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Anita18
12-03-2012, 08:35 AM
I don't need treatment because I don't have autism. A child with mild autism needs support in some way in order to learn certain things, cope in society, and integrate, find a job that suits, hold a job etc. Maybe not long term, but if they have autism, they will need some form of support at some time, to learn strategies that may (or may not) be able to be implemented independently. Having mild autism is not the same as being introverted and having some "personality quirks". I know several people with Aspergers who are extroverts, or at least, that's how they see themselves. I know lots of social kids with autism.

Why can't you have patience for your cousin even if he doesn't "very likely" have Aspergers? Can't you just "roll with" his personality quirks without labelling him? Why do you need to consider him "very likely as Asperger's" before you have patience and roll with his personality quirks? What if that's just him, and not something that can be labelled? Could you have patience then?

I think it's better to understand yourself, your personality, your traits and tendencies as a human being, rather than as a label. I also think it's better to try and understand others this way.

I work with kids with special needs, and their families, and try saying it this way: First, he/she's a person, second he's a your son (or brother, etc), and then he has x, y, and z, which means he has autism. The autism is not who he is, he's a person, he's your son, and he happens to have autism. The autism label never goes away, but the person, the son, the x, y, and z is what we work with. The x, y and z are more important to me than the label of autism. I don't need the label - if there's x, y and z; I can work with your child on that. "Autism" as a label means nothing without the actual person, and for each person the x, y and z is different - sometimes common factors, but never exactly the same. Children (and adults) with autism are as unique as those without. Too often the label is put before the child, and thrown around as an answer when it really isn't. That x, y, and z isn't helped by giving a label, and shouldn't need a label in order to be worked on. Labels can be really useful, especially in my work, as a starting point and getting diagnosis reports (if there is one) is one part of our intake, it's good for background and saves us asking the same questions, but based on all of this, I couldn't even tell you where I would start with a child, until I met him/her, and even then, only after several sessions to I really start to decide what I want to focus on. Because I try not to focus on the label, and instead focus on the child. Anita18, I think you really want to think you do this, but you needed to give your cousin a label in order to accept his quirkiness, and to me, that's a shame.
I think we are agreeing on the big ideas, but simply choose to call them different things.

I "label" my cousin so I know what he needs. So I can get an idea of where he's coming from. I don't work with special needs kids, I have no background on that. As you said, it's a starting point. He doesn't need special treatment, because he has parents who don't want to change who he is - they've simply accommodated for his abilities, and he has quite an extensive number of abilities. But I definitely have other family members who actively avoid him because he's "weird." I believe that's a shame. And as long as we learn to accept him, by whatever means possible, isn't that the most important part?

I had to label myself as an introvert to fully accept that part of my personality. It's like, "Okay, it has a name, it's a thing, I can go somewhere with this." I think that's just the way I approach it. But I certainly don't explain my entire personality through being an introvert, just as I'm sure those Asperger-like quirks don't explain the entirety of my cousin's personality. They're all just starting points.

Angelskates
12-03-2012, 09:29 AM
I "label" my cousin so I know what he needs. So I can get an idea of where he's coming from.

But he doesn't have a diagnosis, so how does your lay-person diagnosis/label help you know what he needs, and where he's coming from? Even an official diagnosis/label can't do this. Can't you get to know him and learn this? IME, that's the only way to learn what he needs, and where he's coming from, much like anyone else, especially because you - his cousin, and not a psychologist or someone who has experience with kids with special needs - are giving him a label, and don't fully understand what that label means; and it means something different for each child. I don't understand why you need to tell yourself he's "very likely" got Aspergers in order to be patient with him.

This is a pet peeve of mine, lay people (mostly parents and teachers) telling themselves a particular child has a LABEL in order to show compassion, empathy, patience etc. or make it "okay". We shouldn't need to label to accept those with differences, but I think it's even more problematic when those not qualified to label are "labelling" in order to try and explain something to themselves or make sense of a behaviour, rather than just accepting, or working with, the behaviour. Maybe he doesn't need special treatment because he doesn't have autism/Aspergers, and has a quirky personality. I don't know. But without a diagnosis, neither do you. Yet you feel the need to label him as very likely having Aspergers. Can you explain more of why/ how this helps you? And how you think it helps him?

