if you only care about autistic people when they’re savants then you don’t actually care about autistic people. if you claim to care about those of us who can draw cities from memory or do advanced mathematics then you should also care about those of us who had to drop out of school, those of us with memory problems, those of us who feel accomplished for reading a book or getting a C on a school assignment. 

it’s important to remember that only a very small portion of autistic people are savants (people who can do things like multiply five digit numbers in their heads or memorize every single street in a city), and that most of us can’t do anything near that. That doesn’t mean we’re not deserving of the same respect- we’re humans, and we shouldn’t have to be able to draw LA from memory to be treated as such.

i saw this theory about leonardo da vinci being autistic, and this one website said that everything about da vinci makes sense for him to be autistic, except that he “displayed no savant-ish abilities”

1. just so we’re all clear, not all autistic people “display savant-ish abilites”, and 2. if there is a single person in the history of human beings i would call a savant, it would be leonardo da vinci


Forget what you know | Jacob Barnett | TEDxTeen

Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician and child prodigy. At 8 years old, Jacob began sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI. After being diagnosed with autism since the age of two and placed in his school’s special ed. program, Jacob’s teachers and doctors were astonished to learn he was able to teach calculus to college students.

At age nine, while playing with shapes, Jacob built a series of mathematical models that expanded Einstein’s field of relativity. A professor at Princeton reviewed his work and confirmed that it was groundbreaking and could someday result in a Nobel Prize.

At age 10, Jacob was formally accepted to the University as a full-time college student and went straight into a paid research position in the field of condensed matter physics. For his original work in this field, Jacob set a record, becoming the world’s youngest astrophysics researcher.

His paper was subsequently accepted for publication by Physical Review A, a scientific journal shared on sites such as NASA, the Smithsonian, and Harvard’s webpage. Jacob’s work aims to help improve the way light travels in technology.

Jacob is also CEO and founder of Wheel LLC, a business he started in his mom’s garage, and is in the process of writing a book to help end “math phobia” in his generation.

Jacob’s favorite pastime is playing basketball with the kids at his charity, Jacob’s Place. It is a place where kids with autism are inspired every day to be their true authentic selves…just like Jacob.

anonymous asked:

hey, savantism anon again, and im not sure we're on the same page of definition of savantism since you say that it's just considered "intelligence" or "normal" in allistics. I mean savantism in being a hyperpolyglot (speaking 20 or more languages), i mean Albert Einstein, I mean being able to play any instrument in the world effortlessly, I mean being able to play a Vivaldi piece from memory after hearing it once or twice only. Thats abnormal. But apart from that, what u said makes sense! Thanks

Right. Maybe I didn’t word it well. Uhm. Like, let’s say you’re good with languages. You know those 26 languages. You didn’t really have to work at them to learn them. They’re just… simple for you. As an autistic, we would call you an autistic savant.

But what do we call it if you are not developmentally disabled and you just… know 26 languages?

What makes a savant, well, a savant, is that they have a very high intelligence in a very specific area, but also that they have a developmental disability of some sort that impairs other areas of intelligence. With an autistic savant, this usually means a lower intelligence with regards to socialization, emotion, speech, etc. The things we are pathologized for.

The point of being a savant is that it is exceptionally heightened intelligence where only impaired intelligence is expected. Which brings us back to the question.

But what do we call it if you are not developmental disabled and you just… know 26 languages?

If you know those languages and you are otherwise average - which is to say you are within the expected range of intelligence for the average person of your age in all other areas - then you are not developmentally disabled and therefore you are not a savant.

People that have extremely high intelligence like this are not called savants. And like, we recognize that these people are really good at what they do and that it isn’t book smarts, that they just naturally do this thing. But we tend to call this natural talent, or even genius where savant implies exception in disability.

All this is based on the psychological definition of what it means to be a savant. Which is to say, savant is still pathologizing intelligence. It is still part of a developmental disability. It is still open to the same ableism as any other disability.

More importantly, that same type of natural, un-learned, hyper-intelligence occurs in the non-developmentally disabled population and we don’t pathologize it. Like, yeah, it’s on the outside range of “normal” but it is treated as “gifted” and “genius” instead of disabled.

Hopefully I worded better this time?


Kim Peek (November 11, 1951 – December 19, 2009)

Kim Peek was an American savant. Known as a “megasavant”, he had an exceptional memory, he experienced some social difficulties, however he grew to be outwardly engaging.

According to Peek’s father, Fran Peek, Kim was able to memorize things from the age of 16–20 months. He read books, memorized them, and then placed them upside down on the shelf to show that he had finished reading them, a practice he maintained. He could speed through a book in about an hour and remember almost everything he had read, memorizing vast amounts of information. According to an article in The Times newspaper, he could accurately recall the contents of at least 12,000 books.

