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Interview with the Creator of BitTorrent 500

brokencomputer writes "There is an interesting interview with Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent, on my site, WrongPlanet.net. Because there is already a plethora of information about BitTorrent, this interview takes a different approach and focuses entirely on Cohen's Asperger's Syndrome. In addition to being interesting to anyone interested in BitTorrent, Cohen's story is extremely inspirational to those of us who do have Asperger's, and will probably be so even to those without Asperger's Syndrome."
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Interview with the Creator of BitTorrent

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  • Question... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Bob Cat - NYMPHS ( 313647 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:22PM (#12484264) Homepage
    What do you...

    (rest available from the torrent)
  • Hooray! (Score:5, Funny)

    by kryogen1x ( 838672 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:22PM (#12484265)
    From TFA:

    WP: How was life at school?

    BC: I hated school, and dropped out of college. I got picked on a lot in school, and had a lot of trouble making friends.

    Rejoice Slashdotters, we still have hope!

    • Re:Hooray! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dante Shamest ( 813622 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:38PM (#12484395)
      Rejoice Slashdotters, we still have hope!

      No, this man actually got laid.

  • by King_of_Prussia ( 741355 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:22PM (#12484266)
    the corrent pronounciation of Asberger's is "Ass-burgers".
  • A great book (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kentmartin ( 244833 ) * on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:24PM (#12484283) Homepage
    There was a book I read recently which was written as if narrated by a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome.

    It's called "The curious incident of the dog in the night time" and I recommend it to anyone who would like to learn a little more about Asperger's, or, just feels like an entertaining and moving read.
    • Re:A great book (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bob Cat - NYMPHS ( 313647 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:33PM (#12484364) Homepage
      My girlfriend left that at my house, and I read it, since I need to read everything (was that a hint?) and YES, it is well written, and will let you know how autistic/asperger folk think. Very uplifting ending too, and the appendix (math stuff) was quite neat.
    • Re:A great book (Score:4, Interesting)

      by peculiarmethod ( 301094 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:36PM (#12484380) Journal
      There's an amazing book Songs of the Gorilla Nation by Dawn Prince-Hughes, PhD where she describes her fight with Auspergers syndrome, and how she made it to where she is today. (mainly with the help of the Gorillas she tended to at a zoo) It's VERY well written, interesting, and inspirational. Read it.

    • Re:A great book (Score:5, Informative)

      by __aatgod8309 ( 598427 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:44PM (#12484442)
      I preferred 'The Speed of Dark' by Elizabeth Moon. (Adult autistic characters are more interesting to me, as an adult autistic, than autistic children characters)
    • Re:A great book (Score:4, Informative)

      by torinth ( 216077 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:18PM (#12484660) Homepage
      Apparently, you didn't read it very well. The excellent book was about a kid coping with autism, not Asberger's, informed by the author's career working with autistic children. While in some ways similar, autism and Asperger's are not the same thing and the book was quite explicitly about one and not the other.

      Nonetheless, the book is a really refreshing and novel read that I've recommended to many friends of all ages.
    • No it was narrated as if the child had autism. They are not the same thing in the least.
    • I'd have to recommend that book too. I had to read it for my English class and was probably my favorite book that the class read. But I must say, I DID get in trouble for cracking up when my teacher said Asperger's syndrome for the first time. There was just something funny about a 50-something year old woman who always spoke in upright, proper English to be saying anything that sounded like "assburger."
    • There was a book I read recently which was written as if narrated by a teenage boy with Asperger's Syndrome. It's called "The curious incident of the dog in the night time"
      Whoah! That's a weird name for a Star Trek novel. What's the cover look like?


    • This is a great book! My only disappointment was that it was too short. How can you not love a book, whose opening paragraph is:

      It was 7 minutes after midnight. The dog was lying on the grass in the middle of the lawn in front of Mrs. Shears's house. Its eyes were closed. It looked as if it was running on its side, the way dogs run when they thing they're chasing a cat in a dream. But the dog was not running or asleep. The dog was dead. There was a garden fork sticking out of the dog. The points of the f

  • Not to rag on him... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hoka ( 880785 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:28PM (#12484325)
    But that article seems to be sort of lacking. It seems rather short, has a few typos and errors, and doesn't really delve into anything technical about BitTorrent (admitted by the summary). Sure now the people who RTFA'd probably are a little more understanding of a certain syndrome, or are intrigued by the fact that somebody with the syndrome can achieve great things (the American Dream), but I really would have liked to see some deeper thought on the issues. Deeper sociological questions, perhaps more depth on the influence of the (lack of) college, or even his views on the future of any given tech sector or his other interests. I suppose that this all lies at the fault of the interviewer, and not the interviewee.
    • The interview was not bad for a non-journalist whose best investigative work was running across his subject by chance on IRC. It gives a nice peek into the life of an influential technology contributor, but it's a peek that he does not owes us. So I think it's unfair for anyone to expect more from both parties.
    • Conversely-- (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Alaren ( 682568 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:47PM (#12484462)
      While I don't disagree that a deeper article would have been nice, sometimes it's just about the exposure. Getting one's voice heard is sometimes significant enough, even if that voice isn't saying a whole lot.

