Latest News

Seeing Beyond My Autism Diagnosis

Aug 19, 2012 -- 8:27 pm
I am an adult with autism. My thinking is visual rather than word based. Autism gifts me with a literal and concrete way of thinking. My thoughts are all in full moving color. You can read about this and about my life in my book called Paper Words: Discovering and Living with My Autism. (Endow, 2009a)
“Always, I have a front row seat to watch the show! Each color, with its infinite variety of hues and brightness, has its own movement patterns and sound combinations. Even though spoken words are the medium most often used by people to communicate with me, I am wired to connect to these words through the sound and movement of colors. This is the way I think. It moves quite fast, but even so, tends to be slower than the speed of conversation. This can cause me to look less intelligent. People say I have processing delays. Painting allows me to show my thoughts without the burden of constant translation.” (
Stereotypical Views of Autism
So, why am I telling you this?
I recently sent an email to friends telling them of my new-found art expression through acrylic painting and inviting them to take a look at the new page on my website with the paintings that show my autistic style of thinking.
After viewing the paintings along with the above quoted words that go with the paintings, a friend responded saying that I seemed to have connected with a part of myself that has very few adjectives in common with the stereotypical view of autism.
NTs Looking at Autistics
This got me thinking. Stereotypical views of autism are based on the neurotypical (NT) assignment of "truth" as they look at us.
All human beings, regardless of neurology, look out at the world through eye glasses imposed upon them by their own neurology. Then, they assign meaning to the behavior of others according to the meaning that behavior would have were they themselves engaged in it.
Most times this automatic guess is correct, but sometimes - like when NTs are looking at autistics - the guess can be wrong. Over time, this repeated wrong guessing takes on a life of pseudo truth and becomes a stereotypical view. Thus, today we have a stereotypical view of autism that is quite narrow and limited and very much lacking in empathy, generated by those who live in their own world (that is not our world)...
Oh my goodness! Isn’t that exactly how NTs describe us! Might it mean that we both – NT and autistic - are making assumptions about the other according to our own yardstick measure that we unwittingly assume, without giving thought, is baseline "normal?"
Autism Diagnostic Criteria
The autism diagnostic criteria are a report on deviation from typical neurology. As such it shows a picture of what autistics ARE NOT and highlights what we CANNOT DO as compared to the majority "normal." It says nothing at all about who we ARE or what we CAN DO. Indeed, our abilities and skills most often remain untapped because the majority do not possess them so have no way to understand or support that development in us. For example, if my way of thinking in the movement and sound of color had been supported as a youngster I likely would have been able to produce paintings long before my late 50’s.
Interested in reading the entire article? Please click:

< Back to article list