Wednesday, 24 October 2007

What is autism?

So to recap!
Over the past few weeks I have been asking you all questions about your different senses, at the same time explaining what it might be like for C. It seemed to get you all thinking, which is great.

I touched on touch

Not to mention bondage in the shower!
And famous people who you maybe would not have thought to be on the spectrum.

I had lots of great responses. And as you are now all experts…
How would you respond to this…now you know a bit more about autism, how would you describe it? As from your answers we all do these things! Dgibbs also mooted this question here and here.
I was asked recently what is autism, and even though my life has revolved round it for the past 19 years, I couldn’t answer! I must have looked pretty daft!! Because C is just C (I have written a poem about it, but I cant spout it every time someone asks!)
Dgibbs came up with its 'personal' and for C I see it as just extremes of average. Not sure I really like the word average ( a bit better than ‘normal’). But it does illustrate the point as with out extremes, there is no average!

And 'if' autism is a spectrum, I put it to you that we are all on it somewhere?


Tera said...

I'm going to ask Kaeden what autism means when he gets home. I'll let you know what he says word for word.

As for me, I suppose I would explain it as excitement. Life doesn't just pass you by, but pulls you in...every little angle and notion of it. You don't get a break from all the sensual stimulation created by nature and socirty and the world. And sometimes you justw ant a break, which is when a meltdown occurs, because expressing this overstimulation is just too difficult. And that sums it up for me in a nutshell. Not the best definition, but there's no easy way to explain autism.

As for if we are all on the spectrum...I have no doubt. We all perceive things differently, we all react differently, and though we may not be autistic because we understand the societal manner in which to deal with things, everyone has something about them. And maybe that's a good definition of autism...just something about me!

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Autism is personal to each individual. My understanding of Sam's experiences is that he is unable to interpret the world as most people do. This can be very frightening for him, sometimes the information he recieves audially is too intense for him to process, he is also highy sensitised to touch, and has learnt to avoid it if he can. Language is also often confusing, as people don't always say what they mean (humour or sarcasm is a concept he struggles to understand). He needs frequent breaks. withdrawing inwardly, to recover from the continual bombardment from his hightend senses. Unlike measles, autism has no set of symptoms that can be checked off, it is just a catch-all phrase to identify a very generalised type of condition. It seems Sam has to focus an enormous amount of concentration to acomplish the tasks that many others hardly need to think about, and this demands a huge amount of his energy. He becomes frustrated which can lead to a meltdown or an all out panic attack.

Anonymous said...

Even the "experts" can't tell you what Autism is. Usually the experts are the ones who have no dealing on a personal level with autistic beings and therefore only see their "clients" for an hour or so a week and in most cases less than that. So it is not surprising Autism is one of the most difficult terms to define. But that's another story!!

Amy's autism is so different to C's. C's autism is so different to the child up the road. And so on. We are all on the spectrum. I, myself, have autistic tendencies of which worry me ocassionally, however, we deal with it. I commend you, Casdok. If I could give you an award for bravery/patience/motherhood/amazing-ness/not to mention bloody great blogging - consider it to be yours. Hold it high. I look forward to reading comments on this particular blog - it will be interesting to see how people respond to this.

Best wishes to you and C.
Crystal xx

BBC said...

I'm still working on trying to understand some of that. It seems to me like the word is often used in a generic way. I'm not thinking that all cases of challenged people make them autistic, just not wired quite right.

The self centered thing is very interesting to me. So yes, that makes everyone autistic if you look at it that way. I would have to put it on a scale of one to ten though.

Helen for example would be a one as she makes others as important as herself. Something like that.

captain corky said...

I like Tera's definition a lot. It makes really good sense.

BBC said...

I like scales as a way of looking at things. For example C might be at a five (and you can be thankful for that I think, at least he can function at some levels)where my grand daughter may be at a two.

I look at love on a scale of one to ten, it's easier to understand that way. I'm trying to figure out where you are on that scale. :-)

Unknown said...

My friend that works with autistic chilren goes to these ritzy seminars (funded by the state) as she works in the school system.
One day over coffee she drew an oval on her napkin and wrote about this spectrum of life your mentioning. Writing around the oval line she wrote things like low IQ, slow learner, average IQ, high IQ, genius, and in between all these she wrote other things, autism being on there.
Anyway, she showed me she had been taught that we are all on this spectrum and how close the low IQ is to the genius.
I hope this makes some sense?
What I'm saying is, we are all on it.