      I say this because I have a friend who, for the last ten years, has puzzled everyone. He has one autistic brother and one brother with mild mental disabilites. He himself is succeeding academically in a tier-two university, but he seems largely incapable of handling social situations on his own (we're not talking "nerdy and awkward" so much as "completely clueless"). He often calls to ask me why people think it's fun to make him upset. He is obsessed with politics and baseball--talks about them incessantly, even when people make it obvious that they aren't interested.

      My friend grew up relatively poor and has never had a reason to see a psychotherapist--after all, compared to his brothers he's just a little this side of idiosyncratic. Certainly not suffering from a disorder of any kind (his parents always said).

      But reading this article and some of the links people have given in the comments, I'm suddenly thinking maybe there's a valid explanation for his behavior that lines up perfectly with the genetic tendencies of his family.

      The article may not be deep, but it made me aware, and you can bet I will discuss the possibility with my friend, who I am certain has never heard of this.
  • All kidding aside... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:28PM (#12484327) Journal
    It was great to read this article as it gives me hope. My own son has a similar form of Autism and although I've been able to 'get into his head' to understand him better, I know that others won't have the patience or the understanding to do the same.

    And on a further note, I can tell you from experience that early intervention really helps ALOT! My son's progress is such that he is almost ready to join full time with his second grade class. Two years ago he was still struggling with speech.

    • Two years ago he was still struggling with speech.

      You must understand that that is not what Asberger's is like. In fact, asperger's kids tend to very adept with language, as well as math and science. Their main deficiency is in the social realm, and they tend to have difficulty understanding the subtext of body language and the like. They also tend to have very good memories, and tend to memorize redicolous amounts of facts about subjects of interest.

    • I still struggle with speech, but nowadays people I meet just assume I have a very strong and unusual accent.
    • by eobanb ( 823187 )
      I feel for you. A girl (and very good friend of mine) I know has Asberger's. I didn't take it that seriously because she seemed almost completely normal. Then one night we went to a party, and about an hour in, she sat down on the floor against the wall and started crying. About three minutes later she stopped and got up as if nothing was wrong, and kept telling me she was fine, she was fine, over and over. Over the weeks, similar actions manifested. Completely illogical environmental (temperature, li
  • What about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avalys ( 221114 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:28PM (#12484332)
    What about the many Slashdotters who only think they have Aspergers, and use it as an excuse to excuse their anti-social behavior?
    • Re:What about... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:42PM (#12484425)
      I was diagnosed with ADHD in the 4th grade. I was put on Ridilin, then switched to Wellbutrin, and then to Concerta and Strattera.

      Then they diagnosed me with Aspergers Syndrome. But when I got into high school, I realized that I was not and spent a year trying to get the medical community to reavulate me. And they did.

      Rediagnosed as "Deoressive and psychotic" I had such a low opinion of myself I was on the verge of suicide. there is nothing more detrimental to a person then to tell them they are basically insane.

      In the meantime I was experimenting with myself and found out I was, to put it lightly, a transexual. So now I have Gender Dysophoria to throw onto the heap, but that I can live with because I myself believe it.

      Two weeks ago I went under intensive treatment and testing by proffesional to see if I truly was insane.

      The consensus? Severe Depression CAUSED BY Gender Dysphoria. Nothing else. I am no longer on any medecine and am instead doing therapy sessions twice a week.

      Not a major success story but for me, I've managed to pick up the pieces of my life and move on.
      • Re:What about... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SirCyn ( 694031 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:45PM (#12484859) Journal
        I modded it insightful, because it is deserving of such; or troll if it's untrue.

        I am the one of the oldest in my family (including cousins and such). I was diagnosed with a learing disability in grade school. They put me in a special class with the dumb kids (no disrespect intended). I was a poor school without the resources to even come close to diagnosing me.

        In middle school and high school they told me I had ADD and put me on Ridilin. It worked. Although looking back on it, it was probably the side effects of the drug, not the intended result really.