I do understand if there is an official diagnosis, you could research that and see in general terms some things that may help you understand your cousin, but with a diagnosis given a lay person, I don't understand. (Actually i often don't understand with official diagnoses as well, unless they're needed for school or insurance.) The traits are just that, traits. Found in many people, autistic and not, and getting to know your cousin as a person would help you understand what he needs, just like with any other person.

michiruwater
12-03-2012, 09:35 AM
If 50% of the population is introverted (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDoQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thoughtful-self-improvement.com%2Fpercentage-of-introverts.html&ei=C3a8UOS7MKKGjALXmYCICw&usg=AFQjCNG3nE6Jf0TbfimRm-wl78DX-epLDg&sig2=0We90wa0dcq7lBiUg9f67w), and 50% of the population, by your definition, therefore have 'mild autism'... I mean, that's as many people having 'mild autism' as are male. You seriously cannot look at that and realize how ridiculous it sounds? Autism is a mental illness that needs treatment. You just labeled Angelskates and me as autistic when we are not autistic, thus depreciating the severity of the disease for those that actually have to deal with it every day. It's extremely offensive.

'Mildly autistic' does not help explain why Angelskates or I are the way we are. 'Introverted' does. The two are not synonyms.

PDilemma
12-03-2012, 03:54 PM
God, no. I'm an introvert, crowds do bother me. I have sensory issues, but I am not autistic. Plenty of people have some autistic traits/tendencies, but it doesn't make them "slightly autistic". This is the thinking that has society in trouble, IMO, everything needs a label. You're either on the autistic scale, or you're not. There's not such thing as slightly autistic, any more than there's "a little bit dyslexic" or "a bit ADHD". You're your own normal, and everyone is different.

I think, though, that we are in danger of getting to a place where there is a standard and defined normal (in the U.S. that definition will include extroverted traits) and anyone outside it is expected to be labeled with some "disorder" or another. Like PL, I was beginning to see every parent of a slightly quirky kid seeking a label for them and every other parent with a kid not making straight A's wanting them tested for a learning disability. We are not leaving a lot of room for people to be their own normal anymore.

(ETA: I hope this doesn't sound like I am disagreeing with anything you said...I'm just adding an extended thought...reread it and it sounded like I was, sorry!)

Stormy
12-03-2012, 08:22 PM
If 50% of the population is introverted (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDoQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thoughtful-self-improvement.com%2Fpercentage-of-introverts.html&ei=C3a8UOS7MKKGjALXmYCICw&usg=AFQjCNG3nE6Jf0TbfimRm-wl78DX-epLDg&sig2=0We90wa0dcq7lBiUg9f67w), and 50% of the population, by your definition, therefore have 'mild autism'... I mean, that's as many people having 'mild autism' as are male. You seriously cannot look at that and realize how ridiculous it sounds? Autism is a mental illness that needs treatment. You just labeled Angelskates and me as autistic when we are not autistic, thus depreciating the severity of the disease for those that actually have to deal with it every day. It's extremely offensive.

'Mildly autistic' does not help explain why Angelskates or I are the way we are. 'Introverted' does. The two are not synonyms.

Very well said, Michiru! I can't agree with you more.

Angelskates
12-03-2012, 11:12 PM
I think, though, that we are in danger of getting to a place where there is a standard and defined normal (in the U.S. that definition will include extroverted traits) and anyone outside it is expected to be labeled with some "disorder" or another. Like PL, I was beginning to see every parent of a slightly quirky kid seeking a label for them and every other parent with a kid not making straight A's wanting them tested for a learning disability. We are not leaving a lot of room for people to be their own normal anymore.

