View Full Version : Stimming vs. fidgeting?


Assumption
08-22-12, 12:38 AM
Hey, I've been introspecting about this stuff a whole lot lately, and am trying to sort out exactly what the "symptoms" that I experience really are. Here's a bunch of things I do. Can you tell if they're stimming or fidgeting?

While sitting, put my toe on the ground, and bob my knee up and down.
While sitting with leg crossed, will wiggle my ankle. I often follow a specific geometric pattern with my foot while I'm doing this (like a loop in the shape of a capital L).
While lying down or sitting, wiggle toes.
While talking to people, I lean forwards and back (very subtly, I doubt they notice) and sometimes bounce up and down (once again, subtly)
Feel the texture of my palm, trace circles around my nails, or clap my hand, both typically just using a single hand to do so (i.e. the same hand that I'm feeling).
Bite my nails.
Pick my nose (and, I'm very ashamed to say, eat it. It disgusts my wife and I can't stop it!)
stroke my beard (just lightly enough that it moves the hair around. This is difficult to describe. The hair is short and stiff though, a different texture to that on the top of my head)
Squeeze pimples, pick scabs, pull hair out around pimples. I don't think I would have any pimples/scabs on my face if I just stopped touching my face.
Rubbing my wife's hand repetitively while watching a movie in the theatre. She finds this very annoying (actually painful because I do it too hard).

That's all I can think of for now. There are more.

I couldn't say how often I do some of these, because I don't seem to be aware when I'm doing it very much. I've been becoming more aware these past few weeks. All I can say is that my wife says "I'm the twitchiest M.. F... she's ever met!" Hah. :)

Assumption
08-22-12, 12:39 AM
Is this really the only non-stickied thread in here or am I bugged??

CheekyMonkey
08-22-12, 12:43 AM
Go down to "display options" and sort for the "last 100 days" or something longer.

CheekyMonkey
08-22-12, 12:45 AM
Stimming, from an autism standpoint, doesn't really seem to be about extra energy, but rather a pattern of behavior that is soothing and self-regulatory.

Fidgeting, from my own ADHD perspective, is about extra hyperness that needs to be let out so I don't peel out of my skin. :lol:

Assumption
08-22-12, 12:54 AM
See, I don't know why I do these things at all. I don't think I find it soothing. Actually, maybe I sometimes do (bouncing a little while talking to someone). I don't necessarily find it about extra energy. Maybe sometimes (bobbing my knee). For many of the other things above I couldn't tell you why I do them. I do wonder whether I am alexithymic. I don't think I have a lot of self-insight.

I'd say that I do the foot-L-shape thing because I find tracing patterns with my foot to be fun. That's about as in-depth as I can intuit, regarding my motivations.

The beard stroking thing is done automatically and often without conscious awareness. But I'd say that I enjoy the feeling of the hair as it responds to my fingers. I really don't know.

ana futura
08-22-12, 01:01 AM
I do such much aspie stuff, but socially I just don't seem to fit. I don't get it. I'm sure I'll never know if I'm on the spectrum or not. Has there been research into ADHD sensory issues? All of the ASD type stuff that applies to me is sensory.

Conman
08-22-12, 01:03 AM
i do those body motion things frequently as well

Assumption
08-22-12, 01:35 AM
Yeah, I'm not sure what other aspects of Asperger's I experience. I mean, I do tend to obsess over my hobbies. And I do feel like an alien. But I seem to be able to read facial expressions OK. That said, I'm a bit slow to react, I think. People will walk by and say hi... that's NOT enough time to react by saying hi back - the best they'll normally get is a grimace! haha. :)

CheekyMonkey
08-22-12, 01:48 AM
Yeah, I'm not sure what other aspects of Asperger's I experience. I mean, I do tend to obsess over my hobbies. And I do feel like an alien. But I seem to be able to read facial expressions OK. That said, I'm a bit slow to react, I think. People will walk by and say hi... that's NOT enough time to react by saying hi back - the best they'll normally get is a grimace! haha. :)

I share a lot of social things that might appear to be aspie like, but usually they are because I'm not paying attention or I'm too slow to respond. However, I understand social rules naturally....I just don't always use them because of attention/anxiety issues. Aspies, for the most part, do not have that natural ability read and react to social situations naturally. This is in generalities, of course.

ana futura
08-22-12, 01:56 AM
Yeah, I have no trouble understanding social rules. Following them is a different matter.