He was the inspiration for the character of Raymond Babbitt, played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man.

Screenwriter Barry Morrow gave Kim his Oscar statuette to carry with him and show at appearances; it has since been referred to as the “Most Loved Oscar Statue” as it has been held by more people than any other. Kim also enjoyed approaching strangers and telling them on which day of the week they were born and what news items were on the front page of major newspapers. Peek also appeared on television many times. Kim Peek’s parents divorced in 1981, and his father cared for him alone until his son’s death.

During one presentation Mr. Peek gave at Oxford University in England, after he fielded students’ questions about the Lusitania and about British monarchs, a young woman stood and asked him, “Kim, are you happy?”

“I’m happy just to look at you,” Mr. Peek said.

Peek died of a heart attack on December 19, 2009 at age 58.

read more:
here and here

Reid’s Autistic Traits

I was bored, so I decided to make a compilation of sorts on my favorite autistic character, Dr. Spencer Reid. These have been piling up in my files, so prepare for a gif-style infodump.


Self-stimulatory behavior often consists of repetitive movements. Reid is frequently seen fidgeting with his hands and other objects. He almost always talks with prominent hand movements. He also frequently touches his face. Reid occasionally spins in chairs, rocks back and forth, etc.

Missing Social Cues/Confusion in Social Situations

Despite his excellent profiling skills, his interactions with strangers and friends often leave Reid confused and causes him issues when trying to connect with people. He will miss jokes and sarcasm, take things literally, and occasionally gets uncomfortable when speaking publicly.

Infodumping, Hyperfocus, Special Interests

Reid’s special interests, as I have observed them, involve general knowledge seeking, criminology, Halloween, old foreign films, and sci-fi. Reid has a more rare trait of autistic people; savantism. If you believe in quantifying intelligence, Reid has an extremely high IQ (187), He also has an eidetic memory and can read 20,000 words per minute. When Reid is working a case, he frequently enters hyperfocus, ignoring everything else around him. Reid often goes into long-winded explanations of things and is oblivious to others’ frustration with his infodumping.

Sensory Issues

Reid doesn’t have as many obvious sensory seeking/avoidant behaviors as many other autistics, but it does manifest every once in a while. Reid is often uncomfortable with touching strangers, especially shaking hands. He has shown sensitivity to bright lights and loud sudden noises. Reid’s clothing choices also reflect his preference to be comfortable.

Coordination/Spatial Issues

Reid tends to display spatial awareness, coordination, and dexterity issues. He prefers academic pursuits, and ridicule in childhood further led to his aversion to physical activity/sports. He has also only very rarely been shown to drive a car, and takes the train to work. This may be due to difficulties with driving ability.

Appearance/Hygiene issues

Many autistic people struggle with basic hygiene and appearance upkeep. Reid’s hair, whether short or long, is almost always messy and unkempt. Reid’s clothes are often disheveled as well.

Trouble Regulating/Expressing Emotions

Reid tends to suppress his emotions much of the time, but when he experiences strong emotions they tend to pour out and seriously effect him in ways that don’t effect the rest of the team. Reid also tends to have odd/exaggerated facial expressions which may be a way of overcompensating for his struggles of expressing himself acceptably.

Additional stuff:

Avoiding Eye Contact

Going Non-Verbal (I’ve only ever seen this happen to Reid once)

Resistant to Change

Sitting Cross-legged (I’m not actually sure if this is an autistic trait but I always sit like this and so does Reid so I thought I’d include it)

So yeah, I hope that was informative. It was fun to make this post! Thanks for reading!

Support autistic people who don’t fit the stereotypes

Support autistics who are women

Support autistics who are trans or nonbinary or any other marginalized gender identity

Support autistic people of color

Support autistics who aren’t savants

Support autistic people who fluctuate between verbal and nonverbal

Support autistic people with special interests that aren’t STEM related

Support autistics who can “pass” as neurotypical in public but struggle at home

Support all autistics

We are all unique people with unique combinations of autistic traits.

Whether you fit the stereotypes, break every one, or are somewhere in between, you are valid and deserving of support

floodhunter  asked:

Hey Dave, a little while ago you reblogged about that autistic artist, and you made sure to acknowledge that other, non-savant level autistic persons are still awesome and valid. I really appreciate that, as a person who comes deals with my own, and have known many others with autism spectrum, because so many are seen as less because we don't get the super abilities. I don't really have a point, I just want to thank you for being a great person who is always willing to adapt and accommodate. :)

Thank you for sharing. Your perspective means a lot to me.

Back in my sophomore year of high school, I had the opportunity to earn some extra credits by assisting a classroom with some of my fellow students, some of whom were autistic.

