autism subtypes

anonymous asked:

sorry this is kinda negative and pretty ranty. i'm in a psychology research class in college rn and we're editing each other's papers and one of the papers i have to edit is about autism and the person has low functioning and high functioning as subtypes of autism. and supposedly low functioning is the stupider form. (they said intellectual disability but it's the same yeah?) (this next bit is a pet peeve sorry) and they're separating asperger's and autism a lil bit.

sorry same research anon again. this paper just screams uneducated about the actual people (like it’s very disorder-centric) but i’m not educated enough nor brave enough to actually teach them. plus i’m pretty sure no one would believe me if i told them that i’m autistic because i’ve gotten pretty good at pretending to be nt            

If you don’t want to educate them yourself, perhaps direct them to ASAN’s website or @neurowonderful youtube videos so they can learn more about autism than stereotypes ?

Good luck !

- Sister Cat

Misunderstandings occur partly because of this.

You can get all the traits required to diagnose autism. All of them. By solely going into any single  one of these categories:

• Personality traits
• Sensory and perceptual differences
• Pure cognitive differences (includes language among many other things)
• Motor planning differences, motor skills, catatonia, etc. 

I don’t have the spoons to do it but I could take each of these categories and show you not one but many ways difference from the norm in that area, fulfills full criteria for the diagnosis of autism. 

The reality is that most of us have a messy mix of these factors, to the point many of us can’t easily map out which traits fall under which, or, say, tell the difference between cognition and perception.  (Sensory perception is input, cognition is internal processing, and movement is output. That’s the easiest way to explain.  But there’s still tons of grey areas.)

Autistic people who are very predominantly one thing can have trouble understanding how another autistic person is even autistic. Like if for you, autism is almost all personality, you’ll have trouble grasping someone for whom it’s almost all sensory. And don’t get me started on the complications thrown in by people whose ratios of each trait change constantly, or over the course of a lifetime. People like me.  

But this is a huge source of misunderstanding between autistic people. So even if I’m not as able to articulate it as I would like, I just want to throw it out there. I hope to be able to elaborate more in the future. 

It appears that at one end of the spectrum, autism is primarily a cognitive disorder, and at the other end, it is primarily a sensory processing disorder. At the severely impaired sensory processing end, many children may be diagnosed as having disintegrative disorderl At a midpoint along the spectrum, autistic symptoms appear to be caused by equal amounts of cognitive and sensory problems. There can be mild and severe cases at all points along the continuum Both the severity and the ratio of these two components are variable, and each case of autism is different. When a person with autism improves because of either educational or medical intervention, the severity of a cognitive or sensory problem may diminish, but the ratio between the two seems to stay the same. What remains inexplicable, however, are rigid thinking patterns and lack of eotional affect in many high-functioning people. One of the perplexing things about autism is that it is almost impossible to predict which toddler will become high-functioning. The severity of the symptoms at age two or three is often not correlated with the prognosis.

Temple Grandin, from Thinking In Pictures, 2006 edition.

So that’s a direct quote about her idea that there’s a spectrum between what I’d call Cognitive Autism or Cognitive-Emotional Autism, and Sensory Autism or Sensory-Motor Autism, depending on the context.  As usual, I’m not big on the functioning labels and think they’re a distraction from the more interesting realities of the situation.  Although I would be interested in which traits are likely to get a person labeled high or low functioning – but that as a study in how people see us, not in whether high or low functioning are accurate ways of describing a complex set of abiliities and difficulties.
I wonder if there is something specific that causes cognitive and emotional differences to cluster together, and sensory and motor differences to cluster together.  Or whether they do actually cluster together like that, or if that’s just how Temple has arranged things for the convenience of her own brain.  (She does that sometimes, everyone does that sometimes, but she does it a lot… it’s worth watching out for.)
If what I’m assuming are the four areas affected in autism (cognitive, emotional, sensory, motor) are really the four areas mostly affected in autism, then I wonder if they cluster together more frequently in some combinations than others.  Because there would be:
But some of those may not exist at all.  And some of them may be way more common than others.  I do get the feeling that Temple is right about Cognitive/Emotional and Sensory/Motor being common pairings.  One affects your inner state, one affects the interactions between your inner self and the world.  And I also get the sense that she’s right that all of these areas are affected in most autistic people, it’s just a matter of degree – which ones are affected more in which person.
Unfortunately, instead of looking into things like this, autism researchers are too busy looking into our social skills.  And instead of looking into how we differ from the norm, they are too busy looking for ways we are worse than the norm, even to the point where we can perform better than nonautistic people on a task in a study and get written up as if we performed better because we were worse at something.  It’s ridiculous.  Until we get rid of that kind of thinking, it will be very difficult to even look at which parts of autistic cognition are which, and how they interact.
Because I see autism as involving:  1.  Thinking.  2.  Emotions.  3.  Sensory-perceptual processing.  4.  Motor skills and motor planning.  Not necessarily in that order, not necessarily all at once.  And then in addition to those four areas, there are the ways that they interact.  For instance, anxiety affects motor skills, thinking and emotions aren’t as separate as you’d think, the difficulties initiating and stopping and combining movements also affect things like thinking and memory, and so you can’t pretend all of these things are totallly separate.
Anyway, as I read through Thinking In Pictures, expect more quotes and commentary, even if it gets rather repetitive at times.

