The Gift of Autistics

     People usually call autistics as “lonely angles” in the world. They are special since they cannot communicate with others normally and always live in the world of themselves. They need to depend on the help from others, or they can hardly live an ordinary life. Thus, when I read the article Thinking in Pictures, I was quite surprised that the author, who has an autism, could write such an article to express her thoughts to the public.

   Personally, I think the thinking patterns of autistics are indeed strange but advantageous. They can translate everything into pictures and visual feelings in their minds. It means that they can recall things much easily and vividly than people who do not have the ability of visual thinking. When they consider some future plans, autistics can also visualize some clear pictures about them. For me, I appreciate this ability since I think having a visual library in mind is wonderful. I can remember all the beautiful things and people visually (although may also keep something painful in mind) and memorize English words easily when I take GRE test. When I was in high school, teachers also asked students to develop the ability of visualizing words when reading books, especially for fictions and poems. The visual thinking way can help people make the world lively and beautiful.

   However, the visual thinking pattern also arouses some problems of cognition for autistics. Except for the difficulty of visualizing some abstract words, which was referred in the article, I think this thinking pattern also makes autistics have more problems and obstacles during the communication process with others. Although they can visualize people’s words into pictures, they can only hold their pictures in minds and hardly express their thoughts using words and sentences. Since people with autism originally have language barrier, it becomes more difficult for them to communicate in words with this visual thinking way.

   The article and related blogs about autism remind me of the movie Rain Man, which talks about a story about two brothers and autism. In the movie, although Raymond has autism and cannot live by himself, he has a gift for memory and calculating. This gift, which may be caused by the visual thinking pattern, makes Raymond a talent in many places, especially for the casinos in Las Vegas. Thus, we can see that although autistics are always silent, lonely, and have difficulties in expressing themselves, they still have gifts for memory and visualizing, which make them also become “talented angles” in the world.                                                                                    (Sophie)


3 responses to “The Gift of Autistics

  1. As soon as I began reading, Thinking in Pictures, I thought about the many students that I may encounter in my career as a teacher and how many of them are going to have a learning disability such as autism, like the author, and how difficult their schooling experience may be because our (society, in general, and teachers) lack of understanding about learning disabilities. I find it beautiful how Grandin is able to create mental pictures and ideas in her head without having to actually put them down on paper because I am actually the exact opposite! Reading about Grandin’s new design for a new and improved “dip vat” was very interesting; many times she put herself into the cattle’s position and really understood them, which produced compassion and empathy for the cattle, whichnare emotions that not all people are capable of having. It is understandable that many people would question Grandin’s thinking and designs for new equipment because they were so unique, but it further proves the fear that many people have of being wrong or letting a person with a disability do something right, and/or better, but, in fact, a person with autism may very well have much better ideas and layouts because they are able to think about details and

    The posts on the blog were amazing, inspiring, and upsetting to read. I really appreciated the pictures on the website because they each told their own story and the stories by them supported them. The posts about how she was treated because of her learning disablity were disturbing. Altogether, both the reading and the blog helped me better understand autism: what it is, who it effects, how people with autism think, and all they have to offer.

  2. The excerpt from Temple Grandin’s Thinking in Pictures was very fascinating. I’ve always been curious about the mind process of people with Autism and other sorts of mental disabilities that cause the person to excel in certain areas and frustrate in others. During the reading I wondered if the narrator was the actual writer, or if someone was doing a type of translation for the narrator. What made me come to this wonderment was that he admitted to finding words like ‘the’, ‘an’, ‘it’ completely unfathomable. Though, she also referred to other, more ‘extreme’ cases of autism that made me think she was the author and narrator of the excerpt.
    Regardless of that curiosity, I found myself comparing my thought patterns and processes to hers. Am I a visual learner? Or am I the one she referred to as only ‘remembering the kitchen table’ not actually seeing it in my mind. I convinced myself I am somewhat of a visual learner, but nothing to the extent that she was.
    Besides comparing my learning processes to hers, I also wondered why it came to livestock machinery for her. I know she went through a time where she was torn between psychology and livestock work, but I wanted to know: why not something more intricate than even that. Obviously she is a genius with the cattle mechanics, even making supposed ‘normal’ people look like fools when they ignored her designs and suggestions, but why not something more lucrative? She told of when she was young and created bird-kites, and in order to make them sore higher she bent their wings and later saw the same design on actual air-crafts. Why didn’t she turn to that? Perhaps she had a pension for cows, or animals in general, which is great, because I’m an animal lover myself.

    It may seem kind of coincidental at this point, but I was at work a few days ago and I have regular who is obsessed with his IPad, which I don’t necessarily agree with. Though, in this case, it turned into quite the learning experience. I can’t remember how the topic was brought up, but he had seen a 60 Minutes about an autistic boy who wrote equations all over walls and windows of his home in the matter of a few minutes to come to a conclusion that other scientists could not.
    This conversation reminded me of one in class about Aspergers. A classmate had brought it up and someone mentioned a character on Parenthood who had this mental disability as well. I found later that I had this show on my streaming Netflix and started watching it.
    With all of this being established, during both instances, I was a bit at a loss. What made these people different? What classified them as having a disability? All I saw were prodigies and geniuses. Regardless of their lack of simple functions or distress over strange occurrences and objects, their capabilities in other areas of life surpass that of so many people who can achieve all the basics. It’s like giving up a sense to merely heighten another sense, or to give up a limb to merely strengthen the ability of another limb; except it’s with the brain, which is far more important and superior than our physical selves. Though, that’s just my opinion.

  3. Sophie, you have some great ideas here. I’d consider our initial disability readings (Shapiro and Linton) to reconsider the idea of autistics as “special” or “angels.” There’s also been some criticism of the movie Rain Man – indeed, the ending of the movie implies that autistics cannot live in regular society (rarely true). Something to think about!

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