Thursday, September 25, 2014

Entry 72: “Artistic Autist”

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May. 25. 2014

I’m “Artistic Autist” and perhaps “Autistically Artistic” too…not sure which way sounds better, or how it differs. What do you think? Many of us are artsy aspies, that’s for sure. I know I’m not alone whatsoever. Let’s explore the nature of how intense and painful, though wondrous, this can be.

My chiropractor said that the autistic neurology is a lot to do with being dominated by the part of the brain that wants to “solve.” Then, my husband said in order for the brain to be prompted to solve, it must first be enriched with perception.

We perceive a lot, in fact, so much that it hurts. This can feel like a curse, too; and this is where the sensory issues come in. My sensory issues are so intense, and difficult, that I haven’t said much about them. I wish I’d said more, and I will in my main book especially. However, it’s so difficult to talk about.

This hyper perception must be why the dominating needs to “solve.” Add the fluid intelligence to it, and this produces the looking at something from many different angles, exploring several possibilities, or routes to a similar or same answer. This seems like a logical process, it seems mathematical, but also it’s creative. This is how inventing happens, using design and originality, and also logical processes.

Now, autistic people are all fluid and creative in several ways, even when they aren’t “artsy” per se, and principally into math, science, and/or language. However, many autistic people are very artistic… either primarily, or as a hobby. What I try to tell me people is that even though I’ve taken up this endeavor with writing, I’m primarily an artist, even in my writing. It comes out, in ways that are either appreciated or frowned upon.

Imagine this applied: the extra flare for design, the seeking out, exploring and producing ideas with the colorful enrichment of being “artistically inclined.” This kind of aspie, who adores artistic endeavors, and therapeutically expressing themselves artistically, is often quite intense. They may struggle with overwhelming emotions, and need the outlet of their chosen art form. It’s with things like drawing, painting, sculpture, crafting, music and songwriting, and creating writing. What I mean by creative writing is poetry and artistic prose, using many word pictures, simile, metaphor, allusion, personification and so forth.

However, the brain is still in this logical “solve” thing too, in one way or another. So if we intertwine the two together, the brain is very uniquely integrated.  Here is design central! The reason for such heightened perception is because autistic people’s brains are so heavily integrated. The artistic flare applied to this can be a creative genius, coming up with the most amazing art of various types. Some of the great artists now passed were likely autistic, in my belief. The Autistic Artist is often very gifted.

Here’s the double-edged sword though, when the autistic artist does the solving, when they communicate their thoughts, they may sound convoluted to the ones who just don’t get it. In other words, they may sound “nutty.” Now, this kind of brain is like a wild horse that needs to be kept in reign, like a balloon for in which we need to hang onto the string. It can get carried away.

I do believe that there are many unrecognized cases of autistic folks out there who, under heavy stress, likely a lack of diagnosis, mistreatment and abuse, and drug abuse too, may have developed a comorbid major mental illness. Sadly then, the autism has been missed and may be forever more. Many of these people could even be homeless, busking with their music, making jewelry and crafting to get by, reading tarot among other things. Picture it. Again, these are the “lost savants.”

I don’t like labeling, I don’t like the DSM, but for the purpose of describing it we’re talking the bipolar and/or schizophrenia spectrums are where these unfortunates may wind up on. This is when the brain has become all jumbled up, severely imbalanced, and into a “dream state.” It’s complex but all I’m saying is that the likelihood of a sensitive, brilliant brain “shattering into fragments” due to exposure to heavy stress, abuses and perhaps self medication addictions, all ensuing chemical imbalance, seems logical to me.

However and in staunch retrospect, the original thinking state of the autistic brain, artistic especially, is not “schizotypal”... though it might be somewhat seen this way, and thought of as such. The way we think, so deeply, fluidly, creatively, and reiterating the same concepts, viewing it from many different angles, can again sound “off” to the average minded person. It’s not. If one had the capacity to really view it for what it is, they’d see that past the types of descriptive language use, there are often brilliant points to be made.

