Autistic And Awesome Month

In honor of Autistic And Awesome Month, I emerge from Winter Sleep* to announce that I am alive, well, and moar moar moar normal, perpendicular, and orthogonal than ever before.

I am currently working in a neuroscience laboratory doing autism research, and I hope to become a neuroscientist and work in this area as my career.

Brrrainzzz! Brrrainzzz! Brrrainzzz!

In my spare time, I will make psychoactive substances of high yield and purity in an ice cream van and sell them to children at playgrounds and schoolyards.

Drrrugzzz! Drrrugzzz! Drrrugzzz!

That was a joke, Federal Authorities, so please don’t come after me.

*Winter Sleep, noun, lame eggscuse for not posting on blog for months coinciding with winter, when smuggies sleep and bunnies creep…

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Level Up: The Third R

In previous posts, I wrote about learning to read and write words, covering the first two of the Three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic, the third of which is the topic of this post, my favorite of the three, and the one that I learned first.

Here is a timeline for my learning of the Three R’s, indicating the ages when I started to learn them:

Here are some other milestones in my cognitive development:

Echoing, age 48 months
Speaking, age 96 months
Pointing at things for other people to look at, age 144 months
Social smiling, age 156 months
Looking at things other people point at, To Be Determined
Socially appropriate social smiling, When Penguins Fly

When I was a year and a half or so, I started to play with piles of dirt in my grandparents’ yard. For some reason, there was a huge person-plus pile of dirt in the yard, and I used the dirt in the pile to fill my pail. I filled my pail with dirt, packed the dirt into the pail, and up-ended the pail on the pavement to make an upside-down pail-shaped pile of dirt.

In MathSpeak, a purrrfurrrt pail-shaped pile of dirt is called a frustum, and it looks like this:

Repeatedly, more after four after three after two after one, I made these dirt piles, each of them purrrfurrrt, byoootiful, and verry merry berry similar to the one, two, three, four, or more before. As I made them, I arranged them, lining them up in purrrfurrrt furrrmation, verry merry berry similarly spaced for byoootiful purrrfurrrtion, or as byoootifully purrrfurrrt as my eyes and hands could create order from chaos.

In ScienceSpeak, this loss of entropy from the system required an input of free energy to drive the reaction, and indeed did I eat alotta food in those days, so much so that my ingenius (is that the opposite of genius?) father started to limit my food consumption for fear that I would grow large, blow up, and consume the Earth in a swelling swirling singularity of monomaniacal massmassness.

My arrangements looked like this:

As I lined up my dirt piles, I learned to count, not verbally, like “one”, “two”, “three”, “four”, “five”, “six”, or “seven”, but visually, like this:

In my mind, there were no words for numbers, not yet, but I learned the concept of numbers in my way of making dirt piles in purrrfurrrt lines and grids. I learned the concept of numbers, not because someone taught me, but because I built it up with my own hands to see it in all its byoooty and glorrry with my own eyes before me.

Making dirt piles was my first special interest, and I did it for several hours a day in my own purrrfurrrt world of purrrfurrrtly spaced, purrrfurrrt dirt piles, where entropy was verry merry berry low and lowering evermore…

Along with the concept of numbers, I also learned the concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, the basic arithmetic operations that my dirt piles also made purrrfurrrt in all their byoooty and glorrry.

Like many autistic children before and after me, I loved to play in my own way of arranging objects, over and over and over, again and again and again, for hours and hours and hours a day, hyperfocusing on my special interest in the byoootiful purrrfurrrt world inside my mind. According to the DSM, this was a restricted and repetitive behavior, and not the correct, normal, or healthy way for a hoooman child to play. According to me as a hoooman child, it was the bestest way for me to play, and there were no satisfactory substitutes until my mother showed me how to read when I was two and my father showed me how to write when I was three. Still, I continued to make dirt piles until we moved out of my grandparents’ house, and I sadly lost access to the source of such fun, the person-plus pile of dirt in the yard.

Soon after we moved into our apartment when I was three, I learned the verbal labels for the visual patterns that I had been making and seeing for half my life already. I already knew the visual patterns, pile by pile by pile, and line by line by line, but what I did not know were the verbal labels for the visual patterns. I already had the cake, but what I did not have was the frosting. The frosting, I made as I learned to write, drawing the shapes of my numbers just as I drew the shapes of my words, always struggling to write the number 8, because I couldn’t figure out how to draw such a strange figure that twisted and turned in such a strange manner.

Just as I learned to read in the visual to verbal direction, from pictures of things to pictures of words to word for things, so I learned to write in just the same way. Just as I learned the first two R’s, visual to verbal, so I learned the third R in just the same way. Each of the three R’s, I learned through my eyes, and in each case, I learned super duper fast, super duper well, and without others teaching me much of what I learned. For reading, my mother got me started, and I continued on my own, learning to read verry merry berry many words as I pored over my picture books whenever I was not making dirt piles or eating food to power my making of dirt piles. For writing, my father got me started, and I continued on my own, learning to draw and write even faster than I had learned to read. For arithmetic, I got myself started, creating order from chaos at the same time that I showed, for the first time in my life, a complete set of the signs of autism, a “devastating disorder”, or so it is called by others, not me.

But maybe it was not so devastating. Maybe it was not so devastating for me to play in my own way for hours a day, the same way day after day after day. Maybe it was not so devastating for me to learn in my own way, the same way that I played. Maybe it was not so devastating for me to follow my natural normal instinct, physically arranging the physical components of the physical world into a byoootiful purrrfurrrt order that made byoootiful purrrfurrrt sense to me. Maybe it was not so devastating for me to know the pictures, but not the words for the pictures, the patterns, but not the labels for the patterns, and the concepts, but not the language for the concepts. After all, what I didn’t know, someone could simply teach me, visual to verbal, and after I was taught, and so learned, I would know what I hadn’t known before.

Once I knew the words for the pictures, the labels for the patterns, and the language for the concepts, I would be the intelligent precocious child who did arithmetic on command instead of the defective diseased child who made dirt piles by default. I would be the child who followed the correct standards of normal healthy hoooman children instead of the strange child who lived in her own strange world. But even so, I would still be the same person, and it would be the perceptions of others that had changed to be different. And perhaps that was the problem in the first place, that the perceptions of others had been the problematic portions of an otherwise purrrfurrrt picture. Perhaps it was not me or my behaviors, but the perceptions of others, that were wrong. Perhaps it was not me, but others, who were wrong. Perhaps it was not me, but you, who was wrong.

