Wednesday, June 01, 2005

On autism

Mood of the day

(Things have not been going well on several fronts for the last few days)

Read two articles on autism in the last days. In a way they reflect two different approaches to this aspect of mental health. I don't say problem, or disease, because you can't eliminate the hypothesis that human mental function works on the basis of spectra. A bit like I (or Kinsey, or several other people) consider sexual orientation - a range from absolutely and solely homossexual to completely and only heterossexual with most people somewhere in the middle.

So you'd have totally autistic and totally empathic (although maybe that's not the opposite, read on) in the extremes, with most people somewhere along the connecting line.

And since we're on to graphs, can anyone tell me the mathematical meaning of "normal"? I was wondering about this the other day as I was thinking that most people I know are screwed up in some way and probably wouldn't be considered very mentally healthy. (If you know more healthy people than screwed up and live in this world tell me). So to my reasoning this means that to be mentally unhealthy is normal. And to be mentally healthy is abnormal. What do you think?

Well, on to the two articles already:

The first one was about this village that is inhabited just by people with learning difficulties, ranging from mongoloid to autisitic and their carers. They get an allowance and in turn produce things that are sold to the 'outside' world. Good idea, or almost eugenics? The people there seemed quite happy. (But I think a TV documentary is coming up so see for yourselves).

The second one is about this autistic vet. Due to the fact she sees things differently from most humans, she manage to notice several things that would frighten animals on their way to the slaughterhouse and that were making things more miserable for everyone and mostly the animals. This could be something as simple as a brightly coloured mac hanging on the fence, which most of us wouldn't even notice. But both animals and autistic people see this as a jarring note and therefore frightening. Result: because people listened to this lady, animals have a much more peaceful end.



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