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musicians with Asperger's Syndrome

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sed 10 Feb 03 - 01:46 PM
Lepus Rex 10 Feb 03 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,Diva 10 Feb 03 - 02:08 PM
Mrrzy 10 Feb 03 - 02:10 PM
vindelis 10 Feb 03 - 02:34 PM
Schantieman 10 Feb 03 - 02:36 PM
Schantieman 10 Feb 03 - 02:38 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 10 Feb 03 - 03:20 PM
Lepus Rex 10 Feb 03 - 03:30 PM
Schantieman 10 Feb 03 - 03:50 PM
nutty 10 Feb 03 - 04:22 PM
Morticia 10 Feb 03 - 05:15 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 10 Feb 03 - 05:26 PM
Lepus Rex 10 Feb 03 - 05:35 PM
Morticia 10 Feb 03 - 05:46 PM
Gloredhel 10 Feb 03 - 06:09 PM
harvey andrews 10 Feb 03 - 06:42 PM
Sorcha 10 Feb 03 - 07:33 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 10 Feb 03 - 07:49 PM
mack/misophist 10 Feb 03 - 07:56 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 10 Feb 03 - 10:02 PM
harpgirl 10 Feb 03 - 11:50 PM
Mark Cohen 11 Feb 03 - 12:36 AM
GUEST,Jonathan Betz-Zall 11 Feb 03 - 12:41 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 11 Feb 03 - 02:17 AM
Steve Parkes 11 Feb 03 - 04:03 AM
daithi 11 Feb 03 - 04:14 AM
Gurney 11 Feb 03 - 04:50 AM
harvey andrews 11 Feb 03 - 06:47 AM
harvey andrews 11 Feb 03 - 07:00 AM
Steve Parkes 11 Feb 03 - 07:22 AM
harvey andrews 11 Feb 03 - 08:31 AM
Jeri 11 Feb 03 - 08:39 AM
Bagpuss 11 Feb 03 - 09:11 AM
harvey andrews 11 Feb 03 - 09:46 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 11 Feb 03 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Claire 11 Feb 03 - 01:30 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 11 Feb 03 - 02:13 PM
Schantieman 11 Feb 03 - 03:41 PM
JudeL 11 Feb 03 - 03:52 PM
Llanfair 11 Feb 03 - 05:58 PM
Joe_F 11 Feb 03 - 06:05 PM
open mike 27 Feb 03 - 04:36 PM
Barry Finn 27 Feb 03 - 11:10 PM
Barry Finn 27 Feb 03 - 11:21 PM
Blackcatter 28 Feb 03 - 12:27 AM
GUEST,Noel 28 Feb 03 - 02:44 AM
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Subject: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: sed
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 01:46 PM

I have been reading about a developmental disorder called Asperger's Syndrome or Disorder. Are there any well-known or not so well known musicians in our field who have overcome or tried to overcome this setback?

Here is some info on it. I think when you read it you may see the connection with some folk musicians.

from this source: http://www.geocities.com/aspergifted/WhatisAsperger.html

What is Asperger Syndrome?


ASPERGER SYNDROME: is a neurobiological disorder named after a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger. In 1944 he published a paper describing a pattern of behaviors in several young boys exhibiting autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills who otherwise had normal intelligence and language development. AS can range from mild to severe. Among the variety of characteristics individuals often have deficiencies in social skills and reading non- verbal cues, hypersensitivity to certain sounds, tastes, smell, sights and touch,
difficulties with transition preferring sameness, obsessive routines, preoccupation with a particular interest sometimes exhibiting exceptional skill or talent in this area, and motor clumsiness. In 1994 Asperger Syndrome was added to the DSM IV.

Aspergers Syndrome is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. These characteristics result in clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.


It appears to be more common in males. Onset is later than what is seen in Autism, or at least recognized later. A large number of children are diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 9. Motor delays, clumsiness, social interaction problems, and odd behaviors are reported. Adults with Asperger's have trouble with empathy and social interaction - the disorder follows a continuous course and is usually lifelong.


Aspergers is not easily recognizable - in fact, many children are misdiagnosed with other neurological disorders such as Tourette's Syndrome or Autism. More frequently, children are misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit (and Hyperactivity) Disorders (ADD & ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).


Such mistakes in diagnosis lead to a delay in treatment of the disorder, though changes in diet, many pharmaceuticals and natural remedies are used to treat multiple neurological and pervasive developmental disorders. No single medication or remedy works for everyone - and AS cannot be completely cured.

Because it is so new and so difficult to diagnose, our society is ill-equipped to deal with the special needs of children afflicted with Asperger's.