There was an autistic student named Alex who was the same grade as me. I remember asking the teacher when I met him if it was true that some autistic people could do amazing things like complex math problems in their head or memorize whole books.

And her response was very humbling and always stuck with me. She said, “Some autistic people have talents like that, but Alex has other gifts. For example, he really likes basketball.”

And something about the way she said it just really hit me hard. Like, she wasn’t mean or angry with me, but it became obvious just how ridiculous the basic premise of my question was.

I mean, nobody expected ME to have superpowers in order to feel valued or appreciated. Why should I be asking other people if they have extraordinary abilities, as if they needed them to still be extraordinary people?

I continued going to the classroom with Alex and those other classmates three days a week all the way until graduation. And on graduation day, it was my honor to walk with Alex up to the podium where he an I both got our diplomas.

Alex earned the exact same diploma that I received. The same academic honor. And he did it without so many of the advantages that I had.

And THAT is pretty damn extraordinary.

Embarrassing admission:  I’m a savant.  Stick with me and I’ll explain, but it’ll take awhile.

Understand that I’m not saying this to brag.  This is not easy for me to admit to myself, let alone anybody else.  It’s taken me over a year to write this.It’s actually as difficult for me to discuss this as it is for me to discuss the fact that I actually have coprolalic vocal tics.  In fact autistic people’s discussions of savant skills often resemble Touretters’ discussion of coprolalia:  There’s a tendency to try to make out like they’re much rarer than they are.  

About 10% of Touretters are thought to have coprolalia, that is vocal tics that sometimes involve involve swearing or other offensive words (like slurs).  It’s embarrassing to Touretters as a whole because to a lot of people Tourette’s is like a punchline to a joke about cussing.  Similarly, about 10% of autistic people are thought to have savant skills (I suspect the number is higher), and autistic people are just as embarrassed by the fact that savant skills have become a stereotype.  10% is one in ten people. That’s not actually the tiny minority that people would have you think it is.  And I do believe savant skills are under-reported for reasons I’ll get into later.

Some background about myself

I was first recognized as being autistic at the age of fourteen.  I was in a mental institution following a suicide attempt, at the psychiatrist I got was randomly assigned.  In other words, he had no reason to be specifically looking for or expecting autism when I first became his patient.  I would remain his patient until his retirement and subsequent death in my twenties.

Anyway, after he met me, he asked to meet with my parents.  My mother describes him interviewing her extensively about my early development, asking pointed questions about certain things.  She said he very quickly said of me, “Your daughter sounds like an idiot savant.”

A note on terminology

Idiot savant sounds outdated or downright rude, depending on your take on things.  Even in 1995 when this was taking place.  To understand what he was saying, you have to understand the history of terminology around savant skills as well as his own personal history.

So first off – my doctor was old.  He was trained and did his residency at a time when Southern mental institutions were still fully and officially segregated by race.  His age and specialty in child psychiatry meant that he had met a lot of children over the years, including a lot of autistic children.  It also meant that he used a lot of terminology that would at best be considered quite old-fashioned today, because he learned his clinical vocabulary in probably the early sixties.

Idiot savant does not mean a specific type of savant.  It has nothing to do with the outdated classification of idiot which usually meant what today would be referred to as a severe and/or profound intellectual disability.  There was never an IQ cutoff for being an idiot savant.  Idiot savant meant “wise idiot” and was meant to cover the unevenness of cognitive skills that was characteristic of cognitively disabled people with savant skills.

So him saying I was an “idiot savant” would be the same way that someone today would say “Your daughter has savant syndrome.”  He was not making a judgement about my IQ, which at the time had only tested as high, at the age of five, largely due to the effects of hyperlexia, a learning disability involving early reading ability usually combined with comprehension issues, that is in some contexts itself considered a form of savant skill.

People talked about idiot savants, and then it became autistic savants (except that this term would only be applied to autistic people, who are not the only people with savant skills), and these days it’s savant syndrome. You don’t need a cognitive impairment of any kind (such as autism or intellectual disability) to be a savant:  There are a lot of blind savants, for instance.  Today people mostly just say savant or savant syndrome.  

But definitely understand that idiot savant was its own term, separate from both low IQ/intellectual disability in general and the classification of idiot in particular. In fact, very few people identified as savants throughout history, including when the term idiot savant existed, have ever fallen into the official classification of idiot or any of the terms that replaced it.  

The confusion people have about the technical term idiot savant (mistakenly relating it to idiot in particular or intellectual disability in general) is very similar to the confusion over the term psychomotor retardation.  Psychomotor retardation refers to a mental and physical slowing associated with certain medication side effects as well as a number of conditions such as depression.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the category called mental retardation, a recent but now outdated term for intellectual disability.  They both have the word retardation in them because it means slow, but they refer to entirely different types of (purported) slowness.

