Sunday, December 4, 2011

Aspergers and the Rules

       One common trait of Aspergers is of being very legalistic, rules oriented, rigid, and concrete thinking. I tend to take exception to this. Some people make it seem that we are all hard-wired for fundamentalism, ideology, and rigid structure. I'm not saying there is no truth to this but we can also be quite pragmatic, rational, creative, flexible, sensible,  reasonable, and able to take things in proper context. Autistic people don't want to be micromanaged any more than anyone else.
       In a lot of ways I'm pretty laid back and easy going, I do my best to follow rules and always want to know exactly what they are, but I certainly don't fetishize them. Many times in recommendations to people dealing with Autistic people they will recommend structure, rules, sameness because all Autistic people like it this way. This makes as much sense as saying to allow Japanese kids to only eat Japanese food, Italian kids Italian food, and Polish kids Polish food- because they won't like anything different. It all depends on the individual. I was usually a docile child, not because I liked being told what to do, but because I just wanted to do the right thing. I also figured since I wasn't well accepted among my peers, I might as well compensate by being on the good side of the adults- especially the nuns, who I saw as a little bit closer to God. I was a bit of a tattle-tale as a kid, not in a cold way though. I didn't really enjoy seeing people get punished or especially spanked, I just didn't want to see other kids getting away with things that I would never get away with and I loathed favoritism. Also even if I did break a little rule I was horrible at not getting caught, the sense of guilt would radiate like radio waves. I was more obsessive about fairness than about rules.
       I think many with Aspergers also have Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder and there is some overlap and I'm sure mutual misdiagnosis. I do have OCD (which is an Anxiety disorder) but not really the OCPD mentioned above. O-C Personality Disorder used to be called "Anal Character" up to about the late 1960's. Here i guess a "euphemism" was definitely in order. OCPD is more about the rules, structure, lists, schedules, interpersonal control, righteous indignation, perfectionism, fixation on hierarchy and authority...
       I'm also concerned that people can misinterpret what they read to think that Autistic people are fair game for being dominated over and exploited thinking that we like it that way. Everyone needs some "structure", some people more than others, but it should be based on the individual not the label.
       Here is another great resource I found with many relevant articles:
It describes some observed variety in how Autism manifests in different children. On the side there are links to other articles that sound pretty good. A link BTW doesn't necessarily indicate whether I agree or not with everything in an article but I just try to point out some of the thoughtful information that is out there.

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