-------------------------------------------------
Diagnostic Criteria For 299.80 Asperger's Disorder

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

1. marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity

B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning

D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood

F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia

----------
PS This is not a joke, but a serious inquiry!
-Steve Sedberry


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Lepus Rex
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 02:01 PM

I think Asperger's is a load of shit, personally. The pharmaceutical companies must have creamed their pants when they noticed the huge, untapped parents-disappointed-with-their-nerdy-kids market. On NPR, I heard one of the symptoms was "playing D&D." Fucking please.

And like it's going to help these poor dweebs by diagnosing them with something called "Asperger's." You just wait. "Ass-Burger" will be in the dictionary in 20 years.

---Lepus Rex


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: GUEST,Diva
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 02:08 PM

My daughter has been diagnosed with AS and there is nothing pharmaceutical involved in her every day care.....just coping strategies. Especially when faced with narrow minded and ignorant individuals.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 02:10 PM

Seems like a mild autism from what I've read - and the one person I met who has it, is not exactly a nice person (good luck, Diva!) and probably would not be into music as a SOCIAL thing. Maybe as a solitary thing, though, don't know.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: vindelis
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 02:34 PM

I know a young lady with Asperger's Syndrome. She was not diagnosed until she was twenty-three years old. My sister-in-law, who has an autisic son, confirmed that she had the condition. I don't know about the USA, but I do know that in the UK Autism is not covered under the Mental Health Act, which means that you can have people who, in practice, cannot comunicate with the outside world, deemed 'normal' and fully capable of making decisions for themselves.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Schantieman
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 02:36 PM

I did wonder, when I read about this a year or so ago, that I might suffer from it. Difficult to tell, but I nearly fit the criteria above!!!!

Mudcat (and other changes in my life recently) has made a big difference though - and whether I have this or not, I seem to be coping!

A shame that you don't have a more open mind, Lepus Rex!   I used to think like that about things like this too, but more recently I have realised that (a) there is more to life than meets the eye and (b) if one has a point of view different from that of others one is more likely to persuade them of it without violence of language.

Steve


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Schantieman
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 02:38 PM

Blimey- was that me talking? I have changed!


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 03:20 PM

Ride the Ferris wheel of life
Through all it's ups and downs
See the sights, feel alive
Though mundane are the towns

Interplay and social grace
Are for the chosen few
When power occupies a place
That goodness ought to do

Exposure and abuse you see
Endemic as they are
Watch confidence turn into plea
And near to very far

Vulgar is as vulgar does
We've got so much you see
That people wish the is that was
Are things we'll never be

So hope is best, and work and rest
Acceptance is the key
But gang behavior fails the test
I'd rather just be me.
ttr


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Lepus Rex
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 03:30 PM

Well, my point was this, Steve: Even if there are legitimate Asperger's cases, the majority of these poor "victims" are simply nerds. This push to medicate people who are merely different from the percieved norm is troubling and offensive to me. It wasn't long ago that treating, for example, homosexuality as a mental illness (sometimes with forced castration) was a common practice, and this feels like that to me. (Uh, not that I have any weird urges to sleep with nerds, or anything...)

I, too, probably fit the Asperger's criteria, at least when I was younger: Clumsy; socially awkward, nay, retarded; obsessed with primatology and little else; assorted other "symptoms" and general dorkiness, etc. And although most of that smoothed itself out once I got older and started getting laid, I've grown into a somewhat eccentric adult. Thank fucking god. Who knows, if I'd been treated for so-called Asperger's as a boy, I might be reading popular fiction and listening to Top 40 shit.

So, Steve, I agree with you, that people should have an open mind. But not open to excessive, mind-altering drugs. Open your mind and accept the differences that make you and I unique. I say enjoy your supposed "disability," as it probably makes you a more interesting person. :)

---Lepus Rex


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Schantieman
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 03:50 PM

Nice pome, TTR. Your own?

Thank you for that more reasoned response, LR. I agree about 'treating' with drugs people who are a bit different . In fact I'm not keen on using any drugs, even when I'm ill, if I can help it. That way madness lies. And antibiotic resistant bacteria.

There are a lot of us folkies who are a bit strange - it goes with the job!   I've found that in the folk world people are far more accepting of all sorts of strangeness than in the general population. That may be why I stayed once I discovered it at 15.

I agree about things 'smoothing out', too. I can now, in middle age, actually detect myself 'growing up' and being more aware of other people's feelings, sensibilities etc.   For example I wouldn't (at least in public) make violently blasphemous comments.    Don't get me wrong - I'm a devout atheist, but I think a lot of people might be greatly offended.