        I'm years out of school now. But I have a younger sister that is emotionally impaired. She has gone through much more extensive study than they ever gave me. After years of generalizations one doc finally came up with Asperger's Syndrome.

        About the same time several other people on my Dad's side of the family were diagnosed with simial problems. Two were even directly diagnosed with Aspergers. It's genetic, skipping most of the family members. And when it does hit, the severity can vary widely.

        I am a rather mild case. My sister is quite sever. I have two 2nd cousins that are sever too. And a few more family members who obviously have some form of it.

        My only wish is to educate the teachers in our school systems now. So they can regonize and adapt to children who have these problems. Let me tell you first hand that generally Aspergers makes school (and work) hell.

        It's not all negative though (mostly it is). Hyperfocus is one side effect of both Aspergers and ADD (ADHD too). Hyperfocus is being interested in something so far as to ignore external stimilus . You don't feel hungry, tired, don't care about the time, or mild concequences of your actions. You are focused, almost to a fault.

        An insanely quick overview for the ignorant:
        Aspergers is a type of Autism. General characteristics include social problems (no/few friends), disintrest in common things (sports for instance), and extreme intrest in other things (science usually). Commonly intrests are centered around scientific rules (systems like electricity, or computers, mechanical systems). Sometimes abstract rules are the intrest, commonly relationships (Soap Operas, and talk shows). See the Wiwipedia for much more information.
      • Something like that happened to a friend of mine... she tried to commit suicide over some VERY bad stuff that was happening to her. They diagnosed her as a depressed (duh!) when she was 16 (you would be depressed to if you were being raped on a regular basis) and gave her heavy meds which *made* her bipolar.

        When will drs stop putting developing brains on meds? I dunno.

    • The wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] is good. It has the DSM definition, which you can read and see if it seems to apply to you. It also discusses how scientists don't agree on whether Asperger's is a qualitatively different condition, or just one step along a continuum of personality types. There's speculation that it may just be an extreme form of what makes the male brain, on the average, different from the female brain.

      I believe it's well documented that Asperger's is much more prevalent among certain occupations, su

    • Do too many people here self-diagnose? Of course.

      But at the same time we're a community that's open to evaluation for "mental illness" and can pay for it. I was referred to a specialist, paid $$$ for an evaluation, and can use the results to identify an appropriate treatment. I doubt you would find many accountants, for example, equally willing to do the same.

      The bottom line is probably in the second half of your comment. People who really have AS welcome a correct diagnosis since it means they won't
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:29PM (#12484340)
    Why have ASPberger's, when you can have PHPberger's, or SQLberger's?
  • Hey! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:32PM (#12484360)
    While reading an article entitled "The BitTorrent Effect"
    They stole our effect!
  • More info (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:35PM (#12484379) Homepage
    According to the Internet Movie Database [imdb.com], Steven Spielberg also suffers from Aspeger Syndrome.
    • I did a little more reading in the trivia section and also found this:

      Spent five months developing the script Rain Man (1988) with Ron Bass, but had to commit to his handshake deal to direct Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Spielberg gave all of his notes to Barry Levinson.
    • Don't know this for certain but based on the info i read on Asperger's Syndrome (focused intelligence in one area, inability to read body language in others- social akwardness), doesn't it seem like Chloe from 24 is the hollywood version of Asperger's?
  • Coral cache... (Score:5, Informative)

    by NemosomeN ( 670035 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:40PM (#12484415) Journal
    Just in case... [nyud.net]

    I hate posting anonymous, so No Karma Bonus instead.
  • Pattern recognition (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Circlotron ( 764156 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:40PM (#12484417)
    A while back I was talking to this bloke who's young son has Aspberger's, and when they would be sitting watching tv and two or three ads would go by and then suddenly he would jump up and run out of the room screaming. Almost invariably one of a series of quite graphic government sponsored [TAC] road safety ads would then appear. Seems he had the ability to recognise the combination of the types of ads that immediately preceded the scary ones.
    • thats cool! take him to vegas, see if he notices anything
    • Yeah, I hate when commercials get that predictable. I only use my special powers to detect when the show is coming back (there's usually about a 0.1s longer pause before the show returns, than there is between commercials).

      If only my TV or DCT could autosense that, much like the silence-detecting casette decks of audio past. :)
  • School != Learning (Score:4, Insightful)

    by derEikopf ( 624124 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:42PM (#12484428)
    BC: One thing about school - I always had this attitude that I was in school to learn, and attempted to do whatever was involved in that process, while school had this attitude that I was there to earn grades, which I couldn't care less about. Unsurprisingly, my grades weren't very good.

