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Autism in the past

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Kaspieman, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. Kaspieman

    Kaspieman New Member

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    Last Thursday, I was talking with someone and I said, in March 1921 or March 1961, life would have been on one level hell for people with Asperger's and Autism, as they would have been totally misunderstood, and people with Severe Autism would have been locked away in the old Asylums as society wouldn't have known what to do with them or where to put then. They would have probably have been classed as been psychologically disturbed or has having a mental handicap as they called it in those non-PC days. As for people with AS, they definitely would have been misunderstood. No questions about it.
    I have AS, and I am also pleased I am alive now and not then to have it, because now I can listen to music when in public or in crowded places to block unpleasant noises or sounds out. There were no walkmans back then and even more, the music was crap to listen to! I now know what situations to avoid and which to be in, and what makes my AS worse or which doesn't affect it, such as too many people around me and social situations when and where I lose control. I now have some basic understanding of how to interact and communicate, but I still go on guesswork rather than instinct, like NT's do. Maybe with experience and age I seem to get it right more now than in years ago. You also have more understanding of yourself these days, if you do have the condition, than back in those times, because there is a label and a name for your difficulties.
    However, there wouldn't have been as many people about as in 1921 or 1961. Society wouldn't have been "In your face" back then, with a 24-hour media and life wouldn't have as rushed or as hectic. The pace of life would have been slower. I have mentioned being hypersensitive to noise and sound. There wouldn't have been as many cars around or as much traffic or as much hustle and bustle for me to hypersensitive to. In the employment world the condition itself might have been easier to hide in because there were more types jobs around and perhaps it could have been easier to hide in some regards. Also, we now have a service driven economy, which demands face to face communication more than in 1921 or 1961, hence why it is harder to hide AS.
     
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  2. OkRad

    OkRad μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην V.I.P Member

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    People were lobotomized and shocked for nothing more than ASD. I know a man and a woman in same position. She did not get L'd but almost did. But the man got shocked. He was totally ASD and I knew him. Makes me very sad. HOwever, now we are still abused and victimized and sectioned and medicated and bullied and harmed in ways that are still terrible.
     
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  3. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hi and welcome, you make some good points. I hope you enjoy it here, keep posting!

    :palmtree::cactus::bug::leafwind::sunflower::blossom::cat:
     
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  4. Linda Night-owl

    Linda Night-owl Member

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    Welcome to the forums. I was 46 when the DSM-IV first introduced Asperger's Syndrome in 1993 as a diagnosis. There was absolutely no help for us before that, and years after too. Undiagnosed Aspies had no access to information about Asperger's until many years later. Computers and social media were in their infancy, and few people had them, and smart phones didn't exist. If it wasn't for the Internet and social media I still wouldn't be diagnosed today.
     
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  5. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    I agree that it was completely misunderstood.

    I have an old math book (from the 60s) that has a chapter at the end dedicated to "Lightning Calculators". These are people who can do impressive mathematical calculations in their head. The book mentions one boy, the son of a farmer, who was almost never spoke and couldn't read. He was "thought to be dull", until one day someone mentioned the details of a loan in his presence, and he told them how much money they would pay over the lifetime of a loan. The boy was discovered to be a Lightning Calculator and was given to the circus to tour as one of their oddities. The book goes on to describe a few other historical Lightning Calculators.

    I wasn't diagnosed as autistic at the time I read that story, but it still pained me to read it. I can't imagine the thinking behind, "This child is dull and good for nothing. Oh! He can do math. Off to the circus with you!"

    I think the old term "Idiot savant" was used to describe people we would now call autistic, or possibly "Twice Exceptional".
     
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  6. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    I also think that societal norms for conformity have relaxed some. In the 50s and 60s, the baby boomer generation was so large that peer pressure to conform was overwhelming. Everyone had to be doing the same thing all the time. I think that's what led to the wild fads that the baby boomers all embraced - the insanely popular dance trends of the 50s, the drug-fueled 60s, the British Invasion, etc.

    Anyone who didn't fit in was ostracized. Families went so far as to hide any odd family members from society, to avoid the "shame" of it.

    20 years ago, I worked with a man from Morocco. He said that when he came to America, he was surprised at how many disabled people he saw. Then he realized that we let them out and make public areas handicapped-accessible, and in Morocco, they hide them.

    I think we've only started to become more accepting of outliers in the last 10 years or so. Emphasis on started - we're not a perfect society yet, but there have been some good steps taken forward. The ADA was a good step forward. Sympathetic characters with autism or other conditions in the media help, too. Anti-bullying campaigns help. Anti-racism campaigns help. We still have a long way to go.
     
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  7. VictorR

    VictorR Random Member V.I.P Member

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    Welcome! It always fascinating when we look at what-ifs / things in retrospect, isn't it? Something may look good from one angle then then be a trainwreck when reviewing from a different aspect.
     
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  8. MyLifeAsAnAspie

    MyLifeAsAnAspie Well-Known Member

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    @Kaspieman, you were a teenager when the DSM-IV came out. How did your school years go, being it was the last years before the spectrum was written into the DSM?
     
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  9. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    The 1920's sound dismal all around. You just get past the Great War and Spanish Flu pandemic and now have the Great Depression to look forward to.

    9de9c02648d8a43e80e9596fc4e9ca37.gif

    ;)
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  10. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    Autism at all stages but particularly ASD-1 was almost invisible until about 1980.