Individual differences are fine.   You're right too about my 'characteristics' (shall we say?) making me a more interesting person.
;)
Steve


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: nutty
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 04:22 PM

The problem in diagnosing Autism, and in particular Aspergers Syndrome, is that each person is individual ...... they can have some or all of the symptoms listed above ...... these can be from very mild (almost unnoticable) to very severe where the individual is completely incapable of normal communication.

To answer your question sed ..... Mozart has always seemed to me a prime candidate for diagnosis as suffering from Aspergers ..... as indeed many of these individuals are extraordinarily talented at an early age.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Morticia
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 05:15 PM

I can confirm that AS is a real condition...(good grief, Lepus, talk about tactless) and causes huge distress to many of its sufferers, whilst others believe the problem is with the outside world not them.

It is NOT a mental health problem and it isn't usually a learning disability either, in fact many people with AS are exceptionally intelligent..... which means many people don't get help because they don't fit in any category for service. The main area of impairment is often to do with the inability to empathise or understand any viewpoint other than their own. Social functioning on any level becomes a nightmare for them. Resistance to or huge anxiety about change is common and this is often coupled with an intense focus on a project or interest, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.

As for musicians, well I know of one AS sufferer at least who is immensely creative and talented. That may be because the guitar seldom left his hands for years and years (see intense focus). By the way Lepus, there are NO treatments or drugs, people with AS rely on the the outside world (which is how they see the world) to accept them and value the difference, which I think may be what you are saying in your own inimitable style :)


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 05:26 PM

My son has AS. He was diagnosed at age 9 and is now 17. We have never used any kind of medication as part of his treatment. Lepus, I assure you, when I say "treatment" I don't mean any attempt to brainwash him into conformity of any kind, but to teach him basic social skills (like not throttling the kid who cuts you in line) and help him cope with the constant hateful and sometimes violent teasing he gets at school. He is very intelligent- tests at the top percentile in most areas. He is extremely musical and composes intricate pieces on his computer, and almost constantly has a soundtrack running through his head. He has no interest in sharing these compositions, by the way, and gets very irritated when I put in a cd when he's working on something in his mind. He's getting to the point where I have some hope that he will be able to go to college, get a job, an apartment, and live as a contributing member of society. I had my profound doubts about it in the past! If it were just nerdiness, which his father and grandfather and I all suffered from (as does his sister), it wouldn't be an issue. Asperger's Syndrome is a real condition, with some similarities to autism, and although it may be a dumping ground for some diagnosticians, that doesn't diminish its reality.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Lepus Rex
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 05:35 PM

Dammit, OK: What I was trying to say with my first two comments, but failed miserably, apparently: Yeah, I know Asperger's is a real disorder, etc. But I think that most of the people currently being diagnosed with it do not have it. They are being treated with drugs, such as Prozac, and I think that this is another case of pharmaceutical companies successfully marketing a disorder to psychiatrists. Which is, yanno, wrong and shit.

And, seriously, it does need a new name. :)

---Lepus Rex


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Morticia
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 05:46 PM

Lepus, could you be thinking of ADHA disorder? That, I know, has often been used as a catch-all phrase for kids who don't fit in to the 'norm' (whatever the hell that is)....and is usually treated with ritolin or resperidol...I have never heard of anyone 'treated' for AS, although they are sometimes treated for associated conditions such as anxiety and/or depression. Also it is worth noting that AS has sometimes been mistaken for schizophrenia and vice versa and people can wind up on a whole bunch of psychotropic meds that actually make them worse in the long run.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Gloredhel
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 06:09 PM

I know that my grandmother, who is a nurse, worried for a time that I had this disorder or something similar. I was extremely unsocial for much of my childhood, had few friends, and exhibited some obsessive behaviors. Thankfully, I do not have Asperger's, and my grandmother has finally been convinced of this by the fact that I'm never home when she calls. Always out with my friends, now that I actually have some. :)
However, I have met at least one person who definitely does suffer from this, and one more who I wonder about sometimes. They are interesting people, if you can engage them in conversation.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: harvey andrews
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 06:42 PM

On the outside looking in.
I have a list of "symptoms". Seem to sum up most creative people I've met over 40 years.I score ten out of ten on three of these and seven to eight on the others.
Social situations confusing
hard to make small talk
Good at picking up details and facts
hard to work out what other people are feeling and thinking
focus on something for long periods
perceived as rude when it was not intended
strong, narrow interests
inflexibility and repetition


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Sorcha
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 07:33 PM

Thank you, Animaterra. I knew someone's son here is Aspergers but couldn't remember who. Problem is that these people don't know HOW to be "nice". It's just not hardwired into them.