    Learn? Who the hell wants to learn anymore? That's an old-fashioned way to look at it. Since your acceptance into college and, ultimately, your college degree amounts to your grade, why worry about what you learn? What? Doing your best? Being productive? I don't understand, what does that have to do with getting an A? That kind of thinking is last-century...who wants to be productive when you can just slide by your whole life? I mean, no matter what you make, the government's gonna pay you when you get old. What? The government fucked up Social Security?

  • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:44PM (#12484439) Homepage
    From the BBC article, Einstein and Newton 'had autism' [bbc.co.uk]:

    "What most people with Asperger's Syndrome find difficult is casual chatting - they can't do small talk."

    So, that includes most geeks, but not those who hang about posting on /., yes?

    • I sat here for 5 minutes trying to decide if I should reply to your comment or not.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I sat here for 5 minutes trying to decide if I should reply to your comment or not.

        So what did you decide?

  • Wired Article (Score:3, Informative)

    by theclam159 ( 833616 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:45PM (#12484447)

    Wired did an article about Cohen in January.

    Here's a link: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.01/bittorren t.html?pg=1&topic=bittorrent&topic_set= [wired.com]
  • by hkb ( 777908 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:56PM (#12484518)
    At least not officially. It's curious how he went from joking that he was "autistic" and "had" asperger's to a self-diagnosis of "I probably have asperger's" to now, "i have asperger's".

    Perhaps, Mr Cohen should actually go out and get diagnosed by someone competent before misrepresenting a legitimate illness.

    PS: What's with people's fascination of collecting disorders? "I'm a cutter! No! Bipolar! No, schizophrenic!"

    For the people that actually have these fad-ish disorders, it isn't some cool gee-whizz thing, it's a nightmare.
    • by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:11PM (#12484622)
      I was going to read your post but then couldn't finish on account of my ADHD.
    • by rjh ( 40933 ) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:25PM (#12484713)
      I was diagnosed autistic at age five. The diagnosis was quickly withdrawn, since at the time a high IQ was a bar to a diagnosis of autism. In 1993, Asperger's Syndrome became an accepted diagnosis in the US, and it was pretty clear that it matched up with the behaviors seen when I was five. In 2000 I finally got around to talking to a psych about it. She gave me some excellent advice when it came to deciding whether or not I was autistic:

      If the diagnosis helped me make sense of my life, if it gave me tools with which I could build a better life, then yes, I was autistic.

      If the diagnosis turned into an excuse for self-destructive behavior, turned into a rationale for why I should be excused from the rules of civility, if it became a license for uncivil behavior, then no, I wasn't autistic.

      In the end, she told me, it wasn't up to her to decide whether I was autistic. It was up to me.

      It was the best psychiatric advice I've ever received. And, y'know what? I'm not going to tell you if I'm autistic or not. I don't care if you know. I don't wear a sign and advertise myself to the world one way or another.

      I know if I'm autistic or not. That's enough.

      So please show some courtesy to Bram Cohen. It's very possible he's received the exact same (excellent) psychiatric advice I've received.
      • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:38PM (#12484809) Homepage Journal
        You sure it wasn't a psychologist you saw? I find it hard to believe a psychiatrist would basically say "it's up to you whether or not you have a mental illness". That's like saying "it's up to you whether or not you have cancer". If any doctor said that to me I'd call em a quack and look elsewhere.

      • If the diagnosis helped me make sense of my life, if it gave me tools with which I could build a better life, then yes, I was autistic.

        If the diagnosis turned into an excuse for self-destructive behavior, turned into a rationale for why I should be excused from the rules of civility, if it became a license for uncivil behavior, then no, I wasn't autistic.

        I think that this is quite possibly the greatest thing I've ever read on Slashdot.

        I've often looked at the (sometimes deliberately?) vague descriptions
  • What must suck... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schnitzi ( 243781 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @10:57PM (#12484525) Homepage
    ...is to have everyone assume that you were able to create this great original application because you have Asperger's, as opposed to crediting your creativity or perseverence.
  • Aspergers Syndrome (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    From Encyclopedia dramatica [encycloped...matica.com]

    As a Fad

    Since its introduction into the knowledge of the general public, Asperger's has become somewhat of a fad for those seeking to garner attention. In the fine tradition of disease whores everywhere, many young people who have ever felt the least bit shy or eccentric decide to self-diagnose themselves, forsaking the opinion of a qualified MD and therefore belittling genuine sufferers for just the sake of appearing special.

