I am a Star Trek fan. I have always been a ST fan. I have, in my mid-40’s, a fleet of pewter ST ships from all shows prominently displayed in my living room curio cabinet. I read a Star Trek book EVERY weekend as a kid. I had a crush on Spock as a kid. I can do the Vulcan hand signal with BOTH hands, and can raise my right eyebrow by itself. I cried when Spock died in ST: Wrath of Kahn. I loved seeing him on ST: Next Generation and in the new Trek reboot. I am going to cry my eyes out and may need to take a day off work when Leonard Nimoy dies. I know, love and respect Vulcans (metaphorically).
So when people who have only a passing knowledge of the [Star Trek AND autistic] culture use Vulcans to compare to autistic people, and they do it to show how “unemotional”, “insensitive”, socially clueless, without empathy autistic people are – it makes me want to bi#chslap them!
Recently, through this post I found on one of my favorite facebook autism/parenting sites I read an old blog entry on the Autism Speaks page. The post was from a so-called expert, an MD – here’s the comment that made my blood boil:
“For those of us who are “neurotypical,” we generally get a feeling of connectedness, satisfaction, and comfort when sharing in intensely emotional situations – especially those involving grief and/or death. For people with autism/Asperger’s, they just don’t get those same positive feelings that reinforce the interaction. In fact, a person with autism/Asperger’s will usually find encounters with others who are sharing feelings and comforting one another to be confusing and even frightening. The whole process simply makes little sense to them, and there is certainly nothing that is pleasant or reinforcing about the situation. Trying to get a person with autism/Asperger’s to understand and empathize is to reach the very core of their disability: social and emotional connectedness is the very thing that they are unable to do, or at least not able to do very well. Teaching empathy to someone with autism/Asperger’s is almost like teaching a pig to sing – it is a waste of time and annoys the pig (at least most of the time).”
Without mincing words, this “doctor” is an idiot. I have to ask, even though he supposedly has autistic patients, has he ever really, truely LISTENED to a person with autism about these issues, read their blogs, anything? He’s looking at the OUTSIDE reaction and making suppositions without digging deeper. Until these “professionals” stop thinking of autistic people as “less than” because they don’t display their emotions in a neurotypical way, I’ll take everything they say with a grain of salt.
Oh, and using Star Trek and Vulcans as an analogy? Yeah, about that. The comparison that the clueless try to make is flawed because they assume not showing emotion=no emotion. The irony is that the comparison is accurate in a way, just completely opposite of their intent.
In the Star Trek mythos, Vulcans have emotions – VERY STRONG emotions. They are VERY sensitive. And they come off so cool because TO PROTECT THEIR SANITY, to survive in the universe that is not “their” normal, they must build walls around these strong emotions. They say what they mean, and mean what they say, unlike the other aliens around them who use words to disguise what they mean/say when it’s convenient. Sound familiar?
Anyone with an ounce of empathy – speaking to the NON-AUTISTIC doctor here – would get this.
Live long and prosper.