Back to my own history

So he called me an idiot savant before he even used the word autistic to describe me.  Both words came up in the first few sentences of that conversation, but idiot savant was the term that came up first.  Savant skills were the first unusual thing he recognized in me.  Within a month, after further interviews, conversations, interaction, observation, and formal testing, as well as consultation with a team of psychiatric and neurologic professionals, he diagnosed me with autism.  Within the description of my diagnosis, he mentioned idiot savant qualities.

The actual autism diagnosis happened in a way that was extremely common in the nineties.  He knew that I met the full criteria for autism.  He told my mother I was simply autistic.  But in the nineties, saying someone was autistic was equivalent to saying “This person will never improve, all therapy is wasted, don’t spend any more money on them than it takes to permanently institutionalize them.”  He knew it would be terrible if the insurance company took this take on me – which they were already trying to do without that encouragement.  So on paper, he alternated between saying I had a complex and diagnostically confusing developmental disability, and saying I specifically had PDDNOS or atypical autism.  Using PDDNOS/atypical autism as a substitute for a flat-out autism diagnosis was extremely common in the 1990s and had nothing to do with whether you actually met full criteria for autism.  

My diagnosis was changed to autistic disorder later on by the same doctor, after the danger had passed and an autism expert had suggested making the change but suggested I go back to the psychiatrist who knew me the best to confirm that this was an accurate thing to do, since the expert in question did not know my family or have years of observation and testing to go on, whereas my psychiatrist did.  This was after a bunch of misdiagnoses that would take way too long to explain but that were also quite common in the nineties, in fact some of them were among the most common psychiatric misdiagnoses of autistic people.

The savant thing

So… at the time of my autism diagnosis, autism was an abstraction, and a word I did not understand how it applied to my life.  Words like ‘underlying developmental disability’ and ‘pervasive developmental disorder’ and really anything with ‘developmental’ in it might as well have been gibberish.  Even when I heard these things over and over, most of the time I ignored them.  I’d occasionally read a book by Donna Williams or Temple Grandin, identify to one degree or another, but not grasp what autism was any better for having read these things.  And most of the time, while others in my life apparently thought about this diagnosis a good deal, I didn’t.  The savant stuff was way under my radar most of the time as well.

I was an adult before I understood why I was diagnosed with autism.  I was also an adult before I really saw that I’d been labeled as having savant skills or savant qualities, and before my mother told me the story of my initial diagnosis. And to be honest, I mostly ran away from the label, inside my head, and neither said much about it nor thought about it any more than I had to.

Like many autistic people, I was conscious that the popularity of Rain Man had caused people to view autism as inevitably involving savant skills.  Being a savant had become a stereotype.  And Rain Man was an unusually talented savant.  Most savants have neither his degree of savant skills nor his sheer number of savant skills.  He was based on a small number of real people, most notably Kim Peek, who had agenesis of the corpus calosum and a huge number of highly impressive savant skills.

Like many other autistic people, I was very critical of the concept of savant skills.  I thought it was just a way of passing off talents as somehow unexpected or pathological or both, when they happened in disabled people.  I thought it was just a shorthand for giftedness, a concept I have a great deal of trouble accepting as real or useful, at least not as it’s currently defined.  And in many cases it has been used in these ways and autistic people are correct to be suspicious and critical.

And honestly I was afraid of it.  For reasons I still can’t articulate, it really terrified me to face the idea that I might be a savant for real.  But as I discovered, I am.

What kinds of savant are there?

One of the things that had me confused about savant skills was that, like many  people, when I think of savant skills, I think of the most extreme skills.  Those are also the rarest kind of savant skills.  Prodigious savants, as such people are called, are uncommon.  They have never been the most common kind of savant at any stage in the development of the idea of savants in general.

So here are the modern, official classifications of savant.  Remember here that I don’t make up the words for each kind of savant skills and may not  like  them.

  • Splinter skills are the least spectacular kind of savant skill.  They represent talents that are highly impressive specifically when compared with the cognitive difficulties the person has in other areas.  They are very common among savants.
  • Talented savants are savants with talents that are likewise in contrast the person’s difficulties, but they would very obviously be things the person would be considered talented for regardless of disability or lack thereof. They are also pretty common among savants.
  • Prodigious savants are the rarest kinds of savants.  They are people who have skills that would be considered not only highly talented but well beyond the range most people even consider humanly possible for someone to have a skill in.  Like the way Stephen Wiltshire can fly over a city once and then do a detailed and almost entirely accurate sketch of he entire panoramic view from memory.