And, our son is a real ADHD case. We medicated, but not to the point of Zombie-ism, and it did help a lot!! And, I also belive part of what Lepus says about medicating anybody who seems somehow "different". Very prevelant with Ritalin, the preferred ADHD drug.

Big article in last Sundays (US) newspapaper magazine about Aspergers, and how the patients/famlies cope.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 07:49 PM

Gosh... I can imagine why children would exibit these qualities noted by Asperger ... in Vienna in 1944... How would you have reacted? ttr


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: mack/misophist
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 07:56 PM

The original question was about musicians with Asperger's. The great Canadian classical pianist, Garry Graffman is usually cited as having had it. There was another, a french horn player named Barry Tuckwell, whom I've never seen named. But from the stories I've heard, I wouldn't be surprized.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 10:02 PM

It's the old A-equals-B-but-B-does-not-necessarily-equal-A syllogism: Not all kids who exhibit Asperger's symptoms have the condition, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. I teach harp in a one-to-one environment in a music school, and one of my boys, aged 10, has Asperger's, which includes a lot of characteristics and behaviours that can't be lumped together into any single definition. "Nerdy" really isn't an apt description of these kids, who can astonish you with their contradictions. The issue is not dorkiness, it's how information is processed by the brain and how the outside world is perceived.

In doing some research on this subject so I could find guidance with regard to teaching this boy, I came across a publisher who specialises in books on this and related topics: Jessica Kingsley Publishers (www.jkp.com) whose website is a very useful source of information with a lot of helpful links, and I urge anyone who is dealing with an Asperger's child to take a look at it. You might also sniff out Temple Grandin on the Amazon site or in Google: she's an adult high-functioning autistic who has been able to articulate what it's like living on (as I think of it) the wrong side of the mirror.   It seems to be as hard for them to understand us as it is for us to understand them.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: harpgirl
Date: 10 Feb 03 - 11:50 PM

I would venture a guess that Neil Young has Asperger's...


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 12:36 AM

Lepus, I agree with you that there is way too much "drug-pushing" on people who are perceived to be different. Nevertheless, as Bonnie points out, that is generally not the case with Asperger syndrome. Nor is it the case with autism: there is no universally effective drug treatment for either one. The treatment for both autism and Asperger's, which are two of the conditions now known as "autistic spectrum disorders", focuses more on helping these children and adults to develop the kind of socialization skills that the rest of us -- even most of the nerds -- understand and use without thinking much about them. If you have Asperger's syndrome, you may have to be taught what do do when, for example, someone approaches you with a smiling face and an outstretched hand, and says hello--since his or her smile does not give you the normal feeling of pleasure and reassurance. (Yes, I know, depending on the context -- a used car lot, for example -- it might not be reassuring to me either. But you get the idea!)

When I was a medical student and a pediatric resident in the 70's, I was taught: "If a child makes eye contact with you, that means he's not autistic." Now we know that autism is a complex disorder that varies in severity, that it probably has to do with a problem in the way the brain and its connections were put together during the embryonic period, some of which may be related to genetics, and that many people with autism spectrum disorders can be helped to function better within their families, their classrooms, and the world, if they are recognized and treated (again, NOT with drugs) early on...preferably before age 4. This is not about trying to make people conform; it's about helping to ameliorate a serious condition which can in some instances be almost totally disabling.

For many families of children with Asperger's syndrome, making the diagnosis can bring significant relief: most of them have known for a long time that there was something different about their child, and now they know what it is, know that there are other people who have it, and know that there are ways to improve the child's chances of having a productive life.

For more information, including links to fascinating articles by the remarkable Temple Grandin, check out the webpage of The Autism Society of America.

By the way, there is still controversy about whether Asperger's Disorder is the same thing as "high-functioning autism," or something different. Most experts are in the "something different" camp, but there are lots of opinions out there.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: GUEST,Jonathan Betz-Zall
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 12:41 AM

My friend Jesse Kleinman, who plays with our group Greenwood Family Sing!, has lived with AS for many years. We have learned to live with this difference as with those of many of our other members, and he's an excellent fiddler.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 02:17 AM

Thanks Mark, for the in depth information. I feel that in light of the seriousness inherent in this issue, I should in part apologise for my light heartedness... the reality of this condition must be a real challenge for family, friends, loved ones, and professionals... I am not experienced in these matters.

I have had a rather wide exposure to brilliant and talented people, and many of them are musicians... and most of these people (myself included) have some or all of the 'symptoms' mentioned above... soooooo, there must be some confusion going around... I think the question is relevant and interesting, but I'm not sure what to make of it.

