Thursday, November 11, 2010

Facilitation: Quiet and the Value of Planned Noise

"Quiet" is a misnomer for the autist. It is "quiet" in my house now as I listen to the blaring of what are just background noises to you. The computer buzzes, refrigerator hums, and dish washer wooshes its way through cycle. I am distracted by all; each takes its turn. Sometimes a planned noise helps create what is quiet for me, it sings a soul song. I put on the radio and let the rhythm sooth my soul. It organizes my attention, focusing it on something singularly directed.

Facilitation is an exercise in dealing with background noise. Each variable in typing is its own background noise. It is easy to get lost in it. What is needed is a focus point. For each of us, the focus point may differ I think. For some, it is the message itself. For others, it is an internal rhythm set to type to. I used to type from the feel of Mom's heartbeat throbbing in my finger. Now I try to feel my own heartbeat as rhythm. Some work to the rhythm of returning to a common end point. I type moving letter to letter, but it might have been easier to learn to type as endpoint to letter to endpoint, repeat. The freezes you see are hiccups to our motor rhythm. Using planned noise can help with it. Your prompting is a form of planned noise. In building independence the key is to transfer the source and control of the planned noise from you to me. Depending on the autist the necessary sensory mode would vary as effective. Visual sound I can't talk to. I don't experience it. But I imagine a visual field could be designed with flow. I use auditory and tactile sound to move past freezing. The sound of a feedback stylus (a clicker pen), the sound of a token hitting the board, the rhythm of a piece of music or ticking of a clock, each is enough to move my motor past its natural stall point. Finding the right planned sound is an art beyond skill, individual to each of us. But finding it means first knowing enough to look for it. It is all I can offer you sometimes; to know what is the question.

Friday, October 8, 2010

We Are Alike

Sometimes, I feel myself as a child in a crowd of adults, lost amid a forest of legs. It is only in looking up that you see your parent's smiling face and know you are not lost at all. Prayer is like that. It is the looking up that gives a new perspective, makes sense of the forest that is life.

I pray a lot lately, wondering what my role in life is. To do something, you can hardly make a difference. To do it anyway, maybe that is the difference?

I live in the rural lands of Pennsylvania where gas is gold. I hear the talk all around me, fear that this new gold will corrupt the land I live on, poison the water, animals, and air. It is the future unfolding, where air and water, once abundant, will become yesterday's zenith, tomorrow's commodity. Even knowing the future does not help in it. For those who see, it is a frustrating life. How does one make a difference? Perhaps it is not the future that matters, but how we deal with it; not the facts that matter, but the laws that govern our responsiveness to them.

Responsiveness, it is just another word for relationship. How do you respond? Nothing is done in vaccum. Every act brings weight to bear somewhere. It is in relationship that we make our choices of free will. Is it your choice to honor the environment? Then you honor your descendents unborn. In this way, relationship knows no bounds of time. Do you offer charity across the world? Then relationship offers no bounds of space. Are they strangers to you? Then relationship knows no bounds of heart ties. Relationship is our connectedness of soul. What we seek in this physical form is to transcend the physical form. Relationship is the means, an instrument divine.

But, relationship builds heart ties too. This week our community buried a fallen soldier. Thousands came out to his funeral I think. They came because of the ideal he stood for, but left with him as a heart tie. You can not experience another's pain in a vaccum of unaffectedness. It is a mistake to try. Yet we do it all the time. We buffer ourselves against involvement. We distance ourselves from our emotion as if it were a disease or illness to be cured.

I experience hypersensitivity. For years, I locked off my emotions as being too stimulating for me. What I learned is emotion is the seasoning of life. It is ok to feel. It is a gift, even in pain. Pain elevates joy. Pain frees the soul to feel a deeper joy upon release. To own one's pain is the key to freedom to live unrestricted by it. I had to embrace the unembraceable before I could experience life as an emotional ride. But doing it freed me to take the ride. What keeps you trapped? Is it the escape that becomes your prison? This is how it is with autism. It is not so different from neurotypicals as you may think.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fortunate Events (Coincidences)

