In My Language


In My Language is a video by Amanda Baggs, an autistic and disability rights activist. I took a look at it because I thought it might interest a woman in my Attention seminar (she works with autistic people and autism comes up often in our conversations), but I think it would be interesting for anyone to watch.

I would honestly like to know how many people, if you met me on the street, would believe I wrote this. I find it very interesting by the way that failure to learn your language is seen as a deficit, but failure to learn my language is seen as so natural that people like me are official described as mysterious and puzzling rather than anyone admitting that it is themselves who are confused, not autistic people or other cognitively disabled people who are inherently confusing….

In the end I want you to know that this has not been intended as a voyeuristic freak show where you get to look at the bizarre workings of the autistic mind. It is meant as a strong statement on the existence and value of many different kinds of thinking and interaction in a world where how close you can appear to a specific one of them determines whether you are seen as a real person or an adult or an intelligent person.

What strikes me most strongly is that she says she is in constant interaction with the physical world, but from her movements people assume that she is “in a world of her own.” I’m guilty of thinking this, possibly because I read the Babysitter’s Club book on the subject, but mostly because my first year psychology textbook said autism was mostly caused by deficits in social interaction ability, and yes, I’m fairly sure it also used the phrase “world of their own.” I shall have to rethink everything I know about autism. It seems like in her particular case, she might not have the same sort of filter on what elements of her perception are fit to pay attention to and interact with. Whereas if I turn on a tap I see a single object (a stream of water), I very quickly adapt to its pattern of motion, and I see myself as acting upon it (by running a toothbrush under it or whatever), she might see it as being more chaotic and variable, and understand it as something that can act back. I see certain objects as being in the foreground and some in the background, whereas she might not see any difference. Thoughts?

Via Mind Hacks


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