Friday, April 8, 2011

Aspergers and "The Social Network"

Today's Blog Gem

Red is starting to work on his video editing business again.  I will be writing about that adventure very soon.  In the meantime here is a previous post that I think is still very relevant:

I finally escaped to the movies with my girlfriend Friday afternoon.  It took some maneuvering, switching child transporting duties over to my husband, but I managed it. We saw the movie "Social Network".  Loved it! Very interesting subject matter, script and characters.

Afterward my girlfriend and I debated whether or not the main character had Aspergers.  I definitely think so. He was brilliant, but lacked facial expression, and social skills.  He had friends, but did not really know how to interact with them.  Had a girlfriend who he really liked, but because of his bluntness, and lack of social and communication skills, inability to be empathetic, he couldn't figure out how to keep her or his best friend.  He had tunnel vision, hyper-focusing abilities, a great deal of intelligence.  All he could see was his goal....what he wanted to do -which he hoped would finally lead him into social acceptance. 

So that guy, Mark Zuckerberg -he lives here in my house.  He's only 15 and he's black, he's not exactly a genious but he has that same hyper-focus on the things that he wants.  He doesn't have the social skills to maintain relationships with peers, although he desperately wants to.  He often self-sabotages himself with things he does and says.  Of course he's a lot less mature than the college kid we saw in the movie.  He is only 15 after all.

He has been hyper-focused lately on achieving the goal of buying a Blue-ray drive for his computer.  We finally cut the cord and are unwilling to buy him anything other than basic food, shelter, and clothing.  We can not please his insatiable appetite for all things electronic.  He has been forced to come up with creative ways to earn money.  He has a video editing business, he does chores, saves money from birthdays, Christmas, etc.  The latest thing is that he wants to sell things he already has but doesn't use.  The latest bright idea is to sell his television.  He says he doesn't really watch it and would rather watch "high-definition" movies on his computer with his new wide-screen monitor.  His older brother -who lives in his own apartment agreed to buy this tube television for $50.00.  Of course, we haven't seen him or the money since they made this agreement.

So we're having a garage sale yesterday -and Mr. Impatient-Tunnel-Vision wants to put the t.v. out there.  He is now willing to sell it for $30.00 to a stranger, rather than wait for his brother who really needs a television.  Wow! I was like that is total 'Mark Zuckerberg character in the movie!' Forget about those who love and care about you...let's get to the bottom line --what I want now! As God would have it -the t.v. didn't sell at the garage sale.  It will go to his brother today.

Hyper-focus can be a good thing.  I could make you extremely successful if it is put to good use -as Mr. Zuckerberg did with the invention and development of facebook, of which I am a major fan.  It is one of my guilty pleasures --can't stay off of the damn thing.  The question is, will that success bring you happiness? What I've seen so far -is that my son is never happy or satisfied for long.  He reaches his goal of getting what he wants eventually -but then it's just on to the next thing that he wants. The movie also depicted an unhappy person who was very successful in the world of business.

In my mind -true happiness comes from relationships with those who you love and who love you.  It comes from experiences, not things.  It comes from doing something for others who are less fortunate -or just plain old selfless giving.  I don't know if that is something that my son will ever experience.  And even if he does -will he ever be truly happy?  As long as he thinks happiness comes from getting things -I don't see how he can be.  I can try to teach selflessness but I don't know if I can break into his mind and heart.  At some point it has to come from within.  Does he even have the capacity to make that happen? 

Perhaps in the Aspergers mind -the idea of happiness is not the same as atypical people. Perhaps it is something I will never totally understand. However, I think it comes naturally to want your children to be happy.  It's difficult to face the possibility that I may not see that happen for my son.



  1. Haha, the second I read the hype about this movie I thought "duh, this guy has apsergers, how come no one is saying so?" I am still not sure about the last part, but at least I am not alone thinking the first part!

    Ahhh, I feel you on the worry about your son and his future happiness. My son is only 4, but he sounds quite like your son when it comes to his interests... never satisfied for more than a moment! elli

  2. Thanks for this post! I had originally seen that Mark Zuckerberg wasn't backing the movie and didn't share his life story for these people to base the movie around, and I had planned on not going to see it...however, with my husband's recent diagnosis, I'm looking for anything to learn from, so I am eager to see this thanks for the post about "The Social Network"!

    Secondly, I, too, can understand what you mean about the happiness and "things". My husband has had a very abusive life growing up, was cheated on by his ex, and we haven't had the most healthy marriage either. With that being said, he's been depressed alot, and he's explained his impulsive spending and desires for the latest and greatest of electronics and other hobby things, by stating that his life is miserable and the only happiness he gets is from buying things he likes. I can understand to a degree, but I hope that we can get him to a healthier level where he feels more like life makes him happy than purchasing things.

    I hope for the same with you. BTW, found you on the Autism Blog Directory tonight and began following. I'm new to this over at Would love to see you there! Hopefully my posts can provide you some insight as well.

  3. Thanks again NTWife!

    Please excuse the previous message I sent you. I had not seen this comment with your blog info. I will be checking you out and following! Anxious to see what life is like married to an Aspie. Your husband sounds a lot like my son. Looking for happiness in all the wrong places. I hope we can work on that before he gets out of my house. My goal is to prepare him for life beyond high school.

  4. Sounds good! I hope to have kids sometime, and they could very likely by Aspies, so I enjoy reading how parents are handling certain things with their children. I think this is a great way to have a supportive network of others in the same situations (or similar anyways).

  5. Apparently a lot of Aspies saw something familiar in that portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg. I'm told that the real Zuckerberg is acts at least as ASD as Eisenberg portrayed him. The character reminded me a little of my brother, a little of myself. For that reason the film character draws more sympathy from me than he probably does from most.

    I think my brother was more Aspergian than I. If you don't mind my asking, is one of your sons more intensely Aspergian? Or do they simply have very different ways of expressing their autisitic tendencies?