I want to talk about fortunate events. I heard Mom say this morning "everything for a reason" - It is a truth. Hawkings is coming out with a book. It defies the need for belief in God. Universal rules explain the universe's creation he says. It explains nothing. God explains alone. Universal rules, it is the proof of God, not the reverse. Everything is ordered, even amid the chaos' exterior. The clouds that leash the rain yield tomorrow's crops and move seasons along in time. It is all interconnected, like life's blood flows through the veins. Nothing is to chance. Nothing. It is not a matter of forming our own destiny. It is about embracing lessons of life, finding the love act in each circumstance and acknowledging it for what it is. The starlight requires a darkened sky to be seen. Only the sun can be seen in the light of day; causes the light of day. So it is with love. The most intense lights like the sun. The lesser love actions shine amid the darkness. You can seek to shine like the sun, but most of us are tiny star lights at best. Only the stars still revolve around the universal core. It is God's love at the core.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Facilitated Communication - Understanding the FC Dilemma

At start, I want to emphasize that mine is just one experience, which may or may not overlap others'. The psychological especially, is unique to each of us, but seeing my thought process may enlighten some to possibilities previously unconsidered.

I started facilitating under duress. FC is not something I would have volunteered for. I think it is an important point. FC will not be openly received by all. Sometimes an answer is not obvious at first sight or the problem is seen from a different perspective that escape other's reason. My perspective was conceived of rational thought as applied to interpreting false sensory input. As autists our data base differs from neurotypicals, even too other autists. Behavior that looks nonsensical may be perfectly reasonable when seen in context of another's data base reality.

I had no sensory awareness of my physical form. My identity was tied to thought. I believed expressing my thought would result in a lessening of self; the physical equivalent of cutting off a limb or draining off life's energy flow. When forced to FC I was so angry I shared the thought, telling Mom "Go to Hell". An Epiphany followed from the experience - I was still me. Sometimes it pays to have something stronger than the autism to grapple with. For me, that is my Mom. She is an irresistible force.

Mom just asked me if I know "What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?" The answer is transformation. I have engaged in a lot of transformation these past few years, both forced and voluntary. Forced is just that. It may be necessary, but it is forced nonetheless. And forced breeds anger and animosity. It comes at cost and leaves its scars. Understanding this is the best deterrent to useless force. I understand sometimes it is the only way, but most times it is not.

I learned to type using spelling words not shared thought. Sometimes a slight adjustment in approach reaps huge rewards, both mentally and physically. Voluntary cooperation may be harder won, but it is worth the added time and effort to develop it. ABA is the biggest lie that way. Because they pretend work is play and rewarded, that work is cooperation. It is not. We sit and respond like puppets to directions of the puppet master. We are not free willed participants. We are not free to get up and walk away, or say "No,this is a dumb activity". It is a false perception they convey in suggesting it is a cooperative process and child cooperation is the outcome. We are slaves. You can put whatever picture face you want on us, but we are slaves in it and we know it.

FC was the first opportunity I had to say "no" and mean it, to express my rage at the injustices done me. I tell you this because the parent expecting to hear "I love you" may not. My first words to Mary Lapos were "I am smart" and "do you understand our love of God?". That is the importance of true communication. It is the communicator's choice of what is important to them. We need our facilitators to blank out, like a clean sheet of paper absent expectation of what scrawl will unfold on it. Relaxing is key; to give up your control to us as conductor in the music of words.

To fight my fears, my body, and your thoughts is too much all at once for me. Each presents as its own obstacle. The value of the spelling words for me was that it isolated the battle to my body alone at first. Subtle communications in answer to "Do you need a break?" or "Is there something you need?" slipped in after. It was need based communication, not emotion shared based communication that was most successful with me at first. It was a palatable start for someone who feared sharing his thoughts and did not understand or have control of his emotions.

For some, FC is freeing. For others it is tremendous work. For still others it breeds tremendous responsibility in trusting in God's plan and men's open hearts. I trust God's plan, but fear men's hearts. It is partly why I started with this goal rather than another.

You approach us like trust is an expected thing, but it is not. Trusting another's movement, motive and memory are each a separate issue we face outside our own. Sometimes you are our first hurdle. Recognizing it, acknowledging it, sets the tone for truthful exchange. Whether you do so by thought or word, it makes no difference. We hear you in your thoughts and actions. Keep them compatible. Your words and actions combined are the greatest reflection of truth. Truth that speaks of honest interest to help yields willingness to venture outside our comfort. It is the first step in FC, stepping beyond our comfort.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Temporarily Untitled

Telling about a life takes time. I hope my readers have the patience and interest in it.