Well, I have never really cared much about the perceptions of other people, those things being largely unknown and irrelevant to me throughout my life. Instead, I have always liked to do my own thing in my own way. Even after I learned the words for the pictures, the labels for the patterns, and the language for the concepts, I still thought in my own way of pictures, patterns, and concepts. I think in pictures, patterns, and concepts, and I translate them into words, labels, and language to communicate them to others. Because of this, I am bester at communicating to others than I am at communicating with others. To communicate to others, while teaching a class on a topic for example, all I have to do is to translate my thoughts into words and say them to others. To communicate with others, while having a conversation without a topic for example, I have to translate my thoughts this way and their words that way, then my thoughts this way and their words that way, then my thougthts this way and their words that way, on and on and on, until my brain fries, and my ears catch on fire.

I have to make the translations, from visual to verbal, pictures to words, patterns to labels, concepts to language, and dirt piles to arithmetic, to communicate to and with others.

Here is a translation in action:

As you can see, even after I learned the correct standards of verbal arithmetic in grade school, I still did the third R in my own way that I had built for myself upon a foundation of firm solid earth.

Click here and hit play for a brilliant rendition of my musical masterpiece on numbers.

Speak Your Mind

Today is Autistics Speaking Day, so I encourage all Earthlings on Earth, autistic or not, to speak your minds today.

Speak your true minds.

Communicate your true thoughts and feelings about something that is important to you.

Tell your true thoughts and feelings to someone who is important to you.

Tell your true thoughts and feelings to a group of people, your families, your friends, your acquaintances, total strangers.

Communicate your true thoughts and feelings without thinking about what other people are thinking about you.

Speak your true minds without fear.

Take a chance and see what happens.

These are what I do today and everyday.

From speaking my mind, my true mind, my true mind without fear, I have learned that no matter how much I am ridiculed or ostracized or censured by some people for saying my true thoughts and feelings outloud, that there are always plenty of other people who think and feel what I think and feel without being quite as good at speaking their minds, this social skill, this communicative function, as I am.

If I don’t speak my mind, then they won’t either.

If I do, then one of them might, then another, then another, then another, the moar moar moar people who have had their say, the moar moar moar people who will have their say, the moar moar moar people who have heard, the moar moar moar people who will hear, the moar moar moar people who have taken action, the moar moar moar people who will take action, the moar moar moar people who have made a change, the moar moar moar people who will make a change.

For this one day, take a chance and speak your mind about something to someone.

For this one day, take a chance and see what happens.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words may set you free.

Does Not Compute: Spoken Directions

I suck at following spoken directions, verry merry berry much. At following spoken directions, my suckage is not within normal limits. I suck abnormally at following spoken directions. My suckage at following spoken directions is not only high, verry merry berry, but high, eggstremely.

Here is a schematic to visualize these advanced concepts:

As you can see, I really really really suck at following spoken directions.

I suck at doing things when someone tells me what to do:

When someone tells me what to do when I am cooking dinner, I have no idear what they are talking about, and I wish that they would stop, so I can cook my dinner in peace, quiet, and combobulation, a lack of discombobulation.

When someone tells me what to do when I am doing a science experiment, I have no idear what they are talking about, and I wish that they would stop, so I could do my science experiment in peace, quiet, and combobulation, defined above.

In seventh grade, when my Home Economics teacher told the class what to do when we were making aprons, I had no idear what she was talking about, and I wished that she would stop, and I sucked at making my apron. At making my apron, I sucked so eggstremely much that I had to go to school extra early in the morning for a special remediation of my apron-making deficits. Me and the teacher both had to show up extra early, so she could show me how to make my apron, me having learned nothing at all from her spoken directions in class. After she showed me how to make my apron, my deficits in apron-making dissolved, problem solved, and I became purrrty durrrn good at making aprons. I made an apron for my class, and I made moar moar moar aprons for fun. I made so many aprons for fun that you could even say that I got an itsy-bitsy obsessed with making aprons, but fortunately, the fad went almost as fast as it had come.

In general, I learn nothing at all from people telling me what to do, whether they are teaching me how to cook dinner, do science experiments, or make aprons. When people tell me how to do things that I already know how to do, I can do everything just fine by ignoring everything that comes out of their mouths. When people teach me how to do things that I don’t know how to do by telling me what to do, or giving me spoken directions, I suck at doing whatever I am supposed to be doing, knowing whatever I am supposed to be doing, understanding whatever I am supposed to be doing, and learning whatever I am supposed to be learning to do.

This was true when I was a child. This is true for me as an adult. This was true when I sucked at language. This is true now that I have good language skills. It doesn’t matter how old I get, or how great my language skills become. I suck, sucked, and will suck at following spoken directions 4evar and evar and evar.

But why do I suck at following spoken directions? Why do I suck so much at learning from people telling me what to do?

I don’t know eggsacly, but I have a few idears:

I suck at processing hoooman speech.

I suck at processing hoooman speech into meanings.

I suck at processing hoooman speech into the non-spoken meanings that I understand fast and good in my own mind.

I suck at processing hoooman speech into the non-spoken, non-verbal meanings that I understand fast and good in my own mind.

I suck at processing hoooman speech into the visual meanings that I understand fast and good in my own mind.

I am a visual thinker, so I understand non-spoken, non-verbal, visual meanings fast and good in my own mind, without taking much time or making much effort to understand them. Them, I just get, just like that, and that is just how I naturally normally think.

I am not a verbal thinker, so I have to translate all verbal spoken directions into non-spoken, non-verbal meanings as the verbal directions are spoken into my ears and brain. This translation takes time and effort, so my understanding of things passed this way into my brain is slow and sucky. It is slow and sucky compared to my natural normal way of thinking, and it is slow and sucky in general. Sometimes, the machine that does the translation gets bogged and clogged when there are too many directions feeding into it too fast, more after four after three after two after one. Sometimes, the machine gets overloaded and shuts down, and all the translations stop. For awhile, anywhile from tenths to tens of hours, the translations cease, and the machine rests in peace. After awhile, when the machine slugs back to life again, the translations start again, but it would be a good idear not to overload the machine again. It would be a good idear not to shut down the machine again. It would be a good idear not to tell me what to do, step after step after step. It would be a good idear not to teach me anything new by giving me spoken directions, yak yak yakkity yak yak. Instead, just show me in actions, pictures, or text, and I will probably get it just fine.

This is what it looks like when the machine bogs and clogs:

“In one ear…&…Out the same ear,” the machine rejects the snail trail.

In moar moar moar official terms, this slow, sucky, sluggish, slimey snail trail is a language processing disorder, an auditory processing disorder, or both. Many autistic people have one, the other, or both.

For example, many autistic children have poor receptive language, meaning that they suck at following spoken directions, learning from spoken language, and understanding what the begeebus people are yakking at them. Maybe they can follow one step at a time, or maybe not. Maybe they can follow two steps in a row, or maybe not. Slime together three or four or moar moar moar slugs in a snail trail, moar moar moar words, and forget about following anything or learning anything. I can’t follow that many steps, that many words, and my brain overloads and shuts down when the machine bogs and clogs, which means the end of any learning of anything in any way for the rest of the day.

