Friday, October 28, 2011

Autistics Speaking Day

November 1st is Autistics Speaking Day - an internet "event" designed to raise awareness of autism. 

This is my contribution to the voices of autism.

My experience with autism is quite atypical. The standard progression through the challenges of autism starts with a diagnosis in early childhood. Therapies, special education, and a host of aggressive interventions are applied to "set free the child trapped inside" by communicative barriers and behaviors that impede learning and socialization. But some of us on the spectrum fall through the cracks. We don't fit the profile of the stereotypical autistic. We end up going it alone.

You might be thinking "Really? You expect me to believe a person with autism can go through life and no one even know it?". Not possible, you say. Someone with autism can't function in this world without assistance.

Part of answering this conundrum is knowing that some people with autism are wicked smart. As in miles above normal. But this intrinsic intelligence is imbedded in a consciousness that conspires to suppress its expression. An exquisitely active mind lies behind deficits in communication and social skills that render the outward presentation of such a person as nothing short of remarkably average.

I am one such autistic. I was not diagnosed with autism until late in life. Not until after high school. After attempts at attending university. After marriage and three children. And after many many years of frustration.

The "trick" to my survival is that even though I have perceptual difficulties; even though I have significant gaps in my capacity to understand social cues and body  language; even though I have serious deficits in executive functioning; I have been able to leverage my native intelligence sufficiently to build a workable model of reality. One that gets me through life even if my life is not triumphantly successful.

But having said all that, it is often astonishing to me that, while I am outwardly "almost normal" (I'm regularly called strange, odd, weird, etc), I find that my internal states and thinking patterns resonate far more harmoniously with the descriptions by severe autistics using various forms of assisted communication. It is very disconcerting to read something written by an autistic living in an assisted living setting, someone that cannot function in "normal" society, and understand EXACTLY what they are describing. It is unnerving to find that my true compatriots are actually those that this society calls "abnormal", "dysfunctional", "impaired" and "disabled".

So what's my point?

Simply this. If you truly want to understand autism, you need to broaden your scope. You need to look beyond the Hollywood characters like Rainman. You need to look at the entire range of experiences, the full breadth and depth of the autistic spectrum. You need to talk to people like me that are in a unique position to bridge the gap between those autistics that cannot speak (but I guarantee have far more active minds than you might think) and those, like myself, that can articulate and describe the cognitive maps of the autistic mind. And after talking to people like me you need to revisit all of your assumptions about that person with autism that you think you know. If you can allow it, you will be astonished what you will find within us.

Talk to us. It is why we have Autistics Speaking Day. Choose to learn about us. Don't tell us what we are. Listen to us as we speak.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Classic Autism - A Definition

Classic Autism - A tongue in cheek definition. If you know anything about autism, there are some inside jokes. If you don't know anything about autism, then this is just really weird.

Classic Autism was predominant in the late 17th century and was often recognized as an alternative to highly structured and restrictive Victorian social codes. This was supplanted by Neo-Classic Autism with the advent of the 18th Century and the rapid changes in governments vis-a-vis the French and American revolutions. The freedom of expression and dismantling of strict social hierarchies of this period created fertile ground for the growth of eclectic forms of expression that make Autism so distinctive. As the Industrial Age took hold Autism took an odd turn, avoiding the high intensity noise, chemical smells and chaotic expansionism and instead opted for solitude and a quiescent life style. Autism continued to follow its own path through the Modern and Post Modern periods nurturing an inventive and atypical way of thinking. It was a mistake of the world at large to assume that Autism was no longer a force to be reckoned with simply because there was little visible interaction with this eccentric community. While it is true that during this time period there was little obvious interaction with society, Autism was building the foundation for a strong, some say unstoppable, resurgence. With the explosion of technology in the 21st century, Autism has once again exploded on to the scene, their plans of world domination developed in their quiescent period bearing fruit as adherents have taken places in the highest levels of science an engineering. It will be interesting to see if Autism can survive the schizms between the Aspergian sect, the Kannerites and the more inclusive D5's (a corruption of the more formal DSM-V). If Autism is able to reconcile these profound differences within their ranks, they may hold the power to fully and finally transform human culture into something approaching the utopian visions of the greatest human thinkers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More fractal fun.

