Very often people speak of the "autism spectrum".
The general notion is that both a little girl so intensely autistic that she nearly beats herself to death
and someone, by some views, merely intensely eccentric
suffer from different manifestations of the same condition.
Sometimes this is expressed as a line that extends from "low-functioning" to "high-functioning", with - if I understand it correctly - the lowest functioning being those utterly incapable of meaningful communication with speech, signing, or computers, and the higher functioning being individuals who can speak but would be utterly incapable of knowing what to do if a smoke alarm went off.
Now, suppose we extend this line. Suppose we extend this line through the "hopelessly average" - the ones called "neurotypical". Of course here we find people who CAN
order food at McDonald's, CAN
make eye contact, CAN
make small talk, but - if you want to think about it this way - actually start to pick up some "deficits" - the inability to precisely remember long lists, for instance.
Now, suppose we extend this line even FURTHER
. Of course this is a little difficult to get a handle on because, when contemplating autism issues one might speculate that if one has conquered the issues of Activities of Daily Living AND
employment that one has "gotten to the finish line", but, just as one person can be hyperglycemic and another can be hypoglycemic, I'm wondering if one actually can go too far "the other way" on traits associated with autism.
Believe it or not, there is a group of people that come to mind.
What I'm thinking of course is that as we contemplate, say, one just starting to slip from "neurotypical" to "autistic" (and, unlike certain people, I DO
believe this can happen in adolescence or adulthood), usually the first thing that starts to break down are issues associated with employability.
In other words a person can be PERFECTLY
capable of driving a car, paying taxes, ordering food from a restaurant, making a speech in front of hundreds or thousands of people and yet be UTTERLY
incapable of understanding or coping with the BIZARRELY
complex set of relationships that go on particularly in a white-collar environment.
That being the case, in our quest for what might be the "opposite" of someone with low-functioning autism, we are possibly led not to the hopelessly average neurotypical, but rather a HYPERFUNCTIONING
neurotypical - someone who does exceedingly well at the very first thing someone with an autism spectrum disorder would have trouble with - work issues.
Now who would be a candidate hyperfunctioning neurotypical? Well, of course someone who is exceedingly good at forming complex social relationships and good at making sickening amounts of money. Many sales managers come to mind as well, of course, as President Bush.
Now I got to thinking what's remarkable about these individuals is that they actually start to pick up some traits ordinarily associated with autism - communication issues for instance. They tend NOT
to be terribly eloquent. They certainly have SEVERE
issues working with the written language.
And yet somehow they are absolute masters of non-verbal communication. Somehow through a skillful combination of clothing and projectile vomiting, in their own choppy use of the English language, reactionary tripe that would make Hitler blush, they are able to pursuade anywhere from several hundred to several million people to give them hundreds of thousands to MILLIONS
So perhaps, although the communication issue is generally the thing that "catches someone's attention" about autism, that may not it's most important trait at all.
Perhaps, at the end of the day, it is primarily an anxiety disorder that is just so intense that it causes communication issues ...
Labels: Asperger's, Autism