So what do we do about this problem? This language processing disorder or auditory processing disorder or ear-brain disconnection disorder or whatever it is?

Problem: Poor receptive language through the ears, slow and sucky, sluggish and slimey

Solution: Develop good receptive language through the eyes, fast and good, autistic and awesome

When I was in grade school, I had a special education plan that I call the “Leave Me Alone” education plan. Ackshuly, I call it the “Leave Me The Fark Alone” education plan, or LMTFA for short. According to LMTFA, I was allowed to ignore everything that came out of everyone’s mouth at school. I did not have to listen to the teachers in class, and I did not have to pretend that I was listening either. I did not have to work or play with the other kids, including the other kids in the gifted and talented program that I had gotten into based on the results of a non-interactive, non-spoken, non-verbal test, basically an IQ test like the Raven’s Progressive Matrices.

Instead of learning from other hooomans in the typical way that hooomans learn from each other, I got to learn on my own from pictures and words in textbooks, worksheets, flashcards, puzzles, and games, thus completely bypassing my receptive language deficits through my ears and my expressive language deficits through my mouth.

If slow and sucky through the ears, then try the eyes instead.

If slow and sucky through the mouth, then try the fingers instead.

Nevar evar evar assume that slow and sucky in one way means slow and sucky in all ways.

Nevar evar evar assume that disability in one way means disability in all ways.

Always search for a way that works.

When I was a kid, I could not learn many things in the typical ways, but I ended up learning many things anyway, because there was always someone willing to adapt to me and teach me in my own way instead of me always having to adapt to everyone else and learning nothing on their highways.

From third grade (or was it second, I furrrgotz) through fifth grade, I had my special education plan that worked grrrrrrreat!!! for me, but I am not advocating for all awesome autistic kids to be left alone to their own soft- and hard-ware. Instead, it would help a lot lot lot if kids with receptive language problems and/or auditory processing problems were taught to read and write and type, so they could bypass their weaknesses to develop their strengths. It would help if the kids could read what was said at the same time that it was said. It would help if the kids could write what they wanted to say, then read what they wrote. It would help if the kids could type what they wanted to say for everyone else to read. All these things would help adults as well, no matter how highly intelligent or how high-functioning they are. As long as they are autistic adults with language and auditory processing problems, then they will benefit from an accommodation for their weaknesses and a recognition of their strengths.

Speaking of strengths, here is another story to balance out the snail trail:

In seventh grade, we were required to take both Home Economics and Industrial Technology as part of the standard junior high curriculum in our school district. Industrial Technology consisted of a bunch of twelve-year-olds on sugar highs running around in a large multi-room workshop operating saws, drills, and sanders, while the lone teacher operated on standby to call the nurse’s office or 911 when I sanded off my fingernail on the belt sander, ooops, or the nerd/geek/dork with the preppy haircut and big glasses cut off his finger with the bandsaw, yikes. In this class, I completed several projects with no problems whatsoever. We had to make a whistle, and I made the whistle that blew the loudest. We had to make a miniature load-bearing bridge, and I made the bridge that bore the greatest load. We had to make a gas-propelled model vehicle, and I made the sharkmobile that flew the fastest.

In this class, I did grrrrrrreat!!!, but not because I knew lotsa fizzicks (I didn’t), or had lotsa experience building things (I hadn’t), or was a gigantic nerd/geek/dork (OK, I was). I did grrrrrrreat!!!, because there were no verbal directions for doing anything, no spoken directions, no written directions, no textbooks, no worksheets, no flashcards, no rulez. Instead, the teacher just drew some pictures of whistles and bridges and cars on the chalkboard and showed us a few of these things, the real things, to hold in our hands, and we were left alone to our own soft- and hard-ware, small pieces of which got lost during the process, ooops.

The only verbal directive was not to lose any of our body parts in class, and I had no problem complying with that spoken direction. The fingernail didn’t count, cuz it grew back just fine, and I’m purrrty sure that the guy got his finger reattached just fine too, two for two.

Level Up: Learn To Write

At two years old, I started to learn to read, as I wrote about in my post Level Up: Learn To Read.

Verry merry berry early, I learned to read *apple* and *pear* and *cat* and *rabbit*, single words for single things, but I did not develop reading comprehension beyond the single word, single thing level for a verry merry berry long time to come. For me as a small child, that was alright, because although I did not understand the whole sentences, paragraphs, or stories that I was reading, I still learned a large vocabulary of words for things, and I still made the connections between words and things, and I still built the foundation for learning later to make the translations between my visual thoughts and the verbal communications that would allow me to offload my brilliant brilliance, for hours and hours and hours at a time, to my fellow Earthlings on Earth, the poor things.

For writing, things were much the same.

At three years old, I started to learn to write.

One day, my father doodled a doodle of a cat or a rabbit or something on an envelope or something, and I saw it, picked up a pencil, and doodled his doodle. Then, we ate some oodles of noodles for lunch and doodled oodles of doodles afterwards, some of which included words, which to me, as I doodled whatever he doodled, were no different from the small furrry purrry animalcules that he is still doodling all over envelopes to this verry merry berry day, while he is waiting for one of his extraordinarily slow, Luddite-endorsed thinking machines to recover from him stroking a key, any key, on its orderly array of mechanoreceptors.

For me, writing words was like drawing pictures.

I saw a picture of a cat, and I drew it.

I saw a picture of the word for a cat, and I drew it.

The way that I saw the word for a cat…

…was like the way that someone else would have seen the word for a cat…

…in a furrreign purrreign language that they didn’t understand…

…except as a picture, just as we all saw the picture of the cat, the small furrry purrry animalcule itself.

From reading and writing at the pictorial level of single words and single things, I made the connections between words and things, which was an important step for me to generalize an idea as simple as a cat from a picture of this cat, a picture of that cat, pictures of moar moar moar cats, the small furrry purrry animalcules themselves, all labeled by the picture *cat* as I saw it with my eyes and drew it with my fingers. I still didn’t talk or talk about cats, but I did build the foundation for learning to do that a few years later.

Just as parents should teach their awesome autistic children to read words as early as possible, so should they teach their children to write or type words verry merry berry early too. Regardless of whether or not the child speaks any words or looks anyone in the eye or points at anything, the parents should try to teach the child to read and write words. Reading and writing single words for single things were the first and second steps in language development for this awesome autistic child. For me, reading and writing came before listening and speaking, so not listening and not speaking do not mean not being able to learn to read and write words.

Want a non-verbal autistic child to learn to communicate and use language for communication?

Step 1: Read words.

