Good morning, Deepthought.
I haven't read the article yet, but I have to say I'm in broad agreement with the points as you've cited them above. It's interesting that many people over the years - and particularly so since my diagnosis and my openness with everyone about it - have spoken to me about my seemingly deep understanding and insights, both about my own condition and place in the world and about that of others, including NTs. I know that opinion is divided on the 'empathy' issue. Recombinantsocks once said that an autistic person discussing empathy is like a blind art critic. I think I can see his point. It's like a heterosexual discussing how it must be to be homosexual. I don't think, though, it necessarily means that we can't show empathy. People say to me that I can't be autistic because I work in care. That's nonsense! I usually point out that there's a world of difference between caring for someone and caring about them. Having said that, I do sincerely believe that life as a neurodiverse individual has exposed me to more traumas and difficulties than would be the case for an NT, so I've therefore developed a response to them that might seem 'cold' and 'detached' to anyone else. Much as I loved my mother, and much as I miss her, I've never really shed any tears at her passing, and I stood up at her funeral and delivered a eulogy as easily as if I'd been doing an ordinary bit of public speaking. I've written a book about our time together and have just read it back for the first time, and feel detached in a way that for many people might seem, again, cold. Yet I feel very deeply about it - and about many other things. I can feel crushed at seeing a dead rat at the side of the road, or a flower thoughtlessly trampled underfoot by someone in passing.
I think, too, it's this 'understanding', if you like, that's made me a writer. I've spent my entire life on the outside looking in - like someone out in a dark street looking through a window at a crowded bar. I see things, perhaps, that others take for granted - and thus don't notice. At work, I sometimes pick up on things - a sound, a pattern, a trait - that others miss. Maybe it's about a heightened sensitivity of perception. Maybe it's simply how I'm programmed. I may not understand huge amounts about human behaviour. I can't, for instance, ever pick out a character's motives in fiction or film, and I'm always a target for confidence tricksters and leg-pullers. But I have a certain understanding, I think...
Yes, I've seen that before and can quite well identify with it. Like with the Christmas party example. When asked I told someone I'm not coming because I don't really like that sort of thing and that I've eventually figured out now that other people actually genuinely enjoy being there, talking for hours about nothing, drinking too much, wearing clothes that can't possibly be comfortable in a physical sense, dancing potentially, all that stuff. Apparently it's strange that it took me until now to figure out, but then many people find it just as unbelievable that I do not enjoy these things. Somehow their lack of understanding is normal though, because I'm weird, whereas mine is weird, because they are normal...
I think of it a little, too, like someone being suddenly being dumped in a country whose language, culture and ethos is entirely alien to them. What choice do they have but to find a way to survive in it, using whatever knowledge and other tools at their disposal to reach some kind of commonality. Whereas the natives of that country... why should they bother to understand this one stranger in their midst? It's like the argument put forward by some that people shouldn't come to our country unless they can speak the language first (although if we go to their country for a holiday, we expect them to understand English and English customs!)
Same here. And, of course, if you don't go to the party, you're anti-social!
Luckily, having the bonus of being new, it seems people here are o.k. with this, they just genuinely think I miss out on something, and they are worried I'm only not coming because of too much Norwegian and try to reassure and persuade me.
It is of interest to muse on an exactly opposite world where 99% of the people are autistic.3 In such a society the very few non-autistic people would be highly unlikely to develop their full capability to understand other non-autistic minds because they would be interacting for the most part with autistic people. "
We identify with each other here because we can identify with the attributes, temperaments and thought of those in this ND online community. Our condition is of a over critical and reflective self which helps us to realise self awareness more easily. In recognising our behaviour and being able to empathise with others easily is because we are able to identify "self" in others. In seeing others share our same thought processes and beliefs/fears etc helps us to validate who we are...."normal" amongst our own tribe.
Human nature is fundamentally lazy in that it easier to form relationships and understanding with others more like ourselves....so for the NT individual to understand us requires effort and an ability to put oneself into another persons mind head which is inherently difficult if not impossible and we hit against the issue of other minds....they may not conceive of any merit in the bother.....Effort over Reward !!! why bother when there does not seem to be any tangible reward...?
Humans are tribal....we stick with those we identify with...as we identify with them..and so we fool ourselves into thinking that they identify with us and therefore...you would / could not threaten or hurt me as we have "so much in common".....I am part of your tribe, after all.
society surrounds itself and aspires to be whoever has decided is the new "norm" ...the expected societal construct....as a result every sheep out there strives to "fit" in...if you don't you face ostracization, trolling etc etc
It is a society still stifled by this idea of categorising people in a tribal way. Autism is a spectrum, the article just sites the NT and the ND and again reinforces this binary means of categorisation and reinforces, once more.....a tribal construct.
I am "me"......a multitude of things as a result of my experience, upbringing, environment and wiring....you are also "you"....empathy is also a construct of depth...there are degrees of empathy just as there are degrees of autism and NT behaviour.
Well said, Ellie.
I get that, too. People at work say to me 'Don't you feel you miss out by not having a relationship/friends?' No. They also don't understand how I can seemingly 'shut off' from social media when I'm at work. They're all messing with their phones, all day - even the older ones. I don't even take my phone to work. They find that absolutely astonishing. 'You've said that your natural community is online. So how can you not miss it during the day?' Because I'm surrounded by real people that I have to interact with. Such an irony, that! They're also surrounded by real people, but spend huge amounts of time interacting with people who aren't there! And then they wonder about my missing out by not having friends!
Deepthought said:Milton does not suggest that non-autistic people are less capable of developing an understanding of autism than vice versa; as he points out, it is simply that autistic people have no choice but to try to develop an understanding of society if they are to ‘survive and potentially thrive’ whereas no such imperative applies in the opposite direction (Milton 2012).
The thing that makes me smile here, is Milton's and other's hypothesis that there is no imperative for non-autistic people to use an Autistic Theory-of-Mind (or AToM) ~ with my amusement arising from the fact that non-autistic and autistic parents have been having and raising autistic children for thousands of years now, and the use of an AToM or a Divergent Theory of Mind (DToM) has remained historically concurrent in all cultures and societies, therefore.
Also, societal ToM models that involve 'surviving and potentially thriving' ideologies featuring 'imperatives' are proving currently to be more and more unreliable, whereas when we live as we actually are ~ we thereby facilitate our life as it actually is in the dependable and reliable sense.