Monday, September 16, 2013

Another attempt at Asperger glasses

Last year I ridiculed a plan to invent Asperger glasses, which were supposed to somehow help people cope with their disabilities. Now autism advocate Paul Louden is pursuing a similar idea. He says:
Google began by selling 2000 of their Google Glass Explorer Editions to developers at the 2012 Google I/O conference. After that they began a program called "#ifihadglass" or "If I Had Glass." In this, people were asked to write a short description of what they'd do with Glass, or what they'd use it for, if they had it. It was restricted to a short post, as one of the means of entry was via Twitter. I told about our radio show, Understanding Autism, and how if I had it I would talk on our show about what it was capable of, and the future uses I could see for it for autism. Beyond that, I'm hoping to talk, in time, with experts in autism treatment and diagnosis to see if they can see uses for it I can't.
He explains his idea in a NPR Radio podcast. He says that when he was in school, a teacher yelled at him, but was unable or unwilling to articulare why he was yelling. Louden says that if he had Google Glass, he could have video-recorded it, and replayed it for his parents to try to figure out why the teacher was yelling.

Somehow Louden has been persuaded that he was the one with the disorder.

This is crazy. No teacher should yell at a student unless the teacher can explain himself in a way that the student understands. If the teacher cannot, then the teacher is the one with the problem.

I am sure Louden means well, but like the psychologists he is pathologizing normal behavior. He defines:
In its simplest description, autism is a developmental disorder typified by impaired social interactions and, frequently, certain types of restricted or repetitive behavior. ...

Autism most significantly affects social and emotional interactions. People on the autism spectrum tend to find it difficult to gauge and interact with the emotional state of others, and to understand the emotional reactions of others to the world around them. Many things that someone may take as “intuitive” or “instinctive” are things that those on the autism spectrum may not understand or experience at all. This can result in mild cases as someone on the spectrum seeming simply detached or a little odd, or in extreme cases as the child or person unable to meaningfully interact with people around them at all.
Men prefer to deal in facts. Women prefer to deal in feelings. If two people are interacting, and one is trying to communicate facts while the other is trying to communicate feelings, then both may end up frustrated. Buy why should anyone conclude that the guy communicating facts has a mild form of a serious mental disorder? I say that it is the reverse, and the one who cannot communicate facts is the one who is disordered.


Anonymous said...

"Buy why should anyone conclude that the guy communicating facts has a mild form of a serious mental disorder?"

This is only one facet of high functioning autism; no one is diagnosed on this trait alone. To receive a diagnoses, one must exhibit a series of traits/behaviors such as the inability to maintain eye contact, difficulty reading non-verbal cues, sensory issues (e.g. aversion to touch), etc.

George said...

Some of those other traits are just personality characteristics.

I say that the teacher is the one who should have to take his videorecording to management and get training on how to better communicate with a student. The teacher is the one with the problem.