Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Theory of mind is not all bad

I am going to respond -- in the gentle and understanding fashion befitting someone claiming to have overcome many Theory of Mind difficulties -- to an article written by an autist trying to reexplain Theory of Mind. The author believes that Theory of Mind is not an accurate explanation of autism. Read the article here first:

I only partly agree with this rewriting of that passage, but maybe that has to do with subconsciously still having some difficulty grasping that not all experiences with autism are the same. I have struggled with theory of mind, and I have never seen someone as a clone of myself. I simply have had difficulty understanding that it was possible for someone to feel a certain way. As my experience grows, so does my understanding of other people. It doesn't mean that I never knew other people existed or that I did not have a unique sense of self. It simply means that I struggled to understand exactly what it meant to be not me. I fully understood the spatial limits of being an individual. Furthermore, I claimed to have an understanding of individuality, but that understanding was shallow. Many typically functioning Americans have the same challenge. It is simply a struggle to understand someone else's point of view. This could have to do with my having AS/HFA rather than Kanner's autism, which I believe differ only in presentation. What I struggle to understand with this passage is the author's thesis--or apparent thesis--that it should be called Theory of Self rather than Theory of Mind. I fail to see the difference. I'd like that explained. I also do not understand the concern about the conclusions drawn from Theory of Mind. Are they not the same conclusions drawn from Theory of Self, but subtly reworded? I'd like that explained as well. Is Theory of Self also considered to be a malignant theory?

I don't feel that Theory of mind is inaccurate. I simply believe that it needs to be examined more closely, as do any methods or theories pertaining to autism. It is a tool that can be expanded on in any way, and is useful in understanding the autistic mind. Anything that attempts to promote understanding of the autistic mind is worth looking at. I also don't believe that we are incapable of compassion. Since my theory of mind has developed, I have developed great empathy (for an autie) to complement my great compassion. It is much easier to express compassion when you have empathy, a product of Theory of Mind, to boost your understanding of another's situation. Developing theory of Mind has helped me to become a better human being and to better demonstrate my good intentions. Good intentions are difficult to demonstrate, though obviously not possible to demonstrate, when you don't fully understand all aspects of the situation. The whole point of Theory of Mind treatment is in helping the autist to understand Theory of Mind so that we can understand why we should do certain things for other people. rather than simply that we need to do them. This not only helps the autist to treat others kindly but, in fact, to be treated kindly in return. Autism is much more than simply Theory of Mind difficulties, but when we develop Theory of Mind, we are better able to see what else we struggle with. It's like taking your blinders off. Certainly an intriguing article.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Using our nice words

Taking a deep breath and swallowing a perspective pill. Standing up for your rights and defending yourself does not mean being militant. Make that the mantra of the day: "assertive, not militant. Assertive, not militant."

John Elder Robison's comment about twisting words hit me in the gut. It's time to disagree with tact. Ah-heh-hem:

I only felt upset because I am what is considered a high functioning autistic person and I felt like Mr. Robinson was making generalisations about 'my kind' that did not at all match who we really are.

I agree with Vicky's comment, "Well, if I came off as mean-spirited, I sincerely apologise. I guess I'm just sick of the constant drumbeat of criticism surrounding self-advocates (not from everyone, but enough people) and what our motivations/goals may or may not be. "

I felt unfairly judged and lashed out. It's something I'm working on.

Let's try this again. *humbles self*

 I believe that everyone needs to be given a voice and that everyone's choices need to be respected no matter how they are communicated. I grow nauseatingly weary of the NT/high functioning/whatever else community assuming that there is 'nothing going on in there' when someone is nonverbal, and therefore choosing not to offer alternative communication options of any form. I have a friend who blows kisses for to communicate 'yes' or 'I like that'. Not everybody wants to 'listen' to him. I kind of took it out on Mr. Robison. I stand by my views, but I won't bite anymore. No more Miss Mean Kitt. Sorry for being so... grrr.