The artistic autistic is more at risk to be seen this way when they communicate their theories, views and concept in words: in writing especially. They are likely to be on much safer ground when they use visual art, poetry and song. From these angles, with the application of music and/or pictures to “show” what is meant more simply, in a way an NT is more able to understand, it’s alleviating for all.

This is not to say that I don’t regret what I’ve done in my writing, I needed to “actualize” my experience and pass it on, in hopes that it’ll help others who do get it… and many do get it.

Autistic people especially get me, particularly the more creative types. Of course they do, I’m “speaking autistic” albeit in my own “dialect” with heavy creativity and my own individualism applied. In lieu of that, I’ve run into some mean and cynical “sub-clinicals” (very mild Asperger types, not profound enough to make a diagnostic cut off.) However, it’s mostly NTs who’ve been negative, sometimes almost disgusted, with my viewpoints.

Some have been very mean, not realizing that I’m merely describing my unique viewpoints, and I’m doing my best despite subtle difficulties in “finding the right words for the patterns” (and sometimes I may “miss the mark” a little, and get misunderstood. My “takes” on things are hailed from different angles and most especially based on empirical experience. I am about ready to mostly retire from the relentless efforts to “spew out” my ideas in on paper, at such high intensity in terms of verbosity at least.

I will still write occasionally, but much shorter blurbs and blogs on the site I’m building. However, they will be much shorter, more succinct and more importantly they will “branch out” to other topics, often lighter ones, but sometimes just different. Like for example, the state of our oceans.

I’d like to further explore and bounce off my ideas in the area of concern for the environment. It will only be occasional, I am mostly going to back into my main passion in life: music, and all the art/design that comes with it.

It is intense even for the writer, and I feel I’m getting close to what I needed to say.  My body is telling me it’s time to “whoa Nelly.” I am feeling it, and have felt it…basically I am paying for it in more ways that I’m willing to say at this time. I did what I did, and this chapter must end.

I want to wrap up my books, and climb the stairs onto the “higher plain” above all that language. I’ve taken some mean hits, from those that don’t get it, and want to attack me. I’ve taken hits from my own healthcare system, too. My own health condition is paying for speaking out about my views and attempting to get needs met in ways they were simply unwilling. I’ll likely continue to take hits, so I need to prepare for it and get better at handling it without letting it affect my core sense of self. However, I want to show that I can, and will, rise above. Art: I’m coming home. I’ll feel safe in your arms.

- Rose Whitson-Guedes

*Like what you read/wish to support? Diary of A Girl Outside The Box and others (Kindle) are available to purchase via the "books" link on my site!

Entry 71: Logical Insights On The Different Ways Autistics May Read People, Including The “Sixth Sense” Notion

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April. 8. 2014

As many know, autistics read people in a different way neurotypicals do. This is one of the key pitfalls to misunderstandings between Au and NT. Since Au are a minority, we have taken the brunt and the blame of these misunderstandings. This is one of the key causes of trauma, which can often perpetuate in unpleasant ways. We've often been made to feel crazy, for being socially different. We are haplessly criticized, and challenged by this, as well as the difference itself. However, maybe we are not as "off the wall" as people often seem to think.

There are certain strengths to our way of reading people, if we could hone them in as such, and they could be understood better. One particular aspect that gets brought up is a "sixth sense" and an "ability to see through" people in some way.

However, the flip side is that since we are known for misinterpreting social nuances as it is; we're known for a "disability" in being able to read people. We're simply thought of as the one misinterpreting, if we do pick up on something, and react to it. If trauma becomes intertwined with this, then sure, we could in fact be overreacting or even projecting. This happens to many traumatized people, and unfortunately because of our difference in reading people, it's extra rough for the traumatized autistic. This is sometimes brutally so. I can attest to that.
In retrospect, we aren't given enough benefit of the doubt here, either. Perhaps we are picking up on something, which is underlying. It may be so deeply underlying, that the other party isn't even aware. Maybe we're picking up on another persons' deep, inner emotion, something they're holding because of something else that’s' affecting them. Or even, something they're holding because of a deep feeling they don't want to share...or even fully acknowledge.

