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


Socrates said...

I had a look at you vids...

Why the fuck aren't the NAS commissioning you to do some of their videos?

Letter to the chief exec I think...

Socrates said...

Sorry for swearing L.

It was a silly question to ask in the first place.

Still haven't quite got up to speed on the machinations of modern charities.

My mother's been a life-long member of the British Polio Fellowship; back in the late eighties they decided to get professional, so out went my ma and her chums and in came the graduates and professional third-sector administrators...

They say on their website:

There are tens of thousands of people who survived the polio epidemics of the first half of the twentieth century living in the UK today. In fact there are currently estimated to be 120,000 people living in the UK who have had polio.

Are you one of them?

If so we would love to hear from you!

Ummm.....Arrrgh.....Ngggg.....Urrrgg! W@NKERS!

Sorry L... I just can't help it.

Socrates said...

Probably should've made it explicit that Mum is one of those polio victims.

Aspie Bird said...

Saw the video. Not all autist behave like the man shown in the video. I think some autists do react like the man in the video, but many others do not.

It is just the typical auti thing.
They show an "old fashioned" idea of autism.

However, I can agree with what is said in some of the interviews.

Thanks for sharing this with us!

laurentius rex said...

Trouble is for those of us who do, we need a little leeway before the tazer comes out of the holster.

If however you were to make a video of all of the things I have ever done, as I state elsewhere, it would never be believed.

I have been lucky though to live in times of greater tolerance.

I once was a passenger on a train which had just stopped at the station and was going nowhere,
no explanation and so I walked all the way into the drivers cab to find out why. The drivers cab was empty so I put my head out of the drivers window to discover that the driver was standing on the platform and I asked him why he was not in the cab :)

You don't want to know what I did later when I arrived at my destination, which just happened to be the official launch of Research Autism, after many other mishaps involving buses substituting for trains, a final taxi journey and a dash through the pedestrianised area of Cambridge where no taxis can go.

Let's just say I made a rather dramatic entrance, over an hour late, having started out at least twelve hours before with a catalogue of signal failures, train failures, diversions and delays, that was the worst rail journey of my life.

Icicles in the Berkswell tunnel the other day has nothing on that.

vicky said...

Well done Larry,,
I guess we all get Roasted in the topsy turvy world of NT making at some point or another...

I wonder if we need classes in presenting our Autistic Card... or does that actually help in real world situations,,, I don't know as I haven't tried it... I fear peoples reactions either way I suppose or judgements, assumptions ect.

Aspie Bird said...

About your comments on my blog:
Once again you are right. Of course there is difference between a provincial museum or a good play.
There is more between left or right, more balance between good or wrong. Is that what you mean? I should have written more precisely perhaps. More detailed.
Hope you are doing well,
I did not go anywhere today. Stayed at home :-))
Take care
Aspie Bird

Maddy said...

Public transportation is frustrating enough for Mr. and Mrs. average. Hardly that surprising that reactions run the gamut.

Anonymous said...

Autistic people need support just like anybody else. Unfortunately, autistic adults are often overlooked, as it is autistic children who tend to receive most government, or state-run, assistance and services. All autistic people, regardless of age, should have access to meaningful support and services.

Here are a few websites to check out:

1. Autistic Self Advocacy Network, ASAN




3. The Autism Hub


4. Autism Street


5. Neurodiversity Blog



If you feel that you are, or may be, on the autistic spectrum and you wish to receive a diagnosis, please be careful who you select to do your evaluation. There are a lot of medical professionals such as doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists who are clueless--and sometimes even rigid and archaic in diagnostic procedures--regarding autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder. It's very unfortunate and hopefully things will change for the better with both more time and autism advocacy.

A good place to find a reputable therapist or clinician who can perform a valid diagnosis is to go by word of mouth. Get involved with an online group in your state and ASK who your group members recommend in your area.

Take this online test for Asperger's (it is not, in any way, meant to replace a valid medical diagnosis):

Search your state for an online support group. Check out ASAN's website above and see if there is a chapter in your state.

For example, in Portland, Oregon, here are two popular online groups:

1. Portland Asperger's Network, http:/

2. PDX ASAN, http:/

If you live in Portland, Oregon and you are looking to see a therapist for a possible diagnosis, here is the name of a valid experienced neuropsychologist:

Dr. Leslie Carter, http:/

Book recommendations:

There's plenty of literature about autism circulating throughout many sources. Why not pick something written by an autistic? Especially if you desire to capture a feel for the essence and reality of autism verses assumptions pertaining to biased clinical studies. Need a place to start? Here's a few suggestions:

1. Autism and the Myth of the Person Alone by Douglas Biklen, et al.

2. Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes

3. Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

4. Nobody Nowhere: the Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic by Donna Williams

5. How Can I Talk If My Lips Don't Move: Inside My Autistic Mind by Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay

Visit your local library, bookseller, or online source to obtain a copy of the above mentioned titles. Then give yourself a pat on the back!

Extra Info:

Autistics and Uneven Skills

Autistics may have an I.Q. that falls on both sides of the bell curve. In other words, it's not uncommon for an autistic person to have a significant range in I.Q. testing scores. It's important to take into account verbal and social issues, as well as individual learning styles.

Here are some examples of uneven skills:

1. Having extreme intelligence with computers and written communication and then not being able to make a sandwich or prepare food.

2. Sophisticated writing abilities, yet trouble with spoken communication.

3. Possessing an amazing savant skill and then not being able to take care of basic survival needs.

4. Excelling at calculus, yet being incapable of doing simple arithmetic (this example comes from Dora Raymaker--thank you).

Okay, I'll expose a major personal problem of mine. I am fine with caring for my basic survival needs and that of my family, but I am terrible with time management. For instance, my older son's school requires the children to be picked up at 2:30 p.m. on Fridays--during the winter only--rather than the usual 3:30 p.m. Since winter began, I've forgotten to pick my son up a total of five times despite having large visual reminders and phone alarms set.

Awareness and understanding are greatly needed in this area of autism advocacy. The attainment of valuable meaningful services for the whole of the autistic population highly depends on widespread comprehension of this aspect of autism.

Autism-First Language

Perhaps you have heard of person-first language? After all, it's common talk in the disability community. Maybe you have even heard someone refer to an autistic person by saying he or she has autism. But not all autistics agree with person-first language.

Though it is common for both the medical and cure-focused communities to refer to an autistic person as a person with autism, such references are not the lingo of the greater whole of the autistic community.

In a nutshell, saying a person has autism may imply that the person is defective or that there is an inherent problem or sickness within the person. It also implies that autism can somehow be separated from the person.

Here's a quote from Jim Sinclair:

I am not a "person with autism." I am an autistic person.

Explore more of what Jim has to say by visiting:


If you find yourself in a sticky situation then it is quite neutral to simply say, "person on the autistic spectrum."

Thanks for brushing up on your autistic community lingo!

***Best of luck! Please use your judgment if the world of autism is new to you. There is a lot to learn. Take what you need and leave the rest.