A discovery

I’m currently reading a book by Tony Attwood, one of the world’s leading Asperger’s Syndrome specialists, and Michelle Garnett. In it, I just came across a text titled “The Discovery of Aspie Criteria”. It’s about the stigma attached to the term “diagnosis”, and how better it could be to call it a “discovery” when applied to an aspie. It’s not about changing existing classification, but more about finding a way to push forward the actual good sides of the condition, because there are many.

I’m going to paste here a list of those good sides, directly copied from that article[1], because it feels familiar, I recognize many things (most) and more importantly, I recognize many things in this list I’ve been told by people that are close and dear to me:

A. A qualitative advantage in social interaction, as manifested by a majority of the following:

  1. peer relationships characterized by absolute loyalty and impeccable dependability
  2. free of sexist, “age-ist”, or culturalist biases; ability to regard others at “face value”
  3. speaking one’s mind irrespective of social context or adherence to personal beliefs
  4. ability to pursue personal theory or perspective despite conflicting evidence
  5. seeking an audience or friends capable of: enthusiasm for unique interests and topics; consideration of details; spending time discussing a topic that may not be of primary interest
  6. listening without continual judgement or assumption
  7. interested primarily in significant contributions to conversation; preferring to avoid ‘ritualistic small talk’ or socially trivial statements and superficial conversation.
  8. seeking sincere, positive, genuine friends with an unassuming sense of humour

B. Fluent in “Aspergerese”, a social language characterized by at least three of the following:

  1. a determination to seek the truth
  2. conversation free of hidden meaning or agenda
  3. advanced vocabulary and interest in words
  4. fascination with word-based humour, such as puns
  5. advanced use of pictorial metaphor

C. Cognitive skills characterized by at least four of the following:

  1. strong preference for detail over gestalt
  2. original, often unique perspective in problem solving
  3. exceptional memory and/or recall of details often forgotten or disregarded by others, for example: names, dates, schedules, routines
  4. avid perseverance in gathering and cataloguing information on a topic of interest
  5. persistence of thought
  6. encyclopaedic or ‘CD ROM’ knowledge of one or more topics
  7. knowledge of routines and a focused desire to maintain order and accuracy
  8. clarity of values/decision making unaltered by political or financial factors
  9. acute sensitivity to specific sensory experiences and stimuli, for example: hearing, touch, vision, and/or smell

D. Additional possible features:

  1. strength in individual sports and games, particularly those involving endurance or visual accuracy, including rowing, swimming, bowling, chess
  2. “social unsung hero” with trusting optimism: frequent victim of social weaknesses of others, while steadfast in the belief of the possibility of genuine friendship
  3. increased probability over general population of attending university after high school
  4. often take care of others outside the range of typical development

There it is. Obviously, that’s not really mine to judge, but I’m here on a path of self discovery and understanding and here’s my own take on this list: I do not recognize myself in D.1, and D.4 is laughing matter in my case. Other than that, I do think that it’s a very accurate description of me. Whaddyathink, friend I directed here? (I know I said one of the main point of this site is not to make any feedback mandatory, but this post is a special exercice: if you’re among my friends, you know how to contact me, and I welcome any feedback about this one).


[1] Article that can be found in its entirety on Tony Attwood’s website, for the curiouses and curiousseresses.

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