Female Asperger Stereotype / Blah, blah, blah!

Where are the gender and sex-blind studies of Asperger “humans?” When will we ever see research that does not segregate male and female “Aspergers” into predetermined culturally and socially segregated interests, behaviors and abilities?

Reserving “Asperger’s” as a predominantly male condition (because Asperger males are intellectually valuable to male-dominated science, technology and engineering) and inventing a separate “female problem” with silly “gender-sex symptoms” that focus on trivia rather than “talent and smarts” is logically invalid and discriminatory; it is a narrative that continues to be propagated by the enforcers of social inequality: the “helping, caring, fixing” priesthood.

This morning I decided to “cruise” the Internet to find “new, original, or clarifying” research papers or articles on Asperger’s as it manifests in girls-women. The usual  websites popped up: blah, blah, blah. Outdated, repetitive, case histories; memoirs, anecdotes, etc. Mostly the lists of symptoms and descriptions of “what ASD / Asperger’s is” are word for word pick ups from autism celebrities – psychologists and related experts who have staked out their territories; their generalizations are copied and reused by a contingent of female “writers” (diagnosed / self-diagnosed) pushing their own books and specialty practices.

What I find disappointing is a lack of original thinking: content too often merely repeats the words of one or two experts – this is not only lazy, but promotes these official opinions as Gospel truth. In the case of Asperger females the “Holy text” goes back mainly to Tony Attwood, likely because he’s is possibly the only big name who has (superficially) nice things to say about Asperger people – and Asperger females.

Below are excerpts from Tony Attwood: Highlights are the stereotypes repeated over and over again in articles, books, websites, etc. and without attribution to Attwood: the situation is that these written statements have become “mythic” and are viewed as “revealed wisdom” that has cosmic authority. Items highlighted in red are baffling notions, details and generalizations that are simply stupid.  

Female Asperger’s (and all females) are classified, categorized and described from a male POV that continues to regard females as a separate and inferior subspecies of Homo sapiens: male behavior and abilities are presented (ad nauseum) as the default standard for human behavior, intelligence and talent, especially when it comes to using the brain for creative contributions to “the historical world of man” and certain male provinces of activity – ie; everything valued as important is reserved for males. No females are ever truly allowed into the “boy’s club” of Homo sapiens. Asperger women are “weird males” and definitely not “real females” – why?

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 Girls and women who have Asperger’s syndrome

Written by Tony Atwood as the foreword to a book: Safety Skills for Asperger Women by Liane Holliday Willey.

In early childhood, probably long before a diagnostic assessment, a girl who has the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome will begin to know she is different to other girls. She may not identify with or want to play cooperatively with her female peers. Her thoughts can be that the play of other girls is stupid, boring and inexplicable. She may prefer to play alone so that she can play her way. Her interests can be different to other girls, not necessarily in terms of focus, but intensity and quality. For example, she may collect over 50 Barbie dolls and choose not to enact with her friends from the neighbourhood ‘Barbie getting married’ but arrange the dolls in particular configurations.

There can be a determination to organise toys rather than share toys and also not play with toys in conventional ways. She may prefer non-gender specific toys such as Lego and not seek acquisitions related to the latest craze for girls her age to be ‘cool’ and popular. There can be an aversion to the concept of femininity in wearing the latest fashions or fancy or frilly clothing. The preference can be for practical, comfortable clothing with lots of pockets. While boys with Asperger’s syndrome can fixate on facts, and some girls with Asperger’s syndrome can also have an encyclopaedic knowledge of specific topics, there can be an intense interest in reading and escaping into fiction, enjoying a fantasy world, creating a new persona, talking to imaginary friends and writing fiction at an early age. Another escape is into the exciting world of nature, having an intuitive understanding of animals, not people. Animals become loyal friends, eager to see and be with you, with her feeing safe from being teased or rejected and appreciated by her animal friends. (Heaven forbid that a girl would simply be interested in anything exciting, creative or scientific; such interests must be “escapism” due to her miserable failure as a “proper social female”)

