Saturday, May 28, 2011

What is autism? Part Two

Before I start getting in less finite interpretations of autistic behavior, I want to make sure that my readers have an understanding of what autism is.  To fully define autism, I looked in the place where definitions can be found: a dictionary.  I flipped through the pages searching for the word "autism."  Keep in mind that this was an older "American Heritage" dictionary published thirty years ago in 1981.  This book defined autism as: "Abnormal subjectivity; acceptance of fantasy rather than reality."  It went on to give a second definition: "A form of childhood schizophrenia, characterized by acting out and withdrawal."

This is an outdated definition of autism, in my opinion.  So much has been learned about the condition in the past thirty years that it can no longer be simply defined as "acting out" or "withdrawing."  Although those are visible characteristics of certain types of autism, this does not define the spectrum as a whole.

I resorted to the internet to find an alternative definition of autism. The Autism Society of America defines autism as follows:

"Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What is autism?

It is on the news all the time.  There are discoveries being made on a yearly basis, progressing towards the true cause of autism and the cure.  There is also much controversy as to how autism is caused and what to do about it.  Some people even believe that autism shouldn't be cured, and should be viewed as a blessing rather than a curse.

There are different categories of autism ranging over the spectrum.  Some individuals with the condition have social problems and others with more severe autism are unable to express themselves. Obviously, I am on the milder side of the spectrum. My specific diagnosis is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (otherwise not specified.) This is autism that does not fit into any known category.

My focus in this blog is going to be less towards finding a cure and more towards the here and now.  Since a cure has not yet been found, what can be done in the meantime to better understand autism?
I am going to try to distinguish my autistic characteristics from my personality to raise autism awareness.  I have been through a long road towards understanding myself and being understood by others.  My goal is to help people interpret autistic behavior and the reasons behind it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Introduction from the author

I don't like to make eye contact with people. As I converse, I slide my eyes to a point above the person's shoulder to avoid looking them full in the face. I don't intend to be impolite. This action is reflexive self defense from my own sensations. On the occasions that I do make eye contact, sharp feelings surge through me forming an inexplicable sense of pain.
In my second-grade classroom, I remember sitting in a circle of fellow classmates discussing our time outside of school. My teacher had to constantly tell me to look at the person I was talking to. It went against my feelings, but it was something I had to get used to. It is no easier to maintain eye contact at age 23 than it was at age 7. This is one of the signs of my mild autism.