    I got this from Parents.com

    1977: Research on twins finds that autism is largely caused by genetics and biological differences in brain development.

    1980: "Infantile autism" is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time; the condition is also officially separated from childhood schizophrenia.

    1987: The DSM replaces "infantile autism" with a more expansive definition of "autism disorder," and includes a checklist of diagnostic criteria. UCLA psychologist Ivar Lovaas, Ph.D., publishes the first study showing how intensive behavior therapy can help children with autism--thus giving new hope to parents.

    1988: The movie Rain Man is released. It stars Dustin Hoffman as an autistic savant who has a photographic memory and can calculate huge numbers in his head. "This was important for raising public awareness of the disorder," Dr. Volkmar notes, although not every kid on the autism spectrum has these kinds of skills.

    1991: The federal government makes autism a special education category. Public schools begin identifying children on the spectrum and offering them special services.

    1994: Asperger's Syndrome is added to the DSM, expanding the autism spectrum to include milder cases in which individuals tend to be more highly functioning.

    Prior to 1977 we were simply declaring ASD 2 and 3 children to be schizophrenic. Not even mentioned in the DSM. And socially we belittled ASD 1 as nerds and creeps and brainiacs. As often as not, when autism was diagnosed the mother would be blamed as a refrigerator mom so there was little incentive to get a child in to be diagnosed. Diagnosis was a thing of the rich and urban anyhow. Ordinary folks and rural folks had no access.

    It takes a while for change to percolate through the mental health industry. What happens today will not flow through to most professionals for years. Wasn't until 1991 schools even began to identify autism at any level. Aspergers didn't officially exist until 1994.

    I am extremely skeptical of any source that produces a curve showing a recent logarithmic increase in autism in an attempt to prove environment and not genetics is at work. The truth is we just weren't weren't looking for it before.

    These days an ASD-1 diagnosis is almost trendy. NTs want to pretend they are going to be the next tech mogul. Or looking for a way to excuse obnoxious behavior.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    So you wish you were born in the past or you don't wish that?
     
  12. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    LOL! I was born in the past.

    I wish I were born today. In a nice middle-class family in a first-world, western culture. I wish I were born to parents with compassion and open minds. I wish I weren't an Aspie. I wish I didn't have the genes for severe arthritis.

    But if wishes were fishes no one would ever go hungry again.
     
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  13. dragonfire42

    dragonfire42 Perpetual outsider

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    I’m very glad I wasn’t born earlier, especially since my parents are fairly easily influenced by the attitudes of people around them, I would be seen as an embarrassment at best, and would at the very least have been threatened with institutionalization to try to scare me into “shaping up.” Probably would’ve happened when I still didn’t (rather, couldn’t, but even being born in the 1990s and having an official diagnosis nobody ever believes my best is actually my best, so not the faintest hope that they would’ve recognized that fact). There is no hiding the fact that something is “off” about me (I’m moderate).
     
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  14. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I recall discussing this with someone at some point, can't remember when and where :rolleyes:

    Anyway, talking about a fairly famous historical person who was known to have the exact same routine every morning, almost to the same detail every day... I know it's mere speculation but did that person have Asperger's? I know that's a dangerous road to go down

    Depending on where people are on the spectrum, I suspect the high functioning people (which I am) would have been considered oddballs and eccentric, and I do think some people think of me that way... Someone said earlier, that in some prior times that there was a tendency for people to be conformists, almost encouraged... Admittedly I wasn't born until 1972 so can't really speak for the 1950's... If that was how it was I might have struggled because I am definitely not a conformist, just in physical appearance alone, let alone my mannerisms...

    I can just speak from my own experience, but I often see young people walking around dressed in cosplay outfits, or steampunk, or in punk style outfits... Many people probably think of them as slightly odd, but they can still get away with it... I wonder if someone could do that back in the 1950's at all?

    One example from my travels quite recently, this being simply choices of how to dress:

    Street Portrait 20.jpg
     
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  15. Myrtonos

    Myrtonos Well-Known Member

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    What about Albert Einstein, who is generally held to be autistic?
     
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  16. Au Naturel

    Au Naturel Au Naturel

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    What about him? I'd wager that none of us are Einstein. Or Sheldon Cooper.
     
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  17. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    This is a bit vague, could you explain what you mean to say here in greater detail?
     
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  18. Myrtonos

    Myrtonos Well-Known Member

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    @Kaspieman claims that "life would have been on one level hell for people with Asperger's and Autism." Was that the case for him? Was he lobotomized and shocked for nothing more than A.S.D?
     
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  19. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Anything like this is historical speculation, as an amateur historian I think it's a discussion worth having... Simply put, you can look at general personality traits and mannerisms of well known historical people (as history describes them), and take an educated guess, but nothing is entirely certain of course.

    Don't forget that it's only in recent history that we even properly diagnosed things like Asperger's, Autism, mental illnesses, etc...

    As a more recent example, one term came out of The Great War - shell shock, describing how some of the soldiers who came home had trouble coping... Fast forward to more recent times and we have a better term for it - PTSD - which is a very real thing that is taken more seriously...
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2021
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  20. unperson

    unperson Well-Known Member V.I.P Member It's My Birthday!

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    My parents planned to institutionalise me, in late teens, men with white coats drag you into a van type of thing, but the medical system changed.
     
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