Archives for Autism Spectrum
It is not untrue that most of the symptoms of ADHD are, for the most part, normal conditions associated with everyday life. They are the annoying things that happen, more often in the mind, that make one feel incapable, incompetent, or possibly foolish every now and then. The problem for ADHD is that these symptoms occur with such frequency and are often such spectacular examples that they have an ongoing and definitively negative effect on ones life. But there are other subtle commonalities that many of us share that are not considered symptoms because they are neither indicative, nor do they occur frequently enough.
I'll tell you why I might consider it though. A few months ago, a tragic event occurred. There was a shooting in a school in Connecticut. And then, because tragedy isn't apparently enough for some, there were comments made about the mental health of the alleged shooter. I took the stance that his mental health was secondary to the issue, and only played a part in so much as societies treatment, marginalization and stigmatization of him would have played a far greater role in the events under scrutiny. I have not changed my mind. But in a post entitled Asperger's, ADHD, Autism and Violence: Is There A Connection ... I suggested that ADHD was on the Autism Spectrum. You'd think I'd said God was dead. I was questioned about my stance. I was abused about it. I was insulted, called names, and lectured.
As marketing schemes go, this was a good one. Bell, Canada's telecommunications giant, has been ramping up to February 12th, choosing that day to put mental health in the limelight. I know this brought them a great deal of publicity, but I don't have a problem with that. The money they spent on this campaign could easily have gone to slick commercials and a cadre of spin doctors figuring out how to make saving a nickle look like something worth the money and effort needed to invest in getting signed up for that “save a nickle” program.
The following is a quote from a colleague of mine. I find it to be a compelling statement that describes one aspect of ADHD, our difficulties with Executive Function, EF, very accurately. Please read on. “Many people [...], (like me) experience executive dysfunction. This important self-regulatory system when in deficit, makes it difficult to take steps towards a goal while incorporating information and making adjustments along the way. “I liken the goal reaching issues to my sensory processing issues (and wonder if on some level in the frontal cortex of the brain they are related). My auditory system seems to be unable to filter out background noise, or hone in on a particular sound when required.
It was with a gaping mouth that I began reading tweets that indicated that Adam Lanza had been diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome. I was astounded, but not surprised. I was astounded that this was being released to the media, but not surprised that the media and the public were taking up the cry. And I was even less surprised by the shallow draught of the public opinion that fuelled this new spat of updates on social networks. In fairness, I was surprised that someone with Asperger's could have done what this young man is alleged to have done. It doesn't track. Asperger's is a disorder that leaves those who have it scrambling to understand the rules of the world. But few, if any, would get up in the morning and wonder if a mass killing would be okay.
Today, I have to confess that I've been suffering from a bit of hero worship lately. Max and Millie (not their real names) can be seen in my town on the local sled hill, or skating, or they can be found chasing each other on main street in playful hide and seek fashion. Or they can be in hiding at home, spending a Saturday morning dueling on their game console or having tickle fights. Meet Max & Millie Max is six years old. Millie, his mother, is the object of my hero worship. As a child growing up, I was not diagnosed. In fact, we had no idea what ADHD was. We'd never heard of it. I've told you before that I was not encouraged to think of myself as normal, but I was also not allowed to think of myself as abnormal or subnormal. I know now that my mind fits neatly on the Autism spectrum. So does Max' mind. He has Asperger Syndrome.