I'm a nerd, but I don't think I take the obsession thing to the extreme. I usually jump from thing to thing- I'll be super into something one month, and have forgotten about it the next. In that month I'll have absorbed all the info I could though.

I have pica and irritability caused by sound and touch. Sometimes I'll do things that are a little bit stimmy.

Assumption
08-22-12, 02:14 AM
Problem is, I tend to think I understand them. But many people seem to disagree. Recently I got into an argument with my office mates about whether what I said was against a social rule or not!

I also often seem to discount many social considerations that many people think are important, and focus on rules of morality and fairness that other people are happy to turn a blind eye to. For instance, researchers often seem to promise anonymity, when their research designs only guarantee confidentiality. They'll say things like "your data will only be identified by a code" when they store data in one place (with a code) and then store a separate document with codes + participant contact details in a separate place. It would be trivial to figure out what someone's identity is - that's not anonymity, it's confidentiality.

Also, it's one thing to know that you should hug someone when they're sad, or when you greet a very close friend or family member, and it's another thing to actually want to do it. I tend not to be motivated to do that. In the first case I'll tell them how to fix their problem, and in the second case I'll talk to them about what I've been thinking about.

ana futura
08-22-12, 02:20 AM
Problem is, I tend to think I understand them. But many people seem to disagree. Recently I got into an argument with my office mates about whether what I said was against a social rule or not!
I suppose this applies to me as well. But I think the arguing probably means it's not ASD.
I also don't care about a lot of social norms or rules, and I do get the obsession with fairness bit.

Also, it's one thing to know that you should hug someone when they're sad, or when you greet a very close friend or family member, and it's another thing to actually want to do it. I tend not to be motivated to do that. In the first case I'll tell them how to fix their problem, and in the second case I'll talk to them about what I've been thinking about.

Yep, me too.

Fortune
08-22-12, 02:31 AM
I suppose this applies to me as well. But I think the arguing probably means it's not ASD.

How do you conclude this? If there's one thing autistic people can do, it's argue. :D

To answer the OP: I haven't been able to find a clear distinction. There are a lot of theories as to what stimming is. Something I found on an "autism wiki" is:

There are many theories about the function of stimming, and the reasons for its increased incidence in autistic people. For hyposensitive people, it may provide needed nervous system arousal, releasing beta-endorphins. For hypersensitive people, it may provide a "norming" effect, allowing the person to control a specific sense, and is thus a soothing behavior.

I've experienced both of these. I know after a mild concussion I had a really strong need for stimulation and stimmed a lot more than usual.

I'm hesitant to take any single source as the definition, however. A lot of them are produced by NTs and other non-autistic people and are thus often external interpretations of autistic behavior, which are often wrong.

ana futura
08-22-12, 03:12 AM
How do you conclude this? If there's one thing autistic people can do, it's argue. :D Because you are always so gracious Fortune! :D

Like when you asked me about the wet hair, you were genuinely curious. There are social protocols that I insist don't exist, but it's because I think they're pointless and stupid. Deep down I suppose I know they do, but I don't want them to.

I argue for the sake of argument, I play devil's advocate. When people with ASD argue it seems like they really "believe" the content of their argument, and use facts to back up their argument. Me- I'll argue for one thing today and the opposite tomorrow, and make stuff up to support either argument.

I'm really interested to know what you think of this assessment.

Assumption
08-22-12, 03:19 AM
Hmm, yeah, I really can't tell if I'm doing it for stimulation/arousal or norming. I'm leaning towards arousal, though.

The thing I do with my ankle, for instance. Sometimes I'll get a spatial image in my mind of the pattern my foot is tracing. I guess this might count as stimulating? I'm stimulating the "where" pathways in my visuospatial system, I guess...? Or could it be norming?

I just find it really hard to intuit this kind of stuff. It's like that deliberate vs. spontaneous imagination questionnaire - I couldn't answer any of the questions confidently because I couldn't say which kind of imagery I use more...

Assumption
08-22-12, 03:26 AM
Because you are always so gracious Fortune! :D

Like when you asked me about the wet hair, you were genuinely curious. There are social protocols that I insist don't exist, but it's because I think they're pointless and stupid. Deep down I suppose I know they do, but I don't want them to.