I want to start with facilitated communication because it is the conduit that enabled me to not just share my thoughts, but find them. You don't need to formulate thought from emotion absent the need to share it. So much of my beginning communication is raging because it is what I felt at the time, anger at the injustice you call therapy, anger at myself for my inadequacies, anger at my parents for their lack of understanding and sympathy. Like a human experiment I was in ABA directed therapy, torture in my words. Absent an understanding of their directions I fought and sabatoged their efforts to control me. My lack of control was my control.

Facilitated Communication is a form of control for the disabled. It serves to remind our caretakers and ourselves of our humanity. Seeing myself as a rage is what helped me change directon. Seeing my Mom cry at my words showed me my impact. Seeing Bill Stillman gave me another path of opportunity. He showed me a better way. He took his pain and turned it into something positive for other's benefit. Bill saved my life.

But, seeing the end goal and getting there are two different things. For me, Facilitated Communication (FC) is the means to Bill's end. FC needs to be developed as a technical skill and I can help with that in defining my path to independent typing. I have overcome so many hurdles both psychological and physical. I still have a few more too, even at my stage of independence. The psychological are best approached as ignorance and epiphany, realizations on the part of the autist born of positive experience. The physical are best addressed by sensory aware occupational therapists.

Tina,I would love your input and comment additions for training suggestions. To those of you who FC, your individual experiences are invaluable. My thought is that someone could take and consolidate the information as a guide later to helping others progress in the process.

I will start to think and compose tomorrow. Guest entries are most welcome, less work for me (smiles).


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Silence Speaks

I have been on vacation from work. It is only fitting after 20 years of therapy that I finally had a break. Mom says it is time to rejoin the effort on behalf of the silent.

Silence is akin to death as communication goes. To be without a voice is to objectify oneself. We lose our humanity, become pieces of furniture to be moved about, dolls to be played with, puppets to our caretakers. The soul is trapped like life in a seed, waiting for its nutrients and release. Are you the sun and water and earth to your child or desert sand? Putting humanity first is the first priority in treatment.

Silence is not an excuse to forget our humanity. Even silence speaks. It lends direction to the breeze. Can you hear it? No. But you can feel it. So it is with us. Like the flower, we lean into the light. Our actions point the way. Start by listening through all your senses and you will hear us speak, even in our silence.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Facilitation: Water & Oxygen, Essentials of Life

I am going to start an FC discussion that is long overdue. It has other implications as well, but those I will leave alone for time being. Those who suffer motoric issues often, if not always, have issue with body boundary. I will defer to the OT’s for the formal explanation, but the effect is to leave us as a shape shifter, feeling bonded to all that is touched.

Human souls are composed of pieces, not unlike electrons to the atom. We are comprised of emotional energy encapsulated in a physical shell. And just as atoms can bond, it is possible too for humans to bond, to share a charge and create - facilitated communication.

Just as a molecule of water differs from the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen it is composed of, so too it is with some facilitation bonds. In becoming a water molecule the joining of the two elements locks the oxygen off from experiencing its own true nature as an element. What is created is not the expression of an individual’s sole thoughts. At its most primitive/dependent the facilitatee is held captive to the world of the Facilitator, his knowledge and thought boundaries.

To bond is not a sin. To stay bonded is. The end goal of all facilitation should be to free the communicator/facilitatee to experience his sole self as a communication.

Developing individual consciousness is key. Individual consciousness is assumed for neurotypicals, but for the bonded soul development of the self boundary is very much an issue of skill development.

How does one develop individual consciousness? Individual consciousness is most easily developed through body awareness. As a young child my OT used something called sensory diet, a brushing of my body, to wake it up. It was like putting on a cold suit. It only lasted for a short time, never long enough to for me learn from. For me, the answer lie in water. The pool was a birthing for me. To immerse myself was to be born as a form, at once overwhelming in realization. I know only my own experience. For others, something else may work better, or faster. Swim is a long process. Form escapes you in your dry state. It took many dunkings before I carried me out of the pool; at first, for just a few minutes at a time, then intermittently on chance my sense of form would appear for brief period then be lost again. Eventually, I learned to create the feeling of self. In my bed at night I could produce my body by concentrating on it. At first, I was just a floating head, but slowly my other parts materialized in feeling. Now I am always aware of my body, but it is like living in a brick. I drag it around rather than flow in ease. Only in water is my movement registered as smooth. There it feeds back to me in answer. But, I continue to improve. It is the most important thing I can say.

