Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Asperger Love": New Book out by Amy Harmon

I purchased the book and found it to be one of the most balanced accounts about relationships and Asperger's syndrome that I have come across. It is certainly not the only one, and much different from some of the other books associated with relationships and Asperger's.

The author used the terms Aspergerian, Aspie, and Autistic to describe people diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and stated some refer to themselves as Aspergerian or Aspie, but did not suggest that the majority do.

I did a recent informal poll on the Wrong Planet Website, under my user name Aghogday, linked below, and out of over 100 people, there was close to 20% identifying as autistic, about 20% identifying as Aspie, and the rest identifying with neutral or other identification that was not disability/condition first identity.

In addition, out of most of the polls done there recently about a third of individuals are looking for cures for their difficulties on the spectrum. They can feel more comfortable talking about that there now because people have become more supportive of differences of opinions, overall, on the cure vs. anti-cure ideologies.

The Author referred to the couple's identification with "Aspie Pride". There is certainly, historically, in the last decade, been a strong element against research to mitigate the impairments associated with Asperger's syndrome among some who identify as part of a “so called” "Aspie Pride Movement".

In fact, John Elder Robison, was labeled as a "TMS spammer" in his profile, in one "Aspie Pride online community" for discussing the potential of TMS as a therapy, as discussed in the book in mitigating impairment in connecting with others.

However, since that time, a few years ago, that site has become more supportive of differences of opinions on these types of issues.

There is no wide agreement on what "neurodiversity" means, which is not necessarily the same concept as "Aspie Pride" that was discussed in the book.

As an example, some people allow schizophrenics in their interpretation of the "neurodiversity spectrum" while others do not. Some others suggest that every human is part of it. According to what Wiki has been able to surmise the "neurodiversity movement" is centered on an anti-cure ideology, which dismisses the medical model of disability.

Both models apply in Autism, as the major genetic causal factor identified for Autism at this point in time is Fragile X syndrome in about 5% of the spectrum, where a genetic mutation resulting in a difficulty with protein synthesis has been reported along with promising research to "cure" or "remediate" associated impairments.

That is just one example of a subgroup of the spectrum where underlying factors associated with identified behavioral impairments are much different from what may underlie similar defined and observed behavioral impairments described as an autism spectrum disorder, in other subgroups on the spectrum.

While some people define the word "cure" in the historical context of the term, as a complete remedy for an illness, the modern medical definition of cure is more reasonable as one that does include mitigation of symptoms.

The complexity of disease and/or disorder and limitation of "cure" is more fully understood as a result of modern medical research. The organization that Plank broke the barrier to work with, along with Robison and others identifies the needs of "cure" in alignment with the modern medical definition of the word, including elements of psychological well-being that may result from improved acceptance and support.

The statement that some are looking for cures through research and some are looking for acceptance and support, with an understanding of the differences of actual difficulties and needs across the full spectrum, was not an unreasonable description given by the author among those that have a balanced view of the spectrum.

The author referred to discussions of Alex Plank creating an Aspie dating site, after he had created the Wrong Planet website. The Wrong Planet Website is not a dating site but there are discussions about love, dating, and issues people have with it that are important for support. Some people may find offline relationships there, as in any other social networking site.

"Aspie Affection" created by Plank is a dating site, and is what was referred to per the statement about creating a dating site for people diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome in the book. It is rarely discussed on the wrong planet website site, but there are "Google Adsense" advertisements for it, if one does not have an "Ad blocker” in their browser.

In general, dating sites on the internet can be a risky proposition, but the same was true in the dancing bars and other bars in real life, that were more prevalent, last century in the "real world". While some people may be looking for another person on the spectrum to date, for others an on and off the broader autism phenotype type of relationship can be a very complementary one, with much different ways of thinking, as opposites often do attract. :)

The wrong planet website offers a great deal of support for people of all orientations of gender and sexual orientation, many of who are not looking to date at all.

Many people on the spectrum are not comfortable communicating on blogs or Facebook. It is unfortunate that the "Wrong Planet website" does not receive the same type of awareness of existence as the much larger social media arenas that have the "Facebook advantage" of sharing information.

Never the less, over 70K registered members is good evidence of a good word of mouth advertisement that the site does exist for some. Along with sites like the "Thinking Person's Guide to Autism", that highlight it on their cover page, as an excellent support site that does meet the needs of support for some people on the spectrum.

The Wrong Planet website is also a valuable resource of Google search on almost any Autism subject, for a comprehensive view from people on the spectrum for those off the spectrum to come to know how diverse it is in different ways of thinking, perspectives, and symptoms that make up a full spectrum of diversity.

This is one area of advantage that Facebook does not provide as Google searches usually end up in a dead end result on the top of a cover page, and not directed at an actual topic of interest or information.

I suspect that this will change soon for Facebook, as it is steadily becoming a massive social resource for blogging and interactive discussion, instead of just a place for social connection, organizational awareness, and comment. Timeline was the first real step in that direction. I also suspect it will not be long before Google succumbs and becomes the official search engine instead of the comparatively weak search resource of "Bing".

If Facebook and Google can reach a compromise perhaps more people with an anti-cure ideology and a cure-ideology can reach additional compromise too, as illustrated well in the book through the philosophy of Jack, Kirsten, Plank, Robison, and many others that have found points of agreement or tolerance on issues of controversy associated with the different ideologies.

Autism, the Internet and "Ideological First Identity", a Collection of Thoughts:

"AutisticS Peeks!"

It's Good

to Hear




Autistic Spectrum



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