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January 26th, 2007


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05:13 pm - There are many ways
A video on Youtube made by an autistic woman. (8 mins - the first minute will give you the idea - English words start at about 3.30)

The first part is in my "native language," and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not.


A communication from a person with a very distinctive way of thinking. It raises a lot of questions about what thought and communication are. Her blog is here

If you are interested in this subject there is a long metafilter discussion of some of the issues raised here though a few comments are insensitive, others disagree in a reasonable way. And here is an LRB review of a range of books written by autistic people on their condition.

(12 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:andrewducker
Date:January 26th, 2007 08:57 pm (UTC)
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That was fascinating - thank you very much!
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From:andrewducker
Date:January 26th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
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I just added her journal to my friends list - it's at ballastex_feed if you're interested.
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From:communicator
Date:January 27th, 2007 08:00 am (UTC)
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Oh, thanks, yes I will at least for a while.
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From:vilakins
Date:January 26th, 2007 09:01 pm (UTC)
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That was fascinating. She's very articulate in our language too, though I note she used a voice synthesiser. At first I was puzzled by the slightly strange accent and distortion, then realised what that must be. Her blog seems quite normal (perhaps she doesn't speak well?), and I understand her feelings about her pets and being asked to give them up for her health. She has a much stronger bond with them though, as shown when she and her cat were separated.

Have you ever read "An Anthropologist from Mars" by Oliver Sacks? The anthropologist is Temple Grandin who understands animals and their thoughts much more readily than people. Perhaps non-verbal communication is really heightened between species, or animals are easier to read because they give fewer cues.
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From:communicator
Date:January 27th, 2007 08:07 am (UTC)
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It's a good synthesiser, better than any I've heard IRL.

I haven't read the Sachs book, though I know a little bit about Temple Grandin. I think so too, fewer and simpler cues, and I think she benefits from not trying to read animals like humans, which we can hardly help doing. Like how she spotted that cows were comforted if they were squished up, which people wouldn't like at all.
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From:vilakins
Date:January 27th, 2007 08:34 am (UTC)
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Yes, though she does. She designed a squisher that can give her squeezes/hugs when she wants to feel safe without any human contact.
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From:communicator
Date:January 27th, 2007 08:53 am (UTC)
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oh, yes, I remember now, I think I saw it on the telly. I'm off to an NLP seminar now, to talk about things like this, perhaps
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From:vilakins
Date:January 27th, 2007 09:02 am (UTC)
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I did an NLP course once; forgotten most of it. I can't even remember which way the eyes go when remembering and imagining, but never mind. I did think that if actors got it right, they'd be particularly convincing since we pick up on subtle non-verbal cues like that.
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From:archbishopm
Date:January 27th, 2007 03:03 am (UTC)
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language

I do not think that word means what she thinks it means. ;-p
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From:communicator
Date:January 27th, 2007 08:11 am (UTC)
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I agree, I don't think she's using the word 'language' in the normal way. But I suppose that's a symptom of the fact that she is alienated from human communication, and our words aren't comfortable to her, even the word 'language' itself.

And in another respect, I think she is using the word quite astutely, in that she is achieving her goal: to challenge us, and make us think twice. So in that respect I think it's a good use of the word.

And that's hwo I feel about her, that she's obviously shrewd in many ways, she's got a big political goal, which is about disability rights, and she's getting it a lot of publicity.
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From:nwhyte
Date:January 27th, 2007 07:26 am (UTC)
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Thanks - this was very interesting.
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From:communicator
Date:January 27th, 2007 08:14 am (UTC)
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several people said that children on the autistic spectrum were interested in the noises she was making. I mean, she implies in some of her writing that there is a second way of communicating, which functions in some way, some way more than random noises, between autistic people. I understand why she says it, I'm not rejecting that idea out of hand. I think she might be slightly over-estimating it, or projecting it. And even she woudl say it is not universal.

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