Weird question of the day:

If a blog gets posted on the internet and nobody reads it does it exist?

One thing I've noticed is that I notice things. An artifact of autism is a poor capacity for socialization. In my case, this means effectively no social life. Let's be clear. It's not that I don't like people, though some are worthy of disdain, but rather that it often doesn't occur to me that socialization is an important part of life. It just doesn't cross my mind. So I just sit on the sidelines watching that part of life go by. A silent observer for the most part. What this has done is allowed me to watch closely, mostly undisturbed, somewhat objectively, as people frenetically try to advance their lives. I have concluded that a great deal of human activity comes from suspect motivations.

My biggest puzzlement is why is everyone in such a hurry? There is this intense pressure to "succeed" - get through school, go to college, get a career, buy a car, a house, plan your retirement, make more money, do it NOW because, well ... just because.

Then you die.

Now I'm no Luddite. I'm posting to a blog, Maybe I don't Twitter and I really am not so enamored with technology that I HAVE TO GET THE NEWEST GADGET. And truthfully, I'm quite content to use the technological tools around me. But all this push towards the next best thing seems to cost us something. We lose sight of the BEST thing - the people around us. We forget that at the other end of a Tweet, text, email or blog post are warm, living breathing human beings. Everything is becoming this highly interconnected abstraction, removing much of the messiness of real human contact. Even holidays are increasingly hyper-kinetic indulgences in fantasy. When did a good birthday party begin to require a bounce house? Is it really necessary to bankrupt the parents for a wedding? Forgotten in the activity is that the best parts of holidays, social gatherings, weddings birthdays and just plan hanging out is the people you are with not the gadgets and toys that you build up around you,

This theme has been broached many many times. But isn't it a little ironic that an autistic, a person that is effectively a social cripple, is telling the rest of the world to drop all the "stuff" and actually socialize?

The take away is this. It seems to me that the world is becoming "autistic". As individualism becomes increasingly the path to contentment, we isolate our core selves with our technology, layering superficial noise via social media on top of our true selves. This superficiality is how autistics are often FORCED to relate. Much of the external traits of an autistic are not indicative of their internal selves, but often more truncations of abbreviations of their mental states. The shallow communications of contemporary culture eerily mirror the isolation of what for an autistic experiences as a communicative disorder, but strangely, it is by choice. Which leads me to wonder, why would people that are so capable of the genuine social inter-connectivity that as an autistic I cannot experience, choose to trade that for a dim replicant?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Physics and Economics?

This fractal is just eye candy. I did it in Apophysis

So here is one of my notions based on my way of viewing the universe. It is a rough draft of a proof that economic activity is constrained by Conservation of Energy.Click the link for the full text.

Cost, Profit and Conservation of Energy

I suspect that some will object to the idea, but I would hope rather than telling me I'm a loon, they will give a cogent argument against it. This is really only the first layer of the idea. I could drill down into more. I may do so. Depends if anyone comments.

Welcome to my mind

This blog is a window into the bizarre world of my mind.

The short version is I am autistic. High functioning, but autistic nonetheless. An interesting artifact of my autism is that there is a construct that I present to the world that is relatively "normal". This construct is easily seen as odd, eccentric, and unusual. But it's purpose is to keep the world at arms length. It is a parody of my true self. The world has a certain amount of tolerance for eccentricity. So this construct serves a purpose.

The "real" me lives in a different place. It is a space of pattern. It is a universe constructed of autistic perceptions, one that has referents to reality, but organized in a decidedly atypical form. It is multi-layered, complex, beautiful (to me at least), and very difficult to communicate.

This blog is an attempt to communicate this inner universe.

Why? I guess I really don't have a good answer. But it isn't necessary to have one.

Perhaps it will prove interesting.