Temple Grandin is wrong, but she’s right about more than I expected. (Image description is near the end of this post, it’s really long and I couldn’t put it up at the front.) Warning: This is a very long post, I can’t even read it myself, and the tl;dr summary at the end doesn’t completely cover it because I suck at summarizing. It’s taken me all week just to write it.  

My relationship to her work has changed a lot over the years. I was diagnosed because of her. When I was diagnosed, I wasn’t told her name, and I wasn’t told my diagnosis, not right away. I was told, “You remind me of a woman I know. She doesn’t think in words either. She thinks in pictures. She can watch entire blueprints and make them run in real speed in her mind. And she designed most of the cattle handling facilities in the country, because of her ability to think outside of words.” Of course I’m not a picture thinker either, but I hadn’t got far enough communication-wise to convey that to this excited psychiatrist who was diagnosing me. 
 A little over half a year later, I got hold of a copy of Thinking in Pictures. I read it. Most of it went over my head in the same ways that words like autism and developmental disability went over my head at the time. But I rarely let that stop me from reading or listening to someone – if I did, I’d never read or listen to anything, because most words went over my head even at my best. But Temple Grandin’s words went over my head in a particular way that I didn’t learn to recognize as a pattern until I met lots of other autistic people much like her, who just think differently than me and their words go over my head a lot and that’s okay. 
 So that time, I didn’t even register all her stuff about autism subtypes and stuff. I was more keying in on the sensory issues, because that was what I could identify with most in any book by an autistic person. And she had gone beyond what most autistic people did – she’d written about the sensory issues of autistic people other than herself – Jim Sinclair, Donna Williams, Therese Joliffe, to name a few I vaguely remember. People whose sensory issues were much more complex than “this kind of input feels like nails on a chalkboard” – which gets old after awhile, when the “nails on a chalkboard” thing is all you hear, with occasional hyposensitivity thrown in. 
 Jim Sinclair and Donna Williams, Lucy Blackman and Tito Mukhopadhyay, these are people in whose sensory experiences I can see myself. And she wrote about people other than herself, and that put her a step above other autistic authors of the time for the most part. Donna Williams also wrote about people other than herself. But Donna Williams – like me, and unlike Temple Grandin, is very subjective in how she evaluates other autistic people, and sometimes that’s to our advantage and sometimes it’s very much not and can even cause trouble. I don’t think Temple Grandin is as objective as she believes herself to be, but she tries, and it does make a difference. Anyway, so the first time I read Thinking in Pictures, I really didn’t register most of it. My eyes went through the words and like a good classic meaning-blind hyperlexic I didn’t really take much of it in. 
The next time I read it, I had progressed to the point where I was realizing I was autistic, but I thought everyone else autistic was both more authentic and more authoritative than I was. So I took her words on a lot of things as gospel. And then I moved into the phase where I got royally pissed off about functioning labels (I’m still in that phase), and there was a section of her book that made me so angry I couldn’t read it. So I didn’t, much, except when torturing myself. I just reread it again today and she’s onto something for once. She hasn’t got it right by a long shot, but she’s actually seeing something I’ve seen. 
 She sees the autistic spectrum as a continum from the “Kanner/Asperger type (usually HFA)” of autistic person, to the “Regressive/Epileptic type (usually LFA, and bizarrely enough neither epilepsy nor regression are required elements of this type she’s made up)” of autistic person. Given my dislike for functioning labels and one-dimensional spectrums, you can see why this would just piss me off too much to want to read about it, for years. But. Something is real here. She talks about “Kanner-Asperger” autistic people as people who differ greatly from the norm in cognition and often in emotion. But their sensory issues tend to be limited to a few hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities. Often, like Temple, their emotions are ‘simplified’ – she feels joy,anger, etc. but not complex emotions. 
 My brother could be the poster boy for the Kanner-Asperger type. 
