Saturday, January 17, 2009

What is Autism? and am I Autistic?

Two big questions, and for all the talk of self diagnosis going about on the internet, most of the time in my life I do not see the autism any more than a neurotypical would see their neurotypicality, and for all of my life when I am on my own I am simply me doing what I do unobserved. I don't see the autism in the heat of engagements either because I am too busy figuring out what I am supposed to be doing, and it is only afterwards if I try and analyse it that I see the oddity, that which marks me out as Autistic in the eyes of the trained observer.

Well yesterday I wonder whether I was not annoying the fire brigade with my preoccupation with having locked myself out while they were busy fighting a fire, well I don't know?

Anyway this is why I post this video

(well not entirely the NAS have pestered me)

I leave it without comment except to say that I have certainly been seen to behave in odd ways on public transport, indeed it is noticable that so many of the viral videos from the NAS have also featured public transport, almost to the point of a shot for shot copy of the opening moments of Outside In substituting a red bus for a blue one.

Trains also seem to feature somewhat in my youtube postings "Ten minute roughcut" and "another trailer for Terra Incognita" which incidentally was shown at an NAS international conference to an audience including Temple Grandin

There is a difference between my public transport footage and the NAS produced videos however, although the NAS material is based on interviews and real incidents my footage is live as it happens, there are no actors, it is absolutely real, and of course therein lies the oddity itself for who but an Autist could unselfconsciously walk onto a train or a bus with a camcorder and give a running commentary on what he sees to an unanticipating audience?

Well at least I have never been arrested for it yet.

Amtrak photo contestant arrested by Amtrak police in NYC’s Penn Station

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lightning strikes twice

I was just relaxing in my flat, having not long come home from Birmingham when there was a loud banging on my door. I went to my door and all I saw was someone scuttling off down the stairs, and then I realised, there was another fire in the block of flats, so I just grabbed my laptop, and a few documents from my top drawer, put my coat on and cleared off down the stairs before the smoke started, anxious not to be trapped on the top floor a second time.

Well fortunately the fire brigade came quick enough to ensure there was not the damage that happened in November, which incedentally has not been fully repaired yet, so I have not had to evacuate this time.

Unfortunately I left in such a hurry that I forgot to take my keys. I thought that a friend had a spare set but I spent a fruitless two way taxi ride to discover she had not :(

The Fire Brigade could have broken in for me but they would undoubtedly have done a lot of damage to the door, so I broke in myself using my trusty leatherman juice which fortunately I had in my pocket when I left. (anyone reading, this don't try it as normally the mortice lock is set as well as the latch.)

Hey I reckon I would make a nifty burglar.

Well I made a neat hole in my door so I could reach round and unlatch it, however I have now had to make a rather ugly repair, (and the door has been newly painted too) still it could have been worse.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Why science will never have the answers to Autism

I have a hangover, that's not relevant, but I am awash with ideas, and I feel after commenting in the same fashion on two blogs within the autism hub which deal with different theories of Autism, the one from our old friend and bogey Simon Baron Cohen, the other from the laughably named "Mind Institute", that it is worth repeating on my blog.

Essentially so many theories of Autism are being advanced that they are mutually insupportable.
One might claim that one is right and the other is not, but in doing so one is not really making a scientific choice so much as a personal preference given that the mutually insupportable theories when taken as separate entities all appear in peer reviewed journals and are internally consistent with the notions of scientific investigation and statistical validation.

I have approached this topic before when I quoted from Dermot Bowler's book.

And if one wants to follow such ideas further one gets into the difficult territory of Wittgenstein, Quine and others as this critique of scientific method has a good grounding in philosophy (from whence science springs anyway).

Well to turn aside and get back to the main track, I will soon find myself teaching a module on a course constructed by my supervisor which investigates the position of autism in society. This is part of the Uni's BA in Childhood Culture and Education. Although this course is intended for undergraduates who do not have much of a background in Autism, it would be just as relevant to the likes of Simon Baron Cohen, Jenny McCarthy, David Kirby, and all the other popular pundits of autism who all mutually fail to understand just what they are really on about, who think they know all about autism when they only ever see the aspect they are dealing with directly.

And so for the third time today I will quote myself again: -

There is no single gene/cause for the categories "Artist" or "Scientist" each condition is contingent upon multiple factors because they are a human category not a natural one, in essence the reason why a single gene or cause will not be found is because "Autism" is also a human category, and as such is not "watertight" it leaks all over the place because that which is called autism is the confluence of many rivers and depending where you stand in the lake you might feel the influence and currents of any one of them more than another.

Therefore those who pin the argument for autistic's rights on the outcome of a science which can describe us in a positive way are on a hiding to nothing as the remedies are societal and to hope for a scientific justification is to bend science according to ones will, which of course is what all scientists and philosophers do anyway.

Autism finds itself wholly within the social model of disability for an explanation of how it is studied, valued, devalued or otherwise debated.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Urbi et Orbi

Do I have a new years message for the world as one year slips by into the next?

No not really, I have not the energy for it.

I leave the old year somewhat embittered by my experiences of it, what could have been a year of hope, but seeing what has happened to the economy, never mind the prospects for world peace, seems like one I will not wish to repeat.

I have had all the fight and the stuffing knocked out of me, all I can do is rant on like an ageing King Lear.

I have survived Christmas, but am not yet ready to fully engage with the new year and take up my usual responsibilities, both to myself and others. I am continuing to take a break.

My visit to South Wales was good fun, but the weather has not really been too good for seeing much else in the world.

I have my insurance cheque at least and need to use the car one last time to carry some goodies home from the new branch of IKEA, which has settled in the centre of Coventry as one 140 foot tall blot on the landscape, where once was a co-operative store where I used to shop when I lived oppositte to it in a housing co-operative. The words co-op mean nothing nowadays, but co-operatives were once seen, like credit unions as useful social institutions for the working classes to better themselves and gain some toe hold on economic equality. I still have my one pound share in the local Co-op, whose cider I must say is of excellent quality but that is a diversion (albeit a pleasant one)

Perhaps all that is left to me now is to subside into a life of drinking as much as I can whilst I can still afford it, and shaking off the demands of life, I don't know because I am not yet ready to assume them again.

So much to do and so little time to do it as ever, and what time there is, is wasted as it is pointless doing anything when your heart is not in it.

Well my heart is still into photography so here are my recent pictures, the weather has not been kind and one makes the best one can.

The picture accompanying this blog is local, from the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border near Edge Hill showing the heavy frost and dullness that is the weather currently.