Simon and Garfunkel Syndrome

Have to be careful on this one because readers may consider themselves Aspergers or autistic or whatever and I have certain views about modern conditions and diagnoses.


In the early 1990s, narratives told from the perspective of autistic people were virtually unheard of. At the time, most scientists depicted autism as an illness or ‘mental disorder’, and the focus was on identifying and ultimately eradicating it.

Lorna Wing, a British psychiatrist, had developed the clinical classification back in the 1960s that stuck. She claimed that autistic people were ‘impaired’ in three areas: in social interaction, communication and imagination. Various methods were used to identify these ‘impairments’, from puzzles and games to family testimony.

Psychologists and neuroscientists went on to try to develop quick-fix behavioural interventions, as well as to search for ‘autistic genes’. However, after much hype, the idea that the autism diagnosis resided in a unique genetic code quickly faded from view.

My first question would be what the incidence was of this sort of thing.  Easier to observe are the number of wheelchairs in supermarkets with carers pushing them and I’d go so far as to say that might even be up to about 1 in 20 in that supermarket at any one time.  I don’t recall that sort of incidence in my younger days.

My second question would be what direction has society taken which would produce greater incidence of that … but also of this so-called autistic [and by association, violent] type of person.  And for that, you’d have to look at family structure and how that’s change, plus support organization today for newly diagnosed conditions.

In my own case, I’ve a suspicion I might be diagnosed as a sufferer of one of these conditions in that I’m perfectly happy in my own company for hours but do need some sort of interaction at some point in the day, plus, if forced into a group situation – on a train or at a dinner, I can become the life of the party … but never seeking social situations and going out of my way to avoid them.

Pub’s different, especially if there’s a pub band [see Friday evening here]. A pub has its own social pattern and I can escape quickly whenever I need to.

An example was recent talk about a party for my birthday – I can’t imagine anything worse.  Adoring one-to-one conversations, I could talk with you for 24 hours about the things you’re interested in and concerned about, a group of three is getting iffy and a group of four is one person too far in my eyes.  Making small talk at a cocktail party is not my idea of effective use of my time.

It extends to music.  Can’t imagine anything worse than sitting in a vast auditorium listening to an impersonal orchestra, with each violinist and each oboist subordinated to someone else’s ideas.  However, a chamber ensemble – ah, that’s different because each individual comes through, they can’t hide their true selves through their playing.

You might look at this blog and see me interacting with so many but what is perhaps missed here is that I am interacting one-to-one with one person at a time, then another, then another, then another.  There’s no concept in my head of generally addressing a group, which is something I was forced to do as a headmaster.  I’ve always individualized.

And that is reinforced day to day as a headmaster by seeing person after person – parent, staff, student – and having to be in a different mood for each and every one.  That’s hardly a group thing.

So, when four people might comment here, sometimes I’ve nothing more to say, it was all said in the post, and so I write, “Yes,” at the end but always feel I’ve copped out by not addressing each person.

So, is all that autistic or Asparagus Syndrome?  Narcissism Syndrome?  Off my bloody rocker syndrome?  And what of you, dear reader – are you mentally squeaky clean?  Let’s all have an Eccentricity Day.

I like individual people, what makes them tick, what brought them to where they are now, what their hopes and dreams are. I want time with him or her, never them. Is that sick? Is there a Syndrome moniker for that?

[H/T Chuckles]

17 comments for “Simon and Garfunkel Syndrome

  1. Distant Relative
    January 11, 2018 at 11:26

    “Is there a Syndrome moniker for that?”

    Why does every trait of human nature have to have a frigging label? Grrr!

    Fwiw, I prefer my own company mostly and never attend parties or accept or send dinner invitations where there are more than 3 other guests. Can’t be arsked with small-talk… enough already….

    Sole member of the Anti-Pigeonhole Brigade 😀

  2. January 11, 2018 at 12:17

    Very occasionally I will go out to a ‘dinner’ A Fundraiser usually. It is a chore. I do not have anything to wear ( Hahaha) Truely. I gave up shirts with collars over a decade past. I have an oft worn leather jacket and some sleevless ones. Not suitable for ‘dinners’ but fine for daytime. So I had to get my armourer to knock up an ‘evening’ jacket in off-white linen. It gets the occasional evening out.

    The only ‘occasions’ I permit more than say three in the same room is when it ain’t my room, I have to be there, in public, or at Mass. There – at Mass – it is me and Himself. The others are equally (usually) engaged in one-to-One with my Supplier. He is a far better listener than I.

  3. The Blocked Dwarf
    January 11, 2018 at 12:24

    Growing up us kids assumed that Mother was simply ‘difficult’ . A couple of years back she was diagnosed as ‘being on the spectrum’ . Everyone, I think, who knows her had a head slap/Eureka/OH Of COURSE! moment when they heard the news.

    Would her life, our childhood have been better if Aged Mother’s condition had been recognised in childhood and her given into the caring hands of trained professionals….? I’m not convinced it would have been (especially as the ‘treatment’ of autism back then was probably a bit ‘1 flew over’). I’m also not convinced that the diagnosis of various syndromes actually leads to a modern child getting the ‘help’ they need….so often the syndrome seems to become an excuse or alibi…for the parents as much as the child.

  4. Peter Whale
    January 11, 2018 at 13:36

    Every counsellor and psychiatrist I have met have always been missing reason and normality and these are the persons acting as qualifying agents.

  5. The Jannie
    January 11, 2018 at 13:56

    Autism is a growth industry, the growth being encouraged by those making money from it. As most of those here present have realised, anyone can be assigned a place on the autism spectrum: you just have to ask the right questions. So that’s what they do.

    • The Blocked Dwarf
      January 11, 2018 at 14:19

      “you just have to ask the right questions. So that’s what they do.-Jannie

      After Aged Mother received her diagnosis , I felt it would be a good idea just to test myself (as one of my brothers is also on the spectrum…or in his case the ZX81). I took one of the, supposedly, better in depth online tests and two things became abundantly clear within the first few questions: 1. I wasn’t in anyway on the spectrum and 2. that Aged Mother was- every question had me thinking ‘dear god, that’s mother in spades!!’. So many things about my childhood became clear.

      Point is those ‘right questions’ seem to be, in my very limited experience, the right questions.

    • Mudplugger
      January 11, 2018 at 15:21

      Part of the growth comes from the process which allocates more funds to schools for kids with ‘special needs’, so it is in the school’s interests to have as many apparently-fruitcake kids as possible on the register. More dosh means more ‘teaching support assistants’, which means an easier time for all.

      All we older folk went to school with kids of varying states, some of them just hopelessly dense, some of them plainly bonkers – nowadays even relatively ‘normal’ kids are pressed onto a label, simply to deliver extra bunce for the school to waste. The ‘autistic’ label is a convenient one, as it’s so subjective, but that tasty cash-flow still follows it.

      Trouble is, that kid is then labelled for life, handed a ‘get out of jail free’ card for every future sin and misdemeanour. Growing up would be a better plan.

      • January 11, 2018 at 23:21

        Yes, I know that from school headmastering days. Money is a major factor.

  6. Toodles McGhee
    January 11, 2018 at 22:37

    I once considered going to a psychologist. But upon consideration I decided against it. I observed the psychologists and psychiatrists who live in the area and their families, i.e., spouse and children and I decided, nope.

    Also, several people I know went for help for whatever reasons and they were encouraged to try dabbling in homosexual activities. Most said, “No, what the (you fill in the blank)?!!” One, a so called gifted in everyway, talented beyond all measure, beautiful beyond all measure, indulged and praised beyond all measure all of her life decided to dabble, as suggested by her brilliant psychiatrist in New York City, and now she is a lesbian. And further, she is in her own words one of those “Nasty Women.” On that point we agree.
    Funny how she liked the opposite sex a lot before she went to New York “to make it there” with her boyfriend. Both in theater. She had always been very successful…dancing, acting,singing,writing, directing. Just didn’t make it big time. Had to work to survive. She gained weight, he left her for someone else in their theater and work circle. She gained more weight, got depressed and became a homosexual. This was fifteen – twenty years ago. The “Nasty Woman” moniker is new, of course.

    There are people who have learning and social disabilities and some need help to cope — to become as independent as possible. But as some commenters have said, it is so often about money and people are labeled and often incorrectly.

    A friend of mine has a child with Asbergers. He is in his late twenties now.
    My friend’s sisters were harsh with him and her. Told her he was rude. He didn’t pick up on social cues, which is sometimes refreshing to me – to get an honest opinion, reaction. His siblings called him and I quote,”You freaking Forrest Gump!” He also has vision problems which may have hindered him in early stages of development.

    The child was in the top reading group with my daughter in first grade. After school he often stayed with us til his mother picked him up. At some point I would have them do a bit of their homework. That is when he would start to misbehave. I sent daughter to do a chore I absolutely needed “please” to have done. While I had him alone, I was able to confirm that the child could read nary a word, yet I knew he was bright.

    It was half way point of the year and his mother had already held him back in starting school. I shared my findings with the mother. Do not judge her. She had two older brilliant children and it was hard to compare…he was so different. Also,other things were going on in her life then that I only know about now.