I argue for the sake of argument, I play devil's advocate. When people with ASD argue it seems like they really "believe" the content of their argument, and use facts to back up their argument. Me- I'll argue for one thing today and the opposite tomorrow, and make stuff up to support either argument.

I'm really interested to know what you think of this assessment.

I am interested too because this is like the first thing... ever... that I've been different to you on! I generally feel very certain of my position and will argue myself blue over it.

Example. I was 16. Physics teacher told us that light is slower through non-vacuum mediums. I thought I KNEW that this was false (my dad studies relativity and I'd grown up hearing about this stuff). Turns out I was WRONG. Did that stop me from arguing about it? No. ****** off the whole class, it did.

Another example. I was 13. Maths teacher told us that a billion has 12 zeros. Now, I was certain that it has 9. I argued about it for ages, held up the class, and when I got home got my dad to write me a note to prove the teacher wrong - this was VERY important to me, apparently! (The answer is, it depends on what country you live in - 1 billion is either 1 thousand million or 1 million million). I'm pretty sure I was right regarding NZ though! :)

I haven't gotten any easier to live with. You should see me when my wife forgets to put salt in the pasta and then shrugs and says no biggie. OK, after 10 years together I've slowly learned to deal with this one. But it took a long time and a lot of frankly embarrasingly bitter arguments over salt in pasta for me to get over it.

Assumption
08-22-12, 03:30 AM
One thing I wonder about the social thing. I've read Baron-Cohen's "the science of evil," one of his books about the zero degrees of empathy hypothesis. He seems to think that people on the autism spectrum are impaired both in terms of their ability to recognize emotion and in their motivation to respond appropriately. I wonder if I'm just impaired in the latter? I hope that doesn't mean I'm a psychopath.

Assumption
08-22-12, 03:49 AM
First I paint myself as ADHD + ODD as a child. Then I suggest that maybe I'm a psychopath... I guess Barkley will be nodding.

ana futura
08-22-12, 03:55 AM
I often think I have psychopathic potential as well, but I'd probably kill a person for harming an animal before I'd harm an animal, so that has to count for something right?

Although... I have been known to throw a cat (lovingly! on the bed! Weeee!) At least I'm no where near as bad as you Sylvie's Husband the cat thrower!

And don't get me started on the empathy thing. I don't get it. I'm confused. Search Futura Empathy and you'll find a hundred posts I'm sure.

ana futura
08-22-12, 04:01 AM
I am interested too because this is like the first thing... ever... that I've been different to you on! I generally feel very certain of my position and will argue myself blue over it.

Example. I was 16. Physics teacher told us that light is slower through non-vacuum mediums. I thought I KNEW that this was false (my dad studies relativity and I'd grown up hearing about this stuff). Turns out I was WRONG. Did that stop me from arguing about it? No. ****** off the whole class, it did.

Another example. I was 13. Maths teacher told us that a billion has 12 zeros. Now, I was certain that it has 9. I argued about it for ages, held up the class, and when I got home got my dad to write me a note to prove the teacher wrong - this was VERY important to me, apparently! (The answer is, it depends on what country you live in - 1 billion is either 1 thousand million or 1 million million). I'm pretty sure I was right regarding NZ though! :)

I haven't gotten any easier to live with. You should see me when my wife forgets to put salt in the pasta and then shrugs and says no biggie. OK, after 10 years together I've slowly learned to deal with this one. But it took a long time and a lot of frankly embarrasingly bitter arguments over salt in pasta for me to get over it.

Actually, I do all this sort of nonsense...This mindfulness meditation stuff I've been doing has changed the way I argue. It's easier for me to give up, and actually see how fickle I am, and how I'll BS. In my youth I was a lot more indignant.

Also, I kept getting proved wrong all the time. Rather than learn how to argue correctly, I've decided that acknowledging I'm full of it is easier. There are only so many times you can be told you are full of it before you give in.

ana futura
08-22-12, 04:05 AM
I'm so full of it on the arguing bit. This is post medicated me talking, all this insight is changing my sense of self! AGGGHHHHH!

Drewbacca
08-22-12, 04:05 AM
I tend to think of fidgeting as the inability to get comfortable... just my 2cents.

