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Woodpeace
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:16 am    Post subject: Autistic aloneness Reply with quote

Leo Kanner wrote in Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact :

"The outstanding, 'pathognomic', fundamental disorder is the children's inability to relate themselves in the ordinary way to people and situations from the beginning of life. [...] There is from the start an extreme autistic aloneness that where possible, disregards, ignores, shuts out anything that comes to the child from the outside." (Italics in original).

Can people here relate to that? I can when I want to be completely alone and don't want to listen to anything.

But from what I have read it is true of very few autistics as a permanent state. So does that mean that the "extreme autistic aloneness" which Kanner considered fundamental is not necessary for a diagnosis of autism?
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AngelUndercover
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't shut out the outside world. I just don't relate to it the same way most people do. And my internal world is often more important to me than the external world is.
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Kaleido
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting question. How is it measured?

I mean I can be sat watching the news with the rest of my family and be totally oblivious to it; it happens a lot and it only shows when they ask me about it and then I realize I have no idea because I have been inside myself, totally and have no idea what has been going on apart from seeing passing pictures which I may or may not be able to recall vague colours of.
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Mum2ASDboy
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can so relate! Kinda anyway. Damien was like that this afternoon (it is night here now) He had a boy over who wanted to play and the other boy asked "why won't he play with me?". He went home sad. Little while later another boy came wanting to play but I told his Mum what had happened already. Damien didn't care. So long as he had his game the rest of the world could fly away Sad
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Kaleido
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't understand why its different from NTs who get absorbed in their hobbies for the afternoon, or go to watch a football match, surely they are only interested in the game or the hobby to the exclusion of all else?
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Mum2ASDboy
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kaleido wrote:
I don't understand why its different from NTs who get absorbed in their hobbies for the afternoon, or go to watch a football match, surely they are only interested in the game or the hobby to the exclusion of all else?


Some NT's put more into it than others.
And as for seeing a football game, (well rugby in my case) I went to celebrate my birthday, have some 'time out', see MY team win, check out guys (going to rugby is great for that Laughing ) spend time with my brother and friends. Just a NT perspective for ya Smile
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Kaleido
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mum2ASDboy wrote:
Kaleido wrote:
I don't understand why its different from NTs who get absorbed in their hobbies for the afternoon, or go to watch a football match, surely they are only interested in the game or the hobby to the exclusion of all else?


Some NT's put more into it than others.
And as for seeing a football game, (well rugby in my case) I went to celebrate my birthday, have some 'time out', see MY team win, check out guys (going to rugby is great for that Laughing ) spend time with my brother and friends. Just a NT perspective for ya Smile

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trewissick
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

when i have to be alone, it means REALLY alone, physically separate. it almost hurts me to be near others- in a similar way to noise can bug me to fever pitch. its really hard to describe. when it gets really bad my mind totally shuts down- like a body doing it's own life support in cold- withdrawing the circulation from the extemities, just caring for the internal organs. i can just about feed myself but cant interact with anything at all. i can only watch the most monotonous tv, as anything interesting or challenging is too confrontational. i cant bear people at all- they seem impossible...


though i know the proem 'i am' by john clare is mainly about depression, the last verse explains it perfectly-

I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil'd or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below--above the vaulted sky.


thats what i want! i literally dont anyone to KNOW about me... i dont want any connexion with life at all. you know when you burn your finger- at first it is really sore to touch anythnig, then the skin hardens, and your sensation is really diminished- its like that simultaniously- interaction is painful but--- incomprehensible.. people and things dont figure at all.... its impossible, and better to shut off from....it doesnt mean im necessarily depressed, just that i want to be out of everything..
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is that what you meant, woodpeace??
(dont think ive explained it very well, however...) or am i just having my own freakishness here?
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Danielismyname
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It generally means locked in one's world and going about one's business, i.e., playing or focusing so intently that it's as if the child is cut-off from everyone and everything.

Children with Asperger's are usually like this to peers (children outside of the family), and children with autistic disorder are usually like this to everyone.

As the children grow, they start to interact with others; not many adults with ASDs are aloof.
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KatieRose212
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kaleido wrote:
I don't understand why its different from NTs who get absorbed in their hobbies for the afternoon, or go to watch a football match, surely they are only interested in the game or the hobby to the exclusion of all else?


I don't understand that either..
I mean I could diagnose basically 75% of the world with Aspergers because they get sooooo immersed in sports, they don't talk to anyone else and if they do... it leads to a fight outside the stadium!

Laughing
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Kaleido
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danielismyname wrote:
not many adults with ASDs are aloof.

