Educating Autistics

Asperger’s dropped from revised diagnosis manual | General Headlines | Comcast

Asperger’s will be dropped from the next revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the book that standardizes diagnostic criteria for mental illness.

Brilliant. By eliminating an autism spectrum, the psychiatrists will be encouraging discrimination against “Aspies” (their word for themselves) who have higher IQs and marginally better social skills, i.e. are more capable of working.

All in all, it’s looking as if the DSM-V is categorizing the mentally ill by the DRUGS used to treat their illness. Dangerous.

It’s not that Aspies are at risk losing services, it’s that in order to get services they are at risk being treated – both in the medical and the social sense – as if they are sicker than you really are.

Simplify, Leslie… I mean the high-functioning autistics will have to prove every day that they are indeed high-functioning. Autism is not one-size-fits-all. I suspect, however, that the Aspergers diagnosis was invented when the shrinks realized that they could throw a net over shy, introverted children who are technically inclined. In the old days we called them “geeks.”

The DSM-V also gets rid of pediatric bipolar disorder, or so I’ve been told. It took YEARS for the shrinks to admit that some children were experiencing psychotic manias from the stimulants given to children with ADHD because they didn’t have ADHD! The seminal book on the topic is The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood’s Most Misunderstood Disorder, Third Edition

Another thing that is STILL missing is an anosognosia specifier. It is my nightmare to be trying to convince some evil bastard that I am not insane.

Anosognosia means you are unaware that you are exhibiting the symptoms of your illness. Self-awareness, i.e. the ability to be objective about yourself, isn’t a guaranteed just because you’re human, but when a mentally ill person doesn’t have it, they can get in extra trouble.

The DSM-IV has specifiers for “last episode depressive” or “with psychosis” but there isn’t one for “painfully aware that she is batshit insane.”

It’s not enough to stay calm and not talk about space aliens. The powers-that-be ASSUME you’ll be on your best behavior. Once on a psych ward even a sane person would be hard-pressed to get back out. There was an experiment a few years ago in which psych grad students feigned hearing voices to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Once in, they behaved normally and tried to be released. In all cases the students had to submit to the will of their captors and admit they were mentally ill before being allowed to leave.

“The uniform failure to recognize sanity cannot be attributed to the quality of the hospitals, for, although there were considerable variations among them, several are considered excellent. Nor can it be alleged that there was simply not enough time to observe the pseudopatients. Length of hospitalization ranged from 7 to 52 days, with an average of 19 days. The pseudopatients were not, in fact, carefully observed, but this failure speaks more to traditions within psychiatric hospitals than to lack of opportunity.”

Anyway, back to autism. Aspergers have poor social skills. However, they are often brilliant in other areas. My fear is that Apergers will get thrown into social skills classes, never taught math and science, and held back by a curriculum intended for severely impaired students. You know, because autistics are usually not very intelligent.

Dr. Temple Grandin has some strong opinions about educating autistic children.

She is autistic herself and has a PhD in Animal Husbandry. She is probably the number one designer of humane slaughterhouses due in part to the fact that she thinks in pictures rather than in words. I draw the line before “because she thinks like an animal.” The powers-that-be love to say that autistics are like animals, a statement that is always used to dehumanize and to justify abuse.

Dr. Grandin’s book Thinking in Pictures, Expanded Edition: My Life with Autism is enlightening. Ms. Grandin is unable to conceptualize an abstraction such as long-term goals, so she concretized with the metaphor of a flight of stairs leading to a door that represented the goal of graduation.

Dr. Grandin has written a number of excellent books on the topic of educating autistics, including one called Developing Talents: Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism.

All-in-all Dr. Grandin has made some startling statements about how autistic children are being mishandled in our schools. The powers-that-be think they know better than her. After all, autistics think like animals. :-(

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