More thoughts on ‘not-quite-Asperger’s Syndrome’ Syndrome

In my post ‘Not-quite-Asperger’s-Syndrome Syndrome‘ I intentionally kept the satirical/sarcastic tone of the original article, my only acknowledgment of the true nature of that article being an emoticon at the end and a ‘satire’ technorati tag. Most of the conversation I’ve seen on this article – some resulting from my original post – has been critical of the intent and execution of the article. I must admit, though, that I found it – if not humorous – entertaining and well-aimed. (For more discussion on the original article, check out How DARE They! What Do NTs Know Anyway?)

A recent episode of the TV show House, which Joseph also mentions in his response-post and which Autism Diva blogged, came to mind.

But my real thoughts were along the lines of, “Wow, now we know that autism awareness is increasing. If someone can make fun of autism and autistics in such a knowledgeable way, that means they are aware of the issues.” Or, as griffen quotes Gandhi

First they ignore you. Then they fight you. Then they laugh at you. Then you win.

I’m not sure this means that we ‘win,’ whatever that may mean in the context of autism awareness, but I see this as progress in our fight. As an individual, it is sometimes painful to be at the butt of a satire. But solid, well-informed satire is good for society. And this, I think, gets to the heart of some of the key issues surrounding autism (and disabilities in general), at least in my mind.

At what point do the needs/rights of society at large outweigh the needs/rights of individual members of that society? Or, maybe even more to the point, do the needs/rights of society ever outweigh the needs/rights of an individual?

No answers from me, at least not this year.

Happy New Year everyone, and keep up the good fight!

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Not-quite-Asperger’s-Syndrome Syndrome

I have my Google News page set up to show top stories in several categories, including Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Most of the stories are routine types of things, personal stories, communities trying to deal with autism, and the latest medical studies. One of the latter caught my eye today; how can you miss a story with a title like Study: Most Self-Diagnosed “Asperger’s” Patients Just Assholes?

The article addresses the recent phenomenon of people, mostly young adults, who are self-diagnosing Asperger’s as an explanation for their “peculiar and often abrasive personality.”

For years Soshul wondered what was wrong with her. Although her online life was rich and fulfilling, her “real life” inability to get along with coworkers or maintain a romantic relationship had become a source of deep frustration. At long last she was now armed with a medical term for her peculiar and often abrasive personality. For the first time since early childhood, she felt comfortable in her own skin.

Unfortunately, this recent study has found that these mostly 20-somethings may be jumping to a premature, and false, conclusion.

According to a new study in the current issue of The Lancet, however, Soshul and others may be completely off base. After rummaging through piles of data spanning years of clinical research, the study’s authors have concluded that a majority of these self-diagnosed Asperger’s patients are actually just intensely unlikable people.

They are, in short, assholes.

Needless to say, the study didn’t receive too warm of a reception from those it implicates.

Dr. Leon McCouch says that he and the rest of the research team fully understood that their work might be controversial but were completely surprised at the torrent of hatemail and online death threats that followed its publication.

“It was never our intent to insult or upset people,” said McCouch. “But as medical professionals, we would be remiss in our duty if we were to stand by and allow these people to incorrectly tie their boorish behavior to Asperger’s Syndrome. Then again, I suppose we should have anticipated this reaction. What else would you expect when you speak truth to a bunch of assholes?”

McCouch and his team are not implying that some of these people are not actually Aspie’s, and make it a point to show that what they are trying to do is get those who actually have Asperger’s to get a professional opinion on the matter.

McCouch went on to explain that his group’s intention is to encourage folks who feel they have Asperger’s to get tested for the disorder. For most of these people, however, the desire for an official diagnosis is grossly outweighed by the very real possibility that they will be told that they don’t have Asperger’s Syndrome.

As you may expect, this is not the end of the story. Dr. McCouch will be providing some more details on the question in future reports.

Under intense pressure, McCouch has agreed to write a follow-up to the article for the next issue declaring a new medical definition for the not-quite-Asperger’s-Syndrome Syndrome that appears to be spreading so quickly among America’s 20-somethings. The disorder, to be known as “Ass Burger’s Syndrome” should become official by February or March of next year.

I can hardly wait.


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Tag, I’m it

Jack Vinson has tagged me to tell the world 5 things that most people may not know about me. It is more of a challenge than I thought it might be, trying to figure out what I’m will to share and what people may be interested in knowing. But here goes.

