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Starting Points for Understanding Autism

Oolong oolong.co.uk Photo courtesy the author [image: Photo (light-painting) by the author: a spectral outline around a hand and arm, raised as if to flap.] I believe that the best way to understand autistic minds is in terms of a thinking style which tends to concentrate resources in a few interests and concerns at any time, rather than distributing them widely. I wrote in some detail about how this explains the observed features of autism in Me and Monotropism: A Unified Theory of Autism. Here, I want to distill what this means for living and working with autistic people, expanding on the six starting points for understanding autism that I identified in ‘Theories and Practice in Autism.’ I’m writing in the first person here, as a late-identified autistic adult who has worked and talked with many other autistic people in various contexts over many years. I believe that everything I…

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Autism and Normalisation

Oolong oolong.co.uk Normalisation is the process of making or becoming normal. ‘Normal’ can mean a great many things in different contexts, but here I mean it in a social sense: to be normal is to conform to society’s norms. You Will Be Assimilated [image: black-and-white illustration of a Borg drone, by Sonya Hallett] Within this context, there are two very different meanings of ‘normalisation’: to make normal, or to become normal; to normalise the individual, or what makes them stand out. Normalisation in the first sense is what the Borg does in Star Trek: individuals are assimilated by having their rough edges, their deviations from what is expected, removed, or hidden. Normalisation in the second sense is what the writers repeatedly do in Star Trek: groups once seen as monstrously beyond the pale, like the Klingons, are slowly seen to have more in common with ordinary humans than it first…