(ETA: I hope this doesn't sound like I am disagreeing with anything you said...I'm just adding an extended thought...reread it and it sounded like I was, sorry!)

I agree with you. I see: problems with reading, writing or spelling = dyslexia, problems with keeping still, or being "naughty" in class = ADHD, introverted, "quirky", not many friends = Aspergers, very shy, doesn't like to talk = selective mutism. Problems with communicating and making friends = autism. These labels are thrown around far too much, by people who don't understand them. I work in a multi-lingistic, multicultural environment (which is my area of study and expertise - the relationships between this and special needs, and working with them both together) and many, if not all, of these issues can be caused but a lot of other things, including cultural and linguistic confusion/discomfort and too much information and/or change. Or they could not be the child's strengths, or just part of their personality. I think it's a shame that people feel the need to label - and a lot of the time it's because they don't want to modify their own behaviour, or they need a reason to, or because they want me to fix it :(

MacMadame
12-04-2012, 01:24 AM
I think, though, that we are in danger of getting to a place where there is a standard and defined normal (in the U.S. that definition will include extroverted traits) and anyone outside it is expected to be labeled with some "disorder" or another.
I think we're already there. Okay, not 100% there. But we're close in a lot of ways.

I think there are a lot of pressures that cause this. Parents do want a quick fix sometimes. But sometimes they see their kids struggling and what they do doesn't help and so they want to both find out what's wrong and also take possibilities off the table. (Like if there is a *slight* chance your kid has something then it will keep coming up even if it's unlikely and testing can narrow the choices so that the unlikely doesn't keep coming up to cloud the issue.)

Another pressure is for schools who are required (or want to in places it's not required) to make accommodations. Having everyone with a label makes their lives easier because they can develop some protocols and shoe horn you into them. Even if they are willing to deal with people individually, having a label helps them not start from scratch.

There are also organizations who want more recognition for their particular disorder and more people being diagnosed with that disorder helps them fund raise and get legislation and other things they want and even need.

Finally, I do think it's human nature to label things. It's kind of how we understand the world by categorizing and putting things in boxes.

Anita18
12-04-2012, 03:15 AM
If 50% of the population is introverted (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDoQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thoughtful-self-improvement.com%2Fpercentage-of-introverts.html&ei=C3a8UOS7MKKGjALXmYCICw&usg=AFQjCNG3nE6Jf0TbfimRm-wl78DX-epLDg&sig2=0We90wa0dcq7lBiUg9f67w), and 50% of the population, by your definition, therefore have 'mild autism'... I mean, that's as many people having 'mild autism' as are male. You seriously cannot look at that and realize how ridiculous it sounds? Autism is a mental illness that needs treatment. You just labeled Angelskates and me as autistic when we are not autistic, thus depreciating the severity of the disease for those that actually have to deal with it every day. It's extremely offensive.

'Mildly autistic' does not help explain why Angelskates or I are the way we are. 'Introverted' does. The two are not synonyms.
I never said that I agreed all introverted traits were from autism. I just said there was an article I read that mentioned it, and gave me food for thought. But from what I've observed, some people are different introverted than others. The introvertedness can stem from different things. It's really just that everyone's different, and people have different ways of categorizing their personalities to possibly help explain how they work.

Giving my cousin the casual label of Asperger's does not help him. I fully admit to that. He's doing well on his own, he has people looking out for him. I would not dare suggest that he needs special treatment. It's simply a starting point to help me understand why he might be the way he is. It's not like I'm going down the list of "what to do with an Asperger's kid" to find out how to interact with him. :lol:

Angelskates
12-04-2012, 04:46 AM
Giving my cousin the casual label of Asperger's does not help him. I fully admit to that. He's doing well on his own, he has people looking out for him. I would not dare suggest that he needs special treatment. It's simply a starting point to help me understand why he might be the way he is. It's not like I'm going down the list of "what to do with an Asperger's kid" to find out how to interact with him. :lol:

