Neurodiversity in Fandoms and Gaming

In recent private discussion, I was complimented with “I don’t believe you have autism” because I’m too articulate, all based on what has been observed in my blogging and tweeting online. It’s difficult to convey context for my real life stuff, and that’s exactly what the blogging is about, so I’m not understanding how not believing what I’m saying in my blogging is supposed to be complimentary. It’s the opposite of being validated. Instead of being praised for learning and growing, I’m being pleasantly negated as a liar…? And this is the aspienado conundrum, that other people assume autism spectrum is a bad thing for me.

I’ve worked very hard for nearly ten years learning how to be more social. I’m my most successful in print since I can take my time proofreading and reading back out loud, and I’m getting better at catching when I don’t clear my thinking pathway for easier following along with my head. I take readers on my journey, I share my point of view experiences through stories about me living my life, and I hope this helps parents of aspies and auties relax and feel more confident about their children one day being able to handle the social graces. I’m still not very graceful in real life, as it were, but you guys don’t see that.

I no longer try to hide my flaws and pass for normal, but instead navigate and negotiate my way through and around social interaction being myself, with an emphasis on taking responsibility for owning my shortcomings. I’ve been learning to simply say, “Slow down for a second” while I process incoming interaction online, or “I’m not understanding this or that” and then ask a specific question. It doesn’t always work. I’ve noticed that people often leap ahead in assuming what they are thinking about what I am thinking and respond to that, when really they are completely missing the simplest stumbling block at the very beginning of whatever convo, and by the time I can get them to unwind back and clear it up, they’ve become exasperated. This happens very quickly on phones, and I’ve learned to start out with “I’m cognitive deficit and I need to go slow”, and then thank them profusely for being so patient when we are done. I don’t have to explain slow auditory processing or getting lost very quickly in convo, I just need to let them know I’m sporting a legitimate cognitive disability is simply as possible.

A month ago I published the results of my diagnosis and disability hearing at because I’m getting to that place where all this really matters now. I’ve been tossing around being aspie in my blogging for so long that I thought maybe people really need to see how real this is for me. I will copy part of it here.

  • 2007- Axis I clinical disorders of adjustment disorder with anxiety, axis II deferred but with narcissistic feature, axis V GAF of 60.
  • 2008- depressed mood with congruent affect, Asperger’s, GAF of 50. Note by panel “These impairments are not slight and have more than a minimal effect on the claimant’s residual functional capacity found below. Consequently, they are “severe”, as set forth” etc.
  • Long paragraph detailing exactly what I cannot handle in a work environment “and she lacks the capacity to respond appropriately to supervisors, coworkers, and usual work situations on a sustained basis.” All my symptoms, both physical and mental, were considered consistent.

Yet I’ve managed to get a college degree and work a number of jobs, remain married for over two decades and raise kids. I’m dealing with chronic stuff the last few years, so now I blog. Nearly every day I practice writing. Writing is as much an athletic skill as any kind of sports, in my opinion. Learning and practicing skills and working them out regularly involves a real brain and body, and that requires good hydration, nutrition, and sleep. I write better when I take care of myself, and learning to see myself as a word athlete has been beneficial to setting goals and making plans for future progress.

Part of learning to write better has come from being a big fan of a TV show and creating a fansite type blog about it where I post character and episode reviews. When I first began, I was a more simplistic writer. I had deep thoughts, but I didn’t share them very well, mostly being way too wordy for many people to survive. I’d like to thank twitter for helping me sharpen my thoughts to very pointy conciseness, like learning to pack well with limited space. Over time and a lot of practice, my posts are becoming easier to read and more worth reading, and even translated into other languages around the world. I did something good. I worked hard and accomplished a real thing using my aspienado obsession and quirky talent for word building. (Don’t even get me started with limericks!)

Being a ‘super fan’ became a really big deal when I stepped out and revealed a real person, complete with flaws galore. When I began sharing my personal journey, I never expected a following. Many bloggers are happy to get a small community interacting, or to hit the fast lane and monetize, but I’m a weirdo who doesn’t like actual public attention and have gone out of my way to discourage comments. I get really good traffic, even though my blogs are nearly bare of comments, and I feel very appreciative of readers learning not to spook me. I’ve been able to become more and more public on social media and seem to have become what I call a ‘depression blogger’, but with a survival plan. My attempts at honesty are key to the path I’m hacking through the wonderful chaotic wilderness that is my head so that others can vicariously experience what it’s like having a head like mine. I guess it’s a good plan for me because traffic on my personal blog is now triple the traffic on the fan blog. Being myself means I’m being good for people.

As I have lurked around in fandoms and now multiplayer game server, I am picking up that there are a lot of very different minds bumping around online. We hear of fandom wars and gamer hate, but that’s mostly just neurodiversity flame outs. I’ve developed a deep appreciation for moderators who are able to stay above it all and simply redirect to rules and back to fan sharing and game playing. One slow day I chatted with a super mod about a game I’m on being a lifesaver through hard days, helping distract me away from anxiety, and he let me know the server was full of both physically and mentally handicapped players. I already knew from fandoms that some of the most wonderful commitment comes from people who dive into distraction, and we learn that helps us with the day by day real life survival stuff. Multiplayer gaming is even more eye-opening for me as I watch moderators redirect chat and interaction through what I now know are simply meltdowns. Creating playgrounds where volatile personalities learn to cooperate more than clash is very important to mental health, and as I’ve played along, I’ve been noticing improvements in myself. I guess others are noticing the benefits of gaming, too, because here is an article about it.

