Monday, December 09, 2013

Asperger definition is like male brain

Asperger syndrome has been dropped from the DSM-5, but still causes trouble. It is diagnosed:
Asperger syndrome is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) as a pervasive developmental disorder that is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom. It is characterized by impairment in social interaction, by stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests, and by no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language. Impairments must be significant, and must affect important areas of function, and the diagnosis is excluded if criteria are also met for autism.
It should be obvious from the definition how ridiculous this is. It is like saying:
Homosexuality is a disorder that is characterized by impairment in heterosexual interactions, and in stereotypical gay behavior.
Here is the AQ Test, a diagnostic tool for adult Asperger, as described in a 2001 Wired article. About half of the 50 questions have to do with preferring facts and details over fiction.

Preferring reality over fiction is a male charactistic. Christina Hoff Sommers writes in Time magazine:
In a major report released last year by the British Parliament’s Boys’ Reading Commission, the authors openly acknowledge sex differences and use a color-coded chart to illustrate boys’ and girls’ different reading preferences: girls prefer fiction, magazines, blogs and poetry; boys like comics, nonfiction and newspapers.
Adults show the same pattern, with the fiction best-sellers being female fantasies like Fifty Shades of Grey. Men watch the History channel while women watch the Lifetime channel.

About a quarter of the questions detect anti-social tendencies, such as "I would rather go to a library than to a party." Or preferring to do things on one's own, or not being good at social chit-chat. Men are more individualist than women. These questions might distinguish an introvert from an extrovert, but that's all.

Men are more focused on their interests and activities than women, and about 7 questions detect that. Another 5 questions are about having an organized and orderly life.

Surprisingly, only a couple of questions have anything to do with a communications deficiency. One is "I am often the last to understand the point of a joke."

Men tend to communicate directly, and women indirectly. For women, nonverbal clues like body language are much more important. Men are much more like to be the type to say what they mean, and mean what they say. That type is also the most obvious symptom of Asperger.

A NY Times article on tech novelties just said:
People with autism, who can have a hard time reading facial expressions, may be among the beneficiaries, Dr. Burleson said. By wearing Google Glass or other Internet-connected goggles with cameras, they could get clues to the reactions of the people with whom they were talking — clues that could come via an earpiece as the program translates facial expressions.
I have ridiculed this idea before. Men who communicate directly and verbally have no need for trying to read subtle cues in facial expressions.

Differences in people are like cats and dogs. New research shows that cats recognize their master's voice, and ignore it. Dogs are much more responsive.

It is sometimes said that women are more social than men, and hence typical men have some sort of sociability deficit. That is partially true, but misleading. As explained in this Roy Baumeister ZURICH.MINDS INTERVIEW video, women tend to do well in emotional exchanges in one-on-one and small family interactions, but men do better in large groups. Men tend to have better social skills for team sports, business organizations, and politics.

The main thing being detected here is a male brain. There is nothing disordered about preferring reality, being focused, or even being introverted. Psychologists tend to be effeminate and emotionally fragile themselves, and consider regular men to be disordered. The whole concept of Asperger syndrome is wrong and offensive.

Update: The WSJ reports:
Women and men display distinctive differences in how nerve fibers connect various regions of their brains, according to a half-dozen recent studies that highlight gender variation in the brain's wiring diagram. There are trillions of these critical connections, and they are shaped by the interplay of heredity, experience and biochemistry. ...

Broadly speaking, women in their 20s had more connections between the two brain hemispheres while men of the same age had more connective fibers within each hemisphere. "Women are mostly better connected left-to-right and right-to-left across the two brain hemispheres," Dr. Verma said. "Men are better connected within each hemisphere and from back-to-front."

That suggests women might be better wired for multitasking and analytical thought, which require coordination of activity in both hemispheres. Men, in turn, may be better wired for more-focused tasks that require attention to one thing a time. But the researchers cautioned such conclusions are speculative.
This may explain why boys are more focused.


lisa said...

autism is not the same as asperger. People that could benefit from google glass "coaching" are not average, normal, or mainstream.

and i understand your concept of ridiculing exercises to make less empathetic people function "normal". But you are treating autism as a mild quirk.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

and more shrinks in the court: