26 November 2012

Autism and Typewriters

Developmental Disorders affect many aspects of human development, and one common such disorder is the Autism Spectrum Disorder (a new classification which I am using...the current DSM has some rather arbitrary distinctions), which ranges from nearly total disability to near total normalcy with minor disruptions in one's life. The most common manifestation, as far as I can tell, which would be classified as a "disorder" (in that it causes significant disruption in one's life), would be what we call Asperger Syndrome now. This disorder is interesting because it appears to be very common, yet, it causes significant stress, anxiety, depression, or otherwise impedes a person's life despite being average or above average in other aspects of life. I think this is a result of the rather unique social situation we have now, where people can be more or less non-productive for 18 years, and the major focus on interpersonal skills.

But, this is a typewriter blog, and so the link between Typewriters and Autism must be pointed out in case anyone missed it. The diagnostic criteria for Asperger Syndrome (note: for diagnostic purposes this should only be used by professionals) includes the following:

B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

(1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus


(4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

Now, this single observation of Autism Spectrum Disorders does not stand alone, so many people may have such patterns of behaviour in their life for any reason, however, I think that typewriter interest would have a disproportionate amount of Autism Spectrum representation. There are other interests which have this. The Internet has allowed people to form social connections over great distances based on a common interest, so I would think that the Typosphere has a strong representation of Autism, although, I have found that many adults have more or less learned to live with any Developmental Disorder they have and never had the benefit of any early understanding or addressing of their challenges, but many teenagers have had it addressed especially as problems arise in mandatory schooling.

So, what is the purpose of this? It is just an observation, but perhaps awareness of it will help people interact with others who are different (whether one or the other has Autism), as a common interest allows for one to enjoy the subject and to get social interaction, something which may be difficult otherwise for those with Autism.


  1. This would apply to most collectors. But of course it raises interesting questions. Swiss psychoanalyst Raymond Battegay describes collecting as a mental deformation, which however is so widespread that it doesn't attract much attention. (R. Battegay, Grenzsituationen, Bern 1981)

    1. I do not think it would apply to most collectors, as that would mean that collecting itself was more common with those with Autism and I do not see any evidence for this. The subject matter of the interest/collection (not always involving collecting) is generally significant for Autistics. In fact, of all the people I know personally with collections of any sort, the minority has significant traits of Autism. In fact, in terms of numbers, the collectors I know are disproportionately not Autistic. However, of the subject matter of interest, certain subjects are disproportionately Autistic. It would be an interest study...we need more data.

      I have not heard about that theory. I will look into it. However, I do not think collecting would be disordered behaviour, as it is very similar to basic survival tactics, and the pleasure it can bring to us is likely linked to that, and collecting generally does not cause stress or anxiety to the collector, but quite the opposite. However, hoarding and other detrimental behaviour would be disordered.