I would venture to say that intense spiritual devotion, long term study, work-a-holic behavior, perfectionism, political reactionism, and long term emotional abuse, can bring forth characteristics that appear similar but are environmental conditions... I think some of us are concerned about the pharmaceutical takeover of life as we knew it... *BG*

ttr


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 04:03 AM

I heard recently (maybe on BBC R4?) a suggestion that the increase in cases of AS and autism, although partly due to fewer undiagnosed cases, is also partly real. As there are more successful nerds (for want of a better word) like, er, me for instance -- having computer skills which didn't exist a generation ago -- who are less good at social interaction, they tend to marry each other. The combination of "nerdy" genes is likely to result in "nerd-squared" children. I'm being deliberately simplistic here, but you can follow the reasoning.

My other half is talented in wildly different directions from me, so our kids are creative and bright, but much better with their social skills than me, thank goodness. On the other hand, I don't believe we can take much blame or credit for the inherited characters of our kids: you'd have to have a great many children to make up a statistically meaningful sample.

Steve


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: daithi
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 04:14 AM

I think the late Canadian pianist Glenn Gould also probably suffered this condition. One of the symptoms quoted in the original posting was hypersensitivity to sights, sounds , touch etc. It was reported of Gould that he could hear the difference between recording decks in the studio - identifying which tracks were recorded using which deck whilst cutting his albums - much to the bafflement and amusement of the production crew. He also was able to handle nearly boiling water and so appeared to have a compensatory lack of sensitivity in his touch. Obsessive behaviour? Just listen to him play Bach ....
Dáithí


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Gurney
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 04:50 AM

I've been thinking of putting this topic up myself, and thinking about the problem. I'm pretty sure that I'm mildly AS, my wife shows mild symptoms too, and our son is a little worse/better than both of us. I'd say Steve Parkes has hit the nail on the head. I'd also say that someone with AS is more likely to end up a millionaire or musician than the average social animal, because of the single-mindedness.
My 17YO is not social enough for my taste, adults or children no problem, peers no way.
Further symptoms: High skill with maths, matched with an inability to break the log-jam of ideas in english. Loud noise causes pain, roller coasters make you nauseous. Daydreaming. Going off on a conversational tangent. In exams, if the question can be interpreted in different ways, you pick the wrong one! All tips for coping gratefully received. Chris (& Judy!)


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: harvey andrews
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 06:47 AM

Jessica Kingsley published "An asperger marriage" last year. It's by Gisela and Christopher Slater-Walker. He's the one with Aspergers. I bought it having heard them discussing it on the radio. My wife and I both agreed I had a lot in common with the man! It's not as good a book as it could have been but it certainly gives insights. Do these points ring any bells folks?

GISELA
"It is the individuality, the lack of a need to conform to some male norm that is one of the Asperger man's strengths. Chris does not seem to understand prejudice, let alone show it; to discriminate on the grounds of gender, race, disability or sexual preference would be an illogical and moral anathema to Chris. To show disgust at someone's perceived (by Chris) untidy or raucous behavior, however, is perfectly justifiable to him, even if it does cause an uproar."

"..he has a good memory for words and a fascination for language structure"

"Chris enjoyed being part of a group, but always seemed to sit..on the edge"

"...we would often walk in silence, and I used to drop back to see how far ahead he would walk before he noticed he was alone. It was often two or three hundred yards.."

"people with Aspergers are far more likely to read non-fiction than fiction"

"he seems to be anxious about unexpected interactions with people he does not know"

"Chris finds small talk very dificult.."

"he finds it painfully difficult to understand other people in a setting where there is a lot of background noise.."

"..even a fairly small dinner party is..exhausting for Chris..on occasions he gives up and disappears.."

CHRIS
"I wanted mostly not to have to sit with anyone to eat or generally to interact at all. I found these times particularly irritating.."

"I've heard people say that they don't like small talk. Nevertheless after so many years of watching people indulge in it, I'm sure that it's essential to oil the wheels of human interaction. Only in my case not only do I not like it, I feel that I'm completely at a loss for an appropriate subject..there is a whole world of inconsequential conversation I'm missing out on...I wish I could partake...in some situations I often feel that I'm watching myself trying to deal with it.."

"I will know within less than a minute of entering a house or room whether or not I'm going to find it a comfortable or uncomfortable experience."

"One specific problem which I know affects me is that in a noisy environment I find it almost impossible to separate the sound of someone's voice from the background noise..this just adds to the general level of distress and anxiety which these social situations produce..it is impossible to concentrate on something, regardless of its importance, in a very noisy environment."

"Social occasions..are things to be endured rather than enjoyed."

