Friday, October 11, 2013

What's Right With The Autistic Brain!

Major brain structures implicated in autism.
Major brain structures implicated in autism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I suppose I could have started this post by ending the title with a question mark, but I thought that rather than asking a question about the autistic brain, I would celebrate it with an exclamation mark.

One small amount of punctuation makes all the difference in the world.

In a recent article in Time Magazine,  Temple Gandin starts to challenge the world to think differently about autism.  Rather than the usual moaning over deficits, she starts to enumerate the many strengths of autism.    And I think she is quite right to do so.   Over a third, are exceptionally intelligent and we are asking them to spend an awful amount of time on things that are just not in their nature.  

Not too long ago, I read a book about Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner which detailed 12 different kinds of intelligence:  everything from the usual book smart intelligences to body intelligence (like dance or manual dexterity) to artistic, emotional, social and spiritual intelligences.   And I am wondering if we are going about categorizing intelligence in the right way.

I mean, there's a lot more to folks than what is measured on neuropsych batteries, IQ tests, SATs, or the standardized tests that kids are being dragged through.

English: Multiple Intelligences
English: Multiple Intelligences (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I would like to see people analyzed on a number of different grids covering the 12 intelligences and then given some guidance as to the impact that their deficits have on their strengths.  Like you can be very smart in a logical-mathematical sense but be really hampered by deficits in body-kinesthetic sense when it comes time to create a PowerPoint presentation.

Or, you can be a genius with interpersonal relationships but if you are challenged by mechanical objects, running a client's credit card might be a challenge.

Or, you can be a genius with mechanics but get totally flumoxed trying to follow the nitty gritty of the health care debate, never mind Sartre's epistemology.

There's a point in our lives when we have to sit and say God made us human, all too human.  Maybe we need to make allowances for each other.  You know, a little kindness and forebearance.  And I think you have to think about things this way with autism.

I think if I had things that absolutely had to be done correctly and many rules needed to be complied with and someone had to have the moxie to stand up and defend the rules, an autistic person might be the ideal person to do it.  I think autistic people would be great in an area dealing with compliance with it is drug safety, finance, environmental pollution.  

There might be many times, the other folks might be frustrated or tired by an insistence on following the rules. But you know, that's the guy or gal who would save your bacon and make sure that you didn't incur death, financial penalty or legal liability.  

Why not construct a world where there is a place for these folks?  We might all be better off for it.

Think about it!
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