Have a great day!

buffalodick said...

I tend to think of it in terms of electricity/computers . Our brains (I've read somewhere!) sends minute electrical impulses that make us function the way we do. Not everybodys' works the same way. I certainly don't know why, but in my life I have observed things people have in common, and things that they don't. Gene pools, environment, customs, and unknowns make us who we are.
That's it for me.

Anonymous said...

I love the poem.:)

Christy said...

I do believe we are all on a spectrum of some kind, but I'm not sure it can necessarily be labeled as austistic. I would say it's more of a neurological spectrum. The brain is vastly unknown and I think each and every one of us has different things shooting off in our heads. You know what I mean?

With MS I am aware there are nerves scarring around my brain. The tissue (depending on how it scars) will push on certain areas of my brain and will also slow down responses to certain areas. I feel it changes each day a little bit.

Maybe it is the same with C. Maybe on some days he's on a higher end of his spectrum and on other days he's lower. Who knows.

Marla said...

I think autism is on a spectrum but at the same time that word does not fully make sense either. My daughter is all over the spectrum. She can read and speak and yet when it comes to math she is still at a kindegarten level. Even though she reads her comprehension is below her age level. Some days she can communicate well and on others she does not communicate much at all. She moves forward and then regresses on a monthly basis. As far as explaining autism the spectrum can bring some understanding as to why there are so many different extremes of autism. If we look at autism and senses I would say that autism is when all of the senses are at one extreme or the other making communication and daily living skills more of a challenge for the autistic person. I also know few autistic people who don't have other things going on such as certain health problems like seizures, difficulty eating, eye problems, etc. Our daughter has also been diagnosed with a chromosome disorder. We have wondered if that means that she is not autistic? But yet she fits the autism criteria. So many autistic people are so different in their skill range and health issues. It is complicated and varying which is why it is so hard to explain in a simple explanation.

Anonymous said...

I think Autism is : being super sensitive to outside stimuli, be it noise, touch, sight, smell, hearing, the inability to cope with changes, emotions, contact with other people, inability to interact with others at certain levels, seeking a place where you are safe from these situations... usually within yourself....having major preoccupations with certain items, thoughts, feelings... the list goes on and on... there are lots of variations of Autism I believe, some are mild, some are extreme. Everyone is an individual and should be treated as such. What works for one Autistic person might not work for another. AS for "normal" people having 'shades' of autistic behaviour.. yep I do agree, cos we all have individual 'dislikes', 'likes', avoidance tactics, etc! Like, I HATE dirt on my hands, it makes me feel ill!!! Isn't that an 'extreme' reaction to stimuli? Yep it is. So, thanks Casdok, I've learnt a lot.

mommy~dearest said...

I agree that we are all on the spectrum somewhere. They say if you have 100 people with Autism, they will all be different.

I tend to think of it along those lines. Autism varies so much between individuals, the same way that personalities do. "If you've met one person with Autism, you've met one person with Autism"- just as there aren't two people in the world with the same exact personalities.

So to explain what Autism is, I think would differ depending on who is inquiring. If you are explaining Autism to someone who already has some knowledge of it, chances are they're asking about your child's Autism particularly. If it is an outsider who is asking, chances are they're asking for educational purposes, and would be more benefitted by the "clinical" facts (which includes that Autism is a spectrm disorder, and is greatly varied).

What it is depends on people's experiences as well. Take an apple. You would describe an apple differently to a person who has eaten one before, than you would to a person who has never seen an apple. You would start with the facts (it is a fruit), and go through some descriptors (it is sweet, sour, crunchy, you bite it or slice it, etc.), you could get into the history (if they were interested), and also get into the different varieties of them.

Wow- sorry for the super-long comment!

Wooly Works said...

I guess I see autism as being the need of the individual to approach life and the world on their own terms. Aren't we all like that in some respect, and some more so than others? I know plenty of people who aren't "touchers", have claustrophobia, can't deal with loud noises, are completely inflexible in their routines, the list goes on. Are they autistic in some way? I do believe we're all on the spectrum somewhere and our place on that spectrum has a great influence on our level of functionality.

Cathy said...

I believe we are all on a spectrum, yet for the majority of us our autistic features are balanced out by our non autistic features so we appear 'normal', whatever that is.

It is the severity of the autism which affects the individual's capacity to function, rather than just a learning disability.


QUASAR9 said...

Bondage in the shower?

