Posted 26 November 2003 - 05:30 PM
Posted 26 November 2003 - 05:40 PM
Posted 26 November 2003 - 05:51 PM
Posted 26 November 2003 - 08:10 PM
However, in reading through this thread, it seems that because, as vagansmom pointed out, autism was once recognized only in its severest form, there seems to be a hazy blend of the effects of autism and abuse. In other words, there are many souls whose problems were exacerbated by others' lack of understanding as to just what was 'wrong' with them. These are the people who may have seemed relatively functional, but somehow didn't fit in. As a consequence, the problem worsens.
Posted 26 November 2003 - 10:26 PM
I have not read everything in the field, but as far as I know, it is not universally accepted that autism is hereditary.
There have certainly been savants in dance, if by that you mean someone who can learn an extended sequence by seeing it once. In "Dance to the Piper" Agnes de Mille said that Frederick Franklin could learn a tap routine the first time he heard it.
"Like conversations with furniture, the psychological profiling of dead persons is seldom productive."
Is this anything like hen dentistry?
Posted 26 November 2003 - 10:43 PM
I remember something about him being home schooled... I believe there was something about his teacher telling his mother he couldn't learn ('too stupid to learn' comes to mind) and his mother refusing to accept that and taking his education into her own hands...
I also remember a story about his deafness that when he was working on the railroad... or as a child... or some such thing... that he was running for a train and the conductor picked him up by his ears... and his deafness resulted... Now, admittedly, I heard this as a child, and children can often not quite get right all the details of a story... but I'm sure I was told it... I can almost picture the old lady tour guide (who had worked for him) telling the story.... and I certainly thought about it a lot as a child.
There was also something about his liking to take catnaps... and having a cot in his study and ?lab? for that purpose... that he preferred to take short catnaps and work rather than sleep all night...
Now my father who was an engineer in NJ had heard from older colleagues that he was a narcoleptic... and that while it might have seemed inspiring that he would work without normal sleep that it was no picnic to work for him because he expected all his key engineers to be awake and working when he was.
So I think there may have be something to the theory he was autistic.
Posted 27 November 2003 - 01:41 AM
Posted 27 November 2003 - 06:01 AM
It's true, most autistics are not savants. But there are many very bright autistics. "High functioning" autism is defined by a score of 70 or better on an IQ test (that is, within 2 standard deviations of "normal" score).
Temple Grandin is much more than "high functioning". She is actually quite a brilliant woman with a PhD, one who has had a significant effect on an important industry. No she's not a savant, but most brilliant people who have made significant contributions to our world are not either.
It's likely that autistic people span the range of intelligence, just like others do. Many things that others take for granted, the autistic person must learn carefully. The most intelligent autistics with a keen eye for observation and analysis will eventually figure these things out and can go on to great things in life. They maybe be labeled "high functioning" or not even labeled at all. Just because they've figured out how to deal with the world does not mean they're no longer autistic; it just means they've figured out how to pretend to be normal.
The story is very different for less intelligent autistics. If they never achieve certain skills --- such as talking --- then they will fall further and further behind their peers as time goes by. They will consequently score very low on IQ tests and require institutionalization, no matter what their intelligence could have been. It's like being locked inside a box with no way out at that point. These people get all the press because they're so obviously "disabled".
The education of the autistic child must focus on unlocking the box and teaching the child to deal with the world. If that can be done, then the autistic child will grow into an autistic adult whose gifts can be recognized by the larger society --- whether those gifts are great or small. Raw intelligence can never hurt in this process.
Posted 27 November 2003 - 06:08 AM
Posted 27 November 2003 - 07:37 AM
And I don't think of the highest-functioning autistics as being disabled. In fact, for those people I don't even like the term "high-functioning". For that matter, I'M a high-functioning ADD'er, but we don't use the term that way for folks with ADD. I think it's time to move past that term for people with certain autistic traits. It's a negative connotation.
The genius of some autistics gives me great wonder and I feel privileged to know them. Others, though, are among my most challenging and difficult students and I'm often handicapped in trying to figure out how best to help them cope with school. So, like any collection of personalities, there are positive and negative behaviors among autistics and a huge range of capabilities. Temple Grandin herself, in her books, mentions various public personages and wonders if they fit an autistic profile. Because she has Asperger's, she's incapable of lying and she's also incapable of expressing an opinion that hasn't been researched to the max! So I would weight her opinion highly in any such discussion. (But I've loaned my Grandin books out so I can't look up Edison in them).
Because the word autism still brings to mind severely disabled individuals, many people think of it as a very debilitating disorder. I think that eventually we will be better able to tease out the distinctions between those individuals and the others on the autistic spectrum (aka autistic continuum), most likely through genetic studies, and at that point we'll probably give them separate names. And then perhaps no one will feel uneasy at the idea of naming certain collections of personality traits. Because, really, that's all it's about, giving some traits a name.
And I still like, respectfully, to try to figure out which people, past and present, fit what kind of profile. I especially like to do that with personalities in the dance world because they ARE so colorful! It doesn't alter my respect, or lack of, whatsoever of them. Being a people watcher, it just affords me the opportunity to engage in another activity I'm drawn to: classifying.
Happy Thanksgiving ALL - my break time is over and the guests are soon to arrive.
Posted 27 November 2003 - 08:50 AM
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