A shockingly bad characterisation of autistic-like traits

Have a look at the article by Stewart Dakers in the Guardian (October 22).

He begins with a description of a violent young man named Bender, who smashes another young man’s face against the protective grill on a shop front. Dakers’ diagnosis of Bender and co:

This disaffection is characterised by indifference to the interests of others, self-preoccupation, by behaviours that are aloof or aggressive. They are “extreme blokes”, endlessly competitive, combative, techno-whizzes, system obsessed, vocabulary-lite, emotional and social misfits. Top-gear masculinity.

There is an uncomfortable resonance in this hypermaleness with a condition that has begun to assume epidemic proportions. Indeed, those mates of Bender’s fortunate enough to be assessed for special educational needs all have an autistic spectrum diagnosis. Autism has most recently been rebranded as AQ, the autistic quotient, implying that it is an inherent human condition, like IQ. As such, it surely affects us all, capable of being excited, both chronically and anecdotally, by experience of trauma.

It is still open for debate whether Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) is actually on the increase, or whether diagnostic criteria are weakening or more cases are being spotted.

I am aware of no work connecting ramming peoples’ faces into shop fronts and ASC, and it’s downright irresponsible to suggest there is a connection.

ASC has not been “rebranded” AQ.  There is a self-report screening questionnaire named AQ which is used by some researchers.  AQ may be used to predict whether someone has Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, but it also detects traits which are not specific to these conditions.

I can’t bring myself to quote from Dakers’ causal explanation.

There is more info about the autism spectrum at the National Autistic Society’s website.

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