August 7, 2012


ABC Local Radio

Oliver Sacks (1933 – 2015):
[Hans Asperger (1906 – 80) wrote of a sort of “autistic intelligence” that was] scarcely touched by tradition and culture — unconventional, unorthodox, strangely “pure” and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity.
(An Anthropologist on Mars, 1995, Vintage, 1996, p 253)


Strangers in a Strange Land

Doubts Must Remain


Richard Fidler

  • George Megalogenis and Professor Ian Lowe, 10 August 2012.
  • Katherine Boo, 2 August 2012.
    Author, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Scribe.
  • Michael Ware, 24 July 2012.

  • George Megalogenis.
    Senior Writer, The Australian.
    The Australian Moment: How We Were Made for These Times, Penguin Group (Australia), 2012.
  • Tony Attwood, 2 February 2012.

    I speak two languages … 'Neurotypical' and 'Asperger' …

    What [empathy] entails, is the ability to read the subtle signals: in facial expression and body language
    When the [other] person needs and expects compassion or affection.
    And what happens is, because they don't read those signals, they don't change their behavior.
    So the person thinks:
    'You don't care!' …
    But they're not seeing the signals.
    [Their] partner, will say:
    '[You] don't show affection to me.'
    ‒ [I] will if you tell me when [you] need it.
    [I just] can't tell when you need it. …
    I view them as visitors from another culture …

    Find out what your skills and qualities are, and go for it.
    And become satisfied in your life by what you've created by being different. …

    [The] person gives the right facial expression but it's about half a second behind what it's supposed to be. …
    People will say to them …
    'You look sad.'
    —No I'm just thinking;
    "You're bored by what I'm saying.'
    —No, I'm really taking it in.
    The face may not reflect the inner thoughts and feelings. …

    They're always looking for the rules of life …
    And once they've found them.
    There's a sense of
    'That's it!'
    And people transgress them really are destroying their universe. …

    [About] 10% become subclinical.
    10% move out of it.
    The social jigsaw puzzle has finally made sense, and they've put all the pieces together.
    So now they're residual Asperger's. …

    They seem to have an understanding of Monty Python way younger than they're supposed to …

    [Things] that make [for successful outcomes include:]
    • acceptance by parents, for who they are.
      Not wanting to change them, or clone them into someone they're not …
    • [Acceptance] by the peer group …
      Because in the teenage years [your peer group] can make or break your self-esteem [and]
    • [The right job — it] gives you structure [and] purpose …

    They can be very sensitive to the tragedy of others.
    What we call empathic atunement.
    [When] there are things on TV of despair …
    [They] really take it on board.

  • Mungo McCullum and Jeannie Madden, 9 December 2009.
  • Tony Attwood, 23 April 2007.

    If you don't spend all your time socializing.
    Worrying about what people are thinking and feeling.
    You can use your intelligence for other things. …

    [They have] a great sense of social justice.
    These are the guys who will donate most of their salary to the starving …
    [It's] some of the more subtle inter-personal needs in family members and colleagues, that they often miss. …

    [Poor eye contact:]
    [They] are so much concentrating on what to say they will look away.
    Say if I ask you a mathematics question, you would probably look up to the ceiling or somewhere to the side to process mentally the mathematical solution.
    [They're] having to use intellect to process social information.
    So it's like doing an algebra test.
    They have to look away to compute mentally what you're thinking and feeling, and what to say. …

    [Social stamina:]
    That person may be able to cope with a party for half and hour.
    [Then] they need to go.
    Because they are mentally exhausted.
    It's so exhausted their cognitive processing [that] they're not enjoying it. …

    [People with severe autism] are often not interested in friendship.
    They're basically loners.
    But in Asperger's, there is a yearning for friendship …
    [There's] a part of them that's missing the value of human contact. …

    [It's] capacity for socializing.
    [For] most people … its a bucket.
    A bucket of socializing that must be filled.
    For these guys, it's a cup.
    They want the cup filled.
    But it's filled very easily.
    It's filled with socializing, but also with affection.
    As far as they're concerned, one hug a week is all you need in a relationship.
    'I've had my hug, that's it, I'll keep going until next Saturday evening!' …

    Computers were designed by and for people with Asperger's syndrome …
    Many kids are poor at hand writing …
    I see handwriting as a 19th century skill.
    It's obsolete today.
    All you need to do today is type.
    The keyboard and typing solves their problem of handwriting. …

    I'm worried about their self esteem.
    How they cope with being different. …
    That self-esteem that gradually disappears because of a lack of success socially.
    Can lead to depression and [social withdrawal.]

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