Then she describes the regressive-epileptic type as having potentialy a much more normal and complex form of emotions, but with severe sensory scrambling that means that these things don’t get expressed. She also mentions severe receptive language problems stemming from the severe sensory chaos. She put herself very near the Kanner-Asperger end, and Donna Williams about midway in between the two ends. The only person she put very near the Regressive-Epileptic end at all was David Eastham. I was glad to note that she’d heard of him (he’s the first autistic person to publish as an autistic person, ever, as far as I can find) but puzzled sometimes by her choices of where to put people. Anyway, I have traits of both types, but I identify way more with Regressive-Epileptic than Kanner-Asperger. 
 I also love how she uses Kanner-Asperger to mean high functioning. I don’t like the idea of high and low functioning, but if you have to use it, then Kanner is as hgih functioning as Asperger ever was. In terms of his patients I mean. Most people just haven’t read about them with their normal to high IQs, going to college, and all that. They assume – and this assumption seems to be somewhere around 15-30 years old – that Kanner autism means low functioning autism. That’’s not how the term Kanner was used in the literature, and I should know, I’ve done enough time reading that literature in university libraries. It was frequently used to mean high functioning. 
And I like that Kanner and Asperger are put together like that, because they really were looking at the same, or at least a highly overlapping,, group of people. I do have to WTF at the name Regressive-Epileptic. If I were to give names to these two types of autism, I would call one Cognitive-Emotional and the other Sensory-Motor. In fact, I’ve been working on trying to write something up about the way autism varies. And I already had it divided up into Cognitive, Emotional, Sensory, and Motor as far as the four main areas autism affects. Then I was going to write up the huge number of ways that autism can affect each area, and the way the areas can combine. 
 Temple Grandin’s Kanner-Asperger group is meant to be people whose main autistic differences are in cognitive and emotional areas: Concrete thinking Rigid thinking. Flat affect. Uncomplicated emotions. If motor problems are present, they’re generally coordination problems – gross motor or fine motor. If sensory issues are present, they’re generally uncomplicated hypersensitivities or hyposensitivities. Most autistic people have differences in all four areas, regardless of what type of autism they have, but it’s a matter of degree. 
 Meanwhile her Regressive-Epileptic type is supposed to be people with enormous sensory problems that dominate everything, as well as possibly much more complex motor problems. And severe receptive language problems. When I’ve been describing “my type of autism” over the years, I’ve inadvertently been describing lots of traits that go with this subtype. The sensory issues this group deals with aren’t “birdsong makes my ears hurt,” it’s more like “everything is a complete jumble of sensory information that I can’t even make sense of” combined with “I have to use conscious effort to make sense of sensory information”. Motor problems are likely to be complex motor planning problems of the sort you see with autistic catatonia: A person may have seemingly perfect coordination, balancing on fences like a cat, but then be unable to type or feed themselvees. This is because coordination is different from the sorts of motor problems that this sort of autistic person tends to have. And as Temple Grandin says, cognitively and emotionally the person may actually be much more “normal” than in Kanner-Asperger autistic people. They may have much more cognitive flexibility, for instance, and much more complex emotional states. 
 What I’d want to do if I were doing this: Cognitive. Emotional. Motor. Sensory. Then list a long list, under each one, of traits that can be associated with each, in autistic people. Given the way autism works, that would likely mean that each trait would have an opposite trait listed, that was just as much an autistic trait as the first one. And then there might be some list of the way that these traits interplay with each other, because in reality these are not totally separate domains of thinking, they all overlap and intertwine with each other in the functioning of the brain.. 
 I do wonder if there’s a reason that Cognitive-Emotional and Sensory-Motor seem to clump together so often, though. Because the more I read about her take on all this, the more I realize I’ve seen these two configurations more than I’ve seen other configurations. It’s like one configuration has to do with the inner thoughts and feelings of the person,, and the other one has more to do with the input–output systems. But even so, every autistic person I’ve ever met has had differences in all four areas. It’s a matter of degree. 