There may be single but intense friendships with another girl, who may provide guidance for her in social situations, perhaps in a benevolent way and in return, the girl with Asperger’s syndrome is not interested in the ‘bitchy’ behaviour of her peers and is a loyal and helpful friend. Unfortunately, sometimes the girl who has Asperger’s syndrome is vulnerable to friendship predators who take advantage of her naivety, social immaturity and longing to have a friend. (Sure; undermine a girl’s friendships as being genuine or valuable – “they” only like pretend to like you because you’re vulnerable and exploitable)

Inevitably there will be times when she has to engage with other children and she may prefer to play with boys, whose play is more constructive than emotional and adventurous rather than conversational. (Of course; girls are not allowed to be constructive and adventurous. What an insult to ALL girls and women!) Many girls and women who have Asperger’s syndrome have described to clinicians and in autobiographies how they sometimes think they have a male rather than a female brain, (Really? It couldn’t be that they have been told to believe this by “experts”)  having a greater understanding and appreciation of the interests, thinking and humour of boys. The girl who has Asperger’s syndrome can be described as a ‘Tom Boy’ eager to join in the activities and conversations of boys rather than girls.

My argument isn’t that these anecdotal “statements of preference” by Asperger girls are “untrue” for SOME GIRLS, regardless of whether or not they have been diagnosed as ASD, Asperger, or are “normal” females.  It’s that this type of false narrative-building is utterly without merit in understanding behavior as healthy versus pathological for any human individual or group.

The designation of Tom Boy, back in the Dark Ages of American Life (before pathologizing human behavior became an obsession) was just that: Tom Boys were “types of girls” not peculiar “males” or deviants. Yes, mothers and teachers expected that at some point (puberty) these girls would become interested in boys, and this usually happened. (It also was expected that boys would become interested in girls!) It didn’t mean that athletic ability or interest in Nature, animals, camping, hiking, paddling a canoe, playing tennis or enjoying swimming were terminated – banned as activities that were abnormal for girls. Being “physical” had more to do with health; gym classes were obligatory and included team sports. More emphasis was placed on intelligence  as problematic for females: no man would tolerate higher intellectual abilities in a wife. A girl or woman couldn’t merely “become stupid” – obviously, without destroying her brain; therefore, she mustn’t be smart in public.

I’m a female Homo sapiens; I was born with my particular and specific brain: no one can remove my brain, or deny me the use of my brain, on the grounds that in their warped opinion, I somehow got the “wrong brain”!

 

 

How much talent is wasted because society doesn’t like the package it comes in?

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In the day-to-day experience of an Asperger child, moments of peace are rare. Whatever you are thinking or doing, someone, either a parent or teacher, or maybe another child, will interrupt you, to ask that you participate in another activity, such as playing a game with a group of children. If you don’t respond, or you resist their prodding, or if you state clear and repeated rejections, sweet tones of persuasion turn to harsh words and insults. An adult will express personal disappointment in your reluctance to obey and will continue to pressure you, as if whatever you are occupied with is not only unimportant, but that preferring to be alone means that you are depressed or unhappy, and that joining the group will cheer you up, which isn’t true. If you persist in thinking that what you are reading, or drawing or building is more interesting than what the other children are doing, you are apt to be yelled at and physically relocated like a disobedient dog. When this happens, the waves of anger that were hidden beneath the adult’s nice words hit like a shock wave. The effect is visceral and devastating.

It is said that Asperger children can’t infer what is going on in another person’s mind, but the message is clear: people, especially adults, will only like you if you agree with their statements, however false or petty, and obey their instructions, and not when you get around to it, but now! Your willingness to conform must be expressed in signs made by body, face and words. It’s not enough that you act promptly as they wish, but a child or grown person must show his or her deference to a person of superior status. It soon becomes evident that no social interaction is neutral: this ‘status thing’ is the point of social interaction. What is often referred to as ‘busy work’ takes place in schools and workplaces day in and day out, simply to prove that a certain category of human is The Boss. Obedience is a social necessity because it demonstrates that a child or adult will subordinate its happiness and well-being to the group. Rules and instructions are often designed to insult and confuse people, to challenge their morality or sense of fair play and for no other purpose than to test their willingness to shed their individual humanity and to become a tool in the construction and maintenance of the Social Pyramid – to blindly believe that The Boss Knows Best.