  1. I have lived/worked/vacationed in 37 US states (plus the District of Columbia) and 18 countries outside the US including North America, Europe, and Asia. My wife and I spent our first anniversary riding gondola’s and checking out the history of Venice. Very nice.
  2. I attended The Wall – Live in Berlin performance at Potsdamer Platz in July 1990. Though the early part of the concert was plagued with technical difficulties, the overall experience was amazing. Not the least of the experience was the trip to Berlin: a route that showed about 8 hours on the map ended up taking nearly 20 hours. Though Allied Checkpoint Charlie had already come down within Berlin, we spent nearly 10 hours in line trying to get through Checkpoint Alpha. I also had the chance to take hammer and chisel to the Berlin Wall and break off my own souvenir of the Cold War.
  3. Yoshi and Kirby in the Park
    I’m a dog person, big dogs. For pretty much my entire married life (going on 20 years), we’ve had at least one (usually two) dogs in the house. We currently have two Old English Sheepdogs, and have had another Sheepdog and a Bouvier des Flandres along the way.
  4. In high school, I worked as a summer camp counselor. This is where I really picked up my love of all things outdoors, such as rock climbing, caving, canoing, etc.
  5. In college, I was co-leader of my fraternity’s award winning float building team for the annual St. Pat’s day parade. The theme was cartoons / animation, we won with Disney’s The Jungle Book.

To pass this along, I tag:

Update (21 Dec): Watching Jeopardy this evening I thought of something else that I should have put here, but just didn’t think of in time.

I took the contestant test for Jeopardy once, 7 or 8 years ago. Now, I usually do pretty good playing along with the show, so I thought to myself, “No problem.” Ha. HA HA!!

If I remember correctly, there were 10 questions on the test. Two of them I knew, two of them I thought I knew (I didn’t), and the rest I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. I was almost embarrassed to tell anyone how it went, but when I did most reacted with, “But you do so well when you play along.”

Talk about a humbling experience.

“Where there’s passion…

…there’s usually excellence.” In a post of that title, Matt Buchanan at Rethink(IP) recounts this life lesson learned from his father.

I’ve learned to appreciate the value of that one time and again over the years…in all aspects of life. Basically, it’s a shortcut (he had plenty of those, too, much to my mother’s chagrin). While excellence is something that is extremely difficult to measure based on outcomes, passion is easily perceived and, as dad’s advice tells us, it’s a darn good predictor of excellence. …

So there’s the shortcut. If you want excellence – in a house painter, an author, or, egads, a lawyer – but you don’t have the time or desire to actually measure excellence, go ahead and take a shortcut: look for passion. Let your gut lead the way. More often than not, it will point you directly toward excellence.

Next time you go out, keep an eye out for passion. It could be at a seemingly mundane place like the grocery store, fast-food joint, or car wash. Or maybe some ‘high-end’ activity like finding a landscaper for some home improvement. Everywhere you go, you will be able to tell the people who are just going through the motions, and the people that have put their heart into it.

This is also something to think about not only when you are looking for someone to do something for you, but when you are trying to get someone to hire you to do something for them.

Does your passion show through?

Telling your story with pictures

302800321_958f4d7821_m.jpgAt the last St. Louis Idea Market, Scott Matthews from XPLANE had us all create a visual explanation of how a toaster works. Among many observations I made from the exercise, key was how different people interpreted what was meant by “how a toaster works.” Some of us took it to mean “How do you make toast with a toaster” while others approached it from the “how does a toaster function” point of view. (It was pretty easy to pick out engineers in the crowd!) Scott has posted the scanned cards on Flickr. haentsch200.jpg

Photographer Volker Steger gave a similar visual story telling challenge to past Nobel laureates in the article and photo layout Nobel Notations in the December 2006 issue of Discover magazine, in which he asked these great minds to explain their prize winning achievements using crayons and a piece of poster board.

The scientists’ artwork draws out unexpected and often deeply personal details. Curl’s depiction of the buckyball’s creation hints at a dispute over the naming of the molecule. He favored “soccerene” for its soccer-ball shape, but his British cowinner, Sir Harold Kroto, nixed that idea, arguing that in England the game is called football and that the molecule ought to be called “footballene.” (In the end, it was named for architect Buckminster Fuller’s celebrated geodesic domes.)

If you would like to your own hand at a visual explanation for a scientific idea – and possibly win a prize – check out the National Science Foundation’s Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.