Wednesday, October 17, 2012

You call it Asperger syndrome? I don't.

I've just seen a news story about Gary McKinnon. They say he has Asperger syndrome, and this is his excuse for whatever it is that he's done. No questioning of the idea of AS as an excuse. Britain seems to have an odd obsession with autism as an excuse for stuff. Maybe there are just a heap of Brits looking for excuses. I don't know, I live in Australia, but I do know that here depression is the fashionable all-purpose excuse. Only a handful of Australians have yet to get a prescription for anti-depression medications, and hubby and I are two of them. 

But does McKinnon really have AS? AS isn't officially synonymous with "genetic syndrome" or any specific genetic syndrome, so I guess he doesn't. He clearly does have some genetic syndrome. Just look at his face. It is a male version of the face of a very odd girl that I shared my high school years with. You could almost say we were friends, but I've got to admit that no one took her seriously enough to honestly say we had a genuine friendship with her. She was assertively annoying and not very bright academically. She was small and her face seemed to lack flesh. She had an irritating voice and cheerful elf-like personality that was uncannily similar to those of the Australian TV personality Andrew Denton. 

People put forward explanations for this girl. Her mother told people that she had been in grave danger as a baby, because she wouldn't feed. School friends noticed that her parents were old. Her computer-programmer father had been exposed to radiation during his war service. Everyone knew there was something up with this girl, beyond the variation between all individuals. Is this Asperger syndrome? No, it's clearly a very specific major deviation from the norm in physical development, probably genetic in cause. She physically had never been what you'd call normal. There's probably a name for it in some dusty old handbook of rare genetic conditions sitting on a shelf in a dark corner of a medical library. Gary McKinnon is clearly physically beyond normal too. Andrew Denton? What do you think? He's the most annoying man on Australian television, in the face of some very stiff competition. Gary McKinnon does not have Asperger syndrome. To say he does is just stupid and lazy and negligent. He has a genetic syndrome. Has anyone bothered to find out which one? 


Stephen Reid said...

McKinnon is plainly and clearly on the autistic spectrum, this has been verified by proper experts in the field who have more kowledge than yourself who "self-diagnosed" their own "autism".

You need to do more research before making false claims and tarnishing someones reputation. Your time may be better spent getting a proper assessment of your own condition 1st, if indeed you have one and its not just a product of your imagination.

I was officially diagnosed on the spectrum 5-6 years ago and i can tell you it is NEVER used as an EXCUSE by anyone. A proper diagnosis will EXPLAIN actions but wont EXCUSE the actions.

Lili Marlene said...

These days I don't think I believe in autism or Asperger syndrome as a valid diagnosis for anyone, so whether or not I might or might not have had it isn't a matter that I'm likely to spend a moment pondering in this busy festive season. In contrast, genetic syndromes and synaesthesia are conditions that have solid science validating them and differentiating them from the range of what is considered normal, and other conditions.

Mr Reid, you seem to have a lot of faith in "proper experts" and clinicians. After doing much research on the research of some "proper experts" in autism and AS I have no such faith, and a lifetime of simply consulting doctors such as GPs and medical specialists about the normal range of uncontroversial medical issues that all of us experience has left me with low expectations of the medical profession in general. Dr Ben Goldacre's latest book didn't help either.