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Monday, March 19, 2012

Welcome to Autism: Ongoing Study of Neurotypicals

 I'm going to ask you  to take a leap from severe circumstances of Autism to the positive and logical aspects of it. I'll even ask that you look at the gifts of this way of being. Yes, there are debilitating aspects, but that is not my focus for this piece. I offer a look through my eyes at Neurotypicals, especially where research to fix Autistic people is discussed and implemented.
   Please keep in mind that everything I write is from my personal experience, and from personally formed opinion. I am not a professional. I'm a person with Autism who can type, so for those who can't communicate, I offer my best:
  Having Autism to me is like living in a world where everyone but me is partially drunk. This is in no way a cut down to Neurotypicals, and is not meant to offend in any way. I am speaking of having more intensity of sensation only.
  If you've every been around a person who has drank a bit too much, you may be able to understand this. They get a little too loud and flamboyant. Their facial expressions go to extremes, and their emotional outpouring goes over the top. Instead of laughing, they guffaw, and instead of weeping, they bawl uncontrollably. They don't just like people, they love them and they hang on people, leaning heavily on others physically. They become too demonstrative, too touchy-feely, too loud and too invasive of personal space.
  Most people know exactly what it is like to be around someone who is inebriated when you are not, and it is not pleasant.
  Now, imagine if you will that these inebriated people want to know what is wrong with you, as they often do. Why aren't you joining in on their, "fun?" It's obvious to the sober person that they are not behaving well, but to the drunk, it isn't. Infact, they are the "normal" one.
  Take it another step.Imagine that being in a state of partial or total drunken lack of sensibility, numbing of the senses to the point of overdoing everything from touch to vocalizing is so "normal" that they begin doing studies to figure out what "toxins, environmental factors" or "genetics" caused you to be sober. After all, you don't laugh when they do, or it's understated in comparison. You have a weird sense of personal space that doesn't fall all over people. There must  be some fundamental "malfunction" in you.
   Goodness knows they love you. It shows and shows loudly! They begin doing research to figure out what caused your problem, because they care so deeply, loudly and obnoxiously, to you. Then again, you're the one with the problem, and they want to find out why you think they are obnoxious. They want to cure you  of this problem.
  Welcome to Autism.
   My example is an extreme, but not far fetched. Your sober sensibilities, and the sensations you experience are more acute than the drunk's. Mine are more acute than yours. The drunk has trouble seeing and hearing and numbed physical sensation. Again, mine are more acute than the sober person's.
  Did a toxin cause you to "feel" less than I do? Did a toxin cause me to feel more? Did a toxin cause you to feel more than the drunk person? Are you "malfunctioning," because you are far more sensitive than the person who is drunk? Am I "malfunctioning," because I see and hear and feel details that you might miss?
   Let's take out the drunk person, and imagine that all people Autistic and Neurotypical feel things to different levels. Some say men and women experience things differently. Is there something fundamentally "malfunctioning" in a man who does not spill tears when he sees a sad movie, or is he built differently than a woman? Is there something fundamentally "malfunctioning" in a new mom who has a sympathetic nervous system response when she hears a baby cry, after all not every man will start lactating over it. Is a toxin causing her "malfunction?"
  Maybe, just maybe something is very right with all of the differences in how people react. Causes? What if it wasn't toxins or "bad" genetics? What if some positives like good nutrition and love "caused" Autism? As long as we see any state of being as negative, we will continue to look for negative causes. There are postives, and these are totally ignored most of the time, and I'm appauled. (Look back at the drunk trying to figure out what's wrong with you, further, let them get government grants for their research in trying to fix your problem of not falling all over people. Now take the humor out. Incorporate behavioral therapy up to and including electric shock as is the case in the Judge Rotenburg Center, and maybe you'll have an idea of what it is like to look upon the world in utter dismay, if not fear.  
