We seem to recognize our own.

Once we receive the formal diagnosis and have done some research on the nature of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), once we meet and interact with other diagnosed and self-diagnosed Aspies and “classical” Autistics, we learn how we are similar and how we are different.  We learn what to look for, what is typical, what’s to be expected in dealing with other people on the autism spectrum. We also learn that some people have other issues and problems quite apart from their autism.

The same way that the perception among gay people develops to detect their own, colloquially known as “gaydar”, I feel like we begin to develop a similar perceptive insight…an “autisticator”, if you well.  Like “Gaydar”, it’s not perfect, not 100%, but it does seem like something we develop, the more aware we are of our own condition and the more we interact with other known autistics.  The more we do this, the more we are able to detect or sense heretofore unknown ASD individuals or probable ones.  It’s not sophisticated enough to provide someone with an actual diagnosis, or even self-diagnosis, but it might be enough to encourage such a person to seek a formal screening for ASDs from a licensed professional.  I discuss my perceptions of potential ASD individuals with my fellow known Aspies; when they encounter the same individuals, their perceptions are often in agreement with my own, though of course this does not control for confirmation bias or group-think peer pressure.

But if animals seem able to differentiate between autistic and NT humans, it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility for ASD individuals to recognize their own.  I am grateful to the NT researchers that first studied the most severe cases of autism, they did a lot of important work.  But as time goes on, we should continue to question old assumptions made from only the NT perspective, sitting in judgement of ASD behavior, according to NT-only norms and expectations.  There needs to be more of a back-and-forth dialogue between ASD individuals able to express and share their innermost thoughts and feelings and autism researchers.  This dialogue is starting but it is difficult and at times bordering on hostile, though I believe progress is ultimately possible and that a more genuine, more humane, more balanced understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorders is possible, which gives equal weight to our perspectives.  Remember, “cure” is still a four letter word. 😉

Autism and relating to Animals

I have not yet read Temple Grandin’s major work Animals in Translation but I have read her follow-up book Animals Make Us Human, which is a fascinating work in its own right.  I think I owe it to myself to go back and read Animals in Translation, however.

I have noticed on several occasions in my lifetime that animals, especially shy pets of other people, and especially cats, seem to be able to figure out that I am different from the neurotypical humans around me.  I seem to register to them as somehow “safer”.  They seem willing to approach me, willing to let me pet them, etc, often to the amazement of their (NT) owners, who will frequently explain “she’s never done that with anyone before…”
Or, “Our animals love you, John.”, said by my former mother-in-law.

I remember something in Temple Grandin’s writings about how the autistic human brain is closer to the way other animals are wired, while NTs are more different.  Temple Grandin definitely has a deep understanding of cattle, but other Aspies seem to have a special affinity for other breeds of animals, like dogs or cats. It’s not perfect, nor 100%, but there does seem to be some sort of connection there, some way that animals are able to sense which humans are autistic and which are neurotypical and to regard the autistic ones as “safer”, somehow.  This is worthy of further scientific research.  My own anecdotal accounts don’t amount to much, but they seem to be common among other Aspies I’ve spoken to about it who’ve had positive experiences handling animals.

My Animal affinity seems to be with cats; Dogs mostly scare me and I don’t particularly like them.  Ditto cows.  But I like cats, and cats seem to think  I’m an alright human, or at least more trustworthy than most.  It doesn’t mean I can tame feral cats, but that I get along well with ordinary house cats, for the most part, and I’m  glad to report that we have a family cat that we in our home.

I also wonder if Aspie children can sense that Aspie adults are more like them than NT adults around them, even if they lack the vocabulary to express it adequately…do they also have some inner sense of “this person is more like me than the others here”?  I wonder.