Step 2: Write words.

If receptive language is bad through the ears, then try the eyes.

If expressive language is bad through the mouth, then try the fingers.

When I was little, I had atypically good motor skills for drawing pictures and writing words, but not all autistic children have those skills at those ages. Most typical children don’t either, but we now have the technology to bypass the majority of the motor skills deficits commonly found amongst autistic children and children in general. Instead of writing, a child can type. She can see a picture of a cat and admire it. She can see a picture of the word for a cat and type it.

In the beginning, her fingers can be guided to the keys on the keyboard, but hands off as soon as she starts pecking with some accuracy herself. I was a small child in the olden times of the 1980s, so I did not have access to these new-fangled thinking machines with their orderly arrays of mechanoreceptors, but I could have learned to type words on a keyboard just as well as I did learn to write words with a pencil. All I had to do was to match the letters in the words that I saw to the letters on the keyboard. That was within my abilities as a non-verbal autistic child who did not have much in the way of language, communication, or joint attention. I did not look at things that people pointed out for me to look at, but I could have looked between a flashcard and a keyboard just fine. I did not point at anything for anyone else to look at, but I could have moved my fingers around the keys on a keyboard just fine.

When I saw these pictures…

…I could have typed the words to go with them just fine.

I could have typed the words, and typing the words would have solidified the connections between the words and the things in my mind, the connections encoded through my eyes and my fingers. By seeing with my eyes, I would have learned to read words as labels for things. By typing with my fingers, I would have learned to write and spell them too. Later, in school, I was always verry merry berry good at spelling.

Once I had made some progress in typing, anyone who had tried to move my arm or hold my hand or guide my fingers or provide any push or pull in any direction or interfere in any way with my extremely enjoyable, independent activity of extremely enjoyable, independent typing, would have been deservingly met with some minor violent act, such as me slapping their dirty paws off my dirty paws and my soon-to-be-dirty keyboard not to be dirtied by their dirty paws, but only mine, Mine, MINE, MY PRECIOUS, everyone else, HANDS OFF!!!

At a young age, autistic children can be taught, and so learn, to read and write words, the first and second steps in language development.

What is this thing? Do you remember the word for it?

She remembers and types the word for this thing, knowing that the word goes with the thing.

Rinse’n’Repeat, many many many times, to learn a vocabulary of words, the foundation for language development.

Once, I asked a professional in the field, a speech and language pathologist, if she or her colleagues regularly used this technique to teach kids like me to read and write words. She told me no, that this technique was not regularly used in speech and language therapies for autistic children. In fact, she said that she had never used it herself. According to common practice, autistic children were not taught to read or write words, because it was commonly believed that they lacked the ability to learn or use language for communication. For this, the words are “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

For me, these words did not apply, because I learned to read and write many many many words before I learned to speak, communicate, or use language for communication. I learned to read and write at the single word, single thing level, before I learned to read at the level of sentences, paragraphs, stories, office products catalogs that I like to read in the bathroom, or scientific publications that I like to read in my bed, the bester to fall asleep faster. If someone had tried to teach me to speak or communicate or use language for communication before I had learned to read or write words, then I don’t know what would have happened with me. Maybe I would have learned just fine, but maybe I would have been super duper confused. Perhaps I would have gotten it after awhile, but perhaps I would have struggled forever. Possibly everything would have been the same for me today, but possibly everything would have been different. Who knows? I don’t, because that is not what happened with me.

What happened with me was that I learned to read and write words in the way that I learned the bestest…

…me seeing the words as pictures just as I saw the pictures as pictures…

…and me drawing the words as pictures just as I drew the pictures as pictures.

Pictures of cats and pictures of the word for a cat.

Pictures of rabbits and pictures of the word for a rabbit.

As you can see, I had a lot of fun doing it too, both then, when I saw and drew my words as pictures, and now, when I type my words to tell my stories on my blog, mine, Mine, MINE, MY PRECIOUS!!!

Everyone else, HANDS OFF!!!

Please refer to my post The Magical World Of Make-Believe, if you are wondering why I am so skeeery-looking in my picture, skreeemy-looking with my words, and impersonating the dentist of your dreams, your really really really bad dreams.

The Magical World Of Make-Believe

In the autism community, there is a magical world of make-believe.

In the magical world of make-believe, non-verbal autistic children who had received no education in the three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic, or anything else either, suddenly know how to use complex language to communicate their complex thoughts and feelings as soon as someone shows up to move their fingers around a keyboard, the bester to rescue them from their trapped existence in their miserable prisons, their bodies that motor fine for many activities requiring fine motor skills, but typing on a keyboard not included.

All of a sudden, there is hope on the horizon. Not only is there hope on the horizon, near or far, but the fruit ripens before your verry merry berry eyes in an amazing time-lapse video accompanied by eloquent verbal articulations in real-time. There is no process of learning to type. There is no process of learning to use language. There is no process of learning to communicate using language by typing. There is no mistyping of nonsense letters followed by repetitive typing of single words followed by a small breakthrough, a short simple phrase expressing a short simple thought, typed many times in a row for her own pleasure and not with an audience in mind, the complex sentences with the complex words and the complex meanings quite a few yellow bricks down the road, but worth the hard work for you and her both when she gets there, a few months, a few years, a decade or two past today’s golden delicious sunset on the horizon, no wizards, spells, or magic involved.

For the non-verbal autistic child of a certain age, let’s say 8 or 9 or 10, learning to type, use language, and communicate are all verry merry berry possible things, as long as these things are taught to them us. There is the child, and there is the teacher, and the teacher works with the child one-on-one to teach the child that words mean things and make sentences, which also mean things beyond the things that the words mean themselves, and here is how to string the words that I learned to read and write into a sentence that means something to me and the person to whom I typed, wrote, or spoke it to communicate my thoughts and feelings to them. That is how I learned to use language for communication, starting at the age of 8, progressing through the age of 9, and doing verry merry berry well by the age of 10. It was a process that occurred over months and years, not minutes or hours, and it was a lot of work, but it was play too, because I had lots of fun learning to use language, and using language for everything from communicating to generalizing to analyzing to creating was essential to my cognitive development into the thinker that I am today.

At the age of 8 or 9 or 10, what I could do was learn the three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and purrrty much everything else too, as long as there was a teacher to get me started and myself to do the work and play, lots of lots of fun.

I was a verry merry berry smart child, and I was verry merry berry good at learning, but I needed a lot of help in the areas that my brain was not naturally good at. Every area that was verbal, my brain was not naturally good at. Every area that my brain was not naturally good at, I was taught, and I learned, and I worked on it, and I tried hard, and I had both successes and failures many many many times, so I got good enough to get by and then some on a good day. It was a process that took months and years, and this process is still going on today. I did not learn to speak for myself in a day, right away.

