07 October, 2009

Symptoms, privilege, Mad Men, and my dad

It is hard to plan a post about this because I keep wanting to tie it in with how much I love Mad Men. But I feel like that would cause a messy, incoherent piece of writing. To keep it simple, in this post I attempt to explain why Asperger's is diagnosed so much less in women, and why many AS-identified people don't display AS symptoms that much.

The diagnostic criteria for Asperger's assumes that the person being assessed feels entitled. Just because you like monologuing, and have trouble understanding the difference between monologuing and a conversation, doesn't mean that you will monologue if something painful happens every time you try to do it. Just because you love flapping your hands and jumping up and down doesn't mean you will do it, if every time you do it your parents scream at you to stop. The diagnostic criteria for Asperger's assumes that you are seeing a person who has not received a punishment for ASD behaviors. Because when people are punished for things, they stop doing them.

Oh, but people with Asperger's are so dense, and they can't tell that other people don't like their stimming and monologuing, so they wouldn't actually stop doing it! Yeah, okay--dense doesn't mean impenetrable. If other people just looked away and stopped talking to you after a while, maybe you wouldn't catch on. If people started crying, or yelling things at you out their car windows, then maybe you would.

I am very very concerned, all the time, with figuring out what people are feeling and what they will feel in the future. If I appear perceptive, it's not because I get the kind of immediate feedback that normal people get; it's because I'm working hard. I am very concerned, all the time, with what I am saying, and although I don't monologue, I often state things very briefly, or don't explain them enough, specifically because I am trying not to monologue.

This is partly because I'm a girl and I can't just run off at the mouth all the time like I could if I was a guy. If I was a guy, there would be a little more space for someone like me. Maybe too much space. What I was going to say about Mad Men is that Pete Campbell is Asperger's plus way too much space, so much space that he can do something evil and not even notice. Because he doesn't sense people's feelings, he assumes they don't exist, or he projects onto them what he wants them to feel.

This post is already a mess. The subject upsets me, because it reminds me of why I don't get along with my dad. My mom and I both think my dad has AS. My dad says he isn't sure he has it because he always gets an NT score on Internet Asperger's quizzes--yeah, well, those are based on self-reporting and my dad is completely unaware of the way he acts. He monologues all over people! If you interrupt him when he's monologuing, he just keeps on talking straight through you, even if you interrupted him to tell him you already know the end. If you tell my dad you don't like something he does, for example that you don't like for him to tell other people you're gay, he just tells you why he thinks you're wrong to feel like that.

And he doesn't care. He doesn't have to feel bad all the time about the stuff he does wrong, because people let him do it. And he didn't grow up his whole life being told that he was--well, wrong; with all this crying and all these books about different conditions left lying around the house, and all these doctors. I was a kid who always felt like a burden, and now I try really hard not to be one. And my dad doesn't notice or care if he's a burden or not.

The way I feel about my dad is ridiculous, because he's such a great person. I know that if I look at him out of context, he is one of the kindest and most interesting people I know, and he was a wonderful father to me when I was a kid. He wasn't the person who was doing all the crying; whenever my mom says how difficult I was to raise, and how much better I am now, he always disagrees and says how fun and interesting I was as a kid. I know that he feels like I'm worse now, that he thinks I'm mean to him, that I pick at him for no reason. And I do pick at him a lot. It's just hard to be around him because I feel like he's had it so easy.


  1. I always felt entitled, haha. But I always tried really hard to keep it hidden. I tried so damn hard to keep my Aspergers traits hidden that I didn't talk at all. And I hate it when I am trying to explain to others that I have to try hard at everything I do. They'll just say, "I try hard too," and I know they don't get it. How can we make it clear that when we try hard to do things that come naturally to others it's way different than their version of trying hard.

  2. I don't see how you're entitled then, if you hide it. I mean, sometimes I *want* things a lot and have selfish feelings but I don't act on them because I'm a grownup. And I act on them less than I should, even, because I don't want people to be mad.

    I feel dumb because I have no idea if I'm trying harder than other people or not. I mean, I think I am, but maybe everyone just thinks they're trying really hard.

  3. I know there's at least some guys who, growing up, will have people physically attack them if they screw up the protocol. I was one of them. I wonder what the difference is between guys who get a pass growing up and guys who risk physical injury if they don't get their AS signs under control.