Sunday, August 11, 2013

Asperger's Players

I'm sleepless tonight. It comes from not drinking caffeine daily.  Today I indulged and am trying to not indulge in a glass of Mr McSleepytime Medicine for adults.  So I ramble instead.

Which brings me around to another borderline non-PC topic, to go with my questioning if RPG dice games are primarily a "white thing" and my refusal to stop calling some people retards.

 If you're honest and over a certain age, you'll admit you've played with more than one guy that would most likely be classified with at least a mild case of Asperger's Syndrome if he'd been born twenty or thirty years later.  He might be you.  For that matter he might be me.  

I recently read John Elder Robison's memoir on his discovery he had Asperger's, Look Me In the Eye, and I admit it made me a bit uncomfortable as he is an articulate highly functional person.  When you start to read his experiences, you can't help but reconsider parts of your own life, after all weren't you a weird kid?  If you haven't read it, pick up a copy. His brother is Augsten Burroughs, a novelist who you may or may not of heard about.

Currently, they're diagnosing something around one in ninety children with what they're now calling Autism spectrum disorder, meaning not just the readily apparent Autism, but a wide variety of disorders including the "highly functioning" such as Asperger's Syndrome, not that everyone who has it is the television show genius but it has shown some linkage to high order math skills, that in part it involves parts of the brain which are normally focused on social skills being "retasked" into specific obsessions.  I thought of one kid I knew as an 18 year old freshman who fit this mold instantly.  In 1984, he was just an incredibly bright kid with emotional problems, who was able to correct our physics professor, at a fairly good university.  I don't mean to demonize them, but some people also point to Ted Kacynski as fitting this profile.

So what's a class of people who have trouble understanding some social situations, often have high order math skills, are physically uncoordinated, are somewhat obsessive over hobbies or interests, are articulate, but seem to lack empathy?    I have to say Gamers.

I want to restress that number again. One in ninety.

Think of your high school freshman class.   Now admittedly, in the era before this syndrome was diagnosed, the truly nonfunctional kids never made it into high school, so the number isn't so much one in ninety, yet you get the idea.

Which makes it a bit like when as an adult, perhaps at your ten year anniversary, perhaps not, you fully recognized the statistics that 3% of the population is gay (or higher, there are a lot of definitions of what gay is)  and actually considered it in a non-childish manner.  Maybe it wasn't till someone you knew had the courage to come out and you realized that it wasn't just the theater kids or that one girl who liked baseball, that most of the childhood insults and claims were wrong.

  I'm going to take a moment to make something clear. I'm not implying being gay is a mental disorder in any way shape or form.  I am merely drawing a parallel to between not knowing who was gay or not gay in high school, thirty years ago, just as you had no idea who had Asperger's in high school, thirty years ago, as it wasn't being diagnosed.

Now take that one in ninety and considered that that one is four times as likely to be male as female.

It's something to think about.  I know it makes me reconsider some of the people we "got rid" of because they just seemed off or too strange.  The "pink monkeys" who we excluded from our sad little nerd clubs filled with broken toys.

It's late at night, time to voice regrets for not being a hero when you were young.

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