I am not as aloof as I used to be with people I know but I still tend to pick the quietest, least populated area of a cafe or library to sit in. It matters a lot to me what people are around me and how close they are sitting. Getting the underground tube during a busy time is a total zone out experience.
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Odin
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am very often oblivious to my surroundings, and even my own body. It's one of the reasons I recently took up meditation, to train myself to be aware of the present moment in a raw, experiential way instead of being lost in my thoughts.
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anbuend
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's one interesting thing about reading Kanner: He doesn't actually fully base his interpretations on the evidence. He bases it on what he thought a person who behaved in a certain way would be experiencing internally.

One of the pieces of evidence he used to show a rejection of the outside world, for instance, was that some autistic children spat up their food as babies. These days, that's definitely not considered to have that sort of hidden meaning.

Additionally, he describes on many occasions how his patients interacted with objects around them (sometimes extremely skillfully), and how they interacted with and spoke to people around them (all but one of his patients could speak), albeit in atypical ways usually. Even his patient who couldn't speak was responsive enough to instruction and her surroundings to score 94 on a nonverbal IQ test, and at least one of the others scored in the gifted range in an overall IQ test (which requires awareness of one's surroundings and ability to obey at least some instructions). Some of them could read. Off the top of my head I remember one of them asking his father questions that showed a lack of understanding of how things work, but also an ability to interact and ask questions. Another frequently talked to people about his interests.

An example of Kanner having trouble understanding what he was observing, was when he described one of his patients by saying, "She pays no attention to what is said to her but quickly comprehends what is expected." When he says she "pays no attention," he clearly has to mean that she is not sending standard signals of 'listening', not that she truly isn't paying attention.

So, I think that his claims about "aloneness" were similar. He put a highly subjective interpretation on what he was observing about other people, namely that their responses to their surroundings were non-standard, as were their responses to people. His interpretation of this was that it meant a certain kind of being cut off from everything and everyone, but that's only one of many things that it can mean, and often it's not so much "cut off" as either "responding differently" or "understanding differently".

Such observations become a self-fulfilling prophecy. People see what they expect to see. I showed a room full of people at MIT the video called "Autism Every Day," because they had seen it before, and they had told me that as far as they could tell the children were not interacting with anyone in the video. That is because this is what they were set up to expect, by their understanding of what autism means, and by the way the people on the video and the camera people were behaving. I showed it to them again, and was able to show them clear examples of joint attention, eye contact (including but not limited to one child who physically forced her mother to make eye contact), speech (including speech showing deep concern for another person's feelings), empathy, and other forms of interaction.

But had they not been told those things were there and where to look for them, they would have believed, just like Kanner probably would have, that these children were perfect examples of "autistic aloneness".

I am absolutely fine with saying that my responses to my surroundings and to other people are usually non-standard in some way. However, I am not comfortable saying that this has to mean I'm unaware of them or failing to interact with them (although other people have frequently said that of me at certain times in my life). That can happen, certainly, but I interact with my surroundings all the time, but my awareness of them is non-standard (not absent), and thus so are my reactions to them.

This is what I meant in another thread when I said that Kanner's interpretations were in no way objective, and showed his biases very clearly. In this case, most likely his biased reading of body language.

I also think it shows Lorna Wing's biases somewhat when she characterizes certain autistic people as "aloof", actually. That presumes a lot about what is going on inside the autistic person's mind, that might not at all be accurate. (I have experience being mislabeled "aloof", as well.)
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Danielismyname
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like it when professionals use "appears" aloof and uninterested in the environment, as it's impossible to tell what's in someone's mind just by looking at them.

With me, my mother clearly remembers that I ignored peers and adults at playgroup (this was my only social interaction at the age of four and under with people other than my mother/sister); I wasn't interested in interacting with them, and when they'd sit next to me, I'd ignore them completely. I have no memories of this. Interestingly enough, I'd come running when I heard, 'food,' so I wasn't oblivious to the world and environment, I just ignored the people [socially].

I had a hearing test in grade 3 for I kept on "ignoring" the teacher (it was normal, obviously), I wonder if this was CAPD due to the ASD, as I'd acknowledge her if she'd block my line of sight.
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Woodpeace
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is most likely that Kanner would have read about childhood schizophrenia, and this would probably have influenced his interpretations of the behaviour of the autistic children he described.

J. Louise Despert defined schizophrenia as a "disease process in which the loss of affective contact with reality is coincident with or determined by the appearance of autistic thinking and accompanied by specific phenomena of regression and dissociation." Despert, J.L. (1938) Schizophrenia in Children , Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol.12 pp.366-371.

I don't how significant it is that Kanner used the term "affective contact" in the title of his paper.
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