose “life touched” professional knowledge could be especially useful.

Because I still believe that any plural which is not established in clear singulars, becomes automatically void of its function.

Third of Asperger’s Ten Traits – Escape Artist, from the World into my Box…

Boxtroll

“3) We are escape artists. We know how to escape. It’s the way we survive this place. We escape through our fixations, obsessions, over-interest in a subject, our imaginings, and even made up reality. We escape and make sense of our world through mental processing, in spoken or written form. We escape in the rhythm of words. We escape in our philosophizing.  As children, we had pretend friends or animals, maybe witches or spirit friends, even extraterrestrial buddies. We escaped in our play, imitating what we’d seen on television or in walking life, taking on the role of a teacher, actress in a play, movie star. If we had friends, we were either their instructor or boss, telling them what to do, where to stand, and how to talk, or we were the “baby,” blindly following our friends wherever they went. We saw friends as “pawn” like; similar to a chess game, we moved them into the best position for us. We escaped our own identity by taking on one friend’s identity. We dressed like her, spoke like her(/him), adapted our own self to her (or his) likes and dislikes. We became masters at imitation, without recognizing what we were doing. We escaped through music. Through the repeated lyrics or rhythm of a song–through everything that song stirred in us. We escaped into fantasies, what could be, projections, dreams, and fairy-tale-endings. We obsessed over collecting objects, maybe stickers, mystical unicorns, or books. We may have escaped through a relationship with a lover. We delve into an alternate state of mind, so we could breathe, maybe momentarily taking on another dialect, personality, or view of the world. Numbers brought ease. Counting, categorizing, organizing, rearranging. At parties, if we went, we might have escaped into a closet, the outskirts, outdoors, or at the side of our best friend. We may have escaped through substance abuse, including food, or through hiding in our homes. What did it mean to relax? To rest? To play without structure or goal? Nothing was for fun, everything had to have purpose. When we resurfaced, we became confused. What had we missed? What had we left behind? What would we cling to next?”

Used with permission from @everydayaspergers. Originally published in Samantha Croft‘s -now former- blog, Everyday Asperger’s, as The Ten Traits.

When I first watched “Boxtrolls” I had no idea what to do with it…

It was one of those instances of a disturbing deja-vu, a pervasive sense of not exactly having seen, not even having been, but rather being still there, here…

And I realised it is the story of me, the great escape artist, escaping not from some box into the welcoming wide open, but from an unfriendly and oppressive “wide open”, into a world where everyone is entitled to the box of their own choice, size, colour, smell…

A world where everyone has a similar, nevertheless unique “box”, where no one criticises the other box tenant for their choice, where the “world above” is of less importance…

As I see it, our individually unique boxes are exactly what makes us fit together. We may not like physical contact and closeness, but in our perfect boxes we are closer than one could imagine, we communicate, we hear, we “feel” each other in inexplicable ways, respectful and sensitive to the openness or unopenness of someone else’s box.

In my box-world it doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you love your box, my box, our boxes; because regardless of how similar the boxes are, inside is comfortably “hiding” a perfect universe’s uniquely autistic inhabitant.

You don’t need to shout, you don’t need to knock, you don’t even need to “understand”. Just respectfully wait by the box you want to better know, until its inhabitant who knows you’re there, comes out, hoping that by that time, you may have hopefully decided to accept and respect whosoever you’ll see…

First of Asperger’s Ten Traits – Extreme Intelligence

o-AUTISM-brain

Driven, probably by the systemising neuro-biology of my brain, I’m constantly looking for an organised understanding of facts, where “the three…”, “the seven…” or “the ten…” somethings, constantly attract my semantic mind. On such a fortunate occasion, I have found Samantha Croft‘s -now former- blog, Everyday Asperger’s.
In her new website‘s own words, “Samantha Croft, autistic writer and artist, […] a former schoolteacher, with a Master’s Degree in Education (special emphasis on adult education and curriculum development), […] has been published in peer reviewed journals, been featured in autistic literature, and has completed several graduate-level courses in the field of counselling. Some of her works, especially The Ten Traits, have been translated into multiple languages.”
Now it is exactly The Ten Traits, the subject of a ten-post series, through which I am hoping to better understand the “Ten Commandments” by which my mind attempts to understand and process an oftentimes avalanche of stimuli. Even though the blog’s main title is “Asperger’s Traits (Women, Females, Girls)/February 10, 2012” I have found its applicability in my -male- case, around the more than satisfactory 99% which provides the necessary reassurance for a general applicability.
Samantha has kindly agreed to my humble enterprise, for which I am forever grateful.