At the age of 8 or 9 or 10, what I could not suddenly do in front of a keyboard was all of the following:

Type a sentence to communicate a thought in words.

Think a thought in words in my mind.

Think of communicating a thought in words to others.

Know what verbal communication was.

String words into sentences in real-time.

Communicate my thoughts in words in real-time.

Think thoughts in words to communicate in real-time.

Think of thinking thoughts in words to communicate in real-time.

Before I learned to use language for communication, I also sucked at all of the following:

Reading beyond the single word level.

Understanding most of what I had read.

Thinking about what I had read in my mind.

Thinking of thinking about what I had read in my mind.

Outputting what I had read in my own words.

Outputting what I knew in my own words.

As a verry merry berry small child with hyperlexia, I learned verry merry berry early to read and write words. To me, reading words was like seeing sights and hearing sounds. To me, writing words was like drawing pictures. Without help, I did not develop good reading comprehension on my own. I did not develop good language usage on my own. No wizards. No spells. No magic. None of these for me. Without an understanding of language, I did not learn all kinds of things of cabbages and kings to be able to show the cornucopia of knowledge that I had accumulated during my non-verbal, socially aloof, uncommunicative years, as soon as someone showed up to move my finger around a keyboard. No, I did not have super duper awesome thoughts on this topic, and no, I did not have super duper awesome feelings on that topic. No, there were no complex thoughts and feelings in my mind, and no, I did not have a running commentary of my brilliant observations, analyses, and conclusions between my ears. Behind my eyes were no powerful poignant emotions or emotional expressions, and nowhere in my brain was there the flickering faintest about what could possibly be going on inside anyone else’s mind.

I was a typical autistic chid. Smart, ready to learn, capable of learning, really good at some things, really bad at some things, and in no way, shape, or form ready or capable of using facilitated communication to speak for myself.

After I learned to use language for communication and many other things, I still cannot do most of the following most of the time:

Communicate a smooth and coherent stream of verbal thoughts and feelings in real-time.

Answer smoothly and coherently open-ended questions in real-time.

Write a smooth and coherent narrative of my experiences for an audience in real-time.

Express my opinions smoothly and coherently with an audience in mind in real-time.

Be socially insightful in my verbal communications verry merry bery often.

Be socially adept in my verbal communications verry merry berry often.

Use persuasive emotional language in my verbal communications lots lots lots.

Use cogent abstract arguments in my verbal communications lots lots lots.

Sound like a typical person in all my communications as an autistic person at all times.

Sound like an autistic person communicating my real thoughts and feelings at no time.

These are all things that I cannot do consistently, and the moar moar moar people there are watching my every move, the less less less likely that I will be able to do them. I could not suddenly do them or any rudimentary version of them before I learned, I mean really really really learned for real real real, to use language for communication, and I cannot do them well now. I can do some of them some of the time on my blog, but not as well as most bloggers or most autistic bloggers on the Internetz. That is fine with me, because that is not my way anyway. My way is to communicate concrete thoughts in concrete language about concrete topics that I know and understand.

Here is one of my latest:

I feel ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh to find that facilitated communication is widely accepted within the autism community, especially amongst the autistic proponents of neurodiversity, whose magical world of make-believe is not, was not, and could never have been good for me.

In this post, my point is that this non-verbal autistic child could not have learned to communicate through facilitated communication. Instead, this non-verbal autistic child learned to communicate and use language for communication, because she was taught in a process that took months and years, not minutes or hours, that required work on the parts of the teacher and the student, that was really really really worth it with each and every brick that she, really really really her, built into the road.

Dear parents, please consider helping your children build this road, word by word, sentence by sentence, brick by brick, for genuine language and communication. It is not quick or easy, but it is possible, probable, worthwhile.

At the same time, please resist the wizardry, spells, and magic of things that are too good to be true, no matter how instantly gratifying and emotionally uplifting they are.

When I was a child, I could not have communicated through facilitated communication. I would not have had the skills to do it. It would have been beyond my abilities. I would not have learned to communicate using it. I would not have learned to communicate for real. I would not have learned to speak, write, or type for myself. None of the communications would have been mine. This communication would not be here today. I would not have been able to tell my stories on my blog. No doubt would tales have been told here still, but none of them mine, and not by me.

Dispatch Mismatch

I have echolalia, which means that I repeat what other people say after they say it.

Usually, someone says something, whether to me or someone else, and I repeat the last word or two of their statement, several times.

Someone: Have you seen this new band, Bunny Bot and the RoboCats?

Me: RoboCats, Cats, Cats…

Someone else: Oh yeah! That’s my new favorite band! I went to their concert last weekend!

Me: Weekend, Weekend, Weekend…

Someone: There’s another concert this weekend. Wanna go?

Me: Go, Go, Go, Go, Go, Go, Go…

Someone else: OK! Let’s go! RoboCats and Bunny Bot!

Me: Bunny Bot, Bot, Bot…

My whole life, I have been doing this, and it is usually not a big deal, except that people usually think that I am talking to them when I am just saying what I heard with no intention of communicating anything at all.

When I am at home, I often echo the statements of people on TV, and whenever my mother hears me echoing something, she automatically thinks that I am talking to her, when I am not even aware that I am saying anything at all. With echolalia, I usually say the words a few times in a row before I realize that I am saying anything at all, at which point I can stop if I choose.

However, my saying of the words, even once, seems to make people think that I am talking to them, because most people have such a strong communication instinct that they are super duper primed to receive the incoming communications of everyone around them, whether those communications are actual communications or not.

In a thousand words, the situation looks like this:

The mutant three-eared bunny says “hoodoo”, and the bunny bot on the hover rock gives the tilted anvil one little poke with her finger to drop it over the edge, yikes…

But what happens if we turn the tables?

What happens when I hear someone say something, someone like me, repeating some words that they just heard on a YouTube video playing on their laptop?

I am autistic, so my brain is not super duper primed to receive incoming communications and respond to them by instinct. When someone says something to me, it takes me a little longer than most to realize that someone is communicating with me, and it takes me a little longer than most to think of the words that I am going to say in response to them. That is why there is sometimes a little delay in my verbal responses to other people. That was why I usually didn’t respond to people at all, when I was little.

For me, the thousand words look moar moar moar like this:

In my mind, the anvil is not placed, tilted, or ready to drop off the rock. Instead, I have to expend extra effort to push it to the edge of my hover rock, tilt it up, and shove it over the edge to fall on top of the unsuspecting three-eared mutant.

In the meantime, the mutant has the chance to say “hoodoo” many times in a row, at least the four in the picture, but likely moar moar moar. As soon as she says “hoodoo” two or three times, my brain automatically knows that she is echoing, not communicating, so my brain automatically shuts down my process of responding. Responding to a communication costs a lot of effort for me, so if there is no communication, then there is no need to waste energy.