And that’s why even Temple Grandin, who tends to oversimplify things in any way she can, has put theem on a continuum to show that people can have traits of both. Of course reality is much more complicated. There are more than two types of autism on a continuum with each other. Each area that can be affected, can be affected in many ways. A person can move between different “types of autism” throughout their lifespan or throughout a day. These aren’t fixed traits. They interact with one another in extremely complex ways. Etc. Anyway… 
Here’s what Temple Grandin writes about her ideas on these subtypes by the way: 
 These subtypes are on a continuum that merges together. Information in the table is based on scientific literature and interviews with autistic people, teachers and parents. 
 Kanner/Asperger Type (High Functioning) 
* No obvious motor problems, but some Asperger Types tend to be clumsy. * Have receptive speech and can understand what is said to them (Grandin, 1986). * Many children with partial receptive speech are echolalic. They repeat phrases because they only hear parts of them. * Sensory over-sensitivity to sound, touch, or visual stimuli (Grandin and Scariano 1986; Grandin 1992, 1995; Stehli 1991; Volkmar and Cohen 1985; Bemporad 1979). * Seldom have epileptic seizures and EEG readings are usually normal, but may have cerebellar abnormalities (Courchesne et al. 1988; Bauman 1991). Brain stem development is more normal. * Rigid concrete thinking, no common sense, and lack of affect (Kanner 1943; Asperger 1944; Hart 1989; Bemporad 1179).* Young children respond well to gently intrusive teaching methods, such as forced eye contact; and some three-year-old children respond well to intense intrusive methods (Lovaas 1989; 1993). * Afraid of certain noises because they hurt the ears, but may be attracted to other sounds and visual stimuli, such automatic sliding doors or flushing the toilet. * Some individuals may have severe anxiety problems (Grandin 1986; 1992l 1995; Volkmar and Cohen 1985), while others are calm (Hart 1987). * Teenagers and adults often respond to low doses of anti-depressant drugs, such as clomipramine and fluoxetine. Clomipramine is the recommended first choice if the individual has severe obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Fluoxetine has fewer uncomfortable side effects and is preferred by many individuals. These medications are usually not recommended in children unless there is a severe behavior problem that does not respond to sensory 
 Regressive/Epileptic type (Often low functioning) 
 * Sometimes have obvious body movement problems or difficulty with stopping and starting hand movements. * No receptive speech (Allen and Pain, 1992), or incoming speech sounds may fade in and out. In severe cases, incoming speech may be a jumble of sound. More likely to be mute (Volkmar and Cohen 1989). May have difficulty determining speech is used to communicate (Joliffe 1992). * Sensory information from the different senses may jumble and mix together into noise or patterns (Sands and Ratey 1986; Cesaroni and Garber 1991; Painter 1992). Very slow sensory processing (Gillingham 1995). May learn best by touch. Give them letters and objects to feel. * Often have epileptic seizures, abnormal EEG readings, undersized brain stems, and immature central nervous system development (Gedye 1991; Hashimoto et al. 1992; McClelland et al. 1992; Bauman 1991; Bauman and Kemper 1994; Canter et al. 1986). * May have more normal thinking and emotions (Cesaroni and Garber 1991; Williams 1992, 1994). * Respond poorly to intrusive methods due to sensory overload (Williams, 1993). When they become stressed or overstimulated, incoming stimuli becomes jumbled and mixed together. Intrusive teaching methods that work with young Kanner/Asperger children may cause confusion and pain. * May be able to attend to only one sensory channel at a time. During teaching, distractions should be minimized and information should be presented to only one sensory modality (Cesaroni and Garber 1991; Williams 1993). Will actively avoid sounds and stimuli that may be attractive to less severely afflicted individuals. * Some individuals have severe anxiety problems. *Teenagers and adults with rage and aggression tend to respond best to inderal, clonidine, fluoxetine and buspirone. Epilepsy medications such as carbamazepine and valproic acid are also helpful. In children, B6 and magnesium and DMG are some- times helpful. If speech fails to develop by age four, ethosuximide or valproic acid may helpful. (Pliophys 1994, Gillberg 1991). 