    As Covering Up for Being a Total Fucktard


  • On Fake Diseases (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:17PM (#12484650)
    On Fake Diseases

    When children behave in ways that schools or parents dislike, this behaviour is often characterised as an illness. Depending on the nuances of the behaviour concerned, a child might be deemed to have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),
    Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or any one of a growing range of other illnesses.

    However, there is something unusual about these diseases. First of all, they are defined entirely in terms of their symptoms, not in terms of some malfunction of the body. Why is this unusual? After all, before the underlying cause was known, diseases like AIDS and SARS, too, were recognised in terms of their symptoms. But that is different. It is perfectly meaningful to say: "that looks like SARS, but it might just be a bad cold, or the person might be deliberately exaggerating his symptoms". Hence also, with real diseases, it is possible to have an asymptomatic disease, like asymptomatic Hepatitis C. But it is not possible, even in principle, to have asymptomatic ADHD.

    There is another unusual feature of diseases like ODD that should give us pause: they are typically treated without the patient's consent; and indeed the "treatments" are often physically identical to what would in a non-medical context be called punishments. This breach of human rights is casually justified as being "for their own good".

    ADHD and its ilk really aren't diseases in the same sense as, say, Hepatitis C. They are metaphorical diseases, the names of which denote behaviours that are deemed to be morally unacceptable. In other words, the child has a certain opinion about what he ought to be doing and this opinion is different from his parents' opinion about what he ought to be doing.

    Take ODD as an example, the diagnostic criteria are:

    A pattern of negativistic, hostile, and defiant behavior lasting at least 6 months, during which four (or more) of the following are present:

    1. often loses temper

    2. often argues with adults

    3. often actively defies or refuses to comply with adults' requests or rules

    4. often deliberately annoys people

    5. often blames others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior

    6. is often touchy or easily annoyed by others

    7. is often angry and resentful

    8. is often spiteful or vindictive

    Note the many moral judgements that are necessary to make any diagnosis according to this definition: "actively defies", "deliberately annoys" and so on. These are not deemed to be disease symptoms when a child does them to an intending kidnapper, or to the parents' political opponents at a demonstration, for example. These states of the child's brain become diseases only when a certain condition - disapproval - exists in the brain of another person - the parent or other authority. The treatment is also metaphorical and for ODD it consists of conversations and discipline. Again, this is very different from other diseases: bacteria are not great conversationalists, one cannot debate diabetes, but apparently ODD can be disposed of by talking to it.

    The entire purpose of these diseases is, in fact, to give these vile "treatments" a gloss of medical and scientific respectability. Then no attention need be paid to whether the child is right to behave defiantly toward his parents in specific cases. No effort needs to be wasted on such fripperies as rational argument or considering that the child might have a point if they repeatedly refuse to obey their parents or say that they are bored in school. How very convenient for the force-users.

    There is one last oddity to note. Professor Michael Fitzgerald of Dublin University has recently said that geniuses such as Socrates, Charles Darwin, and Andy Warhol may have had a mental disease called Asperger's syndrome characterised by not wanting to talk to people and having "restricted" interests with "abnormal" intensity. Now, suppose that having Asperger's syndrome for a while wo
    • Just a flag for other mods to wiegh in.

      No, I am not the AC that posted the parent, I might, however, be a high-functioning idiot. I'll ask my wife, she is a Psychologist.

    • Re:On Fake Diseases (Score:3, Interesting)

      by planetoid ( 719535 )
      Interesting point. I remember my mom always tried to win arguments with me when I was a kid by the "stop it! You're just being argumentative. Remember the psychologist said you have... Oppositional Defiance Disorder? You're arguing because you have ODD." argument. When, looking back, she was indeed wrong on many arguments and I was indeed clearly in the right. Parents really don't like to be called out that they're wrong when they are indeed wrong, and even if ODD is real, it's certainly abused by som
    • Re:On Fake Diseases (Score:5, Informative)

      by MasonMcD ( 104041 ) <[masonmcd] [at] [mac.com]> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @12:40AM (#12485238) Homepage
      First of all, they are defined entirely in terms of their symptoms, not in terms of some malfunction of the body. Why is this unusual? After all, before the underlying cause was known, diseases like AIDS and SARS, too, were recognised in terms of their symptoms. But that is different. It is perfectly meaningful to say: "that looks like SARS, but it might just be a bad cold, or the person might be deliberately exaggerating his symptoms". Hence also, with real diseases, it is possible to have an asymptomatic disease, like asymptomatic Hepatitis C. But it is not possible, even in principle, to have asymptomatic ADHD.

