Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Wizard Theory; Aspergers within the cultural matrix.

I took the aspie quiz which you can find here, along with the Neanderthal theory of Autism.

Very interesting, both of them. By the by, my results:

Different does not mean broken
Different does not mean Broken Small Poster

Your Aspie score: 179 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 25 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie
, it concludes; meaning I'm very likely diagnosable as being on the AS spectrum. I'd say certainly, as the quiz is composed of the sorts of questions used to diagnose Aspergers - but it all comes down to whether the person with the sheepskin on the wall agrees. So far, I haven't felt the need for the outlay.

The questions and their implications explain a great deal, whether or not you are Aspie, or even interested in aspergers - because they imply a radically different being in terms of social organization, connections, interests and thought processes.

While the Neanderthal theory of origin is interesting - even fascinating - it does not explain how or why the genetic legacy was preserved to this day - I mean, other than the obvious, that people were attracted, mated and had successufl offspring.

What we need to look at is how and why they were successful.

I would suggest that the niches for Aspies, prior to the Enlightenment would be Wizard, Priest and Bard. Those niches did not disappear, though to some degree they evolved and mutated.

But we seek out caves and cloisters, comfortable routine and time to pursue our own thoughts. In return, we collect vast reams of data and make unusual and valuable correlations. We also have the ability - or some would say the poor taste - to be honest as a default state. Lying is a learned skill for us, and usually deception or misdirection is used to lead an NT to an understanding they could not directly reach if just told the truth.

Today, you will find Aspies concentrated in industries and fields that permit them to be alone in their offices with the tools of their trades; commonly computers, but more broadly they are brain-oriented tasks. Temple Grandin has referred to NASA as "the world's largest sheltered workshop."

This is true enough, viewed through the perception that there's something wrong with being aspie or autistic, when in fact, there are ancient and practical ways of living quite well as an Aspie. Most of those ways create a situation that is comfortable for the aspies, establishes a class of person to interface with neurotypicals on the behalf of the aspies and of course, puts up barriers in the way of the nearly irresistible urge of NT's to poke us to see if we are paying attention, have noticed their status or like them as persons.

I'm not saying that Aspies are better than neurotypicals - there are many things we are not better at, and frankly shouldn't even attempt. Most sports, for example. Competitive environments. Politics. Social policy.

When you need someone to put several facts together and come up with new facts, without giving two hoots as to whether those facts are welcome, that's what Aspies do best. An objective approach comes naturally to us; we do not tend to work toward a preordained conclusion, so we are pretty good engineers, researchers, archivists; knowledge workers in general. We do not reason emotionally because - well, emotion isn't accessible to us that way.

That's a huge disadvantage if we are at a cocktail party or trying to influence people in large groups for political reasons, it's a great advantage if you need to know why your attempt to influence a large group failed, or more likely, what would be the most elegant solution to an engineering problem.

Every social structure requires reliable, objective, knowledgeable advice on a wide range of topics in order to succeed, and to the extent that it organizes itself to accommodate Aspergers and other neurodiverse persons, it will dramatically increase it's chances for success.

It's wise to remember that Microsoft has made billions by being Aspie-friendly.

The trick, of course, is having the will to overcome the very strong neurotypical tendency to react toward people who are fundamentally different in a xenophobic way and to resist the temptation to manage aspies as one would manage neurotypicals.

One only needs to read the websites of the "curebie" crowd to realize they are xenophobes - and particularly terrified ones.

But "different is not broken," nor is differenced dangerous by definition.

So don't poke the aspies. And don't fuss about the horrible prospect of an Aspie Diagnosis in your child. Invest in it. That college fund could pay off big time.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tool use and techno-skilled - in the rise of civilisation aspie skills must have been in high demand. However, now that the feminine principle has begun to reassert itself, and rising up the hierarchy provided by civilisation has become a matter of who you know not what you know, the aspie's skills are sidelined and (his) lack of social skills pushes him out of everyday life. It wasn't always like this.


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