Image Description (with sources) Also, here is a very long but accurate image description for the image I used above. I’m putting it at the end because it was too unwieldy to put at the front: There’s a line drawn across the screen, from left to right, showing a spectrum of autistic people.
On the left end of the line, there’s a big label saying “Classical Kanner’s/Asperger’s Syndrome." 
Underneath that in smaller letters and parentheses, it says ”(Asperger 1944; Kanner 1943). 
On the right end of the line, there’s a big label saying “Nonverbal, low functioning Regressive/Epileptic Usually lose speech at 18 to 24 months”. Above that, in small letters after three asterisks, it says “*** There are some regressives that partially recover and become verbal." 
 So there you have the basic outline of the chart. 
 Now there are notes written below the graph about the characteristics of Kanner/Asperger autism versus Regressive/Epileptic. 
 For reasons I can’t figure out, each characteristic is written about below a set of arrows pointing in one direction or the other. 
 The first set of arrows starts at Kanner/Asperger and leads to the middle of the graph. Underneath it are the words; Sensory processing problems and ability to comprehend incoming speech worsen at the Regressive/Epileptic end of the continuum. 
 The second set of arrows is in the same position as the first one. Underneath it is written: Emotions and affect may normalize as one moves away from the Kanner end of the spectrum. 
 The third set of arrows is the same as the other two. Underneath it is written: More likely to have epileptic seizures and more abnormal results on neurological tests (Hashimoto et al. 1992) (McClelland et al. 1992) at the Regressive/Epileptic end of the continuum. 
 The fourth set of arrows starts at the Regressive/Epileptic end, and points left until it reaches the middle of the line. It reads: Thinking becomes more rigid and concrete as one moves toward the Kanner end of the spectrum. 
 And underneath everything else is written: "Fig. 8-1. Autistic continuum. Position of people described in published literature on the continuum." 
 The following is a full list of the footnotes referred to in that graphic, in case anyone wants to go look any of them up: 
 * Hart, C. (1989). Without Reason, New York: Harper & Row. * Park, C. C. (1967). The siege. Boston, MA: Little, Brown. * Bemporad, M. L. (1979). Adult recollections of a formerly autistic child. journal ofAutism and Developmental Disorders, 9, 179-197. * Grandin, T. (1992a). An inside view of autism. In E. Schopler and G. B. Mesibov (Eds.), High functioning individuals with autism. (pp. 105-126). New York: Plenum Press. * Volkmar, R. R., & Cohen, D. J. (1985). The experience of infantile autism: A first person account by Tony W. journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 15, 47-54. * Stehli, A. (1991). Sound of a miracle. New York: NY: Doubleday. * Cesaroni, L., & Garber, M. (1991). Exploring the experience of autism through first hand accounts. journal of Autism and Development Disorders, 21, 303-312. * White, G. B., & White, M. S. (1987). Autism from the inside. Medical Hypothesis, 24, 223-229. * Williams, D. (1992). Nobody nowhere. New York: Time Books. * Painter, K. (1992, November 11). Autistic and writing close the gulf. USA Today, Section 0, p. l. * Lewis, 1. (1993). [Letter to the Editor]. The Maap, Crown Point, IN. pp. 3- * Eastham, M. (1990). Silent words, forever friends. Ontario, Canada: Olive * Asperger, H. (1944). Die Autistischen Psychopathen im Kindersaltr, Archive fUr Psychiatier Und Neruenkrankhieten, 11776-136. Translated by U. Frith, Autism and Asperger syndrome. Cambridge University Press, 37-92. * Kanner, L. (1943). Autistic disturbances of affective contact. Nervous Child, 2, 217-250. * Hashimoto, T., Tayama, M., Miyazaki, M., Sakurama, N., Yoshimoto, Tsutomu, Murakawa, K, & Kurodo, Y. (1992). Reduced brain stem size in children with autism. Brain and Development, 14, 94-97. * McClelland, D. G., Eyre, D., Watson, G. J., Sherrard, c., & Sherrard, E. (1992). Central conduction time in autism. British Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 659-663. 
 TL;DR: Temple Grandin at one point divided autistic people into a continuum between "Kanner-Asperger” types and “Regressive-Epileptic” types. I think she gets a lot wrong, but gets a surprising amount right. I would divide the areas affected by autism into Cognitive, Emotional, Sensory, and Motor. Her Kanner-Asperger would be my Cognitive-Emotional,, her Regressive-Epileptic would be my Sensory-Motor. Of course all autistic people are affected in all four areas, it’s just a matter of degree. I’m just shocked to find something in her writing that I agree with this much despite the flaws.
The voids, the sea floor, well below zero.