The Asperger brain simply doesn’t understand this social compulsion, not because we are dumb, defective, dangerous or disabled, but because inequality of status is alien to our instinct for fair play, justice and reason. For us the world is integrated, coherent, and dynamic and is a continuous expression of Nature’s truths: the universe as described by social concepts is a sad and dreary spectacle of human arrogance and ignorance; a childish place maintained by violence, lies and deprivation; established by the denial of human worth and by denial of basic needs: water, food, shelter to those who “don’t count”. Those who are on top must imprison millions of human beings on the low levels of the Social Pyramid in order to feel good.

The Asperger outlook on people is nearly the opposite: people are just people. Instead of a steep pyramid on which millions of human beings struggle for dominance, we have a visual landscape of reality in our minds. Each human, animal, plant, and object in the landscape is distinct and “counts” because our perception of the environment is concrete: humans live with their feet on the ground, not above or below, but as equal agents of Nature. Cooperation, not competition for status, makes sense to us. Let each human fulfill his or her gifts; don’t waste resources. How much talent is wasted because Society doesn’t like the package it comes in?

Asperger or Gifted? / Asynchronous Development

http://giftedkids.about.com/od/glossary/g/asynchronous.html/

, Gifted Children Expert 

Asynchronous development refers to uneven intellectual, physical, and emotional development. In average children, intellectual, physical, and emotional development progresses at about the same rate. That is, the development is in “sync.” An average three-year-old has the intellectual and physical abilities as well as the emotional maturity most other three-year-olds have.

However, in gifted children, the development of those areas is out of “sync.” They do not progress at the same rate.

A gifted three-year-old child’s developmental profile could look like this:

    • Intellectual ability — age 6  Physical ability — age 3  Emotional maturity — age 2
    • Or this: Intellectual ability — age 7  Physical ability — age 3 Emotional maturity — age 4
    • Or this: Intellectual ability — age 6  Physical ability — age 4 Emotional maturity — age 3

Or any combination of intellectual, physical and emotional development, with intellectual ability always the most advanced.

The higher a child’s IQ is, the more out of sync his or her development is likely to be.

gifted-education1

The stereotype of a “gifted” child remains the nerdy, math-centric boy.

It is revealing that for psychologists, asynchronous development constitutes defective development, a serious mistake that dooms bright children to medieval conversion practices designed to “fix” children who don’t conform to social prescriptions and restrictions on behavior. 

Asperger Emotion / Music and Visual Art

Music expresses and elicits “feeling” – I don’t need words to describe my reactions to music; in fact, words are simply inadequate.  “Amazing” “Brilliant” and  such word-reactions are completely without depth.

Visual art both expresses and elicits “feelings”  – I don’t need words to describe my relationship to visual art, although specific paintings, or other objects and images, may induce expressions of “meaning” that can be communicated in words.

The pagan goddess of love: Sandro Boticelli’s “Birth of Venus” ca. 1480 AD remains, after 500 years, an awestruck view of the natural female

Case in point: Sandro Boticelli’s vast canvas, The Birth of Venus, mesmerized me when I first came across a reproduction in an art book. I had never before seen an image of a female as a “natural being” – and not some trussed up, disguised and despised “product” of social manipulation.  A goddess, no less.  Timeless; a living being outside social jeopardy; worthy of admiration. I did not understand this in words. I felt it, intuited it, as an image that rescued a worthy perception of myself as female; a powerful antidote to the miserable characterizations of doomed females in American culture. Women were routinely characterized as defective, cursed, a nuisance: women in Western culture had become miserable servants, “wedded” prostitutes and baby makers – held to be mentally inferior and emotionally-ill by (God’s) social definition. All that, I understood in one image: experience brought the message into ‘cognitive” focus.

The “reality” of discrimination and inferior status as a female grew ever more damaging and overwhelming as I grew from a child to into a young adult, the time when one “enters” society, and the expectation is conformity to one’s role, no matter how against reason and compassion that role may be. The backlash was especially severe when I tried to fulfill that “positive” image of a natural female within the confines of misogynist American culture.

Asperger types are characterized as unfeeling, uncaring and “subhuman” – a declaration that I have found to be a useful “excuse” for bullying of every type: the dumb animal cannot “feel” the pain, and is therefore, fair game.