I know most people would see aspects of themselves in these quotes. But for some, and I include myself in this, these traits can become crippling. My dear friend Rick Fielding has had the experience of having me stay with him and has seen the distress trying to find somewhere quiet to eat causes me, distress that builds until I just have to flee the situation. (Both he and Heather were brilliantly understanding). I have eaten in restaurants with earplugs firmly in place and travel with them handy all the time. The paradox is that someone who can feel so trapped in social interactions can get up on a stage and "control" audiences of hundreds of people. I read as many biographies and autobiographies of all sorts of performers as I can, and the nearest I can get to it is that so many explain it as "putting the performer on and taking the performer off when the performance is over".

Next time you find someone "difficult" it may help to try to understand that they might be finding what you find easy quite terrifyingly daunting. P


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: harvey andrews
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 07:00 AM

Perceived rudeness may just be panic bubbling up. It's all marginal I know, but if I don't have Aspergers I certainly have sympathy with those who find certain aspects of life more difficult than I do!!

Is how the previous posting should have finished.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 07:22 AM

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and waddles like a duck, it's not necessarily Asperger's, as Bonnie pointed out earlier! I've wondered occasionally if I fit the bill; but, although I'm often thoughtless, it's because I'm absent-minded, not because I lack empathy. Maybe a lot of us musos are like this, and spend so much time inside our own heads that we don't always connect with the folks in the rest of the world? I think the ability to write sensitive or funny songs as you do, Harvey, shows an awareness and understanding of others, the ability to out yourself in someone else's head that's lacking in autism and, to a lesser degree, in AS.

Steve


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: harvey andrews
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 08:31 AM

Agreed Steve. Not everything fits. However i have taken a certain comfort from the fact that behaviour and reaction to situations that was beginning to make life difficult not just for me but for those who were close to me was explicable, and understood. I don't say to people "Oh by the way I've got Aspergers" I don't believe I have, but on the scale of one to a hundred with Autism being 80-100 and Aspergers 60-80 I think many creative people would put themselves between 50 to 60.
I had a marvellous moment recently when staying with another singer/musician who could be classed as eccentric. We went out together with a group of people and both made for the "Gunfighter" seat. This is the seat at the furthest edge of a group, generally against a wall so there is no one behind, and facing the rest of the room.We found we both were obsessed with getting this seat in any room or gathering and eventually he thought I was more obsessed than he was and let me have the seat. On the outside looking in. This marvellous man also admitted to an obsession when parking the car. The more spaces available the less his chance of picking one. He would drive from one empty space to another until he felt comfortable with where he was. This could take a considerable time.Plus a hugely understanding wife. His wife and mine had a great time exchanging stories of such difficult eccentricities in their husbands.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 08:39 AM

Harvey, most of what was said in your quote from the book fits me, and I don't have Aspergers. For example I can get along fine at social functions but I often don't feel comfortable simply because I don't want to put on the 'public' face - not because I can't read non-verbal clues. I don't think they're the actual symptoms but how the symptoms can manifest. Some of the signs in the article sed posted also fit. I think the diagnosis comes about because of the combination, the permanance, and the degree of the signs.

I'd imagine it would be difficult for a musician with Asperger's to play in a group setting. They do have to read an awful lot of non-verbal clues. I also believe that there are plenty of ways to remedy that which depend not only on the individual with Asperger's but on band members' awareness and willingness to treat the person honestly and not get angry if clues are missed.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Bagpuss
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 09:11 AM

I think if you read the signs and symptoms of many emotional behavioural etc disorders, most people would find one or two that seem to describe them well. This is because most of these disorders are characterised by normal personality traits and behaviours and the difference is in the degree and extent to which they are experienced. Therefore diagnosis needs to be done by a skilled practitioner who can assess whether the degree of the symptoms fit with the diagnostic requirements, and who have greater knowledge of the norms against which any symptoms are measured.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: harvey andrews
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 09:46 AM

yes Jeri I agree with your points. But would you put yourself towards that higher 50-60 score I suggested so many of us would fit into?I think it's probably classed as "eccentric" and "unpredictable"!!


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 12:56 PM

Woe betides the ordinary
An unchallenged buffoon
Who requests of the apothecary
Please please calm the moon

The thrill of genius calls enthralls
As jesters juggle walls and balls
And don't forget the truth sublime
Activates more subtile time

ttr


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: GUEST,Claire
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 01:30 PM

I am very sorry to hear the furthering of the myth that medicating is bad for children, or anyone.

I too bought into this myth, but having seen my 9 year old daughter's transformation from a stress filled limited existence filled with obssessive compulsions, into the blooming child that she is, after only weeks of starting the medication, I was converted. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is especially treatable with a mild dosage of antidepressant. Not all disorders are so treatable. But when you are looking for a way to allow your child, or yourself, to be a fully developing person, how can you ignore these possibilities?