Independent choice, as an assertion of self helped me too. Permitted choices are a wonderful tool .... and the ability to say no. Too often we are handled not interacted with, treated as the objects we feel like.

In facilitation, we choose our captors and hopefully they choose to free us. Water is essential to life, but oxygen is best breathed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Last Blog Before Graduation

I am pondering the cyclic nature of things today. It is my high school graduaton this coming week, an endpoint of achievement I once thought impossible to meet. It is an end, but also a beginning, one that has no direction planned. What does a motor handicapped autist do with his life?

There is a song, "Don't Blink". It is a country song I listened to yesterday, and it tells the advice of a 102 year old man about how quickly life passes. Life is its own journey and we are just passengers on the ride, a predetermined route mapped out by us in another form of consciousness. I sometimes wish the element of surprise was not a soul expanding necessity. I wonder what I've planned for myself, what joys and disappointments. I stand on the abyss that is the unknown of life and my only choice is to jump. I pray for soft landing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chicken and Egg - It Is the Same

Tom Smitth writes:
So you say you're not totally independent yet? Te... So you say you're not totally independent yet? Tell me, how is one to learn independence using FC when even the communicators aren't supporting full support FC? First things first.

We have plenty of independent typers and that still hasn't done the trick. In fact full support FC was dropped by the FC community to support Crossley's FCT which is teaching independence. We got some independent typers but no FC.

I am capable of independence physical in typing, but I do not want to let go of my Mom's presence as an emotional support. Last week, Carol went to video and my ability evaporated when my fears of looking retarded in public were remembered.

To read you, you imply it is a process of acceptance one then the other. It is not. Like the chicken and egg it is - the life revealed proves the egg's content and which came first is really unimportant. Independence lends validity to all the steps preceding it including full support. But too, it is a growth process, one I am not sure all are encouraged to embark on. To see emphasis within FC placed solely on the process of support without inviting occupational therapists as copartners in it highlights this. FC can take many guises in practice if not theory. I do not undermine the value of anyone's efforts by trying to build skill understanding and practice for issues faced in typing.

Full support is both with value and dangers attached. A realistic perspective is necessary to growth in acceptance of FC. There is an understandable reason for the danger. For some, shared consciousness precedes individual consciousness. It is not something to be ashamed of, or something to be hidden, or denied. It is a necessary step in the process of growth for some and should be treated as such and assistance should be given in developing the self barrier. It is a learned skill like many other skills unseen by the neurotypical system.

To come together as one voice, is difficult but necessary and no one should be left behind. Mass progress is possible in both skill and attitude gains with shared knowledge and effort. OT is a means.

My last hurdle is one of self exposure. In doing this, I help myself as much as others. I am not equipped to do it alone, so I ask for help from others like me. But I am a start. And like chicken and egg, any start yields result.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Claudia's Question - How do you learn best?

Claudia asked : In non-technical terms, how do you learn the best?

The art of learning is a process of learning all its own. Like a giant game board it is - How to do it depends on one's position in play. But there are rules of fair play. 1) Always limit your moves to one at a time. Teach/learn only one thing at a time. 2) Use established routes when trying out new gear. Teach in ways the learner already understands to provide new information. New modes/methods of learning require old knowledge to test reliability. 3) Grading is teacher not student performance related and 4)No is an acceptable answer.

I am an evolving learning process. Currently, auditory is my favored modality for intaking information. Performance that omits intricate motor chains or orientation is preferred for response. I still keep to one thing at a time in lessons, but what is an "unknown" is fewer in number.

At start, I had to alternate my attention by sense, one then another to learn. Movement oriented response was impossible. We did a lot of learning that only became evident much later in time when my means of response performance finally developed. My greatest aid to learning has been OT related gains.