Is their no 'normal' activity in your or rather his daily life.
Do routines not 'sink in' and take hold, whether (hand) sanding wood or french polishing. No chance of a 'famous' painting or artwork?
And how about cycling? is that a definite no no.

Casdok said...

Definate no to all of the above!
As he has a sever learning disability as well as a few other things!
But nice thought!!

Anonymous said...

My observation

Autism...unable to cope

with the unacceptable, the unknown, fear, noises, differences, change, etc.

Absolutely we all are on the spectrum as I see it. I just can't bring myself to judge where since I think we are all more unique than alike. And in the same breath I know that seeing patterns and comparisons is part of our success as humans.

Ripple said...

I hope I don't come across as a complete buffoon, but I've never really given Autism much thought at all. I know the chances of having a Down's Syndrome child increases as a woman gets older, but on the flip side the chances of having a shizophrenic child increases as a man gets older. Truly, I just see life as a series of random events and Autism is just an unfortunate occurence that happens to certain people for no apparant reason. C is just lucky to have a good mother like you to take care of him because I know if my wife had an autistic child, she would probably give him/her up to the state and institutionalize him/her for good. Sad, but true.

Casdok said...

Paul F, I wouldnt call C an unfortunate occurance! Yes life can be hard at times, but whos isnt. I actually feel very fortunate to have C as he has taught me so much.
You dont actually know your child is autistic for some years, by then you are truely bonded, so if your wife had a C, maybe she wouldnt give him up!
But then saying that, my ex husband, well put it this way, why do you think he is my ex husband!!!

People please feel free to be as baffoon as you like! By asking questions thats how we learn!

Posie said...

I am totally unsure, I just see each child, and indeed person, as an individual, each with their own way of seeing the world, each with their own needs, insecurities, strengths and so on. I know a limited amount about the 'medical' term autisitc, but am learning more about life and autism through your daily blogs Casdok, which is really helpful and gives me food for thought.

Casdok said...

Well Posie Rosie, for me your answer is exactly right!!!

Mz.Elle said...

I agree with you completely!
I know I'm on that spectrum,as are my kids..and husband and friends..
This is a great post!

Anne Brooke said...

We are so definitely all on the spectrum somewhere - I begin to suspect that it's probably part of being human.



Casdok said...

Well as C is human, and as we all have some of his traits in one degree or another, i totally agree!

Just wish more people were as open minded as all of my blog readers!


I have 2 children at home who are on the spectrum but days go by without me even really thinking about them being different or being on the spectrum.In away, at times I do forget because our little family just is the way we are. I think that most others that I know in a similar situation to my family seem to experience the same sort of thing.
And I think that is good.

Casdok said...

Me to, thats why i find the question hard as C is just C!

BenefitScroungingScum said...

I'm another one who thinks we're all on that spectrum somewhere.

Billy Boy said...

I was in the local book shop the other week and theres a book on autistic cats, so who knows.! Cats do have behaviours....

Shari said...

Maybe, indeed, we are on the spectrum somewhere. Some people have tempers. They don't know how to blow off steam. Too much whatever and they blow up. We all have a frame of reference uniquely different-relating to the way we grow up, what we believe, what we know, and how we project to others. There's stimuli all over. Things happening. Such is the colors (spectrum) of life.

DJ Kirkby said...

Yep...all on it somewhere to varying degrees.

Rising Rainbow said...

I think that my grandson is autistic, although he's never been diagnosed. My guess is they would consider him to be high functioning but I know he really has trouble connecting with people. He didn't speak to me until he was 4 years old and only did that because he wanted something from me that he mother couldn't provide.

My best friend, has a step daughter who's autistic on the other end of the spectrum. She was raised at home until about twelve and then put into an institution devoted to helping autistics be the most that they can be. Such a beautiful child so trapped.

Anonymous said...

When TJ was first diagnosed, we had a lot of family members point out that his Dad did many of the same things when he was younger. My husband is clearly not autistic, but I see many of the same characteristics in TJ as I do in his father, just more intense.

So I would have to agree with everyone else. It definitely is a spectrum and we are all on it somewhere.

I've found as time goes on that it is more difficult for me to explain to people what autism is. I agree with the saying - If you know one autistic person, you know one autistic person. It's complicated.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I don't know how I would explain what autism is either. I tell my kids that my son's brain works differently than many other people's and that he sees the world and process information in a different way than his sister. But that doesn't say a lot.