Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Autism & Geniuses

So I recently read the ending to "Thinking In Pictures." At first, I mentioned that I felt emotionally detached from it but then I found myself indulged in her informative style. She noted that autistic people are not necessarily unable to learn. It is said that most autistic people possess extreme knowledge in a certain subject but will lack in others. For example, Albert Einstein is one of the most well known scientist in the world! Did you know he had autistic traits?! It is the same case for Van Gogh and Wittgenstein. To take it back to the present, Bill Gates had autistic traits as well.

My views of autistic people have changed since. I learned that they are not necessarily that different than us. They just have a different mind set. Actually, they may possess knowledge far greater than we expect from them. Who knows? Maybe the autistic person sitting next to you in class may be the next Einstein or Van Gogh. As in Temple's case, she is a visual person. Although her communication and writing skills are not up to standards, her visionary skills far surpass those of "normal" people. This leads me to the question, what is normal anyways?

The last time I checked, there was no real specific definition for a normal person. In this society, there is so much pressure for people to fit into the social norm which causes people to shun those who are diagnosed with autism, a mental disorder, or anything out of the "ordinary." What I do not understand is the power of the media and the pressure to fit in. What is so great about fitting in? It is the uniqueness in each individual that makes that person who they are. I have learned to respect people for who they are.

By the way, I looking forward to going to New York this Friday and Newport on Saturday. I am anxious for this weekend to come.

Ropes Course

Today I had to wake up really early because I had a ropes course that was 30 minutes away. I got up at 6:30 a.m. to make sure I'll have enough time to eat breakfast. Once I got over to breakfast I found out that our ropes course was delayed because of weather. So we had to wait an extra hour and finally they took us to another place to start our activities. There we talked to Dean Rose and did teamwork activities. In the activities we had a lot of challenges some were blind folded, muted, then some could see but they talk. The challenges turn out to work better than when everyone could talk and see.

Then later on the weather cleared so we went to the original place for the ropes course, but most groups only had time to do one activity because it really started to storm. My groups activity was called the "Magic Carpet." It was eleven of us and we all stood on this small tarp, that we had to flip over while all of us was still standing on it. It was very challenging but we got through and actually completing the activity without anyone stepping off the tarp.

Today I would say my leadership lesson was adapting to new surroundings or challenges. Today I had things thrown at me and I had to think of new ways to adjust to it and it really worked. I will carry this lesson for the rest of my life.

-Tiffany Carter

Conformity and Sympathy.

I thought this week’s reading in Thinking in Pictures was hard to digest but beneficial. However, it was interesting to read about autism from someone who actually had it and had to adjust to her society. It was interesting to read about how she didn’t even know she was different until much later. It’s true that her book is really repetitive, but at the same time, I enjoyed reading the parts about the way she thought and how she was such a visual thinking. I can’t imagine being able to store images and videos in my brain and being construct from that knowledge.

“From as far back as I can remember, I always hated to be hugged. I wanted to experience the good feeling of being hugged but it was just too overwhelming.”

What is it like to be different? Everybody talks about how they think they don’t fit in, but here is a girl that really doesn’t fit in. Temple doesn’t understand our society and she doesn’t think the way we do. I understand how it would be very difficult to grow up in a society that is so focused on conformity. Our society is all about fitting in with the norm, following what is “popular” and the “trend.” Our society influences everybody using media and the temptation of materialism. So what would it be like if you didn’t even understand what our society is about? What is it like to be such an outsider? I sympathize people who have psychiatric problems because they are so far away from our reality. The quote above shows an example of how Temple doesn’t understand what we do and how we show affection. She may understand the comfort of touch but she has to use an artificial machine to get this feeling. I feel like Temple understands that she doesn’t understand and she understands that she is not the same. It is such a great ability to be able to look at your situation from the outside and realize that you are different. Even Lori thought that she was normal after a while with the voices but Temple understood that she was different.

People who are different and people who have psychiatric problems are left to pave their own way in a world that doesn’t know understand how to accept them. It’s great that in both books, Lori and Temple found support systems and found their way in the world but not everyone can do what they did. They found their way, they found what works for them and they’ve adjusted. What happens to the people who cannot adjust? What happens to the people who do not find their way in this world? Temple wrote this book with the purpose of explaining to the world what autism is and how people with autism feel. That is what I appreciate most about the book. By reading parts this memoir. I’ve been able to understand more about autistic people. Like schizophrenia, I have never studied this disorder in depth and this psychology class has enabled me to do so.

A Few Photos from Sunday's Brunch

Thanks to Prudence Kent for sharing these wonderful photos from their brunch on Sunday morning Don't they all look sharp in their Sunday finest?