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A lesson in terminology. November 10, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in advocacy, language, medical, sensory integration dysfunction.
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When a neurotypical (not just non-autistic, but completely neurotypical) person has asthma, he or she is asthmatic.

When an autistic person has asthma, it’s a comorbidity.

When a neurotypical person complains of pain, it’s probably a symptom of a disease.

When an autistic person complains of pain, it’s a because he or she is autistic, and nothing more.

When a neurotypical person wants to be left alone, he or she wants to be left alone.

When an autistic person wants to be left alone, he or she is antisocial.

What’s wrong with this picture?

(Disclaimer: I know these don’t hold 100% true, but this is an exercise in how profoundly a single diagnosis can change society’s view of a person, so bear with me.)

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Single-Sentence Saturday’s glasses got slobbered on today. October 4, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in interaction, language, single sentence saturday.
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It’s no wonder I like little kids: everybody else calls me “antisocial” when I don’t talk and wishes I would shut up when I do talk.

Oh, NOW I get it. September 26, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in childhood, language, media.
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So, I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately, and I just realized one of the reasons I love re-immersing myself in the things I loved as a little kid.

Not only is it great to have on as background while I’m crocheting — since I know what happens, I can look at my work — but on re-watching it, I can go “Oh, that’s what that means” whenever one of the characters uses an idiomatic expression that I didn’t understand when I was little.

Case in point: when the villain has the hero in a trap and says “you’re gonna be history.” It didn’t do me any good to ask anybody else what “history” means, because the answers I got all tended toward the “Oh, it’s things that happened in the past.” I couldn’t phrase it differently at the time because I didn’t think I had to (after all, they knew what the word meant), and eventually I just stopped asking. (Yes, there came a point where even I picked up on the fact that I was being annoying.) It also helps that I understand the concept of sarcasm now.

The other bonus is, of course, picking up on all the cultural references I’d missed before and realizing exactly why the grownups laughed at those lines. I’m fairly sure most people do that, though.

Frustration. September 15, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in interaction, language, social.
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So, a bunch of people on another site are discussing autism right now, and there’s one person who, while through the rest of the discussion is being very sensitive and understanding in her attitudes, keeps talking about “real autistic people” versus people on the less classical end of the spectrum.

For several reasons — not the least of which being that I really don’t feel like defending the fact that I exist right now — I pointed out how condescending the phrase sounds and then I left. I know it’s most likely either a linguistics issue (where she doesn’t know the right term and is compensating) or a matter of not realizing the impact words can have, but it’s still bugging the crap out of me. And being the person I am, I’m going to have it bug me for the next few days unless I get it out of my system now. So:

AAAAARGH.

(In other, unrelated news, I have a cat scratch on my left hand such that it hurts to move my little and ring fingers on that hand. It makes typing fun!)

Echolalia August 5, 2008

Posted by speakingaut in language, social.
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Echolalia is one of the most important elements of spoken language. If you think I’m wrong, just think of how most parents react when their babies start babbling.

It’s also one of the markers for autism spectrum disorders.

The first time anybody suggested that I might be on that particular spectrum, I was a little kid, and one of the reasons that the diagnosis got deferred for twelve-odd years was that I hadn’t exhibited echolalia in the way she had expected.

Of course, I never do anything the way people expect.

So here’s how it works with me:

-I repeat myself. There’s a set of stock words and phrases I use — some would say overuse — in conversation. It especially comes out when I’m uncomfortable. Think of it as a stronger version of “so, how ’bout them Yankees?”.

-I pick up the linguistic foibles of other people. Add this and my oddly-shaped sinuses to the fact that I have family thirty years removed from New England, and somehow I have waitresses complimenting my Canadian accent.

-I do impressions. Kind of. I’m horrible at doing specific impressions — which is really odd, considering point 2 above — but I can repeat the words and tone of lines from video media extremely well. Once I’ve heard it a few times and have it memorized, that much is easy for me. My favorite dramatic warm-up is the one where people pair off and start imitating each other.