Frank’s kinda Story:

I would once again say my name is Frank and I am 28 years old.  From grades K-2 I went to St. Thomas Moore grade school.  It was a K-8 school.  Then in 3rd grade I went to a school called Ms. Wagners.  Then in 4th grade I went to a school called Cliffwood.  By the way I forgot to mention that I repeated Kindergarten.  Then from 5th to 7th grade I was Home Schooled.  Then in 8th grade I went to a school called West Houston Jr. Sr. High School.  I did math and english at the school then did home schooling for the other subjects. Me and parents decided that was no good so we I did 8th grade over again the next year and went to West Houston Jr. Sr. High School for all the subjects.  Then from 9th to 12th grade I went to Westburry High School.  I can’t remember if i got modifications at West Houston or not,but I know for sure I got modifications at Westburry High School.  I went to Houston Community College (HCC) from 2004 to 2006 and I got modifications there also.  No I did not get a Degree at HCC since I mostly did remedial classes.  Then in 2007 I got a job at Target for 1 month.  Also in 2007 is when I found out that I had Asperger’s.  Then in April 22 2008 that is when I got hired by Primeflight Aviation Services from 2008 till june 30th of 2012.  Then from july 1st 2012 to present I work for AirservPrimeflight lost its contract with United and Airserv won the contract instead so they just rolled over all the employiess from Primflight to Airserv.  My goal is to work for United Airlines as a Ticket Agent or (aka) Airport Sales Agent.

Frank’s Introduction:

Hello my name is Frank Vito Martone.  I am 28 years old and was born and raised in Houston TX.  I am the last child still living with parents.  My brother Steve lives in New York City and is 34 years old and is married with 1 child that is about a month old.  My brother Johny lives in Los Angeles and is 38 years old.  My sister is a Algebra 2 teacher at Cy Woods High School and is 41 years old married with 4 kids.  They range from 11 to 15 years old.  My parents are recently retired and are 65 years old.  I first found out about me having Asperper’s in 2007 by a Dr. the person was a Clinical Psychologist.  Then in 2011 i was once again found out about my asperger’s by a Dr. at the UT Health Science Center at Houston TX.

Thankful for…

I’m thankful for my diagnosis, for it is better to know than to not know and stumble around the dark in ignorance.  I’m thankful my previous boss, who was an almost sadistic workplace bully, was finally at long last fired.  I’m thankful for my co-worker in my department with whom I very much enjoy working.  I’m thankful for my Aspie friends, who “get” me, and my NT friends who have put in the extra effort to “get” me.  I’m thankful for internet access, for Japanese Anime.  I’m thankful for a full time local government job with benefits and a modest pension plan.  I’m thankful for a good car that works despite its age, and look forward to replacing it soon with the same model updated.  I’m thankful when I can still manage to make time to read a good book, either on paper or in audiobook form.  I’m thankful for podcasts that are witty and informative and help me stay cheerful and free of boredom at work.  I’m thankful for lunch break with my gamer and comic book nerd friends.  I’m thankful for my atheist peeps at Houston Oasis and other local Freethought gatherings.  I’m thankful to be alive in this time and place.  I’m thankful I was married, got to experience love so intensely.  I’m thankful I’m divorced and free with no children to be responsible for.  I’m thankful I’m not too old to have a reasonable chance of a better relationship in the future.  I’m thankful for cooler weather, when we can get it.  I’m thankful for my parents and their support, even when they get on my nerves and we don’t always see eye to eye.  I’m thankful to have learned all I can legally know about my birth parents back in South Carolina, for it reveals my biological father was most likely an undiagnosed Aspie himself.  I’m thankful for the spare time to be able to put down these words contemplatively in the peace & quiet of my own room.

About Me: Resoman

I’m not very good with introductions when I don’t have some kind of prompt, so I suppose I’ll just start with some basics.

I’m a 23 year old male living in Texas. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in early 2004 by Dr. Timothy Bohan, MD, PhD. I live with my family, who are very supportive of me. I work part time at a nearby church as a childcare worker.

I have a variety of interests and hobbies. Playing the Magic: the Gathering card game with my friends is one of them. Watching anime is something else I like to do in my spare time. Learning the etymology of words is also something I’m fond of. This particular interest has even developed into a desire to create my own language, something I’m currently working on. I like to use the internet; Facebook being the site I frequent most. I also enjoy playing video/computer games.

Spending time with people I care about is something I truly relish. I’m a very easy going guy who gets along quite well with others. I don’t get offended easily, and have very good control over my emotions.

I’m an agnostic atheist. That means I don’t believe in the existence of any gods, while not claiming that they definitely don’t exist. I was raised as a Roman Catholic Christian. I became an agnostic atheist when I was 22 years old, after several months of researching my religious beliefs. One thing that contributed to this is that I don’t recall ever being a deeply religious person. Another significant factor was meeting Ankh Infinitus. He was highly influential in helping me learn what I now know that led to my position as an agnostic atheist.