DeLeeuw- Analysis 3

As I read the chapters for tonight, I was intrigued with the different scenarios and stories that were told about different children. I’m glad the author decided to explain many details of their lives because they became so real to me. Having said that, I was mortified by chapter 3. Of course anything related to Hitler is gut-wrenching and hard to handle, but I do not remember ever learning about the cruelty towards disabled and handicapped people. I think this might be too sensitive of a topic for high school students.

“‘Wartime, Adolf Hitler suggested, “was the best time for the elimination of the incurably ill.'” This is the first sentence of a website I found that further explains Hitler’s actions. It’s just appalling to me that anyone could say such a thing. What makes it worse for me is the compassion that Hans Asperger seemed to have towards the disables: “Asperger would often just sit with the children, reading poetry and stories to them from his favorite books. ‘I don’t want to simply ‘push from outside’ and give instructions, observing coolly and with detachment… rather, I want to play and talk with the child, all the while looking with open eyes both in to the child and into myself, observing the emotions that arise in reaction to everything that occurs in the conversation between the two of us” (87). The extent of his research was very profound and it is obvious that he wanted to make sure he had all of the evidence and testing he needed to create a correct diagnosis.

A profound moment in this chapter is when Asperger proposes a radical way of thinking and speaks controversially against Hitler. “Not everything that steps out of line, and is thus ‘abnormal,’ must necessarily be ‘inferior” (128). I think this quote is perfect for the correct view to have on autistic people as well as any person with a disability. Every single person has a purpose in this life and thankfully Asperger understood that. Therefore, I wonder what would of happened if Asperger wasn’t so compassionate? If he didn’t call his patients his little professors and he turned them into the Reich.

What couldn’t escape my mind throughout the reading was that each story had it’s unique quality as well had similarities. Each child that was looked into by a doctor had social anxiety, and from this and what we have learned so far in the semester, social anxiety is the main indicator of being on the autistic spectrum. It was hard for me to find social anxiety with Sherlock Holmes, and now I’m convinced that he was not on the spectrum because of this. I’m glad we read him before this though because my view on the disorder has greatly broadened and I’m more mindful in my looking for symptoms.

“Asperger realized in the 1930s that autism was a spectrum of disorders that conferred both disability and ability,” and he is a hero for figuring this out. Children are being diagnosed correctly because of his research and his courage is an inspiration.

Sources:

https://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007683

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/20/463603652/was-dr-asperger-a-nazi-the-question-still-haunts-autism

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One thought on “DeLeeuw- Analysis 3

  1. schillererica

    I, too, found myself horrified by and fixated upon chapter 3. While all three of the chapters we read for this week were stomach-churning in their own ways, chapter 3 and its story of Asperger–a man who was very clearly ahead of his time, at least as far as his patients were concerned–and his work was a thought-provoking read, in multiple ways.

    I feel as though Asperger was born in a very unfortunate place and time, possibly one of the most unfortunate places and times in modern history, insofar as he and his patients were concerned. I was glad that Silberman did not shy away from the atrocities committed under Adolf Hitler’s rule during the Second World War (and before it, for that matter), but that didn’t make reading about it any easier. The quote you included in paragraph two about Hitler is particularly insightful, and makes me wonder (and Silberman implies this, though he never poses the question directly) how much of Asperger’s words and actions were truthful, and how much was an act he put on for the sake of protecting his patients. If it was a ruse, it certainly was a successful one; the fact that his students survived the regime only to be killed by the Allies, in the end, seems like a bitter twist of fate, but proves that his actions kept them safe.

    Certainly Asperger’s diagnoses and his recognition of ASD as a spectrum was far ahead of any other research done at the time, and indeed in the near future (as chapters 4 and 5 prove). It’s painful to think that his work wasn’t recognized until after his death in 1980. So many people might have lived much more fruitful and happier lives than they did, had his research and the methodology employed by his clinic come to light earlier.

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