Making one listen is impossible, but we all have our own unique curiosity and passions, even motivations. Mine were escape and my string. Motivation is everything. It fuels effort. And effort results in aha moments for teacher and student which can be built upon. I am a huge construction project managed by my Mom. To understand my architecture, it is a better question for her. In some things even my perspective is limited.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Next Step in Facilitated Communication is Independence

I have been thinking. I do not understand why facilitation is not viewed as a valid process to independent typing. I do not understand why training focuses on the facilitator rather than the facilitated. I have made great progress recently based on simple practice skills that impact variables in typing. Others who have gained independence must have equal or better insights. Those who facilitate too must know their own experience. Is there a place to share the technical issues and solutions, not to typing facilitated, but to gaining control independent in typing? I am willing to share what I know, but as one experience I am only a half truth. I think we should come together to brain storm issues and solutions in training. Isolating variable skills will enable the learning of them. We can learn to do the impossible in pieces. We can help each other as no trainer alone can. OT's can decipher and build the activities based on our descriptions of problem. A path can be plowed to indpendence.
What can not be achieved directly can be indirectly done: A styllus saves crossing midline,a block or chip offers point of reference,a board's background can move one directionally, neck cocontraction focuses sight, arm stability focuses movement. There are so many tricks and bridges - finger splints, weighted wrists... I want to collect and share them all as a blog of its own. I think it is time we speak to and for each other to help one another and those without a voice. It is time we direct our own validation by bringing more and more of us to independence. I am still in process, but this action of exposure is its own bridge to further my independence. I want help from those whose voices are but a whisper now. To find a voice requires sharing. It is its own first step. If anyone will take it with me please let me know. My email is


Monday, April 5, 2010

Motivations of An Autist

In Psych class we are studying motivation and needs. Maslow's hierarchy is presented as a neurotypical model. It got me thinking about my autistic hierarchy of needs. Initially, I was wholly internally motivated because the outside world made no sense to me. Primary needs I understood first. My needs were seen through a primitive and often inaccurate schema of understanding. Kitchen meant food. Car meant drink (because a ride often produced a drink in process). Motivation had nothing to do with planned interactions with the world. Everything was a matter of random gifting from God. In that sense my hierarchy differed from Maslow. Maslow's hierarchy seems premised on the concept of people having some understanding of control over their needs. In the absence of control, needs take on a different meaning and importance. My first need was companionship. Odd you may think for an autist? And I would argue that Maslow's attachment is an entirely different need, one based in physical not emotional. As a sensory sensitive child attachment as physical was an aversive to me. A hug did not translate to safety and security, isolation did. Attachment was not a need, disattachment was. Esteem was likewise an impossibility because I experienced no sense of a physical personhood. Cognitive preceded esteem and esthetic preceded cognitive as a need. The act of being took all precedence in the active sense of experiencing the moment and intrinsic beauty of God's creation, whether it be the sound of raindrops or the deep colors of the world's tapestry.
When forced to intereact with the world, escape became my primary motivation; escape back to the higher valued goals of esthetic being and the warmth of companionship I found with God. You may question my goal of companionship with God, but I assure you God was there with me in my autistic home. He does not abandon us at birth. Rather, we abandon him for the distractions of the physical world. I find it interesting that Maslow puts transcendence at the top of his chart as being the last and hardest for us to achieve. My experience is it is a gift we ignore not a goal/need to be sought.
My life focus is therefore different from the start. God is my motivation; living out his purpose in life for me. His purpose is sometimes clear, sometimes elusive. A cognitive understanding of life is a prerequisite to living it with intent. But I also believe we live out our purpose regardless. The process is for our benefit/advantage not God's; the being is his benefit, in all its aspects. My motivation is God's experience through me; it is an act of love to live it.
The only true rejection of God is suicide as a rejection of God's living through you. Suicide stems from a lack of emotion,not depression, but an apathy for life sustaining. That may be counter to prevailing theory, but it is mine. Often suicide is misunderstood as an escape, but it is not. To self end is to circumvent the purpose of a life that requires a redo for individual soul advancement. I just know it,is my best explanation to you.
But to finish the question, in practical every day, Mom is the motivation and director of life's plan. I now cooperate, but I still have a way to go in self seeking motor action. Cognitive I see as offered in opportunity; to learn I love as an extension of being. Self-determination I seek in all its meaning of personhood. I work at it on my own, tiny steps at a time I make that need to climb a mountain. But it goes back to a love of God's gift of being. I hope that makes sense to you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Response to Comment on Neurodiversity as Defense Mechanism?