How Minecraft Actually Builds Social Skills- The Evolutionary Psychology of Gaming

Societal cooperation was a big concept all through my sociology degree. I grew up with forced cooperation (a book I’m writing will talk about that more), and my point of view skewed away from the way I was raised as I grew up and raised my own kids. I learned better social skills through interaction online more than anywhere else in my life, including church, school, family, and friends. My skills come from studying public figures and modeling on their successes, not the people around me in my real life. That sounds like a sad commentary, but I’m a bigger picture person, and I need more input than mundane locality regurgitation. In short, I need more than someone talking to me and smiling at me. I need your minds. All of them.

I am at my psychological healthiest when I incorporate many points of view into my own. I am more empathetic, compassionate, and forgiving when I can see through other people’s eyes. I love seeing new ways of seeing through artwork and writings, even through something as simple as minecraft. In fact, I made the most emotional processing headway in years with my psychologist after I started gaming a few months ago, and I write about it on my personal blog. An example post is psyche-analyzing minecraft. I’ll copy the most pertinent bit here.

Years ago during an attempt at a masters in guidance and counseling, my house-tree-person house was a 2D floor plan, and I guess I was the first person in 30 years that the teacher (a child psyche professional) had ever seen do that. No one knew how to analyze it, so I self analyzed it to mean I wasn’t hiding a thing, you get to see the guts of my thinking and I’ll even detail it for you like a blueprint, but I was obviously missing emotional depth and indicators of any kind to interpersonal connections in my life (the house drawing generally indicates one’s relationship to a mother figure, which barely existed for me). When put together with my tree (a very pointy Christmas tree full of baubles and chopped off from the roots, many signs of anger and disconnection from my father) and my person (a cartoon me in a bikini doing a circus act on a horse with a big smile and my eyes shut, a pretty vivid indication of splatting myself all over people without truly sharing myself), yeah, my childhood was a mess. Along with other tests we had to practice doing and analyzing, I pretty much hit schizophrenia on the head, but my MMPI and a personal interview nixed that one, the teacher saying my anger issues, exhibitionism, and wildly different ways of doing things only seemed to hide that I actually have a stable personality and an emotionally healthy way of dealing with stuff. That was about a year or two before the word Asperger’s ripped around the world. They had no word for me yet. I realized by the second semester in that I would hate being a professional counselor (many of the ones I’ve met say I’d be a really good one and have tried to push me back into the field), and switched to a masters in resource planning. After my sociology/anthropology degree, I took to geology and geographical statistical analysis and NEPA laws like a duck. And then you throw in several jobs I’ve had, like retail, and next thing you know, I’m in minecraft multiplayer helping other retailers play store.

Is it any wonder people love minecraft? I can only wonder if psyche analysis will start extending to what players create and do instead of just people whining about their kids or SOs being addicted to gaming. Minecraft is the most house-tree-person thing I’ve ever seen. I can run through other people’s buildings and basically typecast their emotional lives. I’ve been professionally trained.

I followed that up a few days later with Bunnycraft and the Meemaw of Bunnies, which is as real life as it gets mixed with the minecraft thoughts going on in my head. Bunny comes from ADHD people, and my autism spectrum POV coming into my marriage was a bit of a neurodiversity challenge, but one I consider achievement unlocked and the best thing that ever happened to my aspie noggin.

I further plugged into learning to ‘game my life’ as described in a post series that starts here, and eventually developed that idea into my own mission statement, which I talk about at Pavlov, Schrodinger, Machiavelli, and Freud walk into a bar.

I know this post seems way too inclusive, lots of stuff linked, but my point is that socializing online in controlled environments has been really good for my emotional development on autism spectrum, and going public with my journey is, in turn, being good for others. Neurodiversity is pretty awesome stuff, and I truly enjoy social interaction in spite of my natural inclination to hide in my cave.

I strongly encourage autism spectrum moderated multiplayer interaction and fandom forums. I know these things have helped me develop a more rounded and interactive personality in real life.

 

Janika Banks

I am Bluejacky from Xanga, PinkyGuerrero on twitter #PinkyRobot #PinkySox #pinkyblog PinkyGuerrero.com, original grandfortuna.xanga.com Lexx fansite Lexxperience.com, originated the #Aspienado hashtag, currently writing #ExistentialAspie ExistentialAspie.com


Janika Banks

Janika Banks

I am Bluejacky from Xanga, PinkyGuerrero on twitter #PinkyRobot #PinkySox #pinkyblog PinkyGuerrero.com, original grandfortuna.xanga.com Lexx fansite Lexxperience.com, originated the #Aspienado hashtag, currently writing #ExistentialAspie ExistentialAspie.com

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