An Alternative Interpretation of Asperger Experiences / From the Inside Out
People who say they want to be friends can quickly become unfriendly when a child doesn’t immediately respond as expected. The reaction of an Asperger child to the change from a friendly approach, to a demanding or angry threat, is to conclude that other people lie about their intentions, and do so for one reason – they have an unreasonable desire to control people – most obviously, to draw attention to themselves. This obsession with control is inexplicable to an Asperger child because he or she is focused on understanding how things work and how the world is tied together by physical relationships: the fascination may be with mathematics or other systems, and the manifestations of these systems as patterns of phenomena in the real world. This type of curiosity (scientific) just comes naturally to some minds. However, controlling other human beings, which is a necessity for hyper-social persons, requires that an inordinate amount of time must be expended on manipulation of the social environment. This is of little or no interest to a hypo-social type, and is so alien to our innate drive to understand physical reality, and our need for creative activity, that the dysfunctional and aggressive-hostile interaction so common in social communication literally makes us ill.
What I’m saying is that parents, teachers, pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologist- behaviorists, and other “helpful” individuals see the problem of an Asperger child in reverse to how the child experiences life. To the child, his or her differences, some of which are praised, such as intelligence, success in school, the ability to focus on a task, persistence of attention, and novel manipulation of ideas, are then used to isolate and exile the child. The social conformist view of cause and effect is this: a child does not conform to the scheduled behaviors “we” have decided are normal and necessary, and therefore the child is abnormal. We must “fix” this situation; we must “repair” the child. Variation from normal social expectation automatically becomes “the problem”. Manipulation of human beings is the “go to” social tool to achieve control: control is the goal. The child’s intelligence, not as a “thing-in-itself”, but as a minority “deviant” condition, is subsumed by a diagnosis of pathology; a developmental disorder; a defect. Hyper-social (neurotypical) people cannot imagine the damage this causes, because they truly have no empathy for an Asperger “way of being”. Social concerns overwhelm their ability to accept that “other” ways of being human exist. This too often extends to the harsh myopic position that people who are “different” ought not to be allowed to exist: the rationalization for genocide.
When a child is judged to be “socially deviant” his or her entire life becomes an object of scrutiny, disapproval, rejection, and target for “rehabilitation” into society. One’s entire feeling for life, a complex of intellect, emotion and optimism, which is natural to the child, is attacked: I think every Asperger child knows the devastation of wanting to share his or her excitement with an important adult, an impulse that is prompted by a the pleasure of discovery of a “new” fact or idea or object, only to be “smacked down” for speaking up, talking too much, being a nuisance, being a bore, being too stupid to know that no one is interested in your love of “real knowledge”. Jung said that shame is a soul-killing emotion; instilling shame is standard pedagogy and religious dogma.
The reaction on the part of “adults” to label healthy intellectual behavior as “pathology” is shocking and extremely painful to an Asperger child, and produces the desire, indeed the inner necessity, of protecting one’s most precious attribute: the Asperger connection to “the real world” through our senses and visual-analytical brain. Intelligence in females is especially feared as a destructive force that undermines the misogynist social order. Exercising one’s intellectual curiosity and talent is “banned” if possible, and always discouraged: the added injury a female Asperger endures is that she is told that she is not a “real” woman.
At the beginning of 4th grade, my parents, teachers, and a pediatrician discussed what to “do about me”. Should I be bumped up a grade, be sent to a special school for gifted kids, or remain where I was? The decision was made that I ought to stay with my age group in public school; it was paramount in the adult’s thinking that I was “socially backward”. Being forced to be with “normal” children would turn me into a normal child. I would catch up to some acceptable level of social functioning that would allow me to be capable of becoming a wife and mother. As for my intellectual abilities, those might be salvaged should I need a job someday, that is, if my husband died and I needed to support my children until another husband could be procured. Development of my mind and talents was discarded as unimportant and even a threat to the stability of the social universe.
This astonishing train of thought, when delivered to me by my parents and my teacher confirmed my observation that adults can be really stupid, and that they cannot be trusted to be “rational” based solely on their status as adults. The idea was ludicrous: by some sort of contageous magic (and continued bullying) I would become normal; the assumption that a female was fit only for marriage and motherhood, with a teaching job as a fall back to misfortune, was a deep insult. Neither marriage nor motherhood fit my ambition at that point – I was 8-9 years old! By adult “reckoning” I was not female, nor did I belong within the usual categories or roles approved by society. The expectation of parents and teachers that I ought to be content or even thrilled with the future that they chose, demonstrated that none of these adults knew anything about me. To them I was a chronic source of irritation, and my internal experience of self and my particular connection to the world didn’t exist. This rejection of my very sense of self was devastating. This is profound isolation. Is there any doubt as to why Asperger children may become angry children?
Looking back from an advanced age, it baffles me that to this day, no one questions the cliché that Asperger’s children are developmentally retarded. Our responses and expectations are more like those of an adult, or at least the hoped-for behavior of adults, including the self-confidence to believe in our abilities and to defend our ideas while listening to and evaluating the information presented by others. This self-confidence is often labeled arrogance by adults. It is written: children should not think or act like adults. In hierarchical social systems, equality of status, as evidenced by freedom of speech, is not acceptible. This applies to any child or adult labeled as an inferior.
Severe problems do exist for many Asperger individuals, having to do with overstimulation, sensitivity to the environment, phobias and mood changes, but these are physical manifestations that I believe are for the most part the result of social ostracism, bullying and rejection of people who process the environment in a way that was common in “pre hyper-social” contemporary homo sapiens. Our “connection to the primacy of physical reality” has been vigorously negatively selected in favor of hyper-social (domesticated; tame, obedient) and severely hierarchical social behavior that excludes “reality” in favor of supernatural illusion.
Asperger children and adults cannot be “fixed” like castrating or spaying dogs. We cannot be “fixed” by paychological torture techniques, like prisoners in a “rehabilitation camp”. We may consciously or intuitively adopt some “mimicry of social behavior” so that we become (superficially) invisible. Being different in any way has historically meant “exterminated or enslaved” – domesticated. An extreme solution attested to by the many vanished tribal peoples who could not be converted to hyper-social “Western”cultural demands.