I wish people understood what it’s like to be fifteen years old.  To be fifteen years old and not know things other people are literally born knowing.  To be fifteen years old and missing elements of the world that most people figure out by the ages of 2, 4, 5, 7, or 11.  To be fifteen years old, to have a small number of really prominent skills that impress people, and then these huge gaping voids where all the other skills go, the ones people assume everyone has.  To stare at people across the voids and be unable to explain.

I spent a lot of time staring across giant voids, waiting for someone, anyone, to see them.

I think my psychiatrist saw them, but he was little help other than getting me diagnosed in the first place.  He tried to bridge the voids with words.  It’s hard to bridge a void with words when part of the void is a massive problem with receptive language.

(Receptive language problems mean problems understanding language.  It does not mean having trouble understanding what people are saying because you have auditory processing problems.  I keep hearing people described as having “receptive language problems” who have nothing of the sort, they have auditory processing problems that make it hard for them to differentiate between sounds, but their language skills are pretty much intact.  When presented the words in another way, they understand them.)

I remember living in a world where everyone swirled by me, everyone moving faster than my brain could keep up with.  And none of them had these voids in their brains.  My brain was seeming more and more void by the moment.

How do you explain it?

How can I even explain it now?

If most people’s brain world is a rich landscape stretching for tens of thousands of miles, my brain is an ocean world with tiny islands here and there.

And for all that time lived underwater, no recognition.

All that time lived at the bottom of the ocean, in a place that most people can’t even fathom its existence, no recognition.

I go to a gathering of autistic people.  Most of the time, it’s a gathering that’s fairly diverse.  There are lots of people there who have lived underwater longer than I’ve been alive, people struggling to stay afloat at all.

A group of autistic people commandeers me, pulls me off into a corner.  Most of them don’t seem to have big voids, from what I can tell.  They see me as just like them only I type.  I don’t know how to explain to them that even when I could speak, I was not just like them.  The assumption hurts so badly I feel like I’ve been cut with a knife, but I can’t explain how I feel.   I can’t explain how I feel that they are all clumped together in a group of their own, not mixing with the other autistic people.  I can’t explain how I feel that I’m the only of the other autistic people they will mix with.  I can’t explain.

You can’t tell whether an autistic person has lived with these voids by whether they can talk or not.  Whether they have good academic skills or not.  There’s no single thing.  But sometimes you can tell when someone hasn’t.  There are subtle differences.  Not subtle at all when you get down deep enough.  But subtle if you don’t really know what you’re looking at, and are only seeing surfaces.

I wish I could show you the voids.  How huge they were, how huge they remain in many respects.  How it feels to live underwater.  Or as Donna Williams puts it, well below zero:

On the edge I ask myself, what will I lose,
To have lived in the depths of “well below zero,”
I grasped the tools to climb out,
And scream loudly to the world,
That I was all that I was, before never enough,
That with all I was, it wasn’t fair enough
That I stayed there: a nobody nowhere.

That.  That, everything, that.

If you haven’t lived there, it means nothing.  If you have, it means everything.

I don’t have any problem with people who have never lived with these voids.  I only start to have a problem when people act like these voids can’t exist, or can only exist for certain types of people that they, from the outside, have designated.

Do you know what it’s like to be fifteen and discovering what most people discover at the age of two, and being called psychotic because you’ve finally discovered make-believe of a sort that you never had when you were two?

