Two things – the first is that I wanted to mention a post I loved reading, written by E. of The Third Glance – a 22 year-old autistic adult. Her “Growing up Autistic: On Nature, Nurture and Abuse” piece is powerful, heartbreakingly honest and written with elegance. Hers was one of the stories I was referring to when I wrote in the Evolution of a Perception post, “The abuse, the prejudice, the cruelty all of these austists have endured is staggering.” Richard and I also loved her post – My Cat Is My Hero. It’s beautiful, but then so is the writer, E.
The second thing I want to mention is an interview with Henry and Kamila Markam about The Intense World Theory for Autism on the blog – Wrong Planet. It’s interesting, problematic in that I worry it will be misinterpreted by some, (leading to the type of universal parental blame demonstrated by both Kanner and Bettelheim) but this quote was such an amazingly accurate description of what I’ve always suspected Emma experiences, I had to read it twice just to be sure I’d read it correctly the first time.
“The Intense World Theory states that autism is the consequence of a supercharged brain that makes the world painfully intense…”
They go on to say – “The theory was triggered bottom up from neuroscientific studies and the real changing point for us was when we found that fear memories were so quickly acquired, lasted longer, were difficult to erase and over generalized. This put all the results into context because the neocortex could render the world intense, highly fragmented and overly specialized while the amygdala would dial up the emotional component of the intense world making it potentially extremely painful and aversive forcing the autistic child to take refuge in a secure bubble. If they don’t succeed to take refuge through repetitive behavior, routines, rocking, and other types of behaviors, then they may display self-injurious behavior – like ants crawling all over your body. The diversity comes from the fact that we are normally diverse and if you add hyperfunctional circuits to that then naturally each autistic child will be even more different from each other. It is like taking all our normal differences to an extreme. This challenges society to accommodate autists, but diversity is the key to social evolution and so it is a good challenge.”
We are flying out to Colorado this morning. I wasn’t able to get a single seat together. I even called the airlines and begged them to do something. I told them we were flying with two children, one of whom is autistic, but they said there was nothing they could do. We aren’t even in the same rows! Wish us luck.