I’m somewhere on the autism spectrum. So, it was never obvious to me that people with Asperger Syndrome lack empathy. Simon Baron-Cohen thinks that people with Asperger Syndrome have an extreme male brain, which means, they have low ability to empathize.  To begin with, we have a direct, blunt way of speaking. This is not the only reason why he thinks so. But I will not get into all that here.

I think I know what this means. When I was a teen, no one could make a loose statement within my hearing distance without my expressing my disapproval, usually with detailed arguments. I found it hard to believe that people found it offensive because this would not have offended me. For long, I did not even know that this offended people. Continue Reading

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A cat, not a defective dog.

The Urban Dictionary has some interesting definitions of the term “Aspie”:

A superior being, while deficient in chaotic morasses such as small-talk, inferior double-standard-laden customs and values trumpeted by Neurotypicals, and deciphering Neurotypical body-language, more than makes up for it with a sharp, penetrating mind that is highly adept at developing an intense focus on a subject giving them a near-savant level of proficiency, an inborn sense of principles that allows them to develop practically consistent characteristics and values, and an ability to reason independently, reducing their susceptibility to dogma, acceptance of groundless assertions, and the hazards of groupthink.

The eccentric man with the encyclopaedic knowledge, monotone voice, and static facial expression must be an Aspie.

An aspie is one who has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is believed to be part of the autism spectrum. Aspies, while being quite gifted verbally, have social, emotional, and sensory integration difficulties, among others. Aspie is an affectionate term, and is not meant as a put down.

My son is an aspie, so he’s not so great at making idle chit chat at parties, or even at being in crowds, but he can get us home from anywhere. He says he just consults the map in his brain. Continue Reading

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As a result of all the killings in the world and selfish planetwrecking that humanity has committed, a deep sense of crisis exists.

The Reason I Jump is a memoir of Naoki Higashida, a 13-year-old boy on the autism spectrum. Excerpts:

“Even at my age, I still enjoy this TV programme for kindergarten kids, ‘Watching with Mother’. Reading that, you must be thinking, ‘Ah, this guy’s just a big kid, after all!’ But that’s not the case, in my humble opinion. Sure, we may appear to resemble small children – our fondness for gentle, kind, beautiful things – but we tend to prefer simpler, more straightforward stories, not because of childishness, but because we can more easily guess what’s going to happen next.”

“I don’t know whether people think I’ll understand baby-language better, or whether they think I just prefer being spoken to in that way. I’m not asking you to deliberately use difficult language when you talk to people with autism–just that you treat us as we are, according to our age. Every single time I’m talked down to, I end up feeling utterly miserable – as if I’m being given a zero chance of a decent future. True compassion is about not bruising the other person’s self-respect. That’s what I think, anyway.”

Criticizing people, winding them up, making idiots of them or fooling them doesn’t make people with autism laugh. What makes us smile from the inside is seeing something beautiful, or a memory that makes us laugh. This generally happens when there’s nobody watching us. And at night, on our own, we might burst out laughing underneath the duvet, or roar with laughter in an empty room ….when we don’t need to think about other people or anything else, that’s when we wear our natural expressions. Continue Reading

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“As to his personality quirks, the famous Professor of Moral Philosophy had a harsh, thick voice and often stuttered. He was the quintessential absentminded professor. His life was one of ubiquitous disorganization and ambiguity. Books and papers were stacked everywhere in his study. From his childhood, he had the habit of speaking to himself, “smiling in rapt conversation with invisible companions” Stories abound of his bumbling nature: the time he fell into a tanning pit while discoursing with a friend; the morning he put bread and butter into a teapot, and after tasting it, declared it to be the worst cup of tea he had ever had; and the time he went out walking and daydreaming in his old nightgown and ended up several miles outside town. “He was the most absent man I ever knew,” declared one acquaintance. “He’s a most absent-minded creature,” she later wrote, “but one of the most lovable”. We know pitifully little about his love interests. We know from his biographers that as a young man Smith was in love with a beautiful and accomplished young lady, but unknown circumstances prevented their marriage.”-The Making of Modern Economics, Mark Skousen

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Is Empathy the solution?

I had read Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence long ago, perhaps thirteen years ago. I did not like it. What angered me? I knew that it was an attempt to undermine the concept of IQ. Goleman thought that empathy is wonderful, and can solve many problems. I was never convinced. First of all, people feel sorry for all the bad people. In any case, it was always clear to me that almost all problems happen because people are not thinking enough. When I read Charles Murray, my suspicions were confirmed:

“While concepts such as “emotional intelligence” and “multiple intelligences” have their uses, a century of psychometric evidence has been augmented over the last decade by a growing body of neuroscientific evidence. Like it or not, g exists, is grounded in the architecture and neural functioning of the brain, and is the raw material for academic performance. If you do not have a lot of g when you enter kindergarten, you are never going to have a lot of it. No change in the educational system will change that hard fact.” Continue Reading