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Before anyone gets upset by this article let me make something very clear. I am not saying that there isn't such a thing as less disabling autism than Carly Fleischmann but what I am saying is that Rosy King's autism appears to be so mild that it is like comparing a broken leg to a broken fingernail. Both are diagnosed as "breaks" but are in reality quite different. These are quotes from their youtubes; 
  • "What do I want? I want to be like every other kid, but I can't." Carly Fleischmann.
  • "Although it can be a problem, I wouldn't swap my autism for anything" Rosy King.
I think this reflects that the diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder has become far to wide to cover a whole range of problems that often very capable people have in integrating with their "normal" less capable cousins.

This has lead some people to be seen as "disabled" when they are in fact "enabled". If you are worried about yourself then ask yourself this "Do I want to be the way I am or do I want to be normal?" If the answer is I want to be normal, then you are probably disabled. If the answer is I would rather be as I am then you are probably enabled. The above statements of Carly Fleischmann and Rosy King bring this into sharp relief. What Carly Fleischmann has

When I was a child an autistic child would sit in the corner and spin a spinnable object, or perform some other repetitive action most of the time and Newton and Albert Einstein were geniuses.

However these days we have something called the autistic spectrum or some people call it the autistic continuum and even though these are different there appears little concern for this fact. I will stick to spectrum, and over the years this has expanded to the the point that if you google "Asperger's Einstien" you find such gems as this BBC: Einstein and Newton 'had autism'.

The DSM IV Diagnostic Criteria for Autism and Asberger's are here. Check it out, it is the standard and if you don't meet it then well? (On this autistic spectrum there are some special sub-spectra namely semantic-pragmatic and Asberger's syndrome though the latter is to be dropped in DSM V Asperger's Syndrome disappearing from DSM-5).

Is this the result of an anti-intelligence culture? I think so, and also perhaps a profound ignorance on the part of some psychologists and a way of dealing with patients who pay money and so expect a diagnosis.

The distinction here is the difference between a disability and an ability. Newton and Einstein were "enabled" but autism is a "disability". Both geniuses and autistics may share the property of being obsessive about something but even Newton never sat in a corner spinning an apple and droning to himself.

Of course there is no reason that we cannot redefine autism so as to include all intense behaviours and thus call a lot of talented and clever people autistic. Thus suggesting that a lot of very capable people are actually incapable or suggesting that autistic people don't really have a disability at all.

There are many human characteristics in any individual, and seeing which combinations real people have and which combinations are enabling and which disabling is very interesting.

So now lets try to clarify things. First lets look at what Carly Fleischmann has to say about autism, she knows. This video is a bit "American TV" but the content is fascinating. Thank you Carly for helping me and I hope others to better understand autism.

Autistic Girl Expresses Unimaginable Intelligence

YouTube Video

What is particularly interesting is that Carly Fleischmann exhibits the classic symptoms of autism yet she found a way to communicate. I believe her words give a genuinely useful definition of autism as being unable to control ones sensory input.

"You don't know what it feels like to be me. When you cant sit still because it feels like your legs are on fire, or you can't sit still because it feels like one hundred ants are crawling up your arms".

"People look at me and assume I am dumb, because I can't talk."

"I think a lot of people get a lot of their information from so called experts, but if a horse is sick you don't ask a fish what's wrong with the horse. You go right to the horses mouth."

So given what ever it is that Carly experiences if that is used as a standard for defining autism then lets look at what follows in that context.

BBC: My Autism and me.

YouTube Video

(her brother might have the same condition as Carly but probably not her.) Well the BBC go on with their new definition of autism BBC: Einstein and Newton 'had autism' What can we say! The word nonsense comes to mind.

Now this label has been handed out quite freely and to the point that intelligent people are being called Asberger's and "on the autistic spectrum". Well if you your interested in anything other than work and TV there must be something wrong, or at least that is what we are told in today's world.

Some of you may know that the criteria for many disabilities are laid down in something called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition, abbreviated as DSM IV. Notably if you were worried that you might be normal, which in my opinion is a form of dysfunctional, you will be even more worried when you find there is no criteria for normal in DSM IV. Because of this I have taken the liberty of writing one, see Normality (it is joke but also I think raises a serious point).

So when you are "enabled" you may have social difficulties. You won't want to talk about everyday things every day. You might well be obsessed with some field or other, and you might feel depressed about it from time to time. You might have found school difficult and some teachers and kids who were not as smart as you might have made life difficult for you. But let's be careful here. Einstien and Carly Fleischmann are quite different people and perhaps have little more in common then that they are both human.

Asberger's syndrome which is really not much like Carly's form of autism is really something that manifests very differently from autism. A person with Asbergers might be obsessed with the dates of battles, for example, yet be able to tell you nothing of why the battles took place or how they fit into history as a whole. Unfortunately these days "normal" people don't seem to be able to tell the difference between talent and obsession, between an interest in physics and an obsession prime numbers.

In particular - there should be qualitative impairment in social interaction and clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (DSM IV). Einstein or Newton did not have these symptoms and nor do many other people now wrongly labelled as Aspies because they have a few characteristic like "encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus." This is the most misunderstood criteria and here people think this makes Einstein and Newton, Asberger's. Most geniuses meet this criteria and many people who are simply specialised.

People are complex and many faceted and there or add characteristics in all of us but lets not try to convince rare "enabled" people that their suffering is comparable to rare "disabled" people.

Maja Toudal expresses the delemma's of the definitions of autism in her video below. I think what she describes are sensitive intelligent people who are suffering from oppression by normal people. Things like not doing homework is often because there are far more interesting things to do. She talks about special interests, but usually the kind of interests that ASD people have, have no apparent use i.e. knowing every train timetable. Solving a complex problem in physics or being interested in music is not really a symptom of Asbergers.

Wikipedia: Asperger Syndrome - (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Also I have put the DSM IV criteria here DSM IV Autism Here is An's Youtube.

Spectrum (and thank you)

YouTube Video

The DSM IV Diagnostic Criteria for Autism and Asberger's are here.

"encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus." After all what is talent these days? "Has Britain got Talent" provides us with the popular view i.e. talent is a stage performance. Scientists, mathematicians and engineers are simply Asberger's i.e. autistic and therefore have reduced capability and therefore should be given less social power.

Ignorance is Bliss (Video from Studio, and from Claire's visit)

YouTube Video

What we are seeing here is social decay. In two respects.
  1. People who have an ability are told they are disabled (and thus deskilled) and,
  2. People who have a disability are told they are enabled (and thus should not ask for help).

If you think this article might be improved, or you think I am a plonker then do write to me and tell me how or so at tomdehavas@gmail.com


Finally another "too sensitive" person that is distinctly abnormal but very talented: Kate Bush - In Search Of Peter Pan

YouTube Video

And recently added this very interesting video below which clarifies to some extent the broadening of the diagnosis.

Steve Silberman: The forgotten history of autism

© Tom de Havas 2011. The information under this section is my own work it may be reproduced without modification but must include this notice.

Subpages (1): DSM IV Autism