Do you know what it’s like to literally not know whether dreams are reality or reality is a dream?

Do you know what it’s like to hear that the world is what you make it, and take it so seriously that you try so damn hard to make your life into a dream, and you can’t, and you get called psychotic, because only a psychotic person would behave while awake the way other people behave in their dreams?

And maybe it is psychotic, maybe it isn’t, but it stems from the voids.

It stems from not knowing things everyone knows.

Every void is about not knowing something everyone knows, is born knowing, or knows by an extremely young age compared to your age right then.

I know the professionals saw some of the voids, this is why they suggested that I had a severe neurodevelopmental condition preventing me even having a personality, and all that weirdness.  It’s probably why they sometimes called me low-functioning.  But whatever they saw, did not give me any help.

I did things that only a child would do, only to be told “you were an adolescent, not a child”, no I was a child, and an adolescent, they’re not mutually exclusive.  And I was a child.  There is a border zone where some adolescents are practically adults and some are children even at the same ages.  I was a child.  I was a child up until maybe my nineteenth birthday.

Just because mental age is useless doesn’t mean there aren’t grey areas.  Adolescence is a grey area where people possess attributes of adulthood and childhood.  I possessed far more attributes of childhood.

I could not see myself as other people saw me.  Not even in the slightest.

I could not see the impact I had on other people.  Not even in the slightest.

I was not raised wrong.  I was not raised to be irresponsible or spoiled.  These problems were not artifacts of my environment in any way.  These problems were due to the fact that I was young, and young in a big way.

I feel like I was dancing.  I was dancing in circles, doing twists and turns, and I was dancing on this big stage, and everyone was looking, and I couldn’t even see that I had an audience.  I was dancing only for myself, only aware of myself, unaware of an outside world, and everyone saw me but me.

I did adolescent things too of course, and I have been punished for doing adolescent things ever since.  All adolescents try on different identities.  The identities I tried on were so taboo that to this day there are people who will mock me for it and treat me like I did something criminal.  They don’t even stop to listen to the circumstances, circumstances in which many times I was pushed or tricked into things.  But even if I hadn’t been pushed or tricked, I did nothing criminal, I did nothing that the teenagers around me weren’t doing more than I was.

But I am still punished for trying on the identities I tried on, for whatever reasons, even under coercion and threat.  The people who punish me, tried on some of the same identities, but somehow it’s different for them.

I can’t talk about it, it’s too painful.

I can say that I hate being judged by people who had so much more going on in their heads when they were adolescents.  I don’t mean academically, either.  I mean they had so much more understanding of the world.  Amazing levels of understanding.  So little of their world was underwater, they don’t know what it means to live underwater, or well below zero, or anything like that.  They don’t know the voids.  And they will judge you, because they will assume nobody has voids, or nobody who can communicate has voids.

I had voids so big that honestly the islands were hard to find.

That’s why my psychiatrist called me an idiot savant.

I hate the term, but I understand why he used it.  I had these tiny but brilliantly visible islands in a giant sea of deep, deep water.  They didn’t fade slowly into the sea, but dropped off in jagged cliffs.  That’s the texture of what people mean by idiot savant, and that’s what he meant by it.

Empty, empty, empty, empty, empty spaces so wide you couldn’t see across them.

But the weird thing about the voids, the thing I didn’t understand, the thing nobody understood, nobody understands still, is they are not truly empty.

They are full.

But they are full of something invisible to most people.

They are full of rainbows.  They are full of the interplay of light on broken glass.  They are full of all these things, all these aspects of the world, purely sensory, no thought, all sensation, all sensation and pre-sensation.

These voids create a tremendous amount of power.

These voids create most of my truest insights about the world.  The depths of the water are not empty, but full of life that nobody can see because it’s too far down.  Strange life.  Life they can’t understand.

And that is my home.

That is where I am from.

Not the islands.  The islands are showy, and they’re part of me, but they’re a distraction from who I am, in many ways.  I don’t trust people who place too much faith in the islands.  I don’t trust people who stare at the islands and ooh and ahh.  I don’t trust people who tell me all about how much they love my islands, how much they see my islands, how much they notice my islands.

I trust people who can see the voids.

I trust people who want to enter the voids with me.