Well, we can pick up on those things, yet in the absence of the surface expression. Imagine how unnerving, and even scary that can be at times. If we come from trauma, we may worry and even assume it's to do with something we have done. It may be, or it may not be... but that's not to say it doesn't exist. That's not to say we're not picking up on something. I think we are.

This "gift" can be a real double-edged sword. Some call it a "sixth sense." Women in particular have suffered the brunt of this, when that female-wired "nurturer" intuition is going off at the same time as the sixth sense. This is one of the main reasons women on the spectrum can have such profound challenges with emotional regulation. In turn they are often misdiagnosed with mood disorders, and even personality disorders, while the autism itself gets missed.

The consequences of that can be wrenching, and even tragic. I believe many women on the spectrum, gone unrecognized for a variety of key reasons, have fallen to their deaths in one way or another. It's about time society started being more female autism aware, although there are glimmers of hope in recent changes I've seen.

Back to the concept of autistics sensing "energies" and having a "sixth sense"...what is this "sixth sense"? If we apparently have a hard time with general social nuances, then how can we "see through things" and sense underlying subtleties that neurotypicals do not pick up on? In general, we do.

It can be explained, but further research would be helpful. People may even think we're crazy if we share what we're picking up on. In addition, we may not fully understand what we're picking up on ourselves. We too need to understand this mechanism and what it means. We know we have a "sixth sense" and so do some of our supporters, but we still don't understand much about it even still.

In retrospect, many people, cynical people in particular, don't believe we have a sixth sense at all... they just think we're blindly paranoid in lieu of "social defectiveness." So again, we feel like we can't talk about it, we can't bring it up...or we'll sound crazy. When we talk about it, we're likely to be diagnosed with some sort of mental illness or PD, or thought of as completely unwell and/or "hard to help." Though there may be some truth in some of that, it's especially perpetuated by the lack of understanding as to what's really going on for us. 

This lack of understanding can cause us to question ourselves, after while. We may even ask ourselves "well am I crazy?? Must be!" Our self-esteem suffers when we are repeatedly denied of validation for our interpretations. To us, it can feel like emotional and psychological abuse. That's not to say that when trauma interferes with our reactions, we may be cognitively exaggerated in what we pick up, and the exact nature of it. However, it's up to a good counselor who understands autism at the core, to discern and help such a person objectively. If not, emotional trauma is liable to only perpetuate.

Among the current lack of understanding, and in fact ignorance as it relates to the internal mechanisms of autistics adults dealing with trauma; it can be very difficult to recover. I have found that I've had to turn to faith, and my community...since it's so hard to find good help when you're autistic.

I'm actually very lucky, because I have more of it than most. This includes a counselor who does get autistic people. I fought hard to access help, and even when the help that does understand tries to help me...we're all still hindered but un-evolved systemic barriers. This is why I'm hoping to start a recovery group specifically for autistics, as well.

A misunderstanding party, the NT, only perpetuates trauma and hinders recovery, whence they make a judgment against one who has been hurt, due to judgment. This tends to be based on what they do not understand. Again, this only inadvertently continues what feels like emotional and psychological abuse to the autistic with social and interpersonal trauma.

The way to abolish these recurrences is to educate people, and hopefully to have research corroborating what we're saying. Also, if more of us speak out and say the same things, reiterating similar experiences, this is proof in itself. This is why I’m trying to support outlets for this.

So, what is this "half blind sixth sense" thing all about, via logical examination? Well, I think it lies in the profile of discrepancy. If you don't believe in the "aspies have a sixth sense thing" in a more mystic way, then fine.

Here's where I stand on the mysticism aspect, just to be clear. I believe there's both a logical and metaphysical explanation for things, somehow interrelating in a way far greater than our understanding. I feel it's to do with algorithms.

Aside from what I personally feel, some people find my "I sense energies and auras" stuff a bit flaky, and illogical for them. I too need the logical aspect to things, so I sought to find one. Even the seeing of people's aura colours, which many aspies say they experience (including myself), could be explained by synesthesia. Here is a definition of synesthesia here, I talk about it more in my book; it's quite complex to explain: 
For now, here's what I found when examining this topic, based on my own experience and what I know about myself:  I can't read faces very well at all, but because of that blindness I have other heightened senses. It's likely the body stance, and tone of voice which I may actually pick up on more...with a heightened, cat-like sense. It's similar to one who is blind having heightened senses in other areas.