“1) We are deep philosophical thinkers and writers; gifted in the sense of our level of thinking. Perhaps poets, professors, authors, or avid readers of nonfictional genre. I don’t believe you can have Asperger’s without being highly-intelligent by mainstream standards. Perhaps that is part of the issue at hand, the extreme intelligence leading to an over-active mind and high anxiety. We see things at multiple levels, including our own place in the world and our own thinking processes. We analyse our existence, the meaning of life, the meaning of everything continually. We are serious and matter-of-fact. Nothing is taken for granted, simplified, or easy. Everything is complex.”

If you look for a better compacted definition of the Asperger’s mind, rest assured there isn’t… I mean, one might attempt reverse engineering the above paragraph, perhaps writing a whole chapter of a book based on each statement, but the true genius of it is the elaborate conciseness, encompassing the cause-effect functionality of a neuro-divergent mind, with all the blessings and non-blessings of a misunderstood genius.
And if you may be asking yourself, what or where is my geniality, let me share with you something I’ve learned somewhere I can’t remember anymore, which helped me better understand myself, something which would makes sense mainly to the Asperger’s mind. That “someone” said, that the true genius of the neuro-divergent mind, is not simply finding the needle in a haystack, but to notice the needle before seeing the haystack.
Have you arrived at the conclusion that most philosophies should be re-written as you noticed flaws leaving you wondering why aren’t they studying your works? Was it easier for you to write a metric rhyme poem instead of a nonfictional story? Were you having a panic attack way before your boss finished outlining next year’s strategy for success, because you already saw the imminent collapse, should the team follow their uselessly high-paid stupidities? Were you listening to some prestigious piece of music from a highly-acclaimed orchestra, just to nearly have a heart attack caused by a false sound or faulty rhythm?
The problem isn’t with your “appliance”, but with a world unprepared for our next-gen perception and understanding of it.
Welcome to your(true)self, and start valuing yourself. Trust me, there’s no better judge of yourself than your(true)self

(to be continued…)

Yiruma against meltdowns…

Yiruma

There are times when, at least in my case, only heartfelt music restores some balance to my chaotically racing mind, savagely trying to escape another meltdown…

If You are looking for some soothing piano tunes to calm the storms, consider Yiruma…

Piano played with the heart, perfect for my quiet chamber of self, where my neuro-divergence can be ME, not something the world says I have…

I am about as autistic as they come.  

Realising that for ME, my own SELF is not “just” a collection of individual characteristics, but a perfect world, opened a whole new chapter in the sometimes painful process of liberating myself from the slavery imposed on me, i.e. the attempt of pleasing my surroundings, the people who claim to see the bigger picture, but miserably fail to see others as vital details of these pictures.
I started to see the absolute value of the SELF, which is not only a person, ME, but also a place which I can identify as “within”, where I can find MYSELF. And I absolutely agree with the writer’s critique of the allistic world; it’s just hard to realise that this world still acts as a trap unless the neurodivergent finds their way back within themselves. And yes, interaction is important for all the practical reasons, but it should be MY choice, not my chain…

Oh, does this make me “selfish”?

Absolutely, and it feels great!

Just Under Your Radar

solitary figure standing alone with fractal designs in the sky around them

Autos = Greek for “Self”.

-ism = word-forming element making nouns implying a practice, system, doctrine, etc

Autism = extreme practice / system / doctrine of the Self.

Self-referencing.

Self-consulting.

Self-absorbed.

For me, that’s the only — the only  — way I can effectively create. And think. And live.

Other people’s input is fine for them to offer, but it’s for them. Not for me. I cannot abide having input from others into what I’m doing, while I’m doing it. Every now and then, I’ll make an exception for works that are intended for a wider audience. But the works I create for myself, and for the sake of creating — totally, 100% Autistic. and that’s absolutely perfect.

Balance… balance.

The danger, of course, comes from my developed way of relating to the rest of the world. I know I am different. I have no desire to conform…

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