Autism is a relatively new concept. Only since the release of the movie ‘Rain Man’ (1976) it has become more known. The example that was used for the main character actually didn’t have autism, but the ‘savant syndrome’. It confirmed the image that most people have about autism: they are people with low IQ, limited social skills and one specific interest. Around 1990 the work of Hans Asperger became known and autism became more recognized for people with a high IQ, who can much easier handle society, but operate differently from the average human being. Since then, a lot of beautiful initiatives have been developed, but we still see autism as a ‘problem’ or a ‘illness’ and the treatment is focused on being able to function normally in society.
I would even take it a little further… I see autism as an evolutionary development. The number of people diagnosed with autism is increasing hugely and this isn’t a coincidence. People with autism function differently for sure, their constitution is different. But next to that, next to the challenges that they..we face in this society, it has a wonderful side, which can possibly make society a little more beautiful, when we start to understand it. This is why I make an effort to change the way we look at autism.
Alongside you will find a list of the current characteristics and explanatory models of autism. The characteristics have been reduced to two that all autistic persons have in common. The explanatory models seem to give contradictory results, because the characteristics of different autistic persons don’t seem to apply to all models.
During my deep explorative journey into autism I could tap into the places in which assumptions were being made that weren’t true. It is a characteristic of my highly detailed brain that has been focused from a very young age on discrepancy between reality and thoughts and/or language. I started looking for fundamental characteristics that all people with autism have in common. And they aren’t behavioural traits, but constitutional traits.
characteristics, are the result of an autistic constitution that hasn’t been able to deal with the society.
- Repetitive behavior and specific interests
- Handicapped/limited in social communication and interaction
- Theory of Mind
- Central coherence
- Executive functions
“Autism isn’t an illness that you can cure, but a fundamentally different constitution with positive qualities”
A New Foundation
- Hypersensitivity belonging to the perspective that is viewed from
A characteristic of autism is, amongst others (can this be used as abbreviation?), the hypersensitivity. This doesn’t just show in the sensitivity of senses, but also in the coping behaviour that is necessary when overstimulated, like the stimming, shutting down and anger attacks. In the positive sense, this sensitivity is a very advanced navigating tool that we do not want to flatten, but want to use.
- The absence of a frame of reference of ‘I’
The absence of a point of reference of ‘I’ is caused by the limitations in the imagination and capacity to empathize. The future and the ‘over there’ is only imaginable with a point of reference of ‘I’. On the other side this is also the reason of the pureness, honesty, the underlying respect for how others live their lives and the sobriety about the emotional issues that we see in autistic people.
- Thinking and processing according to the Law of Nature
This is the logic from which people with autism explore the world. This is the reason why problems arise in the understanding of mixed messages, proverbs, sarcasm but also (certain) social expectations. Also specific interests originate here. This brain is ‘designed’ in a more detailed than organized way and considers everything according to a certain kind of logic (the law of nature versus rules). The need for rules, but also the resistance to rules, becomes very logical here. This pillar offers handles for a different, more autistic-logical guidance that remains better aligned with itself.
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