Looking up the diagnosis in DSM IV, describes a list of limitations, like qualitative impairment in social interaction, qualitative impairment in communication and restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour.
What if autism is a totally different way of functioning beyond the polarity of thoughts, feelings and emotions? What can we learn from the autistic way of functioning?
Working with children and adults with autism as a clinical psychologist has put everything I was taught in my education up side down. Meeting autistic people asked of me to put everything I have learned aside and to be open up to a totally new world.
Very soon in my career as a psychologist it became clear to me that seeing autistic people as limited, was both incorrect and also a perspective that did not create greater possibilities. I was asked to be the question. What is really going on here? Is this truly a handicap? What am I aware of here? What are autistic people capable of that may not match anything I have learned?
What has always been surprising to me is how the diagnosis autism describes autistic people from a perspective of disability. The diagnosis describes how these people function and do not function from a perspective of this reality. It describes autism as an inability to communicate, a lack of feelings and emotions and difficulties with social interaction. Thoughts, feelings and emotions are considered as valuable in this reality. This is how people define themselves and attach meaning to who they are and why they are doing what they are doing.
What if we are so much more than that? What if we know so much more than we can think? What if we perceive so much more than we can feel? What if we are so much more than our emotions? What if there was so much more receiving possible? Is that what autism can teach us?
Everything is now!
Autistic implies a receiving of all information, information from everything and everyone around without filtering that information through thoughts, feelings or emotions. It is a nonlinear way of functioning. Everything happens at once and time is not relevant. Everything is now! Imagine being in nature and lowering all your barriers and allowing yourself to receive everything without categorizing, without censuring cognitivly what it is, just receiving it all. Notice how calm that makes you be. Notice how fast you pick up everything. That is an autistic way of being. If you would think about what you perceive, it would be much slower.
The word autistic comes from the Greek word ” autos” which means ”self”. It has later been translated into ”morbid self admiration” and ”withdrawal”. The question is what if autism is not about a morbid curiosity of self or a withdrawal but an ability to receive oneself in everything. A being where the lack of separation that is created by thoughts, feelings and emotions and cognition does not make sense. It is what we think, judge, compute and decide that creates a separation between us and what actually is and what truly is possible. Not censuring information through thoughts, feelings and emotions allows us to be, to be with everything and receive everything. Everything is the opposite of what it appears to be and nothing is the opposite of what it appears to be! Everything is the opposite of what it appears to be and nothing is the opposite of what it appears to be! And one more time! Everything is the opposite of what it appears to be and nothing is the opposite of what it appears to be! If your head starts spinning when you read this, don’t worry! That is highly appropriate! I am inviting you to a different possibility to access what you truly know beyond logic! Are you up for it? So what if the autistic way was a heightened way of being with everything without separation or withdrawal, without the cognitive or emotional way of dissecting and analyzing?
What if withdrawing from what is, withdrawing from the world is to translate what is into thoughts, feelings and emotions? What would you choose?
The question is! What makes us think that autism is a wrongness or a handicap that needs