Sunday, June 08, 2008

Does this label fit?

We watched Snow Cake tonight, a movie that revolves around a highly verbal, high-functioning autistic woman whose daughter has just died. Sigourney Weaver is the autistic woman and she does a wonderful job. I highly recommend this movie because it's Canadian and it feels very realistic in its portrayal of the small town. Besides, it's a good story. :)

The movie is quite interesting. I'm not autistic and I don't have Asperger's but some of the things the autisitc character did and said were not so different from things that I say and do - or think about saying or doing. For example, the woman asks someone to leave because she didn't want him around. He asks if half an hour will be long enough and she tells him that she didn't know; all she knows is that right now she wants him out of there. That's so true!

I have also wanted to hide from people, as she does, and I dislike being touched, as she does. I have certainly felt inappropriate responses to situations even if I haven't behaved inappropriately. I have rituals (like reading before bed, or the way I currently eat breakfast) and I am upset when they are changed. I have behaviours that are not at all similar to hers as well (for example, I am not at all obsessive-compulsive), but I definitely have things in common with the autistic character.

This has left me wondering at what point a collection of thoughts and behaviours becomes a recognizable disorder. Does everyone have some of these thoughts or behaviours, and it's only when they're all or almost all present that the autistic spectrum label is affixed to that person? Are some behaviours more definitive or important when determining which label applies? Or am I just this side of autistic? I don't know. It's interesting to think about, though.


The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

Cool you watched the movie! The character has high-functioning autism, but not quite Asperger Syndrome. If you watch Mozart and The Whale, you'll see Aspies depicted.

It's hard to get an Asperger's diagnosis as an adult. All of the current testing is centred around children, and it includes a combination of psych observation, anecdotal family observations, and cognitive testing.

Apparently, MRI scans will also show brain differences, but it hasn't been used very much as a diagnostic tool - mostly only to show differences between confirmed Aspies and NTs (Normal/NeuroTypical people).

Basically, the process for me as an adult was that I managed to get a shrink to agree that I have a PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disability).

Certain problems confirmed this, and really it is obvious once you think about it: i.e. my left leg actually actually stops working if I try to think while I'm walking. I strongly believed my PDD was Asperger's, and my family Dr. agreed. Diagnosis confirmed, yay!

Apparently, the mirror neurons of Aspies don't work properly, and this is observable in Aspies - they can't watch a trainer in a job situation and manage to catch on, for instance.

When I first worked at A&W, I was really slow at preparing onions to become rings. When I was first trained, I was briefly shown to peel off the the 'skin' that is between the separated rings. Even though I made the rings alongside other employees for hours, I didn't notice that you only peel off the skins if they are hanging off already - most of the skins stay on.

It took people months to realize I was peeling off the skin from every single ring. I was quadrupling the necessary time to make the rings because I couldn't observe other people and understand when the rule should be applied; I could only apply the rule universally.

Personally, I have a theory about mirror neurons, which allow us to 'see' ourselves in another person's shoes. Did you ever notice that if you have, for instance, a crumb on your right cheek, your friend will helpfully point to his/her LEFT cheek to indicate where the crumb is located? And you will instinctively brush the crumb off your RIGHT cheek?

Well, I don't. In this situation I reach for my LEFT cheek. Because instinct is not involved in my case. I have to consciously think about what the person is telling me
and decide how to react; intellectually I conclude that the person is telling me I have a crumb and that it is located on my left cheek. I don't know if other Aspies are like this, but I suspect mirror neurons are involved. Just an idea.


The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

ummmm There's a reason I call myself Hyperlexian. Yeah, what I forgot to mention is that if there is one Autie or Aspie in the family, then other people in the family can also be Auties or Aspies, or have at least some characteristics.