    She is a very dear friend and at the time could not afford a tutor. I offered to help. From Feb. to May I worked with him several days each week. Never have I seen a child work harder. I focused on his auditory first…rhyming,singing, rapping, learning how sounds correspond with letters. Once he connected the sounds and written symbols and saw the logic he was on his way. By term’s end this child, with a little guidance from me and a whole lot of help and love by his dear,dear mother and especially by his very own fortitude was able to advance to the next grade because he could read. And later, became an excellent reader.

    Mother tutored him that summer and she saw to it he was placed with a teacher that was on the ball (unlike the vain, why is she teaching for heaven’s sake, oh it’s for the money first grade teacher he had)who got the child additional help to keep him going strong.

    It was not until the boy was 12 that he was finally diagnosed with Asbergers. He has received additional help…life coach and physical therapy….muscle tone was affected. Wish he had been diagnosed earlier. But he is a happy person unlike a lot of regular ole people.

    Churchmouse has the introvert/extrovert test. I am an introvert. I have known it always….not in those terms when I was young. Like you I enjoy my own company. Today I have enjoyed the company of many birds, ole Jack, a few dolphins, a couple of fisherman, a lonesome single engine airplane toodling around, and several unavoidable phone calls. I enjoy interacting with people but in moderation. If you saw me at a party you would never know I am an introvert. I am not fake if I appear friendly, or engage in conversation. That is who I am too. Still, I have to be shhhh, ponder things, check in on the N.O. crew -contributors and commenters – which has been such a blessing for me.

    I think I have embarrassed myself as I do here so often and yet I keep piping in as if I belong, not really like me. So I will lie low for a few days. Give you a break. And if I got too mushy in above paragraph, I hope it is not offensive. Life is too short to not say what needs to be said to those who are special to me. We have all had loved ones pass on. Some of us, like James, have come near death. I did. It was a shock…not my time…I want back in the game for a while. So 12 years later I am still playing. Just to think….I could have missed out on Y’ALL. So glad I didn’t.

    Asbergers,ADD/ADHD, introvert, just plain weirdo, maybe I am one or all of them, but to quote Popeye, “I yam what I yam.”

    • January 11, 2018 at 23:18

      I think I have embarrassed myself as I do here so often and yet I keep piping in as if I belong, not really like me.

      You belong as much as anyone who drops in here – you’re dealing with grown ups here who’ve had lives. So keep at it.

    • January 12, 2018 at 00:01

      Good to know you Toodles.

    • The Blocked Dwarf
      January 12, 2018 at 11:13

      We returned to the UK, to live, in late spring. Youngest Son with the learning disability (like dyslexia but not) had had up to that point 2 years of schooling in Germany-mainly in a ‘special’ school supposedly designed for kids such as him and using all the latest approved teaching methods.

      He hadn’t even managed to learn the alphabet.

      He had to attend the local ‘normal’ Junior School here for the 6 weeks before the summer holidays. Having realised that treating kids with ‘Special Needs’ don’t always benefit from ‘special needs teaching’, I omitted to tell the LEA that he had problems.

      Luckily his new school teacher was retiring at the end of term, she was old enough to have been taught to teach. She sat him down with the modern day equivalents of ‘Dick & Jane’ -none of that phonetic nonsense, proper books not photocopied sheets (as in Germany). By the time she went into retirement, and the summer holidays started, he could read and write. Not well but well enough that he could go on to a ‘normal’ secondary school .

  7. James Wilson
    January 12, 2018 at 08:50

    I don’t know how many hidden quirks you own, Higham, but you’re just not a ‘spergie guy, and I know my spectral disorders from B to X at the least. If anything you score high in empathy, and that’s a no no. Disqualified.

  8. January 12, 2018 at 11:18

    Thanks, both.

  9. Toodles McGhee
    January 22, 2018 at 06:28

    Money and trying to justify jobs/positions is the reason…shall I say, ‘many’ educational programs are pushed? I have been told thus by a few people I trust who have been in the classroom and then in administration. One in particular told me, “There are those who say, ‘It’s for the children, when really it is so they can justify their jobs,’ and many of them do not have the children’s welfare as a priority.” (Almost verbatim.) On the other hand, a school board member I know became indignant with me because I mentioned I was against another tax they were pushing again in five(ish) years. I asked him if the School System could ever have enough money? He did not answer the question. He just inferred that I was against children. Really? I thought I was actually a champion for them. How fortunate I was set straight on the matter.

    Blocked Dwarf proved a mighty important point and that is, that often….usually, parents know their children best. If he had allowed his son to continually fail by being placed in ‘Special Needs’ classrooms no telling what might have been the outcome for the child. Every situation is unique. There is definitely a place for ‘Special Needs’ teachers, but not all students need a ‘Special Needs’ teacher.

    Amfotas, I am sure you look quite debonair in you white linen jacket. Handsome is as handsome does, handsome!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.