Change and Growth

An AS member of an online group commented that many doctors who study Asperger's Syndrome insist on creating one forumla or one picture of what all AS people are like, regardless of the AS person's age, experience, or interests.

I wrote:
You're right. The doctors (most of them) also tend to forget that autism is (among other things) a "pervasive developmental delay" mechanism of some sort. That is, many "experts" carry on (and talk to parents) as if the way an austistic person is at age 8 determines the way that person will be at age 38. They forget that we change and grow, that our "systems come on line" at unexpected times, often much later than our age peers.

I had an incredibly frustrating email interchange this week with a woman who had read my "Differently Brained" essay and wanted to explore the possiblity that she might be AS. Talk about rigid thinking! Because she had learned to "read" NT conversational gambits to some extent, she assumed that meant, despite copious evidence to the contrary (provided by herself), that she had no deficiencies at all in that area. And if she was "okay," that meant she could feel free to assume that the problems she continues to have when trying to interact with other people are caused entirely by the other people's stupidity. No matter what I wrote, I could not persuade her that the NT [neurotypcial, non-autistic] people with whom she interacts have good reasons for the "stupid" things they say and do. For their mode of being (labeled "normal brain function" by the experts), their conversations are far from the "stupid waste of time" they seem to her. She apparently needs to think of herself as "okay"/"normal" (non-autistic), even if it means believing that everyone else in her town is a dope.

The fact is, of course, that most of us do learn a lot about how to get along in NT social environments by the time we are approaching middle age. Many of us (me included) do not develop the ability to use NT communications skills (including non-verbal) well enough to "network" or to enjoy NT social occasions. But that doesn't mean we haven't learned a lot since we were the age upon which AS experts prefer to focus.