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Erik Engdahl:
Autism Spectrum Conditions as Relational Phenomena

(Version of 6 Oct. 2013)


In an earlier abstract of a future article on autism spectrum conditions, such were described with focus on the persons themselves, those who are diagnosed to have this condition. In this second abstract, the focus is instead on the conditions as relational phenomena.

In the U.S.A. there is (or rather was) the parody webbsite "Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical". It provides diagnostic criteria for "666.00 Neurotypic Disorder"(NTS) from DSN-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of 'Normal' Disorders). The criteria are constructed using the same model as those in DSM-IV (Diagostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), besides ICD-10, the current most common diagnostic manual. In 2013, DSM-5 was published after a long period of preparation.

The creators of the aforementioned parody website stresses that the diagnosis NTS is a joke diagnosis and currently indeed it is. The author of this abstract views, however, that the diagnosis could in some sense be made serious. It would then belong to the extended autism spectrum, in its robust end. The main symptom would be the difficulty to communicate with those who have or could have a diagnosis within the current autism spectrum.

Within feminism, there are two poles, equity and difference feminism. The former emphasises sex/gender similarities while peculiarity feminism claims that men are from Mars, women from Venus, and never they shall meet.

A similar polarity may illustrate a difference between the creators of the aforementioned parody webbsite and the author of this abstract. The Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical seems to be oriented towards the "difference" pole while the author of this abstract rather is oriented towards the "equity" pole. The latter refers neurotypic syndrome to the extended autism spectrum rather than treating it as essentially different.

In a physical communication channel, such as a section of a water pipe or electrical circuit, the substance which is propagated is limited by the existent obstacles.

In an electric circuit electric charges are propagated which form an electric current I. For a section of the circuit Ohm's law U = RI applies, where U is the voltage between the endpoints measured e.g. in the unit 1 volt, R is the resistance measured in e.g. the unit 1 ohm, and I is the current measured in e.g. the unit 1 ampere.

Rearrangement of Ohm's law by division of both members by the resistence R gives U/R = I or U · 1/R = I. The meaning of the law includes that at constant voltage U, the current I, the electric charges carried, decreases when the resistance R increases. One says that the current is inversely proportional to the resistance. As being part of an electrical circuit, a physical communication channel works in this way.

A socio-psychical communication channel differs fundamentally from a physical communication channel. In each end there is an individual on a personal (or possibly a collective) level. Each of them regulate their own primary role by more or less, sometimes not at all, crampedly squeezing together their end of the communication channel. This makes up on each side of the channel their unilateral cramped state of communication shutdown.

The key quantity for characterisation of such a socio-psychical communication channel is the degree of unintimacy. The degree of unintimacy or bilateral cramped communication shutdown is given by the mathematical product (multiplication) of the unilateral cramped communication shutdown at each ends. (See the author's text: "Description of Bilateral Cramped State of Communication Shutdown (Non-Intimacy) by Use of the Semi-Quantitative Logarithmic Multiplication Table" regarding this product!)

Nowadays most people have access to broadband networks. Before that era, dial-up phone modems were used. Shortly after the call, strange noises were heard from the modem. What happened was that the modem and the modem server on each side negotiated about the current appropriate data transfer speed. (The speed refers to how tightly the signals of 0:s and 1:s are packed in the flow of time, not how fast they are traveling in the cables. If the signals are transfered in copper leads they are travelleing in about two thirds of the speed of light.)

Something similar happens when two people who just have acquired neurotypic syndrome meet. They negotiate quickly and more or less automatically and unconsciously about the degree of unintimacy. Now during the prehistory of man, people are generally afraid of intimacy and pains of life. Therefore it is important to not get too close to each other.

People within the current autism spectrum have notorious difficulties with the negotiations referred to in the preceding paragraph. They tend to only be able to offer either hard cramped state of communication shutdown or (almost) none. The person with neurotypic syndrome on the other end of the communication channel, would pretty frequent avoid intimacy, usually choosing the safe rather than the unsafe, thus crampedly squeezing together the communication channel.

Persons with neurotypic syndrome do not always succeed in their (probably unconscious) intention, as mentioned in the preceding paragraph, to avoid intimacy. This implies that, through communication with people within the current autism spectrum, they get a glimpse of what it means to be in intimacy.

This phenomenon also appears in another context, namely the "wink-of-an-eye instances"(*), i.e. the short moments when even "hard" autistics indeed are in communication. The existence of these wink-of-an-eye instances are a basis for the now outdated view of autism as persons with autism being trapped inside an invisible cloche. (See also the author's "Autism Spectrum Conditions - Neurological Abnormality and/or Cramped State of Communication Shutdown?" about wink-of-an-eye instances and critical periods of development time window for the development of consciousness and cognitive modules!)

(*) This of the author somewhat home-made expression derives from the Swedish Autism and Asperger Association's magazine named "Ögonblick (Wink-of-an-Eye)"

Those with neurotypic syndrome also tend, by virtue of their usualness, to status position themselves as normal. There is a significant difference between the words "usual" and "normal". The latter derives from the Latin word "norma" which was the denomination of a Roman building tool for creating right angles. The tool somewhat resembles the right-angled set-squares occurring at the blackboards, now whiteboards, in school classrooms. Hence, something is "normal" if it is "right angled", "straight" or "right".

When those with neurotypic syndrome well have status positioned themselves as normal, the way is free free for them to blame communication and other problems in relation to persons within the current autism spectrum on just the latter.


Comments and suggestions could be e-mailed to erik.engdahlREMOVE.THESE.FOUR.WORDS@spray.se.

Se also by the same author...

Autism Spectrum Conditions - Neurological Abnormality and/or Cramped State of Communication Shutdown?
http://www.erikengdahl.se/autism/autism1-en.html

Description of Bilateral Cramped State of Communication Shutdown (Non-Intimacy) by Use of the Semi-Quantitative Logarithmic Multiplication Table
http://www.erikengdahl.se/autism/autism3-en.html

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