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Treat or Torture?

To be able to see into other people's worlds.
To not be able to not see into other people's worlds.
Is this a gift or a curse?

It depends on the people around me.
When I am with people whose inner worlds are bright
Their light shines into my world.

Comments

bobby1933
Nov. 2nd, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
Yes, but the personal is also public to a very large degree. In olden times this was because personal life was more public and public life more intimate. Almost everyone who mattered to someone would be living within an hour's walk.

Today we have a veritable knowledge industry which an ape a psychic ability to get inside the person of another. If you know i am autistic, you can make a hundred more or less pretty good predictions about me; if you know i've been in a twelve-step program, you can make a dozen more. Most of these things are things you don't need to know and maybe should not know.

But if we come from different societies and cultures, there may be things we need to know about each other's society and culture to ensure that we will give proper respect to and not offend each other. One culture's blessing is another's curse, and so on.
liveonearth
Nov. 2nd, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
OK. I get your point, and agree that to have a civil society a degree of cultural competency is necessary. I also agree that there is no necessity in me knowing about your autism or 12 step work. It does increase my interest in you as a person, though. Glad you're on my friends list even though I don't "know" you at all.

PS: I have worked the 12 steps. It was a highly useful exercise in my process of growing up.
bobby1933
Nov. 2nd, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
Yes, i'm glad we are "on each others' friends list." Several people who have been on my list a long while have become people i consider to be friends. Though i have never been in their presence, and probably never will be, i get the feeling of friendship. There is one person i have not had on my list very long. I found that person's posts uninteresting and their comments to my entries irritating and sometimes incomprehensible. As time went on, i noted a change in both our responses to each other. I came to look forward to the person's entries and comments.
liveonearth
Nov. 2nd, 2011 04:46 pm (UTC)
Interesting... Why do you think your responses to that person changed?

For whatever reason I am real life friends with several folks who inhabit the autism spectrum. I notice that remote communications can be a little rough at times, but that their thought process is far more complex and interesting than that of "normal" people.
bobby1933
Nov. 2nd, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
I really can't say. A lot of it was just getting used to the person and modifying both my expectations and responses in the light of new information. Meanwhile the other person is doing the same. Our senses of humor are very different and the other sensed that i found their's too far over the top so they toned it down.


On the other side, it maybe easier for people with autism to communicate electronically. My thought can appear more "normal" on the screen. I also am more mindful about limiiting my comments when i am writing than when i am speaking.

A former secretary tells a story about asking me a question which i spent five minutes answering. Her work demanded that she leave the office on an errand. When she returned twenty minutes later i was still "answering" her question. This doesn't happen when i type because i have to edit for spelling and in the process i also edit for content.
liveonearth
Nov. 2nd, 2011 05:28 pm (UTC)
I certainly get *more* words/info out of my autistic friends in writing than in speech. But there's a lot of content in presence, which words cannot convey...which was the original thought behind this post.
bobby1933
Nov. 2nd, 2011 07:20 pm (UTC)
Again, "presence" may have a different significance for a person with autism. "Non verbal communication" is something that despite fifty years of study in psychology, i have never been able to understand. People simply cannot communicate with me "non-verbally," I am more likely to misunderstand the gestures and appearances and "body language" of a person than i am to "get it."

Dianne tells me i am always "ignoring" cues. such a simple question as "who is this i'm talking to?" can be a puzzle. I once failed to recognize my daughter when she walked into a room unexpectedly,

I get a lot of undeserved credit for being a faithful husband simply because i cannot tell when someone is "coming on" to me. Only twice have i felt "chemistry" between me and a person of the other sex. The second time was with Dianne, so i got that right. The first instance was a young woman who was just being a decent, friendly person and i totally misread her as being "romantic."

(Edit) Persons with autism may just find the physical presence of others to be confusing "noise" which impedes more than facilitates understanding.

Edited at 2011-11-02 07:25 pm (UTC)
liveonearth
Nov. 2nd, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
Yes! And it is probably this autistic inability to fully interpret body language that provoked this discussion, to a degree. For me, people's nonverbal communication is louder (and more honest) than their verbal missives. My perception of people's body language includes that of autistic people, who can really "scream" their discomfort and desire to escape some situations and people. I took a class in nonverbal communication in undergrad school and have actively studied it ever since.....an autistic person could learn parts of it at the cognitive level. Part of the art of reading faces is in the limbic/mammalian brain, and I theorize that autism has to do with poor development in that part of the brain likely related to parental behavior very early in life---precognitive limbic wiring that is different due to experience.

Edited at 2011-11-02 07:41 pm (UTC)
bobby1933
Nov. 2nd, 2011 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, but maybe they cannot "hear" your screams in return? I have been rewarded by many pleasant on line contacts with other autistic people; but i have never actually observed two autistic people (even very high functioning ones) in face to face communication with each other. I was very late in discovering my own autism so i have never attended an autistic conference. But my guess is that we would find each other very noisy and distracting. I love Temple Grandin, but would i like her?

I have no theory of autism to discuss against yours. it is a mystery to me. Genetic inheritance may play some role, but who knows, it could just be early experience --post- or pre-natal. I am not aware of any blood relatives who are or were autistic (my son? maybe, and i don't communicate will with him at all well. We are like duelists, neither of whom can aim straight.)
liveonearth
Nov. 2nd, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
Well my theories are just that, theories. Adjustable with new information or even just new perspective. I notice with my autistic friends that the best thing I can do to keep them comfortable is to remain very still and quiet, and communicate as clearly as possible in nonjudgmental words. I know that they don't understand my body language, so I explain my mood and intentions to remove the mystery. It is an exercise for me in using words for things that I normally expect people to just "get". And it is fine.
bobby1933
Nov. 2nd, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
The ability to read body language would be very important in closing the gap between autists and neurotypicals, though other skills would probably be more important. All my life i wondered how people seemed to be able to deal with life so easily, I suspected they were having as much difficulty as i was, but they were somehow able to hide it more easily. Autism as a self diagnoses answered many questions about my behavior.
liveonearth
Nov. 2nd, 2011 08:38 pm (UTC)
Or maybe you just couldn't read their body language that revealed how much difficulty they were having.... hard to say, not being there to observe.

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