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Asperger's, the Autism Spectrum, and Message Boards

Discussion in 'Other Discussions' started by Scarlett O., Jun 15, 2015.

  1. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O. Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    May 22, 2002
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    On another forum where I moderate, I am currently dealing with at least two members who admittedly deal with social issues and life issues due to Asperger's. Sometimes there are more than that as the forum is quite large and active. Sometimes these members don't understand how their posts are received and sometimes they don't understand other people's counsel and responses to them.

    I've also taught several students over the years with varying degrees of autism and Asperger's. Just this past year, I had two in one class.

    Odds are, you will come across these people on message boards. Perhaps they've been diagnosed and they know and it's common knowledge or perhaps they haven't been diagnosed or don't want to share that information. You and I can't diagnose anyone who hasn't seen a doctor, but you and I can approach a person according to symptoms we see.

    Here is some useful information. http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/asperger_syndrome_and_adults

    I can attest to the following information being true. I've witnessed it many times.

    "More males than females are diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or ASD. While every person who has the condition will experience different symptoms and severity of symptoms, some of the more common characteristics include:"
    • average or above-average intelligence
    • difficulties with high-level language skills such as verbal reasoning, problem solving, making inferences and prediction
    • difficulties in empathising with others
    • problems with understanding another person’s point of view
    • difficulties engaging in social routines such as conversations and ‘small talk’
    • problems with controlling feelings such as anger, depression and anxiety
    • a preference for routines and schedules which can result in stress or anxiety if a routine is disrupted
    • specialised fields of interest or hobbies.
    There also this:

    I had to deal with this yesterday at the other forum. A particular member was talking about Jews and "Italians" killing Jesus and that making for why they are the most hated two groups on the planet. It was an awful post. In his mind, he was making a historical observation. In reality - it was a hot mess.

    He could NOT see that the tenor of his "voice" was racist and how his post was promoting hatred of the two groups of people. I explained to him to no avail.

    These people are quite bright and articulate. They just don't always articulate in a manner that conveys the essence of what they are really trying to say.

    And because they have great difficulty with inferences, they tend to absorb things and ideas very concretely and literally. Abstract reasoning is not easy for them. They may not understand your type of veiled joke or veiled insinuation or veiled sarcasm. They may perceive it as a literal attack.

    Yesterday, I felt like I - as a moderator - "over-rebuked" the young man who couldn't understand that his post was racist and promoted the acceptance of hatred towards Jews and Italians. All he could "see" was that he (in his mind) was promoting a new and original idea about why Jews and Italians were hated so much. He thought he was presenting something very interesting and new. He wasn't. It's easy to get frustrated with people who struggle with these social skills.

    And having worked in real life with a widely varying spectrum of Asperger's and autistic students, I can tell you that frustration is a common feeling when trying to communicate.

    I guess I said all that to say this.

    We as Christian message boarders- who are truly nothing more than faceless strangers to each other on the internet - need to tread softly when dealing with the those who suffer from very obvious social maladies.

    Patience should temper our conservations. It's hard - I know. I've barked AND bitten when I should have listened and spoken gently. I'm not pointing any fingers - I can't. I've been selfishly impatient too many times to judge anybody else.

    And there is no place for cruelty. These people have legitimate deficiencies. We wouldn't kick a crippled man or shove a child on crutches. Even if they were in the wrong and had to be corrected or restrained.

    The world is full of people with serious needs. We, as solitary figures with our fingers racing across our keyboards in our private and anonymous little worlds, tend to forget that we are talking to real people with real needs.

    If you run across any people showing signs of this syndrome, don't pity them and NOT rebuke any wrong teachings they may make. Just temper your correction in accordance with their level of literal understanding.

    That's what I've had to do - and I haven't always been successful at it. I have a short fuse - that I am now beginning to understand is a shameful thing.
    #1 Scarlett O., Jun 15, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  2. annsni

    annsni Administrator

    May 30, 2006
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    Thanks for this Scarlett. It definitely gives insight into dealing with some posters.
  3. Deacon

    Deacon Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Aug 23, 2002
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    I work in the medical community where acceptance of people’s differences is an integral part of the job.
    Two books that have helped me come to a fuller understanding of the spectrum of the autistic condition are:

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon (fiction)

    Look Me In the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s, by John Elder Robison (non-fiction)

    As posters on a Christian bulletin board we need to remember that our words can hurt those who are vulnerable… “Sticks and stones can break my bones AND… word can hurt.

    We need to strive to have the heart and patience of Christ... and think twice before we hit the POST button with words that may be cutting.
    (More than often I use the edit button).

  4. JohnDeereFan

    JohnDeereFan Well-Known Member
    Site Supporter

    Mar 26, 2009
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    In all fairness, he does have a point. Historically, the death of Jesus has been used for 2,000 years as the motivation for anti-Semitism and persecuton of the Jews.

    Now, he may have expressed it in an offensive way, but just on the facts alone, what you describe him as saying is correct.

    But I do understand where you're coming from. When I taught, I had a student with Asperger's and I used to cringe whenever he walked into class.

    He wasn't a bad kid, but he would just blurt out whatever was on his mind while I was lecturing and he just never shut up. I felt terrible throwing him out of class because I know he was battling against some faulty wiring upstairs, but he made that class next to impossible to teach.