Assumption
08-22-12, 04:53 AM
At least I'm no where near as bad as you Sylvie's Husband the cat thrower! :o

And don't get me started on the empathy thing. I don't get it. I'm confused. Search Futura Empathy and you'll find a hundred posts I'm sure. Haha, yeah. Sometimes I can't tell that I'm angry, actually. I've noticed that one of the warning signs of my losing my temper is that I start telling myself not to get frustrated. But at that stage, I don't actually FEEL frustrated, so it's a weird kind of thought. And then, an hour later, suddenly I get really p**y over something really little. Clearly I was in a foul mood all along, but I didn't really feel that way.

There are only so many times you can be told you are full of it before you give in. Neverrrrrr!

Assumption
08-22-12, 04:54 AM
I tend to think of fidgeting as the inability to get comfortable... just my 2cents.

Well, if that's what it is.... I DO do that from time to time. For instance, I shift around a lot in bed. But pretty much none of the stuff above falls into that category (that is, unless you use a really broad definition of 'comfortable,' and then, maybe).

Fortune
08-22-12, 05:32 AM
Because you are always so gracious Fortune! :D

Like when you asked me about the wet hair, you were genuinely curious. There are social protocols that I insist don't exist, but it's because I think they're pointless and stupid. Deep down I suppose I know they do, but I don't want them to.

There are social protocols that I think are pointless and stupid, but I don't so much insist they don't exist as wish they didn't. I do tend to ignore them if I don't see the point of following them.

I argue for the sake of argument, I play devil's advocate. When people with ASD argue it seems like they really "believe" the content of their argument, and use facts to back up their argument. Me- I'll argue for one thing today and the opposite tomorrow, and make stuff up to support either argument.

I can't speak for everyone, but I hate devil's advocate style arguments. My instinct is that it's manipulative and deceitful, and it really frustrates me. I realize that people who do it are not trying to be manipulative or deceitful automatically (although I think some who do it really are both of those things). It's sort of like finding out I was arguing with someone who turned out to be lying for the sake of creating the argument in the first place.

Doesn't mean I don't like discussions, although someone might perceive an argument as heated long before I do - the other day, someone started insulting me in the middle of a discussion for what seemed to be no reason and it took me a bit to work out why he did that.

There are some people

I'm really interested to know what you think of this assessment.

I think it's an accurate assessment of me. It may very well be an accurate assessment of other people on the spectrum, but I do not know. I do tend to think that my attitude is formed by my perceptions and my perceptions are impacted by being autistic.

Fortune
08-22-12, 05:41 AM
One thing I wonder about the social thing. I've read Baron-Cohen's "the science of evil," one of his books about the zero degrees of empathy hypothesis. He seems to think that people on the autism spectrum are impaired both in terms of their ability to recognize emotion and in their motivation to respond appropriately. I wonder if I'm just impaired in the latter? I hope that doesn't mean I'm a psychopath.

I would take that book's characterization of autism with a grain of salt.

Actually, I'd just take the entire book with a grain of salt. It's overly simplistic, he relates urban legends as personal anecdotes, and I think his description of the various conditions is off, and sometimes extreme.

Fortune
08-22-12, 05:44 AM
And don't get me started on the empathy thing. I don't get it. I'm confused. Search Futura Empathy and you'll find a hundred posts I'm sure.

One of the reasons that I find SBC's description of autistic people and empathy to be dodgy is that it simply makes no sense to me.

I mean, it is true that I have constructed elaborate systems of rules and guidelines to describe what I see as right and wrong, and I tend to stick to them fairly rigidly. I just think there are big gaping holes in his writing on the topic.

Assumption
08-22-12, 05:57 AM
I would take that book's characterization of autism with a grain of salt.

Actually, I'd just take the entire book with a grain of salt. It's overly simplistic, he relates urban legends as personal anecdotes, and I think his description of the various conditions is off, and sometimes extreme.
To be honest, I was mightily disappointed by the book as a whole. It seemed clearly oversimplistic. And given that my old neuropsyc tutor seemed to be a fan of Baron-Cohen, I was quite disappointed.