Knowing these categories, I can see that I have a lot of splinter skills and sometimes veer into the realm of talented savant.  This is a much better representation of my areas of talent than te concept of giftedness in general is, because the the term savant refers to a talent in a relatively narrow area surrounded by areas of great difficulty.  That contrast has been a fact of life for me forever.  Like back when my hyperlexia gained me a high IQ at a time when I literally didn’t know what the word test meant.

Hyperlexia is something that’s sometimes considered a savant skill and sometimes not.  In my case, I feel like it is, because it’s an extreme and isolated talent that came seemingly out of nowhere and that is accompanied by extreme cognitive difficulties in areas that most people would assume to be related to the areas of talent.

I also had musical savant skills.  Perfect pitch is another thing that’s considered a savant skill some of the time and not others.  But the fact that I was first chair, first violin in the junior high orchestra by the age of seven, I can’t read that as anything other than an obvious foray into the realm of talented savant.

Up until I was in my early twenties, I had a spatial (not visual – closer to kinesthetic, or the way blind people map space) map in my head of every place I had ever been, indoors or outdoors.  I never got lost.  Ever.  I don’t know why I lost this but while I had it, I can’t see it as anything but a savant skill.  My mother, who has severe spatial awareness problems (she’s very visual – she and I are opposite kinds of proof that visual and spatial are not the same skill), has used me as a navigator since I was a small child,

I also have something that I feel like must be extremely common and not usually recognized at all.  I would call it a partial savant skill.  It’s a skill that isn’t quite a skill because it has no outlet.  I am constantly composing detailed, complex, original cello music without even trying.  But with no way to play it in realtime, and no way to write it down (translating to musical notes is a laborious, slow process for me), the music remains in my head and never shared with the world.  So I don’t know that this counts as a “real”savant skill by objective measures, but it feels like a savant skill with a  crucial piece missing.  I wonder how many people have partial and/or unexpressed savant skills like this.

I think my art (specifically, painting in recent years) falls somewhere in the category of either splinter skill or talented savant skill.  Which may always be a subjective thing, and it’s difficult to judge the quality of your own work.  But this has less to do with some objective measure of quality, and more to do with the way in which the art takes place and the way the skill developed and functions.  Savant skills are more than just the presence of an unexpected skill, there’s specific ways they are learned and function in a person that mark them out as different from your average talent of the same level.

And people do hide their savant skills sometimes, even when they are obvious savant skills.  I am not open about all of my savant skills.  Additionally, not all savant skills are in areas where people normally look for savant skills.  The current savant experts focus almost entirely on certain areas for savant skills, to the exclusion of other skill areas.  

Additionally, many disabled people develop skills that are entirely unknown to nondisabled people and therefore unmeasured and not accounted for in descriptions of possible savant skills.  It is entirely possible, in fact probably common, for people to have savant skills in these unmeasured skill areas.  I am no exception to this.   I have savant skills I can’t even describe because nobody has ever acknowledged the existence of the skills in question never mind come up with language for them.

Anyway, I eventually realized it was important that I face the fact that I have savant skills.  It’s more than a little embarrassing.  It’s not something I wanted to admit to myself.  I’ve spent over a year agonizing about how to articulate what I’d found out about myself.  As well as whether to tell anyone about it at all.

I know a lot of people don’t believe savant skills are a thing.  I have read several books on the topic and concluded that they are a thing.  And that they apply to my life.  I’m not capable of explaining all the details.  And calling something a savant skill is and should be very different than just a way of saying that someone disabled has a talent or qualifies for some definitions of giftedness.  (In fact, I don’t believe in any common concept of giftedness that I’ve ever heard of.  I do, however, now believe in savant skills.  They’re entirely different ideas.)

Anyway, I can’t explain why this was so hard to believe, herd to face up to, and hard to admit.  But it was.  I still can’t escape the fact that I have savant skills, and I’m better off not trying to escape or deny it any longer.  I have to admit that the doctor who first categorized me as autistic was right about the savant thing as well.  As I said, i’m not bragging.  I’m simply publicly admitting that my combination of skills and difficulties – both current and past, since some skills have vanished and others have appeared over time – fits the savant pattern perfectly, both in areas that are usually widely recognized as common savant skills and in areas they would never even notice.

how to prevent sensory overwhelm

The downside of being autistic is that our nervous systems tend to be very sensitive to sensory input, and tend to go into overwhelm, causing meltdowns or shutdowns. (AKA “sensory processing disorder”.) That’s a simplistic explanation, but this piece is aimed at people who already know what I’m talking about :-D

The beauty of being autistic is that we come with built-in ways to calm our nervous systems. I think of these as autistic superpowers (and not the only ones we have, imho). But a lot of allistic people play a kind of “unless you’re a savant/genius, autistic people aren’t worthwhile human beings” game with us so some of us are not into the idea of having superpowers. If that’s you, just think of it as a handy built-in tool.