The thousand words can be saved for this:

I completely ignore the echolaliator and continue my happy snappy Internetzing in effortless comfort.

Or moar moar moar for this:

Either way, whether I ignore the echoes or start echoing them myself, there would be no miscommunication between the three-eared mutant bunnies. There would be no communication at all, because the three-ears have the same theory of mind, autistic theory of mind that is not super duper primed for communication, does not respond by effortless instinct, and does not misread the echoes of others into communications or the intention to communicate.

Only when the bunnies have different theories of mind and different numbers of ears is there a dispatch mismatch, a general pattern that holds true in real life eggswell.

By the way, just to let y’all know, my anvil is back from the shop, but I am still waiting for my hover rock to arrive in the mail. I don’t know when I’m going to get it, because I lost my SpaceEx tracking number.

The Way To Relate

Often, when autistic people talk about their autistic traits, other people relate to those traits.

For example, I might say that socializing exhausts me, and before I start saying how exactly socializing exhausts me, someone else jumps in and says that socializing tires them out too, that they relate to me by having the same trait that I have.

Or I might say that I am hypersensitive to noise, and before I start saying how exactly I am hypersensitive to noise, someone else jumps in and says that they don’t like sudden loud noises either, that they relate to me by having the same trait that I have.

Or I might say that I sometimes have difficulty speaking and conversing, and before I start saying how exactly I have difficulty speaking and conversing, someone else jumps in and says that they sometimes can’t find the right words either, that they relate to me by having the same trait that I have.

In a thousand words, a summary of the above:

When people say that they relate to me before I start relating any of the details of my traits and experiences, what they seem to be saying is that we all have pretty much the same traits, that we all have pretty much the same experiences, that we are all pretty much the same, except just a little different in detail, and that I could be just like everyone else if I just swam harder and faster with my school of fish in the direction in which all the other fish are swimming.

Relating is a common phenomenon in social interactions. People often relate to each other, and for most people, having other people say that they relate often helps them feel better about themselves and less alone in their lives. Relating is considered a generally good thing, and people generally do it with good intentions.

However, it doesn’t work for me, and I don’t like it when people do it to me.

To the relating, I don’t relate.

I don’t relate, because I am autistic, and I think verry merry berry differently from most of the people around me. Unlike how most people are different from each other, I am not just different in the small details, verry merry berry many of them for each different person. I am verry merry berry different in the big picture too, and my traits and experiences are not nearly the same as everyone else’s. They are not the same, and they are not similar either. In addition, I can’t be just like everyone else no matter how much I try, no matter how hard and fast I swim with my school of fish in the direction in which all the other fish are swimming.

Another thousand words to summarize:

When I say that socializing exhausts me, I mean that I feel physically ill after spending a few minutes around people at a party where I can’t hear anything that anyone is saying to me, because I am hypersensitive to noise, and I can hear every little clink of glass and scuffle of shoe in the room, so all these little noises everywhere are taking over my brain, which is processing far more sensory stimuli in the form of noises and lights and sights and sounds at a far more amplified and detailed level than everyone else’s brain, and that is why I am having difficulty speaking and conversing, because I think in pictures, not words, and I am way too overloaded and braindrained right now to do my usual overloading braindraining translation of pictures into words to communicate with other people in a way that is still verry merry berry different from how most people communicate with each other.

Or I might say that I feel sick whenever someone comes into my room when I wasn’t expecting them.

Or I might say that I can hear people sniffling in the kitchen downstairs and on the opposite side of the house from my room with my door closed.

Or I might say that I used to be a non-verbal child who had zero words in my mind and therefore never said anything to anyone who said anything to me.

Once I get a chance to describe my traits and experiences in detail, most people don’t relate, and that is exactly what I wish for them to do. I wish for most people not to relate to me, because I know that many of my traits and experiences are not relatable for people who are not autistic or even autistic people who have an expression of autism that is significantly different from mine.

When people don’t relate to me, I can be my normal natural self, without having to swim too hard and too fast with my school of fish in the direction in which all the other fish are swimming. That exhausts me quickly, and I can’t do it for long without sinking.

When people do relate, I can’t be my normal natural self. When people relate to me, what they expect from me is that I relate to them as well. Well, I don’t, and I can’t. In addition, they expect me to do what they do in the way in which they do it, because they think that I am not that different from them. After all, they relate to me, or they think that they do without waiting to hear any of the details of my traits and experiences that make mine verry merry berry different from theirs.

The opposite doesn’t hold true. I don’t relate to other people, and I don’t think that I do, because I know that they are verry merry berry different from me. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t ever relate to anyone else ever. To relate to people who think verry merry berry differently from me, I have to hear many of the details of their traits and experiences that make theirs verry merry berry different from mine. Otherwise, I don’t know what their traits and experiences are, and I don’t know if I have any that are at all similar to theirs.

In many cases, I don’t, but that still doesn’t mean that I can’t relate at all.

I can often find a way to relate.

For example, when someone tells me that they are upset about a social slight that they received from someone else, I don’t and can’t relate. I don’t and can’t relate, because I am not as sensitive to social cues as most people are, so chances are that a social slight that someone else perceived as a strong offense against them is something that didn’t even register in my mind. To me, these social perceptions are like hypersensitive overreactions to hallucinatory delusions about things that are not real, and I have to remember explicitly that they are real to other people, that other people get upset and feel bad about them all the time as well.

In my mind, the feeling is unmutual, but I know what it is like to be upset by other things that are real to me, but not to others. I know what it is like to be upset by a sudden interruption or eating noises or the noise of the phone ringing or the noise of the doorbell ringing or too many people talking for too long or just one person going on and on and on in an excessively varitone voice.

I know what it is like to be upset about the things that I get upset about, and I know what it is like to feel bad about the things that I feel bad about, so I can draw a line between my feelings in one situation and someone else’s feelings in another situation. This doesn’t require that we feel the same way in the same situation, but it still relates our feelings to each other’s, so we can understand a little something about each other.

If someone knows that I can’t stand to hear their eating noises that drive me crazy and shut down my brain, then they know that I am not eating with them for a reason other than me disliking them and wishing to avoid them at all cost.

If I know that someone else feels neglected because I am not eating with them, then I know that they wish to spend more time with me and need me to spend more time with them doing something other than eating.

Even amongst people who think verry merry berry differently, relating can be done, as long as it is done in a different way. The lines for relating can be drawn, and the ways built up from listening to people when they say a little something about themselves.

Listening, whether the people are autistic or not, whether their experiences are different in the big picture or the small details.

Listening to relate, not speaking to not relate.

