28 December 2006

More thoughts on 'not-quite-Asperger's Syndrome' Syndrome

In my post 'Not-quite-Asperger's-Syndrome Syndrome' I intentionally kept the satirical/sarcastic tone of the original article, my only acknowledgment of the true nature of that article being an emoticon at the end and a 'satire' technorati tag. Most of the conversation I've seen on this article - some resulting from my original post - has been critical of the intent and execution of the article. I must admit, though, that I found it - if not humorous - entertaining and well-aimed. (For more discussion on the original article, check out How DARE They! What Do NTs Know Anyway?)

A recent episode of the TV show House, which Joseph also mentions in his response-post and which Autism Diva blogged, came to mind.

But my real thoughts were along the lines of, "Wow, now we know that autism awareness is increasing. If someone can make fun of autism and autistics in such a knowledgeable way, that means they are aware of the issues." Or, as griffen quotes Gandhi

First they ignore you. Then they fight you. Then they laugh at you. Then you win.
I'm not sure this means that we 'win,' whatever that may mean in the context of autism awareness, but I see this as progress in our fight. As an individual, it is sometimes painful to be at the butt of a satire. But solid, well-informed satire is good for society. And this, I think, gets to the heart of some of the key issues surrounding autism (and disabilities in general), at least in my mind.

At what point do the needs/rights of society at large outweigh the needs/rights of individual members of that society? Or, maybe even more to the point, do the needs/rights of society ever outweigh the needs/rights of an individual?

No answers from me, at least not this year.

Happy New Year everyone, and keep up the good fight!

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22 December 2006

Not-quite-Asperger's-Syndrome Syndrome

I have my Google News page set up to show top stories in several categories, including Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Most of the stories are routine types of things, personal stories, communities trying to deal with autism, and the latest medical studies. One of the latter caught my eye today; how can you miss a story with a title like Study: Most Self-Diagnosed "Asperger's" Patients Just Assholes?

The article addresses the recent phenomenon of people, mostly young adults, who are self-diagnosing Asperger's as an explanation for their "peculiar and often abrasive personality."

For years Soshul wondered what was wrong with her. Although her online life was rich and fulfilling, her "real life" inability to get along with coworkers or maintain a romantic relationship had become a source of deep frustration. At long last she was now armed with a medical term for her peculiar and often abrasive personality. For the first time since early childhood, she felt comfortable in her own skin.
Unfortunately, this recent study has found that these mostly 20-somethings may be jumping to a premature, and false, conclusion.
According to a new study in the current issue of The Lancet, however, Soshul and others may be completely off base. After rummaging through piles of data spanning years of clinical research, the study's authors have concluded that a majority of these self-diagnosed Asperger's patients are actually just intensely unlikable people.

They are, in short, assholes.
Needless to say, the study didn't receive too warm of a reception from those it implicates.
Dr. Leon McCouch says that he and the rest of the research team fully understood that their work might be controversial but were completely surprised at the torrent of hatemail and online death threats that followed its publication.

"It was never our intent to insult or upset people," said McCouch. "But as medical professionals, we would be remiss in our duty if we were to stand by and allow these people to incorrectly tie their boorish behavior to Asperger's Syndrome. Then again, I suppose we should have anticipated this reaction. What else would you expect when you speak truth to a bunch of assholes?"
McCouch and his team are not implying that some of these people are not actually Aspie's, and make it a point to show that what they are trying to do is get those who actually have Asperger's to get a professional opinion on the matter.
McCouch went on to explain that his group's intention is to encourage folks who feel they have Asperger's to get tested for the disorder. For most of these people, however, the desire for an official diagnosis is grossly outweighed by the very real possibility that they will be told that they don't have Asperger's Syndrome.
As you may expect, this is not the end of the story. Dr. McCouch will be providing some more details on the question in future reports.
Under intense pressure, McCouch has agreed to write a follow-up to the article for the next issue declaring a new medical definition for the not-quite-Asperger's-Syndrome Syndrome that appears to be spreading so quickly among America's 20-somethings. The disorder, to be known as "Ass Burger's Syndrome" should become official by February or March of next year.
I can hardly wait.


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