The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

3 August 2007

Or there's a simpler explanation

Kevin Beck on Asperger's Syndrome:

The most interesting thing about Asperger's syndrome is that its "discoverer" decided he had it and named it after himself, which he might have done even if not "suffering" from this "disorder." Maybe.

Asperger's, like too many other mental illnesses, is in effect an almost whimsical diagnosis of exclusion: If someone is really smart, arrogant beyond measure, and tends to be an asshole or otherwise impossible to converse with in a normal way, then he must have a form of autism. It's not treatable, but hey, labels are always fun and interesting.

And inevitably, there is a quick-and-dirty test online, consisting of 50 questions on a four-point scale (there is no Neutral). The cutoff point:

Scores over 32 are generally taken to indicate Asperger's Syndrome or high-functioning autism, with more than 34 an "extreme" score.

Well, isn't that special.

There is, of course, a limit to how seriously I'm going to take a mere 50-question inventory of this sort, but then I'm really smart and arrogant beyond measure.

(Via the kindly James Joyner.)

Posted at 8:41 PM to Almost Yogurt

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Apparently I need a t-shirt which says "I'm not autistic, I'm just ignoring you."

Posted by: rita at 8:51 PM on 3 August 2007

I didn't take the test. Judge Wapner is on.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:47 AM on 4 August 2007

I always thought he was on something.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:58 AM on 4 August 2007

As a former SPED teacher, I've worked with dozens of Aspergers kids. I could always spot them because they had a flat affect and didn't laugh or get jokes. They usually realized this, though, and some of them would make the effort to be sociable with mixed results.

My personal operating theory is that the autism spectrum is quite a bit broader than is commonly known, and that there are LOTS of functioning adults who have very good jobs and are even married with kids, but who are actually mildly autistic. Has nothing to do with "being really smart, tending to be an asshole, etc." but seems more to do with varying degrees of social awkwardness or lack of social awareness.

Posted by: Gradual Dazzle at 9:15 AM on 4 August 2007

InterWeb, apparently, is not that wide. I came to the same test from a different source, had a similar reaction.

Posted by: Tatyana at 9:44 AM on 4 August 2007

And there's always the question of whether someone merely shying away will be thought of as aloof, which these days is considered just a step or two below full assholery.

Posted by: CGHill at 10:17 AM on 4 August 2007

Oh great. Now "social awkwardness" is signs of a disease? Well, all babies got to eat, I guess, but sometimes I wonder how psychiatrists can live with themselves. (Oh right -- therapy.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 3:29 PM on 4 August 2007

I wish they explained what my negative score means...

Get me one of those T-shirts that Rita wants.

Posted by: Winston at 4:56 PM on 4 August 2007

I tried to take the test but I got bored of it and distracted halfway through. What do you suppose that means?

Posted by: aka_monty at 10:05 AM on 5 August 2007

Whatever you're suffering from, it isn't Asperger's. :)

Posted by: CGHill at 10:21 AM on 5 August 2007