I think that everyone likes to be listened to and told that they are different in certain situations, that they really are different from everyone else in the specifics of their ongoing life experiences. Sometimes, the best way to relate is to admit the differences, figure out what they are, and go from there.

Other times, relating is purrrfurrrtly effortless, even amongst people who think verry merry berry differently in the big picture and the small details.

All of us fish in our school wish to avoid the big bad anglerfish dangling its light to lure us in and eat us. That is why we seek safety in numbers.

The Light Of Day And Night

I have sensory issues, many many many of them, and the greatest of them is my hypersensitivity to light.

I am verry merry berry hypersensitive to light.

One of the lights to which I am verry merry berry hypersensitive is the light of the Sun.

I have issues with the light of the Sun.

The light of the Sun hurts my eyes, my eyes in the back of my head.

The light of the Sun hurts my brrrainzzz, verry merry berry much.

To me, the light of the Sun is like a vampire, a brain-draining vampire that drrrainzzz my brrrainzzz of my brrrainzzz, of it being its normal healthy happy snappy self.

The light of the Sun makes my brrrainzzz not work, so I must limit my exposure to it, if I wish my brrrainzzz to work, today, tomorrow, totomorrow, and for months and years to come.

To limit my exposure to it, I wear sunglasses, which I don’t really like to wear, or a hat, which I do really like to wear.

This summer, I have been wearing my Red Sox cap.

It has a big B and a big brim, and it keeps the light out and my brrrainzzz in.

While wearing it, I feel like my brrrainzzz are being stored safely in my head by its comfortable consistent pressure around my head.

I like things that place a comfortable consistent pressure around my head.

I like bike helmets, and I would never go biking without wearing one.

I like bunny ear headbands, and I often wore these in college.

I like chemistry goggles, and I always wear these when I fly past the Sun on my annual magic carpet ride to celebrate the official end of summer, the season of the Sun and its light.

I love the Sun, but I hate its bright light, light too bright.

In the morning, I hate the bright light that shines into my face and makes my eyes water.

At noontime, I hate the bright light that beams on my back and makes my head droop.

After noon, I hate the bright light that fries my forehead and makes my hair heat.

In the evening, I love the twilight and its long slow flight into the night.

Ideally, it would always be twilight or night, eighteen hours of twilight and eight hours of night, eighteen hours of night and eight hours of twilight.

Below the horizon, the Sun would light up the air of the Earth, a built-in filter that filters out the harm and in the charm.

The light would be golden and glowing and soft, the sky orange and purple and red.

The dark would be furrry and purrry and warm, the blackness gray, the grayness blue, the blueness true.

It would be a photographer’s dream come true.

Every twilight, I would fly across the sky on my magic carpet ride to celebrate the end of the day.

Every night, I would sleep by starlight, the bester to wake for a bright new twilight, an old beloved sight, the just right light of day and night.

DSM-5: Truth And Consequences

During the past year, there has been a lot of controversy over the DSM-5, its upcoming publication, and its proposed revision of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders.

By merging all autism spectrum disorders into one, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), the DSM-5 has freaked out different people for the same reason, that being who will be diagnosed or not diagnosed according to the newer, stricter criteria within.

Some adults are worried that they will not meet the full criteria to be diagnosed with ASD.

Some parents are worried that their children will not meet the full criteria to be diagnosed with ASD.

Some adults are worried that they will be too high-functioning to be diagnosed with ASD.

Some parents are worried that their children will be too high-functioning to be diagnosed with ASD.

Some researchers and clinicians tell everyone not to worry, that everything will be A-OK, and that the DSM-5 will diagnose just as many children and adults as does the DSM-IV.

Some researchers and clinicians tell everyone to worry, that everything will not be A-OK, and that the DSM-5 will not diagnose many many many children and adults diagnosed or diagnosable by the DSM-IV.

Studies are done, and papers are published, and some show the former, and some show the latter, and there is no general agreement over what will happen when the book is published and the criteria applied. On opposite sides of the DSM-5 Divide, the researchers snipe at each other, criticizing the methodology here and the agenda there, while the people affected by the changes, the autistic adults and children and the families of autistic children and adults, are freaked out and have no idea what or who to believe on an issue that is verry merry berry important to them.

Lost in the DSM-5 Diagnosis Rate Debate have been the criteria themselves, the proposed revision of the diagnostic criteria for ASD that is causing so much controversy in the World of DSM-5 Discord.

I don’t care about the DSM-5 Divide, Debate, Discord. My theory of mind is not good enough for me to understand these things.

I only care about the criteria themselves. My theory of mind, my autistic theory of autistic mind, is good enough for me to know what autism is, and whether the criteria will be good for diagnosing autistic people with autism and not diagnosing non-autistic people with autism, which are what the diagnostic criteria are made to do.

Here is the link to the criteria: DSM-5 ASD

Here are the criteria in HooomanSpeak, the profile of an autistic person from the perspective of a typical person who knows a little about autism from the outside, e.g. the clinician diagnosing autism, e.g. the researcher investigating autism:

(A) Deficits in social interaction and communication, meet three of three:

(1) Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging from blathering on and on and on about the same indescribably boring things and not STFU-ing when I make gooogly eyes at you to STFU to all-walkie-no-talkie when I call your name and make gooogly eyes at you to walkie-talkie to me (OMG! Why can’t you just act normal for once?)

(2) Deficits in non-verbal communication, ranging from not molesting my eyeballs with your eyeballs in a socially appropriate manner to not molestng my eyeballs with your eyeballs at all (OMG! Why can’t you just act normal for once?)

(3) Deficits in development of relationships, ranging from not knowing how to make friends or friends with benefits and suck up to people for selfish personal gain to not knowing that there are such things as making friends or friends with benefits or sucking up to people for selfish personal gain (OMG! Why can’t you just act normal for once?)

(B) Restricted and repetitive behaviors, meet two of four:

(1) Stereotypies, e.g. echoing with I say and doing it lots lots lots to annoy the begeebus out of me, e.g rocking back and forth and doing it lots lots lots to annoy the begeebus out of me (OMG! Why do you act so autistic all the time?)

(2) Routines and rituals, e.g. going to the same boring old people’s park for five minutes a day everyday, rain, snow, hail, frogs, locusts, plague, and nukular reactor and/or missile catastrophes, to do nothing there, because there is nothing to do there, but your parents made the mistake of taking you there this one time when they were suckers for your gooogly eyes that were not ackshuly gooogling at them to take you to the park that they falsely believed that you desired them to take you to and came to suffer the long-term consequences thatof, poor foolish hooomans who would have been driven insane by you, had they not been insane to begin with, e.g. keeping each and every object in the same location and orientation at all times and freaking out if those are changed at any time by any amount (OMG! Why do you act so autistic all the time?)

