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?