I think the problem with neuroscience is that people just get... too easily impressed by the pretty diagrams of the brain. I regularly find myself thinking, yes, it happened in the brain, where else could it have happened? If you take the neurology out of the book (and you really can - as far as I can tell it's not necessary to get the point across) you're left with what really amounts to a short essay. And it is such a partial explanation at best!

The next book I read after the Science of Evil was Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature, which only overlaps a little with the Science of Evil. But I found Pinker's analysis much more... consilient. Just as an example. :P And I've heard people criticise Pinker for being a bit of a dilettante. That said, I liked the Blank Slate more.

...what on earth does this have to do with stimming?? Hah!

Assumption
08-22-12, 06:00 AM
One of the reasons that I find SBC's description of autistic people and empathy to be dodgy is that it simply makes no sense to me.

I mean, it is true that I have constructed elaborate systems of rules and guidelines to describe what I see as right and wrong, and I tend to stick to them fairly rigidly. I just think there are big gaping holes in his writing on the topic.

I've always thought that if anything, I'm a 6 on Kohlberg's stages of moral reasoning. Before I get too self-congratulatory though, maybe that's because I have trouble even comprehending stages 1-5? I actually think I've been a 6 since I was a small child (hence my mother telling me that I always had an overdeveloped sense of justice).

Fortune
08-22-12, 06:01 AM
Fracturedstory usually has a good explanation for the difference between fidgeting and stimming. I usually come up with something like "Stimming looks unusual." Not all stims are visible, nor visibly unusual.

Mine can be fairly visible and I think somewhat annoying.

Fortune
08-22-12, 06:04 AM
I've always thought that if anything, I'm a 6 on Kohlberg's stages of moral reasoning. Before I get too self-congratulatory though, maybe that's because I have trouble even comprehending stages 1-5? I actually think I've been a 6 since I was a small child (hence my mother telling me that I always had an overdeveloped sense of justice).

I tend to look at things in terms of 5-6, I think. 5-level stuff is why I get frustated with people who show up here and basically harass other members when the point of being here is to be on a support forum. It's one thing to be blunt and perhaps harsh to someone who might need something bluntly stated, but it's another thing to pick random threads to tell people they can't possibly have ADHD, for example.

Assumption
08-22-12, 06:15 AM
I think you're allowed to integrate the lower levels into the higher levels. For instance, let's say you're a utilitarian. You might justify the social contract in terms of the expected benefits for people's welfare (or go for something like rule utilitarianism).

Although I guess maybe you'd still get scored as a 5 if you chose to use the social contract to explain why something was wrong... in spite of the fact that for you, 5 is given its normativity by virtue of its relationship to 6 (so really, you're a 6, you just use 5 sometimes, which is understandable - it's like: why use physics to explain something better explained by chemistry?).

I'm not sure how much I use 5. I'll have to think about it some more. I do tend to be mostly in favour of civil disobedience wherever I think the government is wrong. Internet piracy being one example.

CheekyMonkey
08-22-12, 10:49 AM
One thing I wonder about the social thing. I've read Baron-Cohen's "the science of evil," one of his books about the zero degrees of empathy hypothesis. He seems to think that people on the autism spectrum are impaired both in terms of their ability to recognize emotion and in their motivation to respond appropriately. I wonder if I'm just impaired in the latter? I hope that doesn't mean I'm a psychopath.

Many in the autistic community think his theories on autism and empathy are wrong, and I tend to agree.

angora
08-22-12, 11:19 AM
I can't speak for everyone, but I hate devil's advocate style arguments. My instinct is that it's manipulative and deceitful, and it really frustrates me. I realize that people who do it are not trying to be manipulative or deceitful automatically (although I think some who do it really are both of those things). It's sort of like finding out I was arguing with someone who turned out to be lying for the sake of creating the argument in the first place

I can take any side in most arguments.

It's not an attempt to manipulate or be deceitful for me - I generally can see both sides.

Sometimes I do it because it's stimulating. Sometimes I do it because I can't decide which side I'm on.

And sometimes, in a group, I do it to support the side that seems to be losing an argument if it does not seem like a "fair fight" to me.

ana futura
08-22-12, 12:50 PM
I can take any side in most arguments.

It's not an attempt to manipulate or be deceitful for me - I generally can see both sides.

Sometimes I do it because it's stimulating. Sometimes I do it because I can't decide which side I'm on.

