Most times I understand everything that is said to me. Moving to the words is another matter. For me, words are like tiny motor cues. But not all words have an action. Words like "stop" for example. I can not act to it. I need to hear or think an alternate action to stop. Or "Hand me the butter - I have to picture butter in a hand moving to act to it. "Get" is a tough word for me to follow too. It originates from me to a point, something I have trouble with. I sometimes focus so much on the "Get", that I lose the what I am supposed to get. "Get me a fork", Dad said the other night and I got lost in movement attempts to do it. It makes it look like I don't know fork when I do. Only sometimes I do lose a word. Its function I know, but the word itself escapes me. Only it is confusing for a few seconds, but then I see it, the word, written in my head. To read the word is to know it again. It is something I learned to do, to picture objects in written form, not as an object in my head. It is how I learned to read when young, by words on objects. So I started to do it in my head that way. It helps to ease a hiccup of thought.
I heard my voice today. In speech they record and play it back to me. It is gravelly, gutteral is what Mom calls it, but it was also clear to hear what I was saying. I am amazed to hear me speaking words. I move to talk along with me. It is me initiating my own speech. How stange and wonderful it feels. How odd a way to do it. But if I can do it this way then why not another?
The other day I swam for the first time using my upper and lower body together. I cheated at first, using my walking across the bottom of the pool to get the motion started. To continue on into what was over my head is what got me swimming. It is another trick over my body. Only I can feel my excitement at the accomplishment.
The key to autism is often figuring out a way to do indirectly what can not be done directly. Once achieved the act overshadows the means and a whole new I can do attitude arises which sometimes eradicates whatever blockage existed in the first place. I hope this is what will happen with my speech. I know this is what will happen with my swimming. I can not wait for my daily pool trip!
You ask a question I can not answer as to another. Each has the same problem, but the underlying reasons may differ. To know the reasons answers the question of how to teach to it. For me, I honestly did not know when I had to go. I could not keep track of it and my other senses too. To pee was a lifeline for me. To produce something told me I existed. But, I think another autist might look at it the same way I viewed sharing ideas, as if they were giving up a piece of themselves to do it. Poop is especially like that I think. Like everything it is individual in odor. You can mark out a world for yourself in poop. We are territorial animals at our core. Space is a big deal for most autists. I used my urine, not feces, to mark my life. It soothed me, my own smells. I wet my bed until late into my teens (not what you want to hear I’m sure.) I was day continent late too, by age 10 or so. But for me it was more an issue of my using it than training it. One of the first lessons I learned was that pee could rid you of people's expectations. The program they used to teach toileting sat you on the potty until time ran out or you peed. Then they worked you; how long I don’t know, but I knew it was for a set time. I was task avoidant, Mom calls it. I learned quick to wait, then make myself pee at the end of the time for sitting. Time for work was instead used to clean me up then. They fed us lots of juice so making myself go was easy.
Peeing is a pipe in your stomach that tickles. To make myself go I don’t feel the tickle. But to have my body declare it sets me off in to uncontrollable giddiness. Happy I was not. I pee a lot of my own making to avoid the body overload. Mom says I ask all the time to go to the bathroom. I need to go, but not for the reasons you go. I go to stay empty. You go when you feel full.
Poop is harder. I used it to scare off workers some. I used it to play when bored. I used it to stim. I am not alone in playing in poop I know, but it was a childish choice that made me look very bad. Not everyone’s problem is a bad choice though. Many don’t get the connection of putting it in a bowl of water. Some may find the flushing aversive. Sitting on the toilet is without ground; to sit backwards and hold on to the seat back would be better. My cousin learned with a musical seat. I would have liked that one.
Poop is crap to you, but it may mean something else to him. It is the best answer I can give you.
I am afraid to speak to my heart. I am afraid God will be disappointed in my efforts. Placing myself at risk for ridicule I do not fancy. Polite conversation needs to be at end for today. Polite conversation is really an introduction to something far more important.
People speak of savants,in art, music and even synesthesia. There is a form of savant that is as a connectedness of soul. It happens as a product of those with extremely broken bodies, not just autists, but all forms of disability.
The body encapsulates the soul. The soul hides itself as means of developing self. We are one soul united; hidden in each of us. “Pieces” is not the right word for it. It is apart, but also a whole, a concept beyond our experience and understanding; like a pearl necklace, individual beads on a single strand. The strand is our connectedness, the beads dependent on each other to form the necklace. To lose one is to lose all. This is as it is with souls. Individual is not individual at all. Those with broken bodies can see and feel the strand that binds. We sense our oneness and through the connectedness of pearl to strand, the pearls' individual natures as well.
Love is the strand. To experience it may be to temporarily realize the connection in even the blind. You have experienced it I am sure: to know a loved one is in trouble, to think or say the same thing simultaneously with another, to share a special moment in a bubble of time. You call it intuition, but it is love as our connectedness that accounts for it. It is love that opens our eyes to the connectedness; like seeking like, like raindrops to the river, back to the source it flows. God places mirrors of the soul in everything to act as silent reminder. Look and see for yourself.
My body works is hard to describe because it changes day to day, sometimes minute to minute. I carry my string in my pocket now a lot. I don’t need it to tell me I exist anymore. The earth beneath my feet I register now. Feeling my body in space comes in bits, especially in water. Last week I just lay on top of the water enjoying it. Hot water makes me feel me more, but cold water is better to start movement. Feeling and moving must be two different things. I have trouble keeping track of movement, not just where I am, but the doing itself. To feel my arms I lose track of my legs. To kick and move my arms is impossible for me to keep up in the pool. Only Mom counting strokes helps sometimes. It is like she does one and I do the other then. Doing movement is different than monitoring it. Just doing is hard. To have to coordinate the top and bottom is impossible for me right now. My body needs to be the same on both sides to feel right. When I was little, I had to have one of the same thing in each hand and do half and half each side of my body to feel balanced. To an outsider it might be viewed as a compulsion, but for me it was literally a matter of balance. How would you feel to walk around with one shoe on and one shoe off. It is a bit like that.
When people look at an autistic child they look at what he can and can’t do. Sometimes the cans and can’ts fluctuate. The body resources I have to work with can literally change. You would not try to do a detailed analysis while very tired. For me, life is a detailed analysis. Sometimes our systems are just tired. Insisting on repetitive performance is not always the best measure of acquisition of concept. Motor response is not an accurate predictor of skill knowledge. It just tests motor movement response to skill knowledge.
Let your heart lead you in your teaching. If you think there is something to be learned in offering the information, even with the lack of verifiable learning through performance of skill, do it. You never know what is being taken in by the mind. Long after, you may see it revealed. Exposure can’t hurt and it may very well help.
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