      There is another unusual feature of diseases like ODD that should give us pause: they are typically treated without the patient's consent; and indeed the "treatments" are often physically identical to what would in a non-medical context be called punishments. This breach of human rights is casually justified as being "for their own good".

      Well, aside from describing almost every psychological disorder unrelated to a freaked out pituitary or something, there is an aspect of ADD/ADHD/ODD that you don't touch on: while many of the behavioral descriptions seem like ordinary teen angst-y kind on behaviors/traits, there is an *extreme* irrationality to them, and maddening constancy.

      I was one of the parents who got angry at pre-schools who couldn't "handle" my stepson. "The world is full of Tom Sawyers! We need to find a way for them to express some wild creativity."

      But as time went on, things went wrong. He would fly off the handle for no apparent reason (as a four year old). He still wakes up at 5:30 - 6 every morning absolutely bouncing off the walls. He can't grasp instruction (sans medicine) without constant repetition, and even then can't follow through well. He seems (note "seems") to think causing pain to the vulnerable (small animals/insects/etc) is funny in some way. He can show the greatest sympathy, however. He lies about meaningless things. He has very little external awareness. He exhibits loud repetitive patterns. He sneaks food he has permission to eat and hoardes snacks he doesn't. He has absolutely no tolerance for change or disappointment.

      He is now almost ten. Many if not most of these behaviors could be seen as pretty normal. However, the above behaviors - all of them - appear multiple times during a single day. It's exhausting, even with him on medication. He doesn't seem to learn from trial and error, or instruction. He seems to grow out of tics and behaviors.

      I'm one of the most laid back people you'll ever meet, but even I will tend to get snippy when I have to negotiate almost every aspect of his day after schools from walking in the door to going to bed. There is rarely an "OK dad" that comes easily from my three year-old. Even on items I give him permission for. He'll up the ante. Then - at age 10 - call me an asshole under his breath for not letting him have a third fruit roll up or whatever the hell it is that he is focusing on at that particular time.

      I love him to death. He can be the sweetest boy, but also the cruelest. He can be the most easy-going, but also the pickiest. There is usually no middle ground.

      I've raised him since he was a year and a half old (also raised his brother who was five and is now almost 13 and living with his bio. dad). Both boys have similar issues. The older one chose to live with his dad when he turned 12, but was consistently cruel to his younger brother when he lived with me and his mother, and had similar inward-focused behavior.

      The issues are very complex. I wish this was a world that had a place for everyone. My stepsons would undoubtedly hurt themselves or others, however, in an unmedicated state.

      Read beyond the mere symptoms, and look at the lives of the people involved. Usually, they are deeply unhappy themselves, and not due to factors outside themselves, but to an internal inability to interact with the world in a way that others require (not merely "want" e.g. polite, non-violent, control mood swings, respect property, etc).
    • The diseases are very real and can cleary be seen. The problem is that people use these diseases as crutches. By that I mean while there is a small percentage of people who do have to deal with these very serious diseases, there are a plethora of people who get misdiagnosed through incompetent or unqualified medical personnel or by exaggerating their own symptoms. They use this as an excuse as to why they, their kids, or whatever aren't doing well in school, work, socially, what have you.

      I can see why some
    • In the USSR, political troublemakers and opponents of the regime were often diagnosed as mentally ill, committed to mental institutions, drugged and locked up. The diagnoses were based on the assumption that opposing the system was, in itself, an insane act.

      The definition of ODD above, a "mental disorder" characterised by opposition and defiance, sounds uncomfortably like something out of Soviet social psychiatry.
  • slashdotted (Score:5, Informative)

    by brokencomputer ( 695672 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:31PM (#12484764) Homepage Journal
  • by SQLz ( 564901 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:35PM (#12484791) Homepage Journal
    Has this problem. He is a really good programmer but he shits and pisses all over the bathroom and then leaves it there like noone will know its him. A VP had to send out a company wide email basically saying that if you shit and piss all over the bathroom to please clean up after yourself.
  • Wow... (Score:4, Funny)

    by sH4RD ( 749216 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:48PM (#12484890) Homepage
    I think we all have Asperger's...

    Obessions often including computers: Check
    Lack of the ability to learn social skills: Check
    Failure in school because we like to hate the grade system: Check
    Mostly in males: Check

    So where are my nerd curing pills?
  • by dangrover ( 782060 ) on Monday May 09, 2005 @11:50PM (#12484900) Homepage
    I co-founded WrongPlanet.net along with the interviewer, and like Alex, I have Asperger's myself. I've separated myself from the site since, and I'm sure glad I made Alex get his own webhost before the slashdotting :-D.

