With your more enlightened autism-awareness, you may now identify a work colleague, a friend or someone you have read about, as being “a bit Aspie”. Is that person therefore to be taken off a theoretical “neuro-typical” line and placed on a separate “spectrum” line? Or let us examine the case of a man who is perhaps a little compulsive, but nothing more. This is an autistic trait. Are we going to put him on a separate “spectrum” line for this? Who of us does not feel some need to “sort something out definitely” (‘compulsively’) every now and then?
Where is “autism” supposed to end, and where is “neuro-typicality” supposed to start? If we all have some degree of autistic behaviour, then it follows we should all be on the line, at the far end maybe, but on the line nonetheless. Do we then all have some degree of autistic behaviour? Well, in the “Would you like to experience autism?” series on my Site (www.mild-autism.com). you found it easy to identify with the states of overwhelm, inattention, sensitivity to stimuli, and desire to escape into your Own World, to mention a few autistic traits. You should therefore be on the spectrum/continuum too. You even self-talk occasionally, don’t you? It’s nothing to be ashamed of, everybody does it, however next time your youngster launches into a louder more self-absorbed version of it, don’t think of him.her as a different species, just a more extreme version of what you and I are all like.
The next time you see a man walking down the street wearing dark glasses (on an overcast day) with music earplugs attached to ears, remind yourself that he is trying to escape the Real World as much as possible in the current circumstances, and if there were other convenient ways to detach even further from reality, he would be taking them.
You might say, “but when that person takes off the sunglasses and detaches the earplugs, then he will be able to have an interactive conversation”. If you say that, you don’t quite picture what I am getting at yet. The example is given to illustrate the universal need for withdrawal. In general such people, though probably more autistic than the average are usually not noticeably so. However, having said that, since such behaviour suggests a person in more need of withdrawal than many, if he cannot enjoy meeting the day in a forthright way, it would be reasonably likely that if given the chance (eg not having to earn money, or clothe/feed himself) that he would spend most of his time in other escapist withdrawal activities, transferring to TV or to day-long computer game-play. Having done that for a week or two, would he then engage in a meaningful conversation? More than that, would he be interested in talking with you? Nope, he would prefer to keep up with the withdrawal, because the more you have, the more you are mired in it.
If he had done this amount of Withdrawing from birth, then yes he would be noticeably autistic, because his notion of reality would have been formed from within a cocoon.He would not be terribly interested in communicating, and hence would have poor skills.“Veging” in front of the TV is a common expression at least in Australia, which contains a direct link with the “vegetable” state of a neurologically-impaired person. A drunk or self-drugged person, one who has withdrawn as far as he or she can go, does not engage, and importantly does not want to engage: does it remind you of someone?
The more Withdrawn you are, the more autistic traits of un-interest and self-absorption you exhibit. I have recently read that the loss of brain cells due to drinking is a myth – however if you are frequently drunk you will be using fewer “neurotypical” brain cells or their synaptic connections, so they may as well be lost: the Rule of “Use it or Lose it” is firmly established in modern neuro-science.
So where does mild-autism end, and “neuro-typicality” begin? It doesn’t. We are all on the one line. And what does that mean when it comes to treating your Child? It means abandoning those “us-them” “there is no cure” limits stated or implied by mainstream autism exponents and their literature, it’s not a relevant line of thinking. Instead, with those shackles removed, aim for the sky! You’ll go much further and achieve much more if you believe that your Child’s potential is unlimited.
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