Ginger Taylor commented to say:


So refreshing to see this perspective coming from someone with ASD. It is something that I have considered, but frankly, don't write about as I worry that it will come across as condescending and insulting to adults with autism who identify themselves as ND. But as it is a condition that results in impaired perception, might not the opinion that the dangers of autism are overblown and that is is an alternate cognition also be a result of impaired perception of the true realities?

I spent some time arguing with ND's on the Huffington Post this week, trying to get across the point that functioning level has absolutely ZERO to do with the value of a human being. One ASD/ND woman argued that she was her autism and hating autism was hating her. I argued that autism was a result of an organ dysfunction, that she was a soul whose brain was not serving her as well as it could, and that she was not her cognition any more than she was her sense of smell.

She just wasn't seeing it. Or chose not to.

This quote:

"I have long described myself as a whole soul imprisoned in a broken body."

...much more succinctly encapsulates the verbose argument I was trying to make. Thank you.

And it is truly a statement that is true of all of us. Our bodies are all broken in different ways, and all of us have brains that distort the truth in life in some way.

You are wise to see that an embrace it in the midst of this discussion about the value of people with autism.

As today is Easter, I will direct you to a series I wrote called Autism in God's Economy that speaks to the value of those with autism, and the fact that it has nothing to do with their functioning level. It is in the second installment. This is the link to the first:

I think that the causation issue is also something that should be completely dissociated with the value of those with autism. It doesn't matter if it is caused by genes or vaccines or medications or mercury or sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads. People with autism are valuable. Period.

I have a sense that if these principles were embraced by those with autism, then defense mechanisms would fall away because they would realize that there is absolute nothing to defend!

People with autism have value because they are people, and people have value. And people are valuable regardless of what they can do. So what is there to defend? There is no need to justify ones self or talk people into seeing them as valuable for what they can do that is special.

I feel like those in the ND movement have fallen into a big trap of self-justification where none is needed.


Half truths are a dangerous things and you proffer one here. The truth is autists are as diverse in cognitive functioning as neurotypicals, who range from mental retardation to sheer genius. What is unique about autism is that genious can be shrouded in a cloak of retardation appearance wise. It is why Bill suggests to always presume intelligence despite outward appearances. One's cognition is only as good as sensory reality presents. Living in a funhouse of perceptual horrors would frighten even the most astute mind. To say it is my brain serving me less optimally that it could is a fair statement of sorts, so long as one understands it is the sensory component not the intellect perse that is dysfunctional.
The mind as soul is an interesting concept. Its separation is not understood by experts let along laymen. How you perceive it is your own truth. We each have value just as we are, NT and AS both. In that we both agree.
Do you celebrate your gifts and talents as gifts from God? If the answer is yes, why do you resent an ASND from doing the same. AS holds many secret gifts if one but looks for them. While they are unimportant side effects, they are nonetheless gifts. The ASND that does not see the value in a naked soul, may see it in his/her gifts. I do not know about you, but I will take anything that helps, self-love over self-hate. If the world did not revile the autist then I might agree with you about needing no defense. But our personhood is attacked as alterable from the moment of our identification at autistic. Instead of developing autists to their full potential as autistic people, society seeks to erase all trace of autistic character. To the extent we process differently, neurotypical learning techniques are misplaced with us. How much more easily could I have succeeded if someone early on worked to the special needs of my system in teaching me. You would not like being taught in Spanish if your only language was Chinese. I would argue that the impaired reality you refer to would be far less perceptible if you (as teacher) at least had a rudimentary understanding of Chinese at start of the process. From here to there is a matter of start point.
Thank you for your valuing me for my soul alone though. It is a bridge that bypasses the perceived need for genocide physical of the unborn anyway.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Neurodiversity As a Defense Mechanism?