(3) Special interests, e.g. pursuing the same nevar-evar-ending dirt- and block-building projects with laser-like intensity and focus for hours and hours and hours day after day after day, e.g. poring over the same indescribably boring doorknob model numbers with laser-like intensity and focus for hours and hours and hours day after day after day (OMG! Why do you act so autistic all the time?)

(4) Sensory abnormalities, e.g. going berserker whenever the lights are turned on, e.g. going berserker whenever the phone rings, e.g. going berserker whenever the wind blows on your face, e.g. berserkedly smelling each and every object and hoooman in your path, e.g. developing a berserk taste for things that are not food (OMG! Why do you act so autistic all the time?)

From the perspective of an autistic person who knows a lot about autism from the inside, the criteria read more like this:

(A) Lack of typical social brrrainzzz

(1) Lack of typical social brrrainzzz (I ain’t gotz no normal brrrainzzz, nope nope nope)

(2) Lack of typical social brrrainzzz (I ain’t gotz no normal brrrainzzz, nope nope nope)

(3) Lack of typical social brrrainzzz (I ain’t gotz no normal brrrainzzz, nope nope nope)

(B) Awesome autistic things that I ain’t lackz

(1) Awesome autistic things that I love to do and can’t do without (They will have to spoooooool these things out of my brrrainzzz through my nostrils if they wish to rid me of them, yep yep yep)

(2) Awesome autistic things that I love to do and can’t do without (They will have to spoooooool these things out of my brrrainzzz through my nostrils if they wish to rid me of them, yep yep yep)

(3) Awesome autistic things that I love to do and can’t do without (They will have to spoooooool these things out of my brrrainzzz through my nostrils if they wish to rid me of them, yep yep yep)

(4) Awesome autistic spidey senses that make me a good (a) vampire, (b) eavesdropper, (c) barometer, (d) shark, and (e) vampire (I will suck out their blood and bite off their limbs if they try to spoooooool any of the above above above out of my brrrainzzz through my nostrils that will suck in the air that I will need to rid me not of them, but them other them, harharhar)

In addition, two other criteria must be met for an autism diagnosis to be made:

(C) Be autistic since early childhood.

(D) Have impairments in functioning caused by being autistic.

In multiplication, the diagnosis also comes with a severity level:

Level 1: Requiring support (DSM-Speak is so vague that no one knows what this means)

Level 2: Requiring substantial support (DSM-Speak is so vague that no one knows what this means)

Level 3: Requiring very substantial support (DSM-Speak is so vague that no one knows what this means)

DSM-Speak is so vague that no one knows how the severity levels will apply to real live hooomans, but what is not vague is that there will have to be some identifiable impairments in functioning and some identifiable accommodations for those impairments for an autism diagnosis to be made for a real live awesome autistic hoooman.

So what is so super duper wrong with the DSM-5 to cause so much Divide, Debate, Discord?

In my opinion, nothing is super duper wrong, nothing so super duper wrong to cause so much Divide, Discord, Debate.

The purpose of the DSM-5 is to define what autism is at the behavioral level, the only level at which we currently know enough about autism to be able to define it at all. We don’t know much about autism at the cognitive level or the neurobiological level or the molecular and cellular levels, but in order to know moar moar moar about these other levels, we have to do what we currently can, which is to define what autism is at the behavioral level, definitely and definitively, like how an autistic person acts, and how an autistic person acts differently from a typical person, and how different autistic persons act differently from each other, so we can figure out the moar moar moar interesting things, like how an autistic person thinks, and how an autistic person thinks differently from a typical person, and how different autistic persons think differently from each other.

As a definition of autism, the DSM-5 criteria for ASD are fine. They are about as fine as any other criteria that I have ever read. In my opinion, the criteria present a profile of an autistic person from the perspective of a typical person, require autistic traits that are fundamental to autism, and recognize that there is a variety of expression of those traits, a spectrum starting and stopping with the difficulties experienced by real live autistic people in a world not designed by or for them and the supports for those difficulties that can help moar moar moar of us do moar moar moar of what we need and want to do in our lives.

The DSM-5 definition of autism makes verry merry berry much sense to me, and it is verry merry berry close to the original definitions of autism by Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, the ones that describe awesome autistic children in a way that makes sense and rings true to an awesome autistic child like me.

What will happen to the rate of diagnosis when the newer, stricter criteria are applied is unknown to me, but what I do know is that there is nothing super duper wrong with the criteria themselves.

My theory of mind is not good enough to understand the DSM-5 Divide, Debate, Discord. All I know is that criteria themselves make sense and ring true, based on what I know about autism from learning about it the way the clinicians and researchers learn about it, and understanding it the way that only an autistic person ever could.

To me, the DSM-5 does a good job of defining the truth of autism for the purpose of diagnosis. The consequences of the truth, I have no idea what they will be. Perhaps they will not be a big deal, as some say, and the rate of diagnosis will not change, not change much at all. Perhaps they will be a big deal, as some say, and the rate of diagnosis will drop, not necessarily the big bad snake-scaled fork-tongued monster that it has been made out to be.

But in my opinion, and from my perspective, the unknown consequences of the truth should not stand in the way of the truth itself. I support the DSM-5, and I think that the book should be published and the criteria applied. I think that the DSM-5 definition of autism, just autism, is superior to the DSM-IV definitions of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. In the DSM-5, I particularly support the diagnosis of autism and autism alone, no more Autistic Disorder (the Big Bad Autismism that will ruin your life and the lives of everyone around you) or Asperger’s Disorder (the Special Autistical Autistican Syndrome that is the same as autism to some who have it and totally different for others who do too) or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (the Confusing-B-U Confused-R-Us Catchall that is some kind of autism for some who have it and totally not for others who do too) to classify and class autistic people into categories that they may or may not fit, in which they may or may not get the help that they need.

In the DSM-5, autistic people are just autistic, strong, simple, and pure. The severity levels do run the risk of putting people into boxes, Levels 1, 2, or 3, but that risk can be reduced by recognizing that autistic people can move from one level to another as they grow up and learn things. Autistic children diagnosed at two-and-a-half at Level 3 can level up into autistic adults of twenty-and-a-half at Level 2, then thirty-and-a-half at Level 1. That is the true nature of true autism, that autistic children grow up and learn things, do more and need less, leveling up. If these are not what an autistic child is doing, then that autistic child should be taught and supported to do them, to grow up and learn things, do more and need less, leveling up.

Towards these goals, I hope that the DSM-5 will do a lot of good and not much bad at the first step, the diagnosis. To me, the criteria make sense and ring true, as they do to a lot of other autistic people too. Right now, that is all I care or can care about, the truth, and all I can do is to sit back, relax, and pop things, all food items, into my mouth, to handle the good and bad of it.