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Asperger’s Syndrome Sex, Part Two

The spirit of eugenics is apparently alive and well in New Hampshire. “Dear Abby” just this week ran a letter from the mother of a 24-year-old son with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The son, “Jasper,” started dating and was eventually seen with a hickey on his neck. So the mother’s best friend, taking note of this badge of distinction, suggested the mother have Jasper “fixed”—as in “sterilized.” The mother writes to Dear Abby and asks, “How should I respond to my friend about her suggestion? When she made it, I didn’t know what to say.” 

I dunno about your gut response, readers, but mine is to borrow a line I heard so often from three-year-olds in my children’s preschool. “You’re not my friend!” would do it for me, though “How dare you!” would be more adult. 

Or Jasper’s mom could always take the high road and stuff a copy of Asperger’s Syndrome and High Achievement in the best friend’s... mailbox. In addition to Kinsey, the book portrays Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Jonathan Swift, Vincent Van Gogh, Erik Satie, Simone Weil, Andy Warhol, Patricia Highsmith, and several other notable folks as probable people with Asperger’s Syndrome. 

This distasteful incident also illustrates the larger social context: widespread ignorance about sexual human rights, including the rights of those with any kind of “disability.” 

“Who Am Us Anyway?”

Leaving the realm of the impossibly surreal but all too true, I’d like to remind my readers that the topic of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is a complex collection of interlocking issues. Causes, treatments, educational strategies, family dynamics, social policy responses, these all contain elements of controversy. As one reader in another forum pointed out, we don’t know if the greater number of autism and AS cases is due to a real increase or if the number of cases which have always existed are now more likely to be detected, diagnosed and reported. 

There isn’t even one universally accepted set of diagnostic criteria. Currently I believe there are three: Tony Attwood and Carol Gray’s positive “discoveries,” the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and Gillberg’s Criteria for Asperger’s Disorder. These three sets of criteria overlap and vary somewhat in how they present AS. Particularly, the DSM IV criteria are focused on pathology and the Attwood/Gray criteria are focused on capacities. It’s quite interesting to look at all three sets of criteria and compare. 

The Attwood/Gray criteria emphasizes AS traits such as “absolute loyalty and impeccable dependability;” lack of “culturalist biases;” “a determination to seek truth;” “enthusiasm for unique interests and topics;” and “a focused desire to maintain order and accuracy.” The DSM-IV includes “marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expressions, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction;” “restricted and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interest and activities;” and “stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms.” The Gillberg’s criteria mentions “socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior;” “formal, pedantic language;” “odd prosody, peculiar voice characteristics;” and “impairment of comprehension including misinterpretations of literal/implied meanings.” 

The psychological experts have varied perceptions about what constitutes Asperger’s Syndrome so imagine the confusion of the general public. For one thing, there is an unfortunate notion that Asperger’s Syndrome is really just a kind of ultimate male cluelessness (self centered, no manners, no finesse) married to the ultimate in geekiness. Statements to this effect can be found on list serves and news sites with space for public comments and, unfortunately, some AS men can appear and act this way. But Barbara Jacobs, author of Loving Mr. Spock, cautions, “Many behaviors of the ‘typical bloke’ have some similarities with Asperger's Syndrome and the condition can't be attributed to every oddball you may meet, of whatever gender.” (Personally, I don’t like this book, though there is helpful material, such as “Sixty Indications of Asperger Syndrome” on page 43. Instead I recommend  Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term Relationships by Ashley Stanford. It’s better written and far more practical.)

Perceptions of AS females are also complicated by gender stereotypes. The shy “good student” AS girls, or the more outspoken “Hermione Grangers” with “encyclopedic knowledge,” may sometimes slip under the radar in school because their neuroquirks contribute to academic success and may not be disruptive enough to bring them to the attention of a school psychologist. This may be due to the type of socialization usually inflicted on females—and expected and internalized by psychologists.

Other people feel that AS is just the most recent and faddish diagnosis du jour and serves as a convenient cop-out for people who can’t be bothered to adapt to social situations. But as one person said to me, “Even if I’ve got Asperger’s, it doesn’t mean I don’t have to keep trying. I still get called on my stuff.” (This was the basic gist, not an exact quote.)

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Please have your "friend"

Please have your "friend" watch the movie Antonias Line. Everyone deserves love.... and on their own terms....as long as it is all consentual.

Will check it out

Thanks for the suggestion, and I do agree with you. Thanks for reading!

Amy 

Learners permit

Sex ed in schools should inclued a learners permit and lots of hands on experience with a variety of modalities including adult surrogate mentors and alternative s of all kind in perhaps a graduated individually tailored program. lter group marriages with the ability to absorb multiples types of peoples in a mutually beneficial financial, intimacy, and home world maintenance as well as a very flexible adult to child ratio would be a great benefit for mixing personality types into a sustainable lifestyle preferable to the toxic nuclear family of over-consumption and isolation and uniformity. Something made a necessity in a eco-economically stressed world learning how to live within the means of our planet.

Thanks for your ideas

I appreciate your taking the time to contribute your ideas. Food for thought. 

Amy 

inappropriate behavior

You mean like refusing to fight in wars based on lies???

Wars

To my mind, refusing to fight wars based on lies is appropriate behavior.

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Amy Marsh
May 26th, 2010
Amy Marsh's picture
I mark this sad ending of Carnal Nation with great, great appreciation for the opportunity I've had to write for CN and work with all the fantastic people here. Much love to all of you: readers,...

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