And this is a shame, that you need that casual label. Not just you, but so many people feel the need to throw labels around in order to help understand others, when really lay labels mean absolutely nothing except make the labeller feel better and supposedly give them a way of trying to understand that is, sadly, more socially acceptable than saying "different". It does nothing for the person being labelled, except put them in a box. How is the label a starting point to helping you understand? You really don't know that he has Asperger's, but you've told yourself he does. Can you explain how that helps you understand why he might be the way he is? I am really curious...

michiruwater
12-04-2012, 04:54 AM
But from what I've observed, some people are different introverted than others. The introvertedness can stem from different things.

Can you please explain what you mean by this? In what way are people introverted differently? What different things can introversion stem from?

maatTheViking
12-04-2012, 05:37 AM
Being introverted or extroverted doesn't have anything to do with autism or how you handle social situations, IMO.

I am introverted (defined as: drawing energy from being alone, having energy drained by being with people), but I am pretty good in social situations. I have a former co worker who was extremely awkward in social situations, but is quite extroverted and outgoing.


In general, I find that all these mental disabilities from ADHD to autism are problematic when they are defined by a set of 'traits' to layperson. It leads to 'diagnosis' of people without understanding the true disorder. It is like when people over-organize and say 'oh, my OCDness got ahold of me' - but they are very far from having OCD, they have just heard one trait.

Leave diagnosis to th professionals (who has thei own issues and debates as this thread originally shows).

Angelskates
12-04-2012, 06:12 AM
In general, I find that all these mental disabilities from ADHD to autism are problematic when they are defined by a set of 'traits' to layperson. It leads to 'diagnosis' of people without understanding the true disorder. It is like when people over-organize and say 'oh, my OCDness got ahold of me' - but they are very far from having OCD, they have just heard one trait.

Leave diagnosis to th professionals (who has thei own issues and debates as this thread originally shows).

I agree, though I have found it necessary to explain autism to kids using traits of commonality. I ask the group of kids if they have a specific trait, and some will always raise their hands, and so I tell them that they have something in common with the person I am introducing (who usually has autism). I scatter in things like "Do you like computers?" and "Do you like chocolate?" as well, just to show them that just because this child has autism, doesn't mean he "weird" - we all have things in common. That doesn't mean we're all a little bit autistic, but it's a good way of introduce children with special needs to those without because they can see some of themselves in him or her. If only it was as easy with adults. Kids always ask the most awesome questions, and are, IME, really interested in the answers. IME adults need labels more than children.

MacMadame
12-04-2012, 06:52 AM
It is like when people over-organize and say 'oh, my OCDness got ahold of me' - but they are very far from having OCD, they have just heard one trait.

That has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves. That, saying "my ADD has kicked in" when you get disorganized, and claiming to be "addicted" to something just because you like it a lot. It's the trifecta of mental illness as a personality trait.

There are a lot of addicts in my family and one of my sisters had OCD and these are serious and horrible things to have. People act like it's fun or the latest fad to have OCD. They should try living in my sister's shoes. She actually spend a couple of years in mental institutions over the years because something would push her over the edge and she couldn't cope with real life. She's only out now because they found the right medicine for her but she's basically doped to the gills to keep her from washing her hands so much her skin bleeds 24/7. It's not a pretty way to live.

I think TV has a lot to answer for with this one as a recent trend seems to be to glorify the mentally ill as somehow more astute than the rest of us as if their mental illness somehow opens their mind to secret creativity the rest of us are too conventional to tap into. We have Monk who is supposedly OCD but it's presented as this cute quirk and it really doesn't prevent him from having a full life (I've never seen his skin bleed from too much washing). Then there's that new show that I couldn't bare to watch after one episode where a schizophrenic decides to go off his meds so he can be a better crime fighter. :rolleyes:

Angelskates
12-04-2012, 09:12 AM
I think TV has a lot to answer for with this one as a recent trend seems to be to glorify the mentally ill as somehow more astute than the rest of us as if their mental illness somehow opens their mind to secret creativity the rest of us are too conventional to tap into. We have Monk who is supposedly OCD but it's presented as this cute quirk and it really doesn't prevent him from having a full life (I've never seen his skin bleed from too much washing). Then there's that new show that I couldn't bare to watch after one episode where a schizophrenic decides to go off his meds so he can be a better crime fighter. :rolleyes:

TV is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to these things. It does show some with difficulties, both not a whole range. Some do have OCD and live a relatively full life, so they're not misrepresenting the illness, just not representing it from all possibilities. I think there's also a problem with the one with the mental illness being represented as a criminal far too often; I'd rather see them as portrayed as being able to live a full life. It's a challenging issue when it comes to the media, because mental illness and special needs come in many forms, in many extremes, from mild to severe. Just like those without mental health problems or special needs, the media doesn't portray them all, but that doesn't mean what that are portraying isn't accurate, it likely is for some people.

Just like your pet peeve, I hate it when people say the have the flu, when it's just a cold, or are depressed when they've just had a bad day. Language has changed to make some words "less" that what they actually mean. The flu and depression are also pretty severe, and are thrown around when people don't understand the terms, but have the terms been used (incorrectly) so much it's impossible for them to mean what they're supposed to mean now?

Gil-Galad
12-04-2012, 08:07 PM
And this is a shame, that you need that casual label. Not just you, but so many people feel the need to throw labels around in order to help understand others, when really lay labels mean absolutely nothing except make the labeller feel better and supposedly give them a way of trying to understand that is, sadly, more socially acceptable than saying "different". It does nothing for the person being labelled, except put them in a box. How is the label a starting point to helping you understand? You really don't know that he has Asperger's, but you've told yourself he does. Can you explain how that helps you understand why he might be the way he is? I am really curious...
As a therapist, as a (mental) health professional and as a teacher it is hugely problematic if label your patients or charges too quickly or at all. Because this relationship should be primarily about the charges, about their needs, their progress. While it is also important to maintain one's own health in these relationships, therapists etc. are especially trained (or should be) to deal with difficult behaviour, unusual reactions and infuriating situations that come up while being responsible for another person's health / education - without having to resort to labels / unfounded diagnosis (what the heck is the plural here?).

Anita on the other hand is none of the above. You emphasise over and over again that Anita is a layperson, and - in my opinion - as a layperson, it is not her job to find out what her cousin needs, or how she can most of help to him. You basically accuse her of being selfish by labelling her cousin - so I just have to ask - what exactly is wrong with trying to feel better by labelling people?

Anita is not her cousin's therapist, his babysitter or what not. That means the emphasis in this relationship should be on her, how can she maintain a good relationship with her cousin, how can she make sure that she feels comfortable in this relationship, how can she make sure that his reactions in a discussion / situation don't upset her. I tell that to relatives of severely ill people (mentally or physically); they should find out what works best for them in these difficult situations. And if reading a big old book of Freudian theories does the trick - they are welcome to it. If they want use the ICD-10 and label every single behaviour the affected family member / friend exhibits, they are welcome to it, too.

A very close relative of mine regularly exhibits behaviour that could be classified as bipolar. She is not diagnosed as bipolar - and I am not really a layperson, so I definitely shouldn't be running around putting random labels on people. But from time to time, when I am back on that rollercoaster that is being close to someone with bipolar tendencies - I just need to make the "she is bipolar, she is bipolar - by next week this fad will be over"-dance. Because otherwise it would be too maddening. This label is mostly for me, I need this label for the Ohmmmmmm-moment (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/--sFU0QWT_cc/Tl6s66e_YoI/AAAAAAAAXIU/omtSuHDbI3M/s1600/panda%2Bplayfantasia%2Borg.jpg) during our talks on the phone or person to person. I need this label, this ugly-disorder-box I put her in, in order to keep myself sane, to keep my calm and to be the best me I can possibly be in her life.