And sometimes, in a group, I do it to support the side that seems to be losing an argument if it does not seem like a "fair fight" to me.

Yeah, this sounds like me. I'm not so much a devil's advocate as I can usually see all the possibilities. Whichever side I pick, I go for it with gusto, because I'm a little bit ODD.

Sometimes I don't see both sides, but once I've have had a chance to digest new information I can come around and see how I was "wrong" but this takes days, or months.

There is stuff I've argued with my partner over that I now agree with her on. But when I disagreed, my ODD type tendencies just made me a full on irrational basket of rage. I'm not measured or calm when I argue. I've gotten better, but I still would never argue with someone for any reason other than to insist that I'm right.

I think what's going on with me is that I notice the Pica and sensory stuff, which not many people with ADHD have, and then start looking for ASD symptoms elsewhere. I'll look at my emotional dysregulation and ODD symptoms, and start trying to frame them as aspergers, but I think they are really just ADHD.

As far as empathy I can be very empathetic, but I have trouble connecting to that feeling. It's not that I don't understand it, but my emotions tend to be so loud that the softer ones are harder for me to connect to and notice.

I will say something inconsiderate about someone, for instance I will drive past a homeless person and say something about how they shouldn't panhandle cause I know they'll only spend it on drugs, and the city is going to hell. Then a few minutes later I'll feel really bad about my initial reaction, and I get very sad for them. I start seeing how that could be me, if circumstances were different. Then I just get this overwhelming feeling of bleh, both because poverty exists, and because I was a jerk. My more caring emotions always seem tinged with regret.

My number one issue with empathy seems to be that I'm on a time delay.

ana futura
08-22-12, 02:50 PM
Also, in addition to the "time delay" I experience, sometimes I think my initial negative reaction to something blocks the development of positive emotions like empathy.

In certain situations empathy and sympathy don't get a chance develop because my negative emotions override them.

Drewbacca
08-22-12, 03:25 PM
Well, if that's what it is.... I DO do that from time to time. For instance, I shift around a lot in bed. But pretty much none of the stuff above falls into that category (that is, unless you use a really broad definition of 'comfortable,' and then, maybe).

I was never aware of how much I fidget until I started taking Adderall. Once I took the medication for a few weeks and then took a week long break, I started to notice my behavior. It was at it's worst during a college class, but you could see it throughout the day in my interactions.

MikhailTal
08-22-12, 03:44 PM
I used to think I had aspergers. Because I have ADD-I and have some symptoms that are like ASD symptoms (ADD-I and ASD lead to similar behavior sometimes, although with different causes mostly). But most of all, because I stim. Not a lot, and I can hide it pretty well. When I get excited, I sometimes jump a little when I'm alone, and pull funny faces in the mirror. When I get very angry, I bite my finger or shake my hands. I've read that it could be an hypo/hypersensitivity issue, so I need to regulate my nervous system with a physical movement.

So in my opinion the difference between stimming and fidgetting, is that stimming is used to regulate emotion and thoughts (pacing while thinking is stimming too), fidgetting is an urge to move because of restlessness. I do however fidget a lot, and I know it's different from my stimming.

The stimming soothes my emotions when they get too extreme. I'm pretty sure it's a sensory issue, and since most autistic people have such issues, I used to think I was one of them. But then again, I understand facial expressions, irony, sarcasm, and have a neurotypical sense of humor (is there such a thing?), and I have no problems with change or obsessive hobbies. My only social problem is recurring motivation problems to socialize, but it's more an ADD-I issue I guess.

Assumption
08-22-12, 04:53 PM
Yeah, this sounds like me. I'm not so much a devil's advocate as I can usually see all the possibilities. Whichever side I pick, I go for it with gusto, because I'm a little bit ODD. I seem to come down on the underdog's side fairly often. I'm not sure if I'm biased to do so or whether I just tend to think a bit differently to many people? Whatever the cause, and whatever side I come down on, I tend to argue about it passionately.

Actually, scratch that. I often just disagree with BOTH sides and come up with my own third option, which just HAS to be right. Haha!

