| Ashley: " What feels a bit at odds to me is the idea that a person who basically held that there is one reality and our senses are able to perceive it could have been experiencing the world differently than me."|
Ash, I share your concern, believe it or not. Rand was the one who chastised writers for suggesting mechanistic explanations to human behavior (LETTERS OF AYN RAND has some of her personal criticisms to other writer's work in this regard) and she even questioned the use of referring to Roark's atheism as a "lack of a religious brain center." BUT, while Rand did believe (and I agree) that there is one reality, she did recognize that our sense are limited as to how they can experience it. She even hypothesized about how imaginary creatures may see different aspects of the same reality. That is why see rightly emphasized the role of reason in interpreting the sense data, since the data cannot always be trusted. (Example, the pencil bent in the water example.)
A person with Aspergers has to learn the use of reason more urgently than others because of another trait: mind-blindness, or the tendency to project one's own state of mind onto another. (A test for Aspergers-autism involves showing a child a video of someone hiding a marble in a box. In the video, another person enters the room. The child is asked where the person will look for the hidden marble, and the Aspergers child may respond "in the box", ignoring the context of the second person's ignorance.) Autistics often assume that what they are thinking is the same as what others are thinking. (Which often leads to angry responses since it is assumed that everyone thinks the same way, so the other person must be evading...).
I am glad that you mentioned that most of your experience of people with Aspergers's are children. It is a relatively recently recognized "syndrome", and many have grown up "undiagnosed" and learn to compensate. It is NOT debilitating; rather, most of the problems, like depression, alienation, etc., are not symptoms of Aspergers but of clashes with a society that doesn't understand. For years, Asperger traits simply considered "nerdy," "eccentric", antisocial even. (In my case, I garned the nickname "space cadet.") In many cultures, such people were at a disadvantage for not playing the social game. But with the rise of the tech industry, which is said to harbor many introverted asperger types, we're seeing the tide turn. When the culture allows for the conditions needed to thrive, Aspergers's is not a syndrome but an advantage, and the talkative socialite is at a disadvantage (put 'em in sales.) :) And I don't think it's a coincidence that Rand's philosophy is big among the Silicon Valley crowd.
Inability to predict the possible behaviours of others, which can lead to the person with Asperger Syndrome developing a sense of insecurity and a resultant avoidance of people;
Not being able to comprehend the intentions of those around him, nor understanding the motivations of their actions;
A lack of understanding concerning their own emotions or the emotions of others. This can manifest as a lack of empathy, which is often not accepted or understood by the people within their social circle;
Poor comprehension of how one’s behaviour affects how others feel and think about you. This can lead to a lack of motivation to please and a lack of conscience;
Minimal understanding/concern regarding what people know or want to know and a defective ability to detect or react to their audience’s level of interest This can result in either, the person with Asperger Syndrome speaking endlessly on a subject providing excessive detail, or else providing minimal background material, but just launching into a complex verbal account of a subject that the audience has no knowledge of, or interest in;
Minimal understanding as to why their focus of attention must change, whether it be in a conversation or in a classroom setting etc. For instance, if the person with Asperger Syndrome is concentrating on a specific task or talking to you on a chosen topic and you want to move on to another task, or alter the topic of conversation;
Due to the impediment in the area of social interaction, there is often a lack of understanding as regards the need to “take turns” in conversation and allowing others to talk without interruption, or the need to take takes turns in the playground etc;
Inadequate understanding of the action of “pretending” and an inability to separate fact from fiction, or the ability to be deceitful, is often present.
All of the above, adversely affect the person’s ability to establish and maintain friendships. These areas of impediment also affect their ability to benefit from daily life, learning and teaching.