Friday, January 17, 2014

Parenthood Does It Again!

So, have I mentioned that Parenthood is the best show on television right now, possibly ever?
Hank's discovery a couple weeks ago on Parenthood is really rocking my world this season. However, I saw this coming from the first time his character opened his mouth. It's been love from first sight. 

I had promised myself I wasn't getting into another show when I was told that one of the characters, Max, has aspergers. That fact alone sucked me in and here I am loving season 5 so much that it hurts.

They are wrapping a possible undiagnosed adult into Max's storyline. Hank's discovery (video link above) was totally awesome. I felt every word because I've said them to myself. I've felt the amazing "I can't sleep because I'm finally finding a place where I'm reading about myself" feeling. They just can't stop with this storyline either, as the weeks after that episode they have topped themselves with more of the same with this character. I can't get enough. The entire show could be about Hank and Max and I would be completely satisfied.

Last night's episode brought Hank even visiting Max's doctor, who gives him an answer of "Jump Ball". Meaning, it could go either way. I don't agree, I think aspergers is definitely Hank's ball. 

Parenthood's own website links to a blog post from the "experts". The posts involved have been disappointing. Although the writer is supposedly an expert in the field, they are using technique used to diagnose a child on an adult, and that just doesn't fly. I signed up for tumblr because I had to respond. 

You can't use the same mentality to diagnose an adult that you do a child. One of the major "holes" mentioned is that Hank doesn't seem to have the major social issues that Max has. I might not have an MD, but I could give you the reason for that one without even thinking about it. It's the same reason that I don't appear to have aspergers, socially, and I had many friends who told me that I am "too social" to be truly autistic. Adults are better at almost anything than kids are based on experience alone. To say that Hank doesn't have aspergers based on his social experiences is to say that a professional poker player never struggled with the game. To me, socializing is a game. In my 31 years of life, I've learned to play the game. I'm very aware of things like eye contact, or listening to see if there's emotional context. You can't do something for 30 years and not learn the rules and how to play. Though it is a spectrum and some of us do better than others based on various factors such as opportunity, family life, level of bullying vs friendships, for the most part, any autistic person of 30 years (or, as in Hank's case, 50) would have by now LONG since developed tools and abilities to become social enough to get by. Sure, we might not be breaking down doors at political events and hosting huge parties, but we can make it through day to day life without being a total hermit. 

The criteria used to say that Hank doesn't have aspergers only goes to show the level of inexperience that the author has with real adult autistics. I'm betting good money on the fact that they don't diagnose adults often, if ever, and they also probably believe that autism is "on the rise" and a "new condition" stemming from this or that - pick your conspiracy. 
However, I disagree on both counts, because there are many people who fully believe that there were autistic people many years ago, and although we won't meet those people and test them based on our criteria, I don't find aspergers that difficult of a thing to find. I see people all the time who could fully qualify from my outside perspecive, (which makes me wonder what the inside perspective is)!

 There are so many brilliant minds that lived before us, and got us to where we are now, and our lives wouldn't be the same without their help and inspiration and focus and determination. In order to succeed, you have to fail a million times. NT people would likely give up after a while, but autistics have the drive and, to put it plainly, obsession to keep trying despite the floor being covered with mistakes. More extroverted or social people would take longer to succeed because they would get bored and lonely after a while, and leave their work behind for more "exciting" interaction. Autistic people have just the skills (or, lack of skills?) to focus tirelessly on their work. Descriptions of them were that they were a little weird anyway, but we hail them as genius because of what their gifts gave us, gifts that likely came from the fact that they were a little weird, a little far off the deep end, a little autistic. 

I realize I'm using "assumed" positions to reason my thoughts here, but honestly, as I've said before, even the lady who did my testing didn't believe that I had aspergers. No one I knew believed me (excepting my mother, who had a very similar discovery to Hank, only about me and not herself). And they were all wrong. 

Far be it from me to even suggest that a "professional" might be wrong, but from what we know of Hank already, and the way that he is portrayed and written so far, he has more than enough qualifications to be autistic. I feel that it's a bit insulting for there to be any connection to any "professional" who makes such claims that suggest that an adult autistic would be much more socially inept, and would have a harder time. Again, if you learn to play poker, you are going to be pretty good at it after a year, and even more so after 50 years. Give Hank some credit as a character. He's not doing well because he's not truly autistic, he's doing well because any of us can learn to play the social game after decades of playing it. Don't dumb us down and call us uneducated just because your "professional" opinion thinks we should be social retards our whole lives. We aren't unable to learn. We aren't brain dead. Don't sit there and tell us how we should act or be as adult aspies. And don't you dare think for one minute you know more about adult aspies than US. WE are adult aspies, and WE know what we are like. You, sir, do not, and you make that quite clear.

My next post (which I will probably write right after this) will be about Adam and Kristina's characters and their little scenes relating to this Hank story.

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