    Anyway, I'd like to respond to some of the comments here.

    First, I want to clarify some of the things people say about Asperger's that irritate me and some of the Aspergers community. One thing that's irritating is when people say that there's an 'epidemic' of autism -- as if we're all some horrible thing that should never come into existance. Some of history's most brilliant minds have supposedly had Asperger's (see 'Diagnosing Jefferson', etc). People with Asperger's can often live perfectly normal lives. There even was some controversy at one point over the word "disorder" on WrongPlanet a while back, but I don't take it that far.

    Another point is that autism is a spectrum disorder. Sometimes people with it have it milder or worse than others diagnosed. And also that it's an incredibly diverse bunch of people. It's hard to make generalizations. I like to think that most people with Asperger's have very redeeming qualities -- but the fact of the matter is that some aspies are normal intelligence. Some are brilliant, and some are, what others categorize as being "assholes".

    One person here made a comment about people using Asperger's as some kind of excuse for something, like sometimes people claim dyslexia if they can't read well. I don't think that's the case for many people with AS, and I take some offense to that, but the poster brings up an interesting point. The reality is you shouldn't have to have an excuse to be who you are. But it certainly feels better to have one, doesn't it?

    It so happens that people like myself and many others who have Asperger's have the particular general set of symptoms required for diagnosis. And even then, many of us a hard time gaining acceptance in the world, and finding people who are tolerant. It's hard enough with a diagnosis. And even if you have to explain it to someone (which I try to avoid doing myself, unless it's particularly relevant), their reaction is they either become more distant because they don't know how to deal with you, or they have precisely that reaction.

    I guess the point I'm making here is that, especially in high schools, people are prejudiced and biased towards Aspies and others -- regardless of their official diagnosis (which they don't know) or any of that arbitrary stuff. The old slashdot article "Voices from the Hellmouth [slashdot.org] sums this up very well.

    But don't get me wrong. I think that people who have Asperger's (and similar people in general) do have some obligation to try to overcome their problems. It's not good to chalk it up to autism and be a dick to everyone. But, again, a large part of it is how willing society is to accept people who aren't even necessarily rude or anything, but are just plain different. There's a certain amount of work that people with AS need to take, and a certain amount of work that society needs to take.

    If anybody wants to talk to me about these issues, I'd be happy to do so and point you to some good resources and information.
    • :-D

      tell me the feeling that face has.

      when people say a rise in autism, do they not mean a rise in the classical autistic disorder and not the higher functioning parts of the autistic spectrum?
      • :-D tell me the feeling that face has.

        That's what's great about emoticons. A simple sequence of ascii characters is a hell of a lot easier to figure out than real people. Even graphical smilies are decent if you get used to the same set. I had made that remark to a friend of mine and he said something like " ' :-)' is meaningless", but I was quick to say that people's fake acts are just as meaningless. I like online communication a lot better, though. It gives me a better chance to articulate my thoug

    • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @01:18AM (#12485446) Homepage
      My problem with this whole thing is that it just sounds like a classification more than anything else. You say it's a spectrum disorder, and people have varying degrees of symptoms. To me that sounds like someone has just pulled a bunch of descriptions of things people generally don't like, and turned it into a disease. People like explanations more so than truth.

      Take any 6 symptoms, say you need 3 to have the disease, and a certain percentage of the populace will have it. Throw in a few famous dead people who "could have had the disease" (except no one even got to examine them, just idle speculation based on other often dead people's recollections) and you've got a nice, fuzzy, ill-defined disease. What I'm getting at is that this disease definition sounds so ellusive (widely varying symptoms, many of which are relatively common), that it doesn't seem to be anything more than a series of symptoms. Heart disease there's blockage. Hepatitis there's an actual virus. Hell, even depression you can measure lowered neuro-transmitters, treat it sucessfully with drugs, etc. But what use is this "diagnosis" of Aspergers Syndrome other than making people feel better because you've assigned it a name?

      There's so many of these elusive "syndromes and disorders" these days that it calls into question much of medical science. Gulf War Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, which of these are actually real? Does every behaviour that's a bit out of the ordinary have to have a syndrome or disorder associated with it. Maybe I have Argumentative Skeptic Disorder.

      Symptoms include
      1. inability to accept well cherished beliefs as fact.
      2. arguing against unproven beliefs whenever they're brought up as fact.
      3. Use of sarcasm.
      4. Not accepting the opinions of learned experts.