The downside (again) is that many of us are forced out of using those built-in tools by people who don’t want us to “seem autistic.” So, often, we never discover them, or are viciously forced to suppress them. Additionally, each of us has slightly different tools. For example, rocking might help me, but make someone else feel seasick.

The following is a short guide to how to find the tools that will get YOU out of overwhelm, or prevent you from even going into it.

First, you need some options for what your tools might be. I’ll put a bunch of suggestions at the end of this post. You may also have some things that have helped you in the past.

My experience was that I had a handful of things that I knew helped, but I didn’t use them consistently. Part of the purpose of this piece is to encourage you to be aware not only of what works for you, but of when you need to use it. It is A LOT easier to do this kind of self-care when you have a sense that it will actually work consistently, and a sense of how well it will work for you!!

Also, if you are the parent of an autistic child: this is the shit you should be teaching them. Thank you. Sincerely, a former autistic child.

STEP ONE: On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is “perfectly calm,” 5 is “getting overwhelmed,” and 10 is “already having a meltdown/shutdown,” rate how close you are to sensory overwhelm. 

Autistics, please note: it does not matter if you “get it right.” There really is no objective gauge for this. It doesn’t matter, because we are measuring how much (or whether) this number changes.

So if today you say you’re at a 7, and tomorrow you feel the same way but you have a better sense of how overwhelmed you can get and you now call the same feeling a 3… it doesn’t matter.

All we care about here is how far you currently feel like you are from 0, and then, how close we can get the number to 0. So just pick something that sounds pretty accurate. 

STEP TWO: Write it down. Please and thank you.

STEP THREE: Pick a thing to try.

STEP FOUR: Set a timer and try it for three minutes. UNLESS you hate it. If you hate it, or even just find it really annoying, please stop immediately, pick something else, and try THAT for three minutes.

(Please note: three minutes is a little bit of an arbitrary number. I find that it’s a pretty good amount of time to actually shift things, while not taking too long to try something else. But if you want to try it for more or less time, go right ahead. I do recommend trying everything (that you don’t immediately reject) for the same amount of time - it just doesn’t have to be three minutes long.)

STEP FIVE: Stop doing the thing, and gauge where you are on the same 0-10 scale.

STEP SIX: Write your current number down.

STEP SEVEN: If you have found something that significantly reduced your overwhelm, you can stop. I mean, you can stop any time anyway, I’m not the boss of you. But you don’t have to go through and test everything on the list below. Just find as many things as you want; or spend as much time doing this at once as you want. You can always do it again later if you want more tools.

That’s it!

anniegst served as my guinea pig for this method yesterday. Thanks, Annie!

She rated her overwhelm as an 8 initially. I found a no-talking, crinkle-sounds ASMR video and handed her the headphones. She almost immediately was like, “this is reaaaaallly annoying, sorry.”

I asked her if there were other sounds that would not be annoying. She said that she thought even white noise would be okay, like rain or something. I switched to the white noise app we both use (Relax and Sleep, which is awesome bc you can play more than one sound at once – it’s free on both Android and iOS) and put the fountain noise on.

She listened to it for about three minutes, and re-rated her overwhelm. As a 2!!

She said that she thought if she kept listening (or if the dog in the other room stopped barking) she would be able to get down to a zero.

I didn’t check in with her to see if she did. But I did get the dog to stop barking!

Here is the list of different things people said helped them, when I requested your “autistic swiss army knives”. There are A LOT OF THEM, and there are likely far more out there. I think this gives a great overview of the possibilities though, thanks everybody!!!!

I’ll give you the summary first: By far the most common ones were rocking, and pressure from blankets/sheets, either weighted or wrapped tightly. Flapping and music – in general or loud, or on repeat, or specific pieces – were also extremely popular. I’ve mostly tried to only put each of these once when many people suggested them, but I’ve included a few variants below.

There were also multiple people mentioning echolalia, chewing on things (gum/chew necklaces/toys/fingers), singing, playing with one’s hair, reading, drinking tea, playing with textures, drawing/coloring, and showering!

Try whatever you like, and enjoy!

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

I was wondering what you think of the term "savant"? I'm autistic and it sort of rubs me the wrong way but I can't explain why exactly. I feel like it's often used in an ableist context, but could also just describe anyone who's highly skilled at something, autistic or not. What say you?

“Savant” grates on me. I think anyone can be a savant if they’re really good at something, but it’s used more on disabled people because low expectations make their special ability seem more spectacular. 

