How autistic were you?
I was autistic enough to:
Do you like being autistic?
Autism is a place of isolation, pain and suffering. Now that I have tasted the variety and richness of the human experience, I am not keen to experience it again.
Yet, autism is also a gift because it gave me a deep appreciation of the human experience by depriving me of what other people took for granted. I also retained the creative, non-linear systems thinking I used to have, which helped a lot with my work including computer programming, advertising, planning, writing and inventing.
Are you cured of autism? How did you do it?
It is misleading to use the term "cure". I have adapted well enough to life on Planet Earth so that autism is no longer a major issue to me.
My life was previously full of pain, frustration and loneliness. Upon developing self-consciousness, I decided that the world was bad, ugly, unfair and meaningless. Only after reading the Conversations with God series did I begin to accept the meaning, beauty and goodness of this world.
I decided to connect with the people and the world around me. I confronted my fears and pain in order to get in touch with my emotions. I discovered a deeper level of individual will when I had to choose between emotional dilemmas. This allowed me to develop a more complete self-awareness, which I can use as a reference point to understand other people. I am now comfortable and confident in joining other people's social life.
Do your experiences apply to other autistics too?
Although I could not speak on behalf of other autistics, I believe that I share many common experiences and problems with them. The key differences I have are:
Why are there no known cases of autistics making similar breakthroughs to you?
I believe that similar cases exist. In mid 2009, a Taiwanese emailed me to share that he has self-diagnosed himself as autistic and made the transition from into 3D existence. In 2006, an American with ADHD emailed me to express her delight at putting together the human puzzle after reading my article on Reactive Predictive Communications.
I had corresponded or personally met many closet Aspies/HFAs who do not wish to disclose their condition, since they are concerned that it might affect their employment prospects. For every Aspie who is willing to share in public, there are perhaps 10,000 more Aspies who chose to remain silent. If someone from the silent majority have also made the same breakthroughs as me, they will only be keen to blend into mainstream society. They have no reason to share their breakthroughs with the world and risk their employers finding out.
How can other high functioning autistics make the same breakthroughs as you?
What is your stand on autism politics?
Just like other communities, the autism community is no strange to controversy, of which many autistics actively participate in.
Among the English speaking communities, "curing autistics" is probably the #1 most debated topic because it seems like yet another attempt to denounce and force autistics to conform to social norms. Some autistics reacted to this by calling themselves "anti-cure" and the parents and professionals "pro-cure".
Some autistics have decided to classify me as pro-cure and launch attacks on me. However, I believe that both parties have their valid points and see no purpose in siding with anyone. I choose to remain neutral and focus on sharing my experiences and insights with people who wish to listen to me.
Should all autistics aspire to enter the NeuroTypical world?
Making contact with the NeuroTypical world may not always be a positive event for autistics. Seeing too much of our society's hidden rubbish tends to create disillusionment. Developing a rich emotional life creates endless frustration and dissatisfaction. Living in the narrow perspective of most common people tends to cause one to get lost among materialistic pursuits.
If I have no business with NeuroTypical society, I would renounce the world and pursue my personal spiritual practice. Yet, I have chosen to live among the NeuroTypicals because I have an important life mission to accomplish. Every self-aware autistic has to make this choice himself, and every choice requires us to pay a price.
Should we push autistics to participate in social activities?
I believe that we should leave autistics alone as long as they do not harm other people, and have a constructive means of making a living. What they do with their life is their personal choice; they will have to pay for the consequences themselves. Our society is willing to accept different lifestyles nowadays, for instance, homosexuality. It would be great if they can also accept the autism culture of not desiring social contact too.
What educational policy do you advocate?
In my view, a school is a place to develop one's potential no matter if one is autistic or NeuroTypical. The key objective is to develop hobbies into useful talents.
With this in mind, I do not support the idea of having a "well-rounded" education. I believe that education should emphasize on the strengths and passions of the students, letting them become experts in what they are best at. I believe that it it far better to develop skilled specialists than shallow generalists. When students arrive at the limit of their specialty, they will naturally study other related subjects.
Applying this to high functioning children with autism or Aspergers, I believe that schools should drop their emphasis on strengthening social abilities and training for independent living. In fact, schools should reduce their social pressures and place the focus on preparing the child for a promising career such as a professor, engineer, architect or computer programmer that is not socially demanding yet well-paying.
If they become renowned experts, they would not need to fear unemployment. If they have money, they can simply hire a maid to take care of household chores or live in a hotel!
Should parents accept their autistic child unconditionally?
Raising a child is a major commitment, and raising an autistic child is a far greater commitment. It is a very brave mother who is willing to have a child with any form of disability, including autism. It is also a very brave child to choose to experience social rejection, sensory distortions and other effects that define autism as a disability.
If the parents are not willing to pay the price, then they should not enter into this commitment If the parents have fixed expectations of the child, then they should not enter into this commitment because they will be disappointed. If, however, they have chosen to enter this commitment knowing very well the price they must pay, then they should not have complains or regret if the child turns out to be far from what they desire.
How should parents rear their children with autism?
I believe that parents should use a parenting style that fits them. If they are always demanding with others, they should use a strict disciplinary style. If they are always kind and accommodating, they should use a gentler style. They should then stick with the style to create a consistent relationship and expectations.
The parents are going to take care of their child with autism for many years, and using a style that does not fit will only cause burnout. When parents lose their patience and take out their frustration on their child, the psychological damage is far greater than that of using a parenting style that is incompatible with the child.
I personally favor a stricter parenting style, since that will help raise a child's expectations of success. However, parenting should not consider themselves as managers but as developers. They must develop autonomy within their child so that he will not need to depend on them for every decision. They must also develop inner motivation so that the child will take care of his own education and chart his own life. Without an inner life, a child has no outer life to speak of.
If the child can grow up into an independent adult, the parents have won half the victory. The other half of the victory is if this child finds meaning in his life. It would be regrettable to develop a child who is successful in the material world but struggling with suicidal, anxious and depressing thoughts constantly.
Where can we improve on existing autism intervention programmes?
My main concern is cost: Most of these programmes are very expensive, placing a heavy burden on parents. I believe that it is important to find cheaper alternatives that rely less on autism professionals and highly trained labor.
My secondary concern is effectiveness: Many programmes focus on eliminating problem behavior, not developing the child into an adult who can use his unique skills and interests to take on the challenges of modern society. Programmes should take a longer term perspective and help develop the child's inner life.
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