Wednesday, September 13, 2006

For the record: Work capacity testing. disability, AS

Centrelink called back as promised. As in almost every encounter, the young woman from the call centre was quite lovely, very sympathetic and considerate. But as usual, the administrative chaos was on show. DH told that the reason she had not been registered with a job network member was because she was scheduled for a "Work Capacity Test" first. This was news to DH, as she did not register as having a disability. However, there was some discussion at her interview about carer stress despite her not meeting the criteria for a carer's pension, and it appears that all this somehow got lost in the system.
Note: All this requires an understanding of the complexities of the newly named Autistic Spectrum Disorders, or "Asperger Syndrome". It is a disability of social communication, and is outside the established categories of disability (intellectual, physical, or "psychiatric"). People with AS are not intellectually disabled, do not need constant supervision, in fact are often happiest left alone with their special interests. Nevertheless, they can be socially helpless, require a lot of emotional input, and in some ways can be more demanding on families than other kinds of disabilities. For those who believe every new disability is just a political stunt to get on the victim bandwagon/ luxuriate on the disability pension, (whyever???!!!) AS is not a new disability, just a newly named disability. Eventually many families affected by AS ended up in other kinds of trouble, usually pigeonholed as "mentally ill", people with AS often presented with anxiety and depression due to bullying and lack of understanding of their difficulties, while their families were stigmatised as somehow "causing" their odd behaviour, and with carer stress causing isolation and depression, }


Cassandra girl said...

Aspergers I don't believe should be considered a disability because it's at the higher end of the Autism spectrum. My partner has it quite badly yet still holds down a job easily as a uni lecturer. For sure I'm the social support he needs but I don't see myself as a carer for him or that this condition is a disability. We've both made the promise to each other that his Aspergers is a reason for his behaviour not an excuse for it. Aspie's can change and can modify their behaviours to minimise the impact of the condition. It's bloody hard for them, but no harder for people who are wired with extreme introvertedness or other socially debiliting conditions.

I watch the kids around me with Asperger's and see how much good work is being done now to raise their own awareness of the symptoms and the steps needed to limit it's affect on their social relationships and themselves.For me a disability is something that cannot be changed, it's a final outcome of a series of symptoms. I see Asperger's as a hinderence to social functioning not a disability.

DH said...

DH has been dealing with Asperger's Syndrome for over 50 years, first with her parents, then with her child. She wrote a disability studies thesis on it, has written academic papers and book chapters on the subject, and runs or administers AS support groups. So she is well aware of the correct line when it comes to Aspergers and what can be achieved. Disability, according to disability activists, is a social construct, ie Asperger's is a "disability" when people who have the symptoms, as well as their families, are disabled by a society that doesnt accommodate them sufficiently.

DH is very pleased that "Cassandra girl"'s partner is doing so well, and it certainly does happen. We know that many academics, especially in the sciences, and mathematics, are on the Autistic Spectrum. By all means Cassandra and partner can feel proud of themselves.

However, not every person with Aspergers has a "brilliant mind" or is easily employable, and to use one's own achievement to denigrate the situation of others is simply not nice.

We do not know what other leg-ups Cassandra's partner got in life, nor does Cassandra know much about DH. This blog is not about Asperger's Syndrome, but about Department of Huusing and Centrelink disincentives to employment and higher education. As DH has limited time, she would ask Cassandra Girl to desist with this topic and continue her campaign on one of the many AS email lists and blogs that abound on the internet.

Cassandra girl said...

Excellent I just got back from my uni residential I'd like to know which Library your thesis is in so I can read it and the academic papers. I'm sincerely interested in the subject and thinking of doing a thesis myself on it. See I'm certainly not questioning your qualifications, I have lived with Autism in my family for over 40 years yself and as a psychologist am interested in the concept that Asperger's is a disability that can't be managed to allow people to function at some level in society. Discourse is all I'm seeking on this idea that it's not so. So reading your research would be mostly appreciated.

At a major workshop recently in Sydney on Asperger's I was lucky enough to talk to a few teenagers who have the syndrome, one of them most seriously, and their courage and positive encouragement from their parents to manage the condition and enable them to move forward in society without ending up on Newstart (no-one ever said disability pension)was an experience I'm grateful for.

My partner was not diagnosed until he was in his late 40's, that was only a few years ago, so no, he never got a leg up for it. In fact he is in acceptance and repair mode. As am I.

I must correct you though, that as you post publicly and open the comments up to the public, then the public may indeed respond to your thoughts.