Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spot the Autism

This video here poses a question about being able to 'spot the autism' .  I did right away, but I will post it and continue with my writing below so you can take a moment to watch it, so as I don't give away my point.











Were you able to see it?  I found this on a FB page about autism.  The page owner said she had experience with autism for over 25 years and couldn't spot the autistic child in the video until it was pointed out to her.  I interjected that I could right away and attempted to explain why in one or two sentences.  The entire thread continued on about services being so wonderful and inclusion and latidah.... everyone putting in their two cents about how they could never ever tell... completely ignoring the fact that I said anything.  Apparently,  they don't acknowledge any autism unless it fits their definition of what they think autism is and me and my words weren't it, as well as this little girl's actions.  The girl in the video could have been me as a child easily.  She is not behaving non-autisticly. She is copying NT behavior.  That is how I can tell she was on the spectrum, immediately.  She is me as a child, and even now as adult.  Watch carefully, and you'll see that she is always one second behind everyone else.  She pauses and looks around to see what she is supposed to be doing in that moment, then does it.  She is becoming a master chameleon.  When in doubt, just follow along, as been my motto for my whole life.  I can fit into any situation that I need to by smiling and mirroring. It isn't natural.  It never will be.  That's why socializing with others is so tiring and difficult.  It's like doing a huge math problem in my head.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think that that inclusion is a bad thing, or that ASD kids can't be taught social skills. I think inclusion is great and we can most definitely learn social skills, but it's not ever going to be second nature to us.  All I am saying is please don't ever think that if ASD kids are force fitted into social situations we will by osmosis become more typical, because that's not what necessarily happens. We may learn to fake it more, but it will always be an act.  As for the original intent of the video, I really don't see where schools try to exclude kids with autism.  I've always had the opposite problem, which is getting schools to address my son's (Bubby, because he is more like the girl in this video) autism.  That's another post for another day, though! 


17 comments:

  1. I recognized her immediately too, in about one second. Seems so obvious, it seems amazing how many people don't notice. I guess it is much more obvious for those of us who lived it as kids.

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  2. You are so right, I can copy with the best of them but it still feels like, well, I am not sure right word but it feels weird, unnatural.
    My experience was the school didn't want to help my son until he started to have outbursts because his needs weren't being met. For me, I just thought I didn't fit in & tried my best.
    Thanks for posting!!

    Your blog never lets me post as me!! Augh Aspieside again although I am sure my cat has asperger's too so I guess fitting that blogger only lets him post comments here!! LOL

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    1. I think it is unnatural. For sure. That's the biggest difference between AS and NT to me. We can copy and mimic, but we will never do it all by instinct. It's like being on a slightly different frequency as everyone else all my life. I'm hearing something completely different than the rest of everyone else around me, who are ALL listening to the same station. Sometimes, I can tune into their station for short periods and make out some thing through the static, but it's largely ineffective.

      The school here does a pretty good job with Bubby, but it wasn't that way when he was in the elementary school last year. They just saw his outbursts as him being spoiled and whiny. This year he has much better staff, but they have never ever tried to separate him from the class, even when I've requested it at times, they have refused.

      I don't know why you can't post as you. I don't know about my cat being an aspie, either. I think he's a dog in a cat costume. I think I've found the one NT cat!

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  3. I found both the video and your comments very interesting. I have to admit it took me a bit longer to identify the child as I am a parent of an ASD child who is not as high-functioning as the child in the video as opposed to having lived it as a child.

    My first reaction was cool...look how she's "following along" as my R at that age would've been under the parachute, in the corner... :) Your comments and the comments listed really put it into a different perspective for me. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you! To be fair, it's not just about where one might be on the spectrum, but also gender. I don't know that a boy with autism would have been so inclined to mimic. Not sure why (and it's not always that way) but males just seem less engaged with others. My sons or my brother would have gone off to do their own thing at that age, but I would have stuck it out to join in.

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  4. Hello! I saw your comment in The Third Glance's "Go To Your Room..." I liked what you said.

    This post is fascinating. I was able to spot the girl as well--to me her excitement and awkwardness was the tell. I realize that her "awkwardness" was actually due to frequently referencing her peers--she was one step behind.

    I thought to myself, well if she jumped more, it could be me. I eventually learned enough to "pass" but the internal wiring still makes me different.

    Thank you for the interesting post.

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    1. I learned to pass, too. I may make a post about that sometime. Honestly, if I didn't tell most would never notice and that's including the people that work with my boys who are trained in autism.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I spotted the autism right away. This child could have been mine. I love the comment made about children with autism DO learn from their peers. They do, they just learn differently! :) Great post, thanks for showing this!!!

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    1. We do learn to an extent. I do think practice in various social situations make life easier for us, as we'll have more variety to choose from when we are in situations and deciding which card to apply in our rolodex of social cues. For me, that's how it is, like a big rolodex of different things I could say or do that I can flip through and decide by category and cross reference which is appropriate.