When I first thought to write to the issue of "Defense Mechanisms in Autistic Culture" as a Psychology class assignment, my mind was focused on the typical stereotypic behaviors that so often mark our labeling. But Mom came across an obscure blog that claimed the entire neurodiversity autism movement is a product of Freudian defense mechanisms(Mitchel, 2009). Specifically, he discussed denial, displacement and reaction formation . The denial is seen as our refusal to acknowledge our defectiveness or brokeness. The displacement is our lashing out at our tormentors, the curebies as they are called. And the reaction formation is our embracing ourselves as being valuable human beings. I can not speak for others on their motivation for promoting neurodiversity, but I can speak to my own motivations and defensive mechanisms play no part in it. I have long described myself as a whole soul imprisoned in a broken body. If I am guilty of denial, it is in not accepting that as a death knell to my personhood. To say we are differently wired - we are,with cross wirings and burnt out connections and alternate pathways just to name a few. If it is reaction formation to love and accept oneself with one's limitations then I wish it for all the world, and most especially for Mr.Mitchel. I don't need to justify the heartache of autism, God does. It serves a higher purpose and that is enough for me. All life is valuable in God's eyes, just as he created it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lenten Reflection

I am in the mood to talk about God today. Time is passing quickly until his return. I sometimes wonder at his continued interest in so disappointing a species as man. My own disappointment colors my perception I know. How is it we have so much and yet do so little with it? You speak of Haiti, but it can just as easily be Africa, or India, or Afghanistan. I think we are a crazed species, self destructive. Such a disparity of action we are capable of. We are our own polar opposites.
I watched NOVA last night and listened to the expert describe the effects of water fracturing on ice. A tiny trickle becomes a river, eventually causing huge pieces to break away from the glacier. Is that the same effect with us? What starts as a tiny disassociation from God becomes a river of divide, until our entire underlying soul structure caves in and breaks apart.
Today is Ash Wednesday, a significant day within my religion. It is a day to reflect on the sacrifices of God and our own relative insignificance. But today I can only see the significance of our selfish choices. It is not what the day is assigned for, but it is the path of my thoughts. If small acts can so change the world negatively, then could they not do the same positively? To do something of sacrifice is customary of lent. But I want to do actions that are positive on the world instead for lent. I know my course of action. It is between me and God.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A New Environment - One You Can Create.

Tina writes:

If you could, would you please share with us your thought of what an environment that favors autists would be?

Tina's question is a hard one because each autist is unique as to need. To give me what works for the visual learner is to give me nothing of use at all as example.

But attitude might make a huge difference of equal application to all. It is a huge deterrent to our even trying sometimes. Now I do what I do for me, but for many years my eforts at learning were Mom directed. To be other motivated is a horrible way to live. What was important to me was ignored as unimportant or unworthy. I am of limited interests, but many autists have intense passions that can be used to learn with. Reading, Math, English, Art, even Music can all be tailored to one's passions. Imagine to actually have learning matter as something of interest to you. Imagine to match things you liked or sing to speak about something you love. When little my favorite speech session involved using my string as a tug of war to bring out a sound. I like speech now because I practice phrases I've chosen as important to me. How many of your lessons are child interest directed, not neurotypical child,individual child? I know I offer only one example here, but trained learning is a huge part of most autists' lives. It has been largely my whole life for years. To develop motor coordination and skill in the pool is something I'll gladly work on everyday.

Dr. Reinson is now helping me further my independence in typing from Mom. I love her enthusiasm. She spent last session playing war with me with weighted cards, had me scan and stack, and use my pointer finger to detach pieces from a velcro board. The embedded skills I use to type. It is a fun way to develop the motor I need, and the anxiety over the actual typing is not there to interfere with the learning.

Kick me for suggesting any environment could actually be favorable to all autists. An environment rich in the cues we each need would be best. I am an auditory learner so sound is important to me. I am a smell distracted individual, so smell limited to relevant information is best for me. To smell my dinner or coffee brewing in the morning, that is relevant. The antiseptic wipes in the new speech room I would be well rid of. For me,to smell is to resort to an impulse response, one I can not tame all the time. What is your addiction of choice? It is a bit like that. How we respond is key to our ideal individual environmental needs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Future of Autism

Questions are running through my mind. Are we as autists truly brain damaged? Or, am I the beginnings of a new species of man, not unlike Cromagnum or Neanderthal. If 1 in 150 are being born with my autistic wiring, is it not a matter of evolution at work, whatever the underling causes or factors? Is autism a cancer on society or the next saving adaptation? As the world devolves, with ever increasing catastrophes, will autism have a place in it, or be one of the casualties of it? These are the thoughts that occupy my mind today.

