Pick and Shovel Work — Generalizations

I have a trait that annoys the heck out of most people, so I’ve learned to keep it out of sight– usually. But it turns out that this trait is what makes a lot of my writing  useful in helping people see things in new ways and understand them better. The heart of the trait is that generalizations make me twitchy. Almost every time I read or hear a generalization, my mind goes into high gear and comes up with objections — No, not everybody…, No not always… Then the drilling down begins. What does that generalization ignore? What are its implications? What unlike things is it lumping together and treating as if they are the same thing, or very similar?

Sometimes it feels like an addiction that I can’t control and sometimes it seems like the most useful and wonderful mental tool anybody could have. And… you probably know where this is going: Asperger’s as a subject of speculation, discussion, and controversy is my field of dreams. Picking apart the generalizations is going to be a big part of this blog, so be forewarned. If you hate messy details, you need to back away right now.

Issue: the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s, and what they might or might not mean, depending on whether you’re a therapist, a parent, or an aspie. There’s nothing like thinking something is perfectly clear and straightforward when it isn’t. People look at something like those criteria and go away thinking that now they understand it, when they still don’t have a clue. A lot of the time it doesn’t matter, but if you’re an employer who can’t deal with behavior that doesn’t fit your idea of normal, even from employees who are outstanding in their work, it does matter. If you’re a therapist with the power to have someone medicated or even committed to a hospital on the basis of your misunderstanding, it does matter. If you’re a parent trying to cope with a difficult child, it does matter. If you’re an aspie trying to live independently, find employment, make friends, it does matter. It all matters, and depending on generalizations isn’t the way to solve problems.


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