Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Asperger syndrome
Like seeing the world through beer goggles
Wrong Planet hasn’t been as great as I expected — my guess is a message board made up mostly of teenagers who are unsocial is self-defeating. (I detect the problem of talking at, not to others.) But every now and then a posting gives some really good insight into the condition. Here are a couple of examples:

...for people with AS, when someone is annoyed, we tend to think they're angry, and when they're angry, we tend to think we're in danger... always thinking that someone is more upset than they actually are.

A person said hi, I thought they were my best friend...
True when I was a kid.

These either are examples of or like the perception problems (oversensitivity to noise is another one of mine) I have to consciously walk myself around every day. Normal people don’t give these situations a second thought because they don’t have to — they don’t perceive them the same way. Without my reasoning through them, my impressions are like looking through a virtual-reality distortion of reality (or, low-tech, beer goggles!) or a fun-house mirror (except when you’re a kid and don’t know what’s wrong, it isn’t fun!).

It’s like what I understand John Nash (from A Beautiful Mind) does: he tells himself the voices he hears (no, I don’t hallucinate — I’m not schizophrenic) aren’t real and gets on with his life, running the things he perceives through his brain, which he’s set in normal-person ‘emulation mode’.

Like using loads of brain power to do the equivalent of what glasses or contacts do for the eyes!

And as I like to say, AS isn’t a mental illness — like being colour-blind you may be reacting quite sanely to the perception tricks your brain is playing on you.

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