I trust people who meet me on the sea floor and discover the life that has always been there.

I trust people who can see me totally, see me as I am, see me from the inside out.

I trust people who have voids of their own.

Because I still have voids.  They may not be exactly the same as they was when I was 15.  I am not a child anymore.  But I still have voids, giant voids, voids other people won’t acknowledge unless pressed.  And unless you do acknowledge the voids – for real, not just because I said to do so – I can’t trust you.  It’s not a matter of won’t, it’s a matter of can’t.  Because a person who can’t see the voids will expect me, eventually, to act like someone who doesn’t have voids, and I will be punished when I don’t measure up.

And it hurts the worst, sometimes, when I am in a group where nobody else has voids, or nobody else has major ones, and because they don’t have voids, they don’t look for them in others really, and because they don’t have voids, they don’t see mine.

Draggle has obvious voids, by the way, and every time I recognize them I recognize someone who, even though different from me in many respects, at least we both have that, and it makes me happy.  Voids can look different in different people because they’re in different positions, but they’re still these big giant gaps between our understanding of the world and most people’s.  No matter what you call them.

Anyway, it gets lonely sometimes.  Not in the usual sense of lonely.  But in this sense of “Here’s this community, says it’s the autistic community, lots of people in it, most of them don’t have these gigantic obvious voids.  Wish there was a community where more of us had them.  Maybe there is.  It ain’t here, not here.”

I want to stress – because the topic has come up elsewhere – I don’t want to make it sound like it’s bad not to have voids, or like I resent people who don’t have them, or hate them in some way.  It just gets lonely having voids and only getting blank stares when you talk about it.  I see other people around here with voids, we just don’t seem to be a majority.

I think people with voids are more likely to be the people who have to climb a cliff every day to get up to communication and understanding and stuff like that, and then slide down it again the moment we let go.  Rather than standing on solid ground.  Voids make solid ground quite difficult to come by.  So when I see someone who is forever climbing and falling throughout their day, and falling deep, for that matter… I often assume voids are there too.

mappingcat  asked:

Hi - I'm wondering how connected your perception of the material world as alive (e.g. your deep attachment to the San Mateo redwoods, or the way you crochet) is to the core of your autism? In reading autiebiographical material I'm seeing the pattern of deep connection with the natural world emerge time and time again, and I strongly identify with that connection. Is this pattern something you might classify as a subtype of autism? Thanks -

I’m not sure that I would say these particular things are a subtype of autism.  But I would absolutely say that they arise more often from a subtype of autism.  Like, I do think there’s a specific type of autism that I have, that Anne has, that several other people I know have, and that makes us more likely to have all these characteristics.  (And there are other subtypes of autism that can cause similar things too, for slightly different reasons.  At least, that’s my guess.)

Minor notice

When I say “my sort of autistic person” I mean like…

If all autistic people were in this huge multidimensional grid with closer meaning more similar in a certain way and further meaning more far away in a certain way. “My type of autism” is everyone within a certain vague distance of me in every direction. And so is anyone else’s type. And that makes way more sense than the subtypes we use today.

So I mean things like feliscorvus and amorpha and a bunch of other people I’ve met who have a lot of similarities to me, especially in areas I find important.

I also don’t mean that other sorts of autistic people don’t experience the same thing.

And I don’t ever mean that I am low functioning and I am speaking only of low functioning people because I don’t even believe in low functioning people or high functioning people, that boundary makes no sense to me emotionally, scientifically, intellectually, or ethically. So I never mean that and am never meaning to exclude people who see themselves as on the other side of that line from me.

Lots of people see feliscorvus as on the other side of that line from me, yet she is the closest to a duplicate of me brain wise that I have ever met, both by our own estimations and the estimations of mutual friends. So I would never say “my sort of autistic person” and leave her out just because some people like to put her on the other side of a meaningless line.

I’d write more but I’m exhausted and on the toilet and its hard to write here.

soilrockslove  asked:

And about that last question: I think there are even *non-autistic* people who have that worldview.

I think there are nonautistic people who have that worldview.  I also think there are forms of autism that greatly, greatly predispose people to that worldview, like way more than average.  And it’s not just one form of autism, it’s several different ones, some of which are closely related and some of which are quite different from each other.