I liken autism to an alien race, with benefits and disadvantages both. I see the deaf culture and think the disadvantage of it is in living in a speaking world. Like that it is a bit with autism. Will there come a time when environment will favor the autist? It is a selfish wish, but my tired brain hopes so.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Psych 101 and Then Some

I have started my Psychology class and I am so excited to think I will be able to learn more about how the brain and body interact. Perhaps there are accommodations I can try that I have not come across yet. To accommodate and adapt for my deficient systems, that is my goal. Today I learned how the antianxiety drug helps, its functioning neurologic. Keys and locks at synapsess is a a great visual of it. I love the book that way. It speaks in pictures, something an autist appreciates. When explaining something, a picture description moves the information straight to memory for me. It is an automatic filing that requires no further translation. Abstract words need an anchor to access them. How do you process love? Is it a sensation you feel that comes rushing back? Or a picture concrete of loved ones? My Mom says music sometimes pulls up memories. Like an old song can put her on the beach complete with the smell of suntan lotion and salt air. How about smell? Does smell retrieve any memories for you?

Autists' memories are tied to the senses in same way. Most autists are visual filers. But it may depend for some on what sense was most functional at the time. My earliest memories are all tied to scent. My most recent to picture movies. I create them in my mind with silent screen word captions as an easy cross reference.To hear a word is to see it. Conversations are reading exercises in my mind.

To act is another process. It requires transfering the written word to oral sound in my head or an outside oral sound at outset. I can't move to follow still picture instructions. Still Pictures do not translate to movement in my sensory system. To recall vs. perform are two very different functions for me. For me, moving pictures is key to movement. For another just pictures may be enough to move.

The point is this, to know the sensory filing preference of an autist is to be able to help them. Cuing is everything. It is the equivalent of speaking a common language. We as autists can not always learn to speak your language, but you can learn to speak ours.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Name is Michael

I want to talk about my name today. My name is Michael. It means "who is like God". I doubt my parents knew this when they named me. For them it was a way to honor my great grandfather. But the name is of significance to me as reminder of my source as divine. Yours too.
How one views things affects God's response. Where love is at source, a love response is always given. This does not equate to a yes answer to one's prayer. It is only the kind of response, as supportive, that can always be counted on. I cry alone, or in the comfort of others. I rejoice alone, or in the company of others.I find internal strength I did not know I possessed. A stranger offers the correct response in the moment. These are all God's answer to loving prayer. It works best if offered as an altrusitic feat, not said for self, but out of love for another. Love is the fuel of prayer. It is the necessary ointment that anoints the connection. Without it, transmission is faulty. To pray out of love relates the prayer to our source. It is love as conduit. To pray for a stranger then would not work unless the prayer is offered for love of God. Then it is the highest form of prayer. Not for their purpose, but for God's will lived out in a loving manner. I am a prayer machine. I am a prayer answered. Praying for others loved and out of love of God is the first step to having your prayers answered. We are each God's answer to prayers for another. Listen to your heart and hear his call for answer. Miracles are within each of us.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Resolution

My goals for the new year seem a good way to start. Number one is don't eat inedible substances, a rule I already violated when I tasted the Christmas tree this morning. Have you ever thought something smelled so delicious that you just had to taste it? Well, that was me with the tree. And it failed to live up to expection, not to mention getting Mom and Dad miffed at me. Why do I, an intelligent being, do such things? Because instinct trumps thought process in order of application. Some times instinct can be a good thing. I know a bad person just by their touch. But for me, instinct turned impulse is a bad thing more of the time. To bolt across a parking lot because the restaurant sign speaks to my too empty stomach, to have smell direct action ill-advised, to have anxiety override your reason: these are the impulses that destroy my functioning as normal-looking and place me in dangerous situations. It blocks my development of selfmanagement skill and my independent functioning. It is a life of telling myself to stop and think, and think again. I am an idiot savant subject to uncontrollable impulses. I need to train myself to yield. It is my primary goal for this year.