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.