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Joined: 20 Feb 2021
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10 Oct 2021, 1:10 pm

Note: I apologise if this should go into the Autism Politics, Activism, and Media Representation forum, but it felt like it didn't *quite* fit there.

So one of my pet peeves -- to put it mildly -- is when autists or autistic behaviour are described as 'robotic' or 'like a computer'. I find it infuriatingly dehumanising.

On the other hand, typically for an autist of my generation, I've always felt identification with Star Trek's android Data. I feel like a pretty decent one-question autism-screening for people of my generation might be, 'When you watched Star Trek TNG, were you often confused when Data was confused? I particularly remember sharing Data's confusion in the episode 'Data's Day' when a groom was upset when his bride decided to cancel the wedding: She had said to Data that cancelling the wedding would make her happy, and the groom had said that what he most wanted is for her to be happy, so . . .

So my point is that it seems inconsistent to me that I *both* feel that calling autists robotic is insulting *and* that we are, in some important ways, very much like the robot ('android') Data.

Maybe -- and I'm just grasping here -- this is part of why ST always seem to push in the direction of distinguishing Data from the conventional 'robot' or 'computer', to the point of not referring to him as either. Rather, part of the theme of ST is precisely that Data is, unlike a conventional computer, just as much a person ('human' isn't quite the right word in a multiple-sapient-species context) as anyone else, just different.

Does anyone else feel this contradiction? Anyone else have thoughts on it?


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10 Oct 2021, 1:19 pm

I don't know but I reckon this is the right place for this topic.


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10 Oct 2021, 2:45 pm

I'm nothing like a robot. At all. I'm too emotional.

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10 Oct 2021, 4:22 pm

From what to I can gather, both are the stereotypical portrayals of Aspergers.

In my opinion, there's a distinction between the two similar looking stereotypes that is the robot and the android.

One is alexithymic and is remain to be the alexithymic, logical and asocial kind of aspie coded character who would rather 'remain' to be 'less human'.
The other is more or less alexithymic and just as logical, yet usually wants to be less alexithymic and add some form of emotionality, also wanting to be more social as what they describe as 'more human'.

From what I can see, it's a stereotypical portrayal of alexithymic, linear thinking inclined high functioning autistics of varying social motivation. :o

Because I'm heck sure there is such thing as a naturally expressive alexithymic instead of a masker or equivalently 'robotic'. And not all alexithymics are linear thinkers nor always logical and vice versa.

And most of all, not all aspies, let alone autistics, are all always either nor all alexithymic, logical/linear thinker and even the hypercompetent specialist.

I'm not one myself. :twisted: I don't resonate any of those stereotypes. At all.
Maybe except learning social stuff manually more or less through logic or some form of explicit reasoning -- which is usually given regardless, and being inherently asocial.

I do not see it as a contradiction.
I only see it as just another hype, the hype just happened to be that one type of autism portrayal -- just like how the stereotype of savant geniuses are just as known.

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10 Oct 2021, 5:25 pm

I absolutely hate being compared to a robot, yet I do relate to a lot of more "robotic" characters in things. I think there's a difference between relating to something "robotic", and having someone else assert to you and point out that you are "robotic". The latter usually has more negative connotations and is often for poking fun at someone, than just pointing out similarities.

I use he/him pronouns.

I like playing video games, watching cartoons and anime, reading, and cooking.

I also enjoy learning + cataloguing information about different types of animals and plants.

Empathy Quotient: 34/80
Systemizing Quotient: 104/150
Friendship Quotient: 56/140
Autism Quotient: 36/80

RAADS-R: 169

CAT-Q: 153
Compensation: 57
Masking: 47
Assimilation: 49

Your broader autism cluster (Aspie) score: 144 of 200.
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 63 of 200.
You are very likely on the broader autism cluster (Aspie).


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11 Oct 2021, 6:56 am

Given that the neurological variants that present as Aspergers may result in neurological processing that may require greater intentional assessments, a response delay could be expected that would be more similar to Spock than Data.

People often equate response delays as being "robot-like" when actual robot type responses would be more quick and lethal (i.e. the Terminator).

Perhaps a more accurate comparison would be "thoughtful" versus "simple minded". However, most people see others as the ones with a difference and usually interpret the difference as a defect in others.

Being called "robotic" I see as being a useful indicator of the person using the term. It might indicate to me that i probably should not invest too much time or effort in attempting to delve too deep in conversation with that person.


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11 Oct 2021, 3:55 pm

I think part of the contrast is because, despite the claims that Data has no emotions, he actually shows quite a bit of emotion in an alexithymic autistic sort of way.


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11 Oct 2021, 5:57 pm

I haven't seen much of TNG, I was brought up on the original series, so I know more about Spock. From what little I've seen of Data, he tends to be portrayed as of lower status than Spock. If so then that's a shame. I used to identify with Spock quite strongly, but when I discovered emotions I started to prefer Kirk and I developed some degree of disdain for the practice of using logic for everything at the expense of emotional intelligence.

I also noticed Jeremy in the movie Yellow Submarine, who seemed to serve as a warning to anybody who falls into the trap of living purely in the world of logic (something I've always found hard to avoid) - the Nowhere Man, a deeply lonely creature, and most of us won't find a kindly Beatle to help us back to the land of the living like he did ("he's happy enough going round in circles")

I suppose it causes offense when people describe Aspies as "robotic" because most of us know that we're more than rigid, calculating robots. I guess all we can do is try to develop our emotional, social faculties as best we can, and teach by example that the stereotype isn't as correct as a lot of people may think. I don't think having a strong intellectual side necessarily means that we can never understand (or have) feelings.