   How long are we going to have to be patient with people who want to force us to be like everyone else? As long as it takes. Meanwhile, we self advocate, we type or speak where some of us can't, and we try with everything we have to get people to absorb the idea that it's ok to be different, to feel differently, to laugh when something truly is funny, and to cry when we need to, rather than when society has deemed it socially acceptable.
   And Autistic people are not "angels." I think in terms of humanity being whole and being "one," and I search for the good even in those that appear often drunk to me (I've been a drunk in the past. I know), I have compassion for every way of being, and I get angry sometimes.
   There is such limitation to what is acceptable as normal, that many are willing to obliterate the good in people, because they may have a difference. We Autistics oftimes reference certain accepted "geniuses" of our time to demonstrate good in us. Well, not all of us are geniuses. Some of us just have good  hearts. Yes some like me rank in the 98th percentile in some areas, and some like me rank far, far below average in other areas.
  Do I need fixing? No thank you. I don't want to live in a state of numbness or drunkeness or whatever word you'd apply to not feeling, sensing, seeing, hearing every last detail that I do. I don't want to be someone that falls all over people and doesn't get that the show of boundaries is a show of loving respect. I do not want to be someone who is so afraid to look at their own faults that they would research to fix someone else's. I don't want to follow herd's disregarding my own morals as has been shown throughout time. Trust that no Autistic person is going to be a victim of  a Jim Jones mass suicide. We cannot think as a group to the point of our own detriment and yours, because we have minds of our own.
 Put a "normal" teen to the task of deciding whether to succumb to possibly harmful peer pressure. Let's say the next fad is just as dangerous as the riding on top of cars one, setting off fire alarms or wearing the next fad of foot deforming shoes, and you'll see a kid breaking into a fear sweat. Fitting in gets prioritized over personal safety. Put a kid with "Asperger's" in the same situation, and the child will simply decide if the behavior is idiotic or logical and do it or not accordingly. Which group needs fixing? Does either, or is this part of the human condition to have a variety of minds? If there were no kids with Asperger's, who do you think in any group of herd-like children who are ready to "jump off a bridge, just because their friends are," is going to take the adult role and suggest an alternative?
   Calming down the intensity of sensations: Sure, there are times when usually neurotypicals are behaving like yard apes that I would like to be able to numb myself. Again, I tried drinking, but that failed miserably. Do I want to medicate me, so the world will act better? No. That's insane. What I have to do is accept that others are louder, have strange affinities to purposeless touching, poking and prodding while discussing weather with strangers, and want to fix "me." I feel it of utmost importance if study is to be of any use to study others with PTSD who do not have Autism. They experience this same level of intensified feeling in reaction to the world about them, and I've yet to meet an Autistic person who does not have some circumstance that triggered a PTSD reaction. We are by nature trusting, and often this leads us into abusive situations. If we're not lead, merely being different is enough to illicit abuse, and though we are born with heightened senses, the effects of PTSD cannot be overlooked as aggravating what was a born gift into a detriment that is often disabling.
   The studies reveal a lot about the person doing the studies, and I don't think they realize that peope like me are studying the scientists to try to figure out why they think they way they do. It's fascinating!  Yes, they're talking about people like me, but the preservation of words like, "abnormal, malfunctioning," and " bad" leads me to wonder what "causes" this predisposition to negativity, and the self avoiding desire to correct the honesty that bothers them in others. The incessant pointing of fingers, lack of interest in improving their own "malfunctions" leads me to conclude that Autism is to them a fantastic way to live in denial. As long as we focus on what's "wrong" with others, be it another country, another way of thinking, another religion, another way of making art, another way of showing respect, another culture, another gender, WE DON'T HAVE TO LOOK AT OURSELVES.
  For this reason, I believe these Neurotypicals are genius. As smart as the paperwork says I am, I could never have come up with anything like that.
   Still, money, time and research are being poured into curing us of our clarity of thinking. Sighs.
   Welcome to Autism.
tina jones

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