      I do think there are some kids with profound autism (like my Beans) that don't learn from peers. He just doesn't have the inferencing and cognitive skills to learn that way, or at least as much. There's be no way he could even participate in an activity like the one in the video without total assistance from an adult and he is in a special class all day due to his high level of need.

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  6. As usual, I find your post interesting. I wasn't sure it was that girl, because I saw another girl sometimes checking for what to do (and, barring any glaringly obvious actions, that was what I was looking for). Actually, what I find interesting is how I also constantly self-monitored as a child to check I was doing the right thing (oh wait, I still do that now!). Of course, I understand that I apparently have a more natural instinct for how to behave or follow instructions in many social situations than people with autism, but I was still struck by that one similarity.

    As a teacher, I'm always torn when it comes to the question of integration or separate specialised education for any child with special needs. Our mainstream school systems struggle to provide what those children need. I was constantly aware as a teacher of feeling guilty for not being able to do enough. There is definitely a part of me that would look at some students and wish that they could be in a school where everything was aimed at their needs. Instead, I had to bend over backwards just to get them through the day, while watching them fall further and further behind in their basic literacy and numeracy skills while they coped with all their other challenges (and watching their self-belief get lower and lower). Some kids even needed help with more basic things like personal care for which there really was no scope to cater for in the classroom.

    On the other hand, so many of these kids made wonderful friendships that were beneficial for both children, and the normalcy of having the same education as everyone else is highly beneficial. (Plus, I don't believe in having "normal" kids grow up in an homogenised environment. The more they are exposed to different children of all kinds the more it natural for them to see differences as normal and unthreatening, like differences in hair colour.)

    I guess I think that, until our mainstream schools are significantly better equipped (with staff and with knoweldge/expertise), there should be the option. It's about the parents (with the help of educational and health professionals) deciding whether the benefits of one type of schooling are more important and valuable for their child than the other kind. I think it's horrible that people have to choose one or the other, but I think it's important that the choice is there.

    Of course, the mainstream and special school set up might be slightly different in America. One-on-one aides are extremely underfunded here and tend to be stretched as much as possible among all the kids with special needs.

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    1. I think that all introverted people feel a bit unsure in group situations. I also think that there are the ones (which you may very well be one it seems to me) that really walk that line between 'normal' and ASD. Those people tend to be the ones I befriend, because they have the ability to see both worlds and have just enough quirky that I find them endearing and relatable.

      I totally get what you say about schooling. Optimally, inclusion would mean something way different then is set up now, where I think too much falls into the regular ed teacher. I always hear the excuse where they feel like Bubby (obviously Bean requires one on one assistance at all times) needs to learn to do things on his own, and not be too dependent on someone else all the time. Sometimes, they've been correct, and others not at all. I personally needed no extra help, but some (most) kids on the spectrum will. This year Bubby has access to a para (I just love how they always word that!) at all times, but is managing okay on his own, due to a very understanding, wonderful reg. ed teacher, a good speech path, and lots of visual schedules and help that he can manage on his own. I've never been a parent that cares about my son needing to go to a self contained classroom if that is what he needs, though.

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  7. I would have responded to you because it is a very interesting perspective and I think it makes a lot of sense! thank you for your post here. I agree with someone who commented above about her son, that my son would have been more like the boy hopping around, or hiding under the parachute or in a corner, IF I even got him in the building! That is the child who I thought had autism. But, after your insight, and looking at my own son, I see the delay, I see the anxiety for the need to be like everyone else. and the possible anxiety of the unknown, maybe this is the reason for the anxiety...does he have it in him to fit in that day? to act like his peers? to keep up?

    Very interesting indeed. You opened my eyes today! thank you.

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate it!

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  8. I spotted the young girl immediately. The trouble is that I have been diagnosed as having Asperger's and yet I can't remember copying my classmates - being one step behind.
    Ergo, do I have Asperger's?

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    1. If you've been diagnosed, then yes I'd say you do. We are all so different that one commonality missing doesn't necessarily mean that we're not on the spectrum. That's what is so intriguing to me about ASD. The differences that we all can exhibit in who we are and how we process the world.

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  9. I didn't spot her at the table, but as soon as the camera moved to the parachute, I did. I must admit, I probably would have been with Bubby in the corner (or in another corner if we didn't want to be around people) - if I could get away with it. I probably have mimicing / chameleon skills, I'm just not consciously aware of them. (I don't think I would have survived so far in the NT world without them!)

    Inclusion... so much of a hot topic, including here in Canada. My sister is a junior high teacher in Halifax, NS, and she had an autistic child in her class last year (I don't know about this year). She mentioned that the kid was well-behaved... but he had to have special lesson plans done up just for him because he was so far behind in the topic, but he'd been brought up along with his age-peers, even though he couldn't do the schoolwork. I really don't know. My elementary school experience was miserable; my high school experience (where I was at a school known for high academic achievement) was much more pleasant. *shrugs helplessly*

    :| tagAught

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    1. My experience was really the opposite. I could not handle high school.

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