If you are out there reading these messages and thinking medication is wrong without even knowing much about it....please, I implore you to reconsider and at least explore what help might be out there for you, or your loved one.

Claire


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 02:13 PM

Claire... with all due respect, ...that was the saddest post I have read in a long time, and now I'm crying. No *BG* about it. Bless you and yours, ttr


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Schantieman
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 03:41 PM

Fair enough Claire - you have a good point.   I suppose I was just speaking for myself - and I may even be wrong there!!

Steve


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: JudeL
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 03:52 PM

It is not that those with Asperger's cannot learn to interpret non verbal forms of communication it is more that they learn it in the same way as an adult tends to learn a foreign language. Instead of being something that is absorbed almost unconsciously, it is something that requires thought and practice and even then if something is even slightly different it won't be recognised. Again the empathy bit, identifying that other people are different , with different wants and knowledge is an idea, which even though they may have accepted it as true is still something that they usually have to consciously think about. Prioritisation of tasks tends to be a major problem as does taking an idea from the specific and applying it to a general situation. Sheer frustration can sometimes lead to what has been termed "a meltdown", an explosion of temper. Changes in routine can cause near panic, as they have to deal with something different and unfamiliar.

Try helping the child learn to approach situations and problems by taking a deep breath and instead of panicing at every thing that they don't know, to try to find just one thing that they recognise, to help them feel safe, before moving onto another bit they recognise. As someone else said it's not so much treatment as coping mechanisms and enough time and support that they feel safe until they are ready to deal with that one thing on their own.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Llanfair
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 05:58 PM

I have worked with a number of adults with Aspergers, and it is the awareness that there is an unspoken language they don't understand that is the first step towards dealing with distressing social situations.

Many have genius level skills......probably because their single-mindedness isn't cluttered with all the complexities of social interaction.

Patrick Moore, Einstein, and many others are thought to have this condition, but, going back to the original thread heading, after seeing the programme about Michael Jackson, it struck me that this guy could well be A.S. His social skills, such as he has, were beaten into him by his father, he has obsessions, and does not appear to understand people's reactions to what he does.

Just a thought!!!

Cheers, Bron.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Joe_F
Date: 11 Feb 03 - 06:05 PM

Like some other people on this thread, I recognize in myself all the symptoms listed for the syndrome, but don't have them as bad as some.

An English cartoonist, from Newcastle, named Colin Warneford, was diagnosed with it. He tells his own story in Harvey Pekar's _American Splendour transATLANTIC COMics_ (Dark Horse Comics, 1988). It gives a good idea of what he has to deal with.

I suspect that *all* current terminology for mental difficulties is pretty crude. Some years ago I bought a book called _The Society of Mind_ by Marvin Minsky. I found it unreadable, but it did give me an idea: The human brain is not properly one organ, but maybe a couple of thousand specialized ones that have to manage to work together because they are locked up in the same skull & coupled to the same nervous system. So there are maybe a couple of thousand different ways to be a mental cripple, and everybody is one in at least a couple of dozen ways, and uses other modules to work around the ones that are missing or damaged. If that's the way we are, the notion of normality doesn't make much sense.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: open mike
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 04:36 PM

for an interesting read about some patients with disorders
and syndromes such as Tourette's,Asperger's syndrome
and Autism check out this:
Oliver Sachs, Anthropologist on Mars, with case studies of
7 patients who saw the world differently than most.
http://www.oliversacks.com/
sach's books


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:10 PM

My brother's kid has severe Autism. She's 3 now & her parents are still in denial (she's very fond of her toy piano). My son has Tourette's along with this as, in many, there are other disorders which can (or not) accompany or go hand & hand with each other. Under my son's umbrella (Tourette's) he has BiPolar. Sometimes these combinations masks one disorder making it very confusing to get to the bottom. Lepus, stay at my house for a week & all those notions will quickly fade. I've lived with having ADHD (I'm medicated, thank God, tried self medicating, what a diaster) never knowing I had anything (but those of us with disorders are the last to see them in ourselves) until exploring my son's condition. The feeling of realizing that all along that there was an explanation for the things other people saw in you that you were blind to.

Talk to those that live these disorders, it may open your eyes & cause your heart to melt.

For the new parent this hits like a ton of bricks & there's no way to brace yourself for what's coming.