Yeah, I'm not sure what's with my slowness. I think it might be inattentiveness, but I'm not sure. I notice it when people are talking fast (I just lose track of what they're saying) and also when unexpected stuff happens - if someone greets me in a hallway I get surprised, grimace (I'm practically incapable of a social, non-genuine smile) and mutter hello quietly (why do I do it quietly? It's not like that's more polite - much of the time I actually WHISPER).

Fortune
08-22-12, 07:06 PM
I can take any side in most arguments.

It's not an attempt to manipulate or be deceitful for me - I generally can see both sides.

Sometimes I do it because it's stimulating. Sometimes I do it because I can't decide which side I'm on.

And sometimes, in a group, I do it to support the side that seems to be losing an argument if it does not seem like a "fair fight" to me.

I tried to explain that I realize that people don't always do this for manipulative or deceitful reasons. However, when I put effort into an argument it really does frustrate to learn that the person I was arguing with didn't actually believe what they were saying.

Assumption
08-22-12, 07:24 PM
Out of interest Fortune, what is the specific issue that you have with Baron-Cohen's account? My understanding of it is more or less:

1) There are 2 ways you can fail to empathise: by not recognizing others' emotional states, or by not being motivated by those emotional states you do recognize.
2) People on the AS have impairments in both.

Do you disagree with this? Or just think that it's an overly simplistic summary of what's going on (and/or take exception with some of the other things he's said such as his account of what systematizing is all about)

If the latter, do you think all people with Asperger's are impaired with both? Or are some impaired with just one and not the other? I suspect the latter (both times), based on our conversations elsewhere, but just wanted to clarify what your position is. :P

Fortune
08-22-12, 08:16 PM
Out of interest Fortune, what is the specific issue that you have with Baron-Cohen's account? My understanding of it is more or less:

1) There are 2 ways you can fail to empathise: by not recognizing others' emotional states, or by not being motivated by those emotional states you do recognize.
2) People on the AS have impairments in both.

This itself is factually incorrect. There are two kinds of empathy - cognitive empathy, which is the ability to model what other people are thinking, and affective empathy, which is the ability to perceive others' emotions.

Most people have typical levels of both. Psychopathy tends to lead to a lack of affective empathy with normal levels of cognitive empathy. Autism tends to lead to a lack of cognitive empathy with typical levels of affective empathy.

For that matter, using Cohen's own tools, people with borderline personality disorder (another so-called "zero empathy" condition) demonstrate high levels of affective empathy, to the point that it impairs cognitive empathy. This is why dialectical behavioral therapy works to treat BPD - it teaches people who have it to work through those excessive attributions.

Also, Cohen's reading the mind in the eyes test? It turns out in other studies, that autistic people and NTs score approximately the same range of scores.

Cohen's EQ doesn't measure empathy very well. It's a confused morass of questions that tend to result in autistic people scoring low and NTs scoring higher, but some of the questions deal with cognitive empathy, some with affective empathy, and some have nothing to do with empathy at all.

Also, Cohen's much-vaunted "extreme male brain" theory is probably not true:

http://www.ajnr.org/content/33/1/83.short

You can read the full article for free, but what it says is that autistic brains tend to develop more like "halfway" between what is typical for male and what is typical for female brains, that sex differences are attenuated.

Do you disagree with this? Or just think that it's an overly simplistic summary of what's going on (and/or take exception with some of the other things he's said such as his account of what systematizing is all about)

I think it's overly simplistic, factually wrong, and serves his pet theories about what autism is (so-called "mindblindness"). I also disagree with his explanation of what systemizing is all about.

If the latter, do you think all people with Asperger's are impaired with both? Or are some impaired with just one and not the other? I suspect the latter (both times), based on our conversations elsewhere, but just wanted to clarify what your position is. :P

My position is that as far as expertise goes, Simon Baron-Cohen seems more influenced by his theories of what autism is and not so much by empirical research that shows he's not really correct.

I have a lot of trouble working out what other people might be thinking or how people will react to things (I lose friends easily this way). I have developed compensatory strategies over time - I know that certain kinds of subjects are likely to get negative reactions. But my motivation to react to someone else's emotions varies based on many circumstances and is not simply absent. I am also capable of sympathizing with people, if I have an experience I can relate to what they say they're experiencing.

