July 14th, 2018

Autism And Me (I)

This is to put my thoughts in order before i leave this subject, but you may read along if you wish.
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I was born In 1933; so was the concept of autism as a neurological condition.  The doctor who discovered it turned his "patients" over to the state death machine.  I suppose he considered such disposal to be a patriotic and moral duty.  Half a world away. on the Pacific Coast of North America, no one was aware of any of this; so a child born there with this condition could not be labeled "labeled "autistic."

The word autistic had existed in our language at least since 1914; it meant self centered.  In another word, sociopathic.  No kind person would give a child that  label.  Given greater than average socialization, a child with autism can learn to pretend to be a normal human; but such becavior can never seem natural nor real.  A person so afflicted will always seem at least a bit "strange."  His or her "parallel play" and seeming lack of concern for social rules will last past the ages of 5 or 6 and possibly well into adulthood.

It was my experience that given a tolerant and simple environment  where demands and expectations are not too high, a child with autism can "pass" for normal until the demands of adulthood -- citizenship, employment, marriage, parenthood, etc.-- come into play.  This sudden awareness that society is "beyond them" may be roughest on autistic adults who are also very intellligent.

In 1943, another germanic doctor noted that most geniuses seemed to have at least a touch of autism.
His "syndrome" became part of American psychiatry shortly after autism itself did- in the 1960s.  But people already in their thirties, 40s, 50s, or 60s were very unlikely to have their autism diagnosed except by almost random accident.

(To be continued...)