Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Challenges Of The High-Functioning

There's a really great piece running on Asperger Square 8 about some of the difficulties people with the label "high functioning" run into.

Bev, the author of this blog, puts a fitting name to the Notlikemychild (NLMC) phenomenon. This is the theme that I have been picking up from the writings parents with severely autistic children that somehow someone who does not have the SEVERE self-injury symptoms somehow doesn't fit in the same "class" with their children. She makes an excellent point, however, that less severely autistic individuals may very well have a history of suicide attempts and substance abuse and that these should count every bit as much as someone who beats themselves bloddy with their own fists.

Then she brings up an area that I am somewhat fascinated with - that some would see hoarding and not paying bills as "laziness" rather than as symptoms of an underlying condition.

The next section has me thinking even more that I myself may be a part of this spectrum. She speaks of unemployment and underemployment being common among the high-functioning and specifically having difficulty relating to co-workers and mininterpretting business culture.

Yep - I'd have to say these are pretty good points.

Although how to accomodate Asperger's and high-functioning autism in most professionals settings has been something that has escaped me for a number of years.

I used to think that some of the "social mechanisms" in a work environment were somehow just an extension of what's sometimes thought of as "common politeness". After a great deal more thought, however, I've come to the conclusion that there are some deep discrepencies between very basic assumptions about work between the neurotypical and the high functioning.

I think some of it may be due to the very high levels of intelligence often present in the high functioning. The high functioning very often get lured by family members into doing "tricks" - complex math problems and/or memorizing whole poems in foreign languages by age 4 - and then the high functioning get lulled into this notion that such abilities have some practical monetary value.

Nope - your average workplace environment is all about appearance. Are your shoes shined? Do you have on clothing of an "inappropriate" color or design?

I'm still not 100% sure why the neurotypicals react so strongly to clothing issues? Is it actually a leftover autistic trait that someone showing up without the proper "uniform" is "disrupting a routine" in some way? Perhaps.

But, overall, good point - yes, someone capable of writing thousands of Internet messages and producing YouTube videos DOES have different abilities than someone who can't communicate complex ideas even with technological assistance, but does that detract at all from the fact that both are disabled to the point of needing extra assistance?

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At March 17, 2008 at 11:22 AM, Blogger Ettina said...

Even the last comment isn't necessarily true. In some cases, the difference between them is only opportunity.

At March 17, 2008 at 11:38 AM, Anonymous mand said...

"has me thinking even more that I myself may be a part of this spectrum"... I've thought that of you for years, m'dear... ;0)

At March 17, 2008 at 12:44 PM, Blogger Axinar said...

As in like ... TWENTY years?? :)


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