Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Understanding Autism Through Asperger's

It does seem that the closest that typical individuals can come to understanding what it is like to have autism is through the reports we get from high functioning persons with autism, who are able to articulate the ways in which they experience reality, and how their mind works.  And along the same lines, individual's with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism, can share with us something about their perspectives and unique subjectivities.  For this reason, I was quite interested when I came across this YouTube video from a couple of years ago, made by a teenager with Asperger's.  Here's the write-up that came with it:

My name is Alex Olinkiewicz and when I was 6 I was diagnosed with Asperger's (A High Functioning form of Autism). Ten years later I made this video to help you and others understand what its like inside my head. I show you how I behave and how I think by webcam and by using cartoon pictures that I drew on MS Paints (Microsoft).

Ever since I posted this video it has received many positive things. First it became a Featured Video on the front page of YouTube. This video has won 2nd place in the 2007 East End Student Film Project and was nominated for Best Commentary Video for the 2007 YouTube Awards. This video was shown at the Western Suffolk Counselor's Association spring conference in front of 25 counselors and will be shown again this time in front of 300 counselors. Also this video have received many comments, sure I have got a few bad comments, but mostly all of them are strong positive comments from Parents who has kids who are diagnosed, Teachers, People who has friends who are Autistic, and also people who have Asperger's/Autism. Also this video will be shown on a public television station called BronxNet on a TV show called The Crystal Stairs.

Three cheers for BronxNet, a neighbor and friend of Fordham University's Rose Hill campus.  And here now, is Alex:

He makes an important point about feeling more comfortable with television than books, and finding it easier to learn via TV.  At least in some instances, autism is associated with visual thinking, as opposed to the verbal, be it spoken or written (this comes up in my book, Echoes and Reflections).   Apart from the point about image thinking, though, the video is more about the sense of aloneness and difference common to all those who find themselves on the spectrum, and does not go into the truly fascinating interior landscape in any great depth.

And that is what is truly fascinating about all this, as the spectrum represents a naturally occurring alternate form of consciousness, one that does not require drugs, or spiritual or meditational exercises, but does not afford any alternative of typical consciousness either.

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