That’s why it grates. I just see it as “whoa, they’re a great artist” and don’t tack on the “for someone with such a severe, awful, horrible, no-good very bad disability!”

Also Kim Peek, the inspiration for Raymond in Rain Man, was not autistic. He had FG syndrome, which causes the corpus callosum in the brain to either partially form or not form at all. The result is developmental / intellectual disabilities and a few other body issues. He was extraordinary because his brain connected in very unusual ways to make up for the part that didn’t form.

He was a sweet man and I wish I could’ve met him and given him a hug.

Here’s a documentary about him. Notice how self-aware he is when he talks about himself. People love to say intellectually disabled people have no self-awareness and that’s not true.

* * * TW for use of the R-word in a clinical sense and talk of institutionalization.

(random infodump fact.) 

Btw the corpus callosum in the brain is the hook-shaped thing that the wrinkly part of the brain seems to sprout off of, and it’s what lets the left and right hemispheres “talk” to each other. :D

Not a savant

Here’s to all the other autistics that are not particularly good at anything.


I wish the media would piss off with their constant ‘savant autistic’ characters. It’s bullshit, lazy and damaging to the majority of autistics who are not savants. We don’t have to be good at something to be worthy.


So if you’re like me and you’re average at a few things and shit at quite a few others then this post is for you.


Critique of a Certain Cracked Article, Part 2 - The Ugly

Before we get started, I want to say something.  I am very, very snarky in these posts.  This is because Cracked is a very popular website and they promoted this article ostensibly to demolish myths about mental illness in the media.  They did a great job on some of them.  If they had stopped there, I would have been pretty happy.

They did not stop there.

The majority of the things they say are not only inaccurate, but downright wrong.  They promote new myths about mental illness instead of actually addressing and countering existing ones.

Alright, we’ve seen the good, now it’s time for the ugly.  These are the ones that while not totally and completely wrong, there are too many inaccuracies to be considered “Good”. 

From @thingsairafound​:

I’ve never seen the film, so I may not be fully qualified to comment. However, it is a common misconception that autistic people are unfeeling, disconnected from others, lack empathy, when in fact the opposite is true. Most of us are overly empathetic and sensitive, and avoid social interactions for other reasons (constant rejection or a feeling of being overwhelmed by others’ thoughts and feelings). So if a character is portrayed as being a calculated killer because he’s autistic, then that’s totally messed up.

However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible for an autistic person to be a psychopath. Every single autistic person is totally different, so there are plenty of crazy assholes in the mix. Assuming the film *doesn’t* try to claim that this guy is crazy *because* he’s autistic, the thing to be horrified about here isn’t so much the suggestion that such a person could exist as it is that in one of the few portrayals of an autistic character in a film, they chose such a negative one, when society’s attitudes towards autistic people are already so negative overall.

In case you couldn’t tell, @thingsairafound​ is a much nicer person than me :).  I was on the fence about this one being in the Good or the Ugly posts, so it’s kinda inbetween.

This critique comes from @thingsairafound​:

Yes, the odds of any one person being a savant aren’t super high, but that film is based on a real-life actual autistic savant, Kim Peek. He exists and the actor spent a lot of time with him to prepare for the role, so he’s even fairly realistically portrayed.

I suspect the point the author was making is that not all autistic people are savants, which is true. Most are not. But a surprisingly high percentage are (estimated about 10% - that’s not “incredibly rare”, that’s one in ten people). Of course, they don’t actually define what a savant is here. It generally just means “better than would be expected of the average person” at one or more things. The thing that’s actually rare are prodigious savants who are so good at something that their skill would be superhuman even if they weren’t otherwise impaired. There aren’t too many of these people in the world. My favorite is Daniel Tammet, who can learn a new language in a week and  is able to do incredibly complex mathematical computations almost instantly in his head.

They say about half of savants are autistic and half are the result of things like seizures, brain injuries, etc. So if you’re autistic, the odds are fairly good you’ll be a savant. If not, the odds are extremely low, unless you hurt your brain somehow. 

Shrink’s taking the helm now.  Buckle in, Shrinky-dinks.  I get fucking MAD in this post.

First.  Why the fuck is Law and Order SVU up there?  They don’t ‘profile’ criminals.  It’s a normal cop procedural show.  They investigate crimes - any profiling they do is incidental.

Yes, profiling has its inaccuracies. However, saying that it’s “nothing more than cold reading” is laughable.

And you know what?  Criminal profiling is a really fucking new practice.  It’s only been around since the 1970′s.  You know what dominated the first 40-ish years of psychology?


That doesn’t mean that the entire school of psychology as a whole is worthless. Psychology has evolved and become more accurate over the years, and criminal profiling will do the same.