A great analogy I've heard for the parents is:

Imagine all your life you've been getting ready to make the last big move. You've read all about living in the tropics, you know the culture inside out, you've already shipped ahead everything you own & discarded what wasn't needed, you've just boarded the plane dressed in your colorful printed short sleeve shirt & your fancy swim trunks. The pilot says the weather is beautiful & the temp is just what you envisioned, you're hitting the beach life. You get off the plane & found that you're in Alaska it's dark, no sun & freezing & you can't go & move back. This is it.

For the kid it's worst, you can't imagine what they live with. To know what they go through & put up with it'd near kill you & your marriage. You never know what's around the corner, will they survive never mind will they make it? You know they're smart but the education system can't be bothered with the burden. In the early stages of parenthood the parents are mostly alone. Your family blames you. You get all the advise except what's of value. You're forever fighting to advocate for them. This is the family's life.

If a pill could wash, even a tiny bit of that away (& it does for the luckier ones) don't think for a second that you & the kid wouldn't feel as if you've just been saved from the continuous drowning since day one & have just sucked in your first breath of fresh air. All to often this relief never comes for many. This is not psychobabble, too often it's like Bedlam.

Barry


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:21 PM

I should've added to the above. "You get off the plane & found that you're in Alaska it's dark, no sun & freezing & you can't go & move back. It's not that Alaska is a bad place to be it definitely has its bright days too, it's just not what you planed or expected. Barry


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Blackcatter
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 12:27 AM

Greetings all,

I was disgnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last year. I am 36 years old. Luckily, I am mildly affected, but ironically, sometimes that proves to be the biggest hurdle. Most people don't notice my limitations and have a harder time understanding that they exist.

As for the medication issue brought up by Lepus - Asperger's is not treatable with medication. It is a physical problem with the brain, not a chemical one. Aspies (some of us like to refer to ourselves with that term) sometimes have additional disorders such as ADHD, anxiety, etc. which can be treated with meds (or not).

Personally, I don't have any regular treatment. I belong to a support group in my area, talk to the professionals who manage the support group and rely on my understanding friends to help me when needed.

A perfect example is that recently my car died and I need to purchase another one. I don't have much money, so used is the way to go. I've asked a couple friends to help me out, so that when I talk to car sellers I don't get screwed because I have a lot of trouble understanding non-verbal communication. Also, a friend has written out exactly what I need to do to transfer my tag, etc. I can follow instructions really well, but I really need them written down so I can go step-by-step.

As for music, I sing and play the tin whistle. I put a lot of emotion into my music, which is something that surprises people who have just learned the basic Asperger's info. Aspies have emotions (as do people with autism), we just don't always express them the same way and they aren't as universal as the average person.

pax yall


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: GUEST,Noel
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 02:44 AM

This thread took me completely by surprise. My wife was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome at the age of 35. I do not have the problem so you can imagine the confusion in our house from time to time.
She has been an active singer for many years, mainly in choirs. This was in a sense a haven for her as she found somewhere she could fit in and understand the rules. My background has been a heavy involvement in the Australian folk scene for the last 33 years (since I was born) and although I had never heard of the Syndrome until recently i can see the such a person would fit right in as folkies/musos/choristers in my experience tend to be a very accepting bunch and are all used to being seen as a little weird by the 'normal' people
With regards to the drug issue, I am not aware of any possible treatment for Aspergers (high functioning autism) but many people i know with AS also have severe depression (possibly brought about by the constant trial of living in a world that doesn't make sense) and they may be prescribed Prozac etc for that. In Australia AS is little known by the medical profession but i detect some cynicism about diagnoses that parallels my feelings about ADD/ADHD diagnoses in Oz. overdiagnosed and used as an excuse.

My god, I seem to have rambled on forever. still in shock at finding this thread.

I would love to hear from anyone out there in the folk etc scene with an interest in AS.

Noel Kenny
noel@littlefolk.org
www.littlefolk.org

Hope this works, not a member and never tried posting before.


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Blackcatter
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 11:05 AM

Welcome Noel,


There's a few AS people at the Mudcat and a few more, like you, who have a partner or family member with it. I believe we have discussed AS before on a thread or two, though not in a thread specifically dedicated to it. I'll try a search as see what turns up.

Glad to see other singers are AS people too. Choral singing, with it's structure is pretty conforting to me - I kind of need to know my role in any activity, unfortunately, I rarely like much of the music choral groups perform around here. That's why I do my own stuff.

pax yall


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Blackcatter
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 11:15 AM

Hello,

Just put Asperger in the seach box at the top of the page. That'll give you a list of messages to read.

pax yall


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Subject: RE: musicians with Asperger's Syndrome
From: Blackcatter
Date: 02 Mar 03 - 01:30 AM

Aw come on - am I actually the last person to post here?


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