Also, many people mistake empathy as a capacity for compassion, and that is itself simply not true. One does not require cognitive empathy to be capable of compassion, and I think compassion is one of the drives that many autistic people have that pushes many toward making a set of rules about such things. I do care if I hurt someone, but I might not notice. If it's pointed out, however, I try to make amends. Several social rituals are important for this sort of thing.

Another issue that makes it difficult to react to someone else's emotions, however, is alexithymia - an inability to identify with one's own emotions. If I do not identify an emotional reaction to something, I will have to work out how to react - like when my mother told me my stepfather had cancer, and was crying, I had to consciously connect the crying to what she said, and then work through a decision tree to determine if a hug was appropriate. But I was still motivated to respond, I just didn't immediately know how.

fracturedstory
08-23-12, 02:52 AM
Three pages? EEEH URR C'mon give me a...
OK, I'll answer.

Stimming is what people on the autistic spectrum do to calm anxiety. It is usually a very specific repetitive behaviour. For example when I walk into town I shake my hand. I also flap my hands when I exercise, but stimming can also come about when I'm excited. Sometimes I lose complete control of this body of mine (not in a messy way) when mixing music with physical movement.

My staring at clouds, tops of buildings and tiny little objects with a lot of detail and running my fingers over them because I like the different textures - can be counted as stimming.

Some people think listening to music over and over again is stimming but it's not really.

Er what else? I do thick tongue flick thing which I usually stop when it hurts my teefies.

Stimming is communicating really. Communicating with your body. In the most severest form when people can't feel their limbs properly. I do that when I feel numb. Physically numb, not the emotional kind.

There is also sensation seeking but that's not the same as stimming, though people think it is. But if I said any more I think I would continue to confuse people.

Oh yes, and when I'm nervous at the dinner table or in a restaurant I line things up. Anyone who calls it OCD will get a big slap from me. OCD requires me to care about people dying when I do these rituals. At the moment I'm lining things up I want to be as far away from people as possible, and suddenly everything looks lopsided.

fracturedstory
08-23-12, 02:54 AM
Also, I dislike Simon Baron Cohen because he makes it out like people with autism are a bunch of psychopaths.

Assumption
08-23-12, 06:19 AM
Stimming is communicating really. Communicating with your body.Hmm, I think I get that sometimes. I think the face stroking might be that. (Ugh! I just went to stroke my face after typing that, and I'd forgotten that I had shaved my beard off today [It was an unintentional 2 week beard]. That was very surprising and weird.) Anyway, face stroking. Yeah, it's hard to describe what I do but it's like, if you have a short hair between two surfaces, and exert just the right amount of pressure, and then move those surfaces parallel to each other, the way the hair moves is quite interesting.

Actually, I'm not sure if that's communicating. More like interacting. I don't know.

Also, the foot wiggling, possibly.
Oh yes, and when I'm nervous at the dinner table or in a restaurant I line things up. Anyone who calls it OCD will get a big slap from me. OCD requires me to care about people dying when I do these rituals. At the moment I'm lining things up I want to be as far away from people as possible, and suddenly everything looks lopsided. I also like to line things up - e.g. my D&D books, my warhammer models (my wife calls them 'little men'). We bought my 1 year old some mega blocks... I think I've spent longer playing with them than he has!

What about walking in patterns? For instance, if there's checkerboard tiles, I feel quite a strong urge to just walk the black squares, or to step in the pattern that a knight would take in chess. I don't HAVE to do it, but often I will. I'm not sure if I do it specifically when nervous or excited though. I mean, I've never thought about that.

As a kid, there used to be something about the roof of my mouth (the texture? The way it felt? Tickly or itchy?) that motivated me to do this strange sucky, grunty thing with my throat (repetitively). I'm not sure what it was. It sounded like a demonic pig! And it tended to weird people out. Luckily I've stopped doing that :P

ana futura
08-24-12, 01:47 AM
Also, I dislike Simon Baron Cohen because he makes it out like people with autism are a bunch of psychopaths.

Yes, that's hooey. People with ADHD are the psychopaths! :D

ana futura
08-24-12, 01:48 AM
I tried to explain that I realize that people don't always do this for manipulative or deceitful reasons. However, when I put effort into an argument it really does frustrate to learn that the person I was arguing with didn't actually believe what they were saying.

Maybe "devil's advocate" is the wrong term, cause I really believe it at the time. It's just that I'll change my mind about it 2 hours later.