      I'm really trying not to be a dick, but how is this diagnosis more than just a bunch of vague symptoms?
      • That's exactly my point. The diagnosis itself is meaningless, but because society demands some sort of "excuse" to be who you are, it fills that spot nicely. It'd be nice if we didn't need it, but we do. It also is crucial in getting accomodations at school. Some schools will not take you seriously when trying to get an IEP/504 plan unless you have some sort of diagnosis. Try trying to get accomodations in a public school with "Oh, he's just a pain in the ass.". Ideally, we wouldn't have to make up condit
      • The key thing is that we finally know enough about the brain to realise that these behaviours have a real tangible biochemical cause. It's like a buffer overflaw that causes your favourite application to crash. It doesn't crash because it is in a bad mood or because it doesn't like you. It crashes because there is a traceable pattern that happens regardless of our wishes.

        Same thing with the numerous syndromes. We know that a missing protein or a damaged gene can cause behavioural changes. When these change
  • Asperger's (Score:4, Interesting)

    by retro128 ( 318602 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @02:26AM (#12485753)
    I think a large percentage of us can relate to what this guy is about...Trouble making friends, hates school, college dropout, awkward in social situations. Hell I thought I was reading my own interview...Well, except that I'm a lousy programmer.

    Anyway, I got to thinking, is the majority of cases of this so called "Asperger's Syndrome" really a "disease", or simply a consequence of being an introvert? Practice makes perfect, and if you like being by yourself and don't enjoy talking to people, then of course you are not going to be very good in social situations. That explains problems making friends and problems with social situations.

    As such, what is there to do by yourself besides partake in intellectual pursuits? School is the devil for those who truly love to learn. "Here's a piece of paper, now regurgitate all of the pointless information you have learned this year with a reasonable percentage of accuracy and guess what, you go to the next level. Yay!"

    I'm not saying that Asperger's Syndrome does not exist, but I think it's over diagnosed just like most other conditions out there that gives drug companies an excuse to sell their wares. Only in the most extreme cases where someone cannot function should treatment be required. Other than that, it does not to be "cured". IMHO, mild "cases" are little more than a personality trait.

    Read Bram's interview. Looks to me like he was able to figure out how to read people in social situations and wishes he could go back in time and smack his previous self around a little. I think he got over his problem (look, he's got a kid to prove it!) the same way I did...By being in situations that require social interaction. Being a consultant, this happens a lot. When I first started off as a tech monkey visiting customers on site or deal with them directly, I got reports from my boss that they thought I was a pretty weird dude. Eventually I learned that the customer does not want to hear how many transistors a Pentium has when they want Windows working again. Anyway, I think I'm able to handle people better today, and if my customers still think I'm weird, at least they aren't telling anyone about it. :)
  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:14AM (#12486348)
    I have to point out that Aspergers is basically a diagnosis of a particular behavior pattern. For some reason the behavior pattern of many people in public life - e.g. many politicians - is not diagnosed as a disorder, though some people might think that alcoholism, control freakery, leaving a trail of kids fathered on different women, exploitation of people in inferior positions, and finding dubious reasons to invade foreign countries were much more serious disorders in terms of their effect on society.

    Men with Aspergers often end up in jobs where they make the nuts and bolts of society run, because they can focus on them. And, in fact (sorry about the myth destruction) many of them do get laid. And seem to have mostly normal kids... Men with alpha male social disorder frequently end up killing people, destroying social structures and generally making people's lives a misery. It's a matter of perception.

    I have a feeling that in earlier societies where there were no chattering classes, the intelligent people with Aspergers ended up as priests or shamans and acted as a check or balance on the alphas. Prophets like Nathan and Jeremiah with their tendency to flame people in public and obsessions with strange things would seem to have exhibited at least some of the symptoms of Aspergers.

    I am not denying that Aspergers makes normal social relations difficult. I probably have a mild version of it but never needed to get formally diagnosed: I know of people who have it more seriously and it can be a real handicap. But it is not usually as severe a handicap as being stupid, being brought up by useless parents, or growing up in a criminal society like the Jamaican or LA gang culture.

  • Recommendation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:14AM (#12486833) Homepage Journal
    BC: Yes, I'm extremely bad at working on things which seem pointless (uninteresting I can mostly deal with). It's caused problems for me at some workplaces, particularly when the whole job was to maintain a garbage legacy codebase.
    Steer very, very wide of all government work. No, make that a little wider.

Some people carve careers, others chisel them.