This particular thing is correct in that psychologists would not classify Norman Bates as a psychopath.

“Psychopath” is not a term used by modern psychologists. It’s dated, unscientific, and inaccurate.


The term you’re looking for is “antisocial personality disorder”.

Okay, yes, movies tend to overemphasize a sudden ‘breakthrough’ from the character’s past that suddenly cures their mental illness.


Are.  Are you serious.  What.  This is a fucking insult to everyone with PTSD. You can’t treat PTSD without addressing the trauma in some way.

Tell me, are the feelings of someone who is traumatized by the abusive actions of another person something that needs to be “justified”, in your eyes?  Or are they whiny babies who need to move on from their mental illness?

Also, why the fuck are you citing YOUR OWN PODCAST, Cracked?  Are you too afraid someone will actually fact check you?

Uh. Seizures?  THAT’S NOT A THING.

And that last sentence.  What in the actual hell?????

Also, why the fuck is the source from Prezi?  WIKIPEDIA WOULD BE A BETTER SOURCE THAN PREZI.  At least there is SOME kind of peer review process and there’s a chance that an expert could have looked over it.

First, no one says “shock therapy”.  And ECT stands for Electroconvulsive THERAPY, not treatment. Also, there’s no hyphen in the name.

Seriously, did the author even bother googling “ECT”?  THE CORRECT NAME AND SPELLING ARE LITERALLY THE FIRST RESULT.

While ECT is by far less severe and nowhere near as brutal as the movies depict it, it is not without its risks.  For some people, the aftereffects (especially memory loss) are far from mild.  

Also, why wouldn’t you mention that ECT takes place when the person is UNCONSCIOUS?  They literally don’t feel a damn thing while it’s happening. I think that would be worth mentioning, but then again, I write about clinical psychology, not badly-researched “comedy” listicles.

First off, wow.  This is really, really insulting.  Way to completely ignore the fact that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence than be violent themselves.  You brought this up in one of the “Good” things!  Is your memory really that short?

Also, what the fuck is with your source for this?  It’s a website where you ask people to refer you to treatment centers.  It’s not a reliable source of information.

There is a grain of truth in this that part of schizophrenia involves “disorganized” symptoms.  But saying that all schizophrenics “definitely wouldn’t be able to stay focused on a week-long murder plot” is like saying that all of your writers are too lazy to perform a simple google search when writing their articles.  I’m sure it’s true for some people, but you can’t say it’s true for ALL of them.

Stay tuned for part 3, where somehow, I get even angrier.

wsumietokasia  asked:

Robbie & Sport

I’ve already did Sport for someone else, so I’ll just do Robbie. 

  • sexual orientation: He considers himself “gay” because he likes men exclusively. 
  • gender: Non-binary (he/him pronouns…most of the time) 
  • mental illness / neurodivergent: The canon stuff (Tourettes, OCD, ADHD)+social anxiety, reoccurring depression, dyslexia, and he’s an autistic savant 
  • 3 random headcanons: 

1. Robbie is the only magic person in his family, due to traces of wizard and fae blood. He had to learn to use magic himself though through old books passed down from generation-to-generation, since his parents couldn’t teach him. 

2.  His mom is from Iceland but she left and met Robbie’s dad before he was born. He grew up speaking both Icelandic and English around the house. When Sport first came to town and he just happened to be Icelandic, the coincidence honestly weirded Robbie out a little. 

3. He actually does have an actual job outside of being a villain. He started his own company where he sells his own inventions (he’s ahead of everyone else because he uses his magic to his advantage). It’s actually somewhat well-known (especially in the magic-using world)  and it’s why he can afford everything. 

The problem with popular media’s fetishisation of autistic savantism is twofold:

  1. It leads to any exceptional talent on the part of an autistic person being regarded as some freakish hardwired “trick”, even if the individual in question has worked hard to achieve it.
  2. It leads to autistic folks who don’t display some extraordinary talent being regarded as broken or defective (even moreso than folks on the spectrum are already regarded as broken or defective, anyway).
tips for better ASD representation
  1. more autistic women
  2. more self-diagnosed autistic people
  3. more transgender and non-binary autistic people
  4. more autistic people who aren’t straight
  5. more autistic people of color
  6. more autistic people who have other disabilities
  7. more autistic people who are also mentally ill
  8. more autistic people who are interested in something besides math
  9. more autistic people who aren’t savants
  10. more autistic people of faith
  11. more autistic people who aren’t strictly logical thinkers
  12. more extroverted autistic people
  13. more autistic people who are friends with other autistic, otherwise disabled, and/or mentally ill people

in short, autism representation that goes beyond the Rain Man trope (white cishet boy who is a math-obsessed savant)