From Westies to Weebs: The Diversity of the Spectrum

This picture is from the 1893 Parliament of World Religions. An apt picture to use to represent diversity of a group.

Autism is a polyphyletic group. It hasn’t been proven to be one conclusively but I think it is safe to assume that it is a group of similar conditions rather than a singe condition. The diversity of the spectrum is not spoken about often except to delineate the higher from the lower functioning among us. Yet, there are massive differences in phenotype and I will not describe all of them but a few major ones and try to describe the greatest source of variance. The first major difference I have noticed is between the stoic and chill and the, for lack of better terms, sensitive and moody. There are those among us who, like me, have the oxytocin deficit and don’t get angry. We’re not easily triggered. The other side is more overtly sensitive and is prone to emotional outbursts or having their feelings intensely hurt by what others may perceive as minor. One group is more easily offended and the other, mine, is less easily offended. To put it another way, while both groups have trouble socializing, one of them has fewer social rules, generally, and the other has their own idiosyncratic ones. Which is not to say one group member may not have token traits from another but these are the main divisions.

Another division is the extroverted versus introverted division which most glaringly expresses itself in the specialty of the person. There is a huge political nerd subgroup of aspies, myself included. While aspies are most associated with STEM, the aspies who do politics are a remarkably large group. You’ll tend to find better social skills among the political nerds for the obvious reason that those who engage in both social analysis and involve themselves in the extremely human and social events that are political movements and campaigns get a lot more practice. My life in politics has given me more social skills than anything else. I write a relatively successful blog, largely, owing to the fact that I had to learn how to communicate through years of trial and error. In terms of obsessive hobbies, politics makes aspies the best at doing society and communicating. Had I been an introvert with an interest in information technology, my social skills would still be very lacking.

The next major division is a cultural one and the one alluded to in the title. Stereotypical aspies are into anime and are very into Japanese, neon, mainstream scifi, and the like but I’m clearly not there. Weebs are the term for Japanese-loving people. The term I use for my people, the classic romantics are Westies. A reference to classic Western culture. Being into flowy period dramas and the most ornate styles of diction and prose on the high end and classic folk on the low end. These are the types that want magic, fantasy, and can be artsier. There is a major variant of this that tends to be very into pagan stuff which doesn’t include me. I’m a good Christian boy of Nicene Trinitarian orthodoxy. The tendency toward paganism arises, largely, from the alienation felt by our people. Unlike Japanese culture, there is nothing inherent about Wicca or any of the other neopagan traditions that is particularly appealing to the Asperger’s mind aside from it feeling weird and geeky.

The broadest division, and the undercurrent of all of these, is that of the humanistic and insular. All of us are aliens but some of us have adopted the planet and species we crash landed on and with and some of us are inclined to live within our ethnic enclaves and interact very little with the strangers beyond. I’ve never been one who liked the idea of strangers and I see everyone as a friend I haven’t met yet. In this era of loneliness and xenophobia on the level of cliques, I believe gregariousness is a virtue.  One of the reasons I like my religion is that everyone is family. The farthest anyone can be related from me is third cousin, which is what I consider strangers. The background to this website is from a Taylor Swift song and I’m a Swiftie but not because she’s my favorite artist. She’s good but not my favorite. Rather, I’m a Swiftie because it is that which will help me to bond and break bread with my siblings in Jakarta and Buenos Aires and Nairobi and Halifax and Baku and Punjab and Seoul. It’s not so much that I like a particular celebrity (she’s a good person, alright) but more that said figure is universal enough that they can be used to connect across cultural and other barriers. The song of the picture on the front page is about ending a sectarian conflict through peaceful diplomacy and successful exogamy which jibes with the sentiment.

Asperger’s in my case is what eliminated the social rules of cliques and sectarianism and made me universal and as friendly as a William’s Syndrome person, if not more, and thrust me into a political life. Is it better or worse? Well, you can decide for yourself. But what is important is that the spectrum is not seen as a monolith but seen for the diversity within it. This is important both for designing programs to help us and also to help us make the friends that share our values, views, and interests. To create shorthand labels that navigate us to where we need to go. A few articles back I used the obscure term “tomgirl” which is very useful in letting girls know my platonic intentions with them. That is the practical need to expose the internal differences among our people.

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