So, combined with barely being able to read the face, this can feel scary and surreal. It feels like the twilight zone or something (particular if I'm stressed, overloaded, or under slept.) This is particularly true when I'm sensing some sort of tension, or antagonism in varying forms; such as an unwarranted judgment, which I know is coming from the fact that I'm being misinterpreted.

In addition, I may also have a hard time with certain abstract language, so without being able to be in someone's presence, I may misinterpret, question, or even (embarrassing but true) simply not quite understand an email/typed message. Obviously, typed messages are lacking in voice tone and body stance, as it lacks in the persons' physical presence.

I don't usually have that issue with other autistics in types messages...we tend to use language in similar contexts. There are still differences between us though, and sometimes this can indeed be a source of conflict between us. We can sometimes say things metaphorically and then take each other literally. I think that's the main thing we run into, if we do happen to run into problems, that is.

For me, the issue is more often than not, with NTs. As can be expected, I take things quite literally. If I am already wary of an NT, and I'm bringing my trauma into it (especially if I'm stressed out), I can have a hard time with a typed message from them. I dislike direct conflict (honestly, I do) so I try really hard to work through my feelings and my questions. I try to clarify before I assume, I try to explain how I'm interpreting something, and if it's causing me upset, and why. It’s hard because I do find myself internalizing anger, at times.
Even though I try, I'm not always met with support regarding this, but god knows I try, and will keep trying. I am very determined to heal, and grow to learn how to "communicate" with NTs as best as can be expected, without hurting myself of course.

The reality is, I'm also just wired differently. What I do hope, in addition, is that NTs realize just how important it is for them to work just as hard as many of us have, in order to understand our ways too. I try to emphasize this in a polite and diplomatic way, most of the time.

I'm not perfect, and I can have "slip ups." I've been hurt, and at times continue to be, by those who want to remain closed minded, judgmental, and blinded by this into refusal to understanding me for who I really am.  I've even been attacked…and yeah, it hurts. Even through the battle scars, I try not to let them cloud my vision into utter darkness. I am very determined to press on, and in turn also educate and hopefully and eventually, bridge gaps.

So, how do we pick up on "deeper things?" Well, people do subtle things when they are annoyed and/or uncomfortable with you for some reason. For example, they may perk their shoulders up, or warble in their voice tone. Although these things are very subtle, I pick up on them. 

So, "sensing the underlying energy" could mean just the former; my senses are heightened in other areas because I have relatively severe face blindness.

Although I can imitate an expression on the face well enough to look like a pretty good TV actor (emphasis on TV, I did not say Oscar winning film actor) there is a subtly of "performed and scripted" there. It's so subtle, though, that this is why I believe I often get accused of lying and “manipulating.”
People may interpret my behavior as such, if they're cynical especially. If they're not cynical, they may simply interpret it as "interestingly and/or pleasantly unique/idiosyncratic/animated."

However, because of the current average level of awareness in society, the last thing that comes to most people's mind is "oh, she must be autistic." Yeah...right! One day, with continuous work, I believe this will change.

I think a lot of women especially are able to imitate enough to pass for "normal but a little teeny bit quirky" based on their heightened cat like senses at picking up other nuances than the face, though some men are too. I have found that for women, faces are the main issue, whereas body language and voice tone is less of a problem.

It could be the opposite in men, as my husband has suggested, though I'm not too sure. We're all different. In my husbands' case, he is a little stronger with faces that I am, but I am much stronger with body language and voice tones.

Nobody with autism is able to read a typical facial expression in the way a typical person can, though this varies from autistic to autistic. Some are severely "face blind", and others only a little. Again, I'd love to see more research on this, and how it differs between genders.

I have a strong hunch that women may actually struggle more so with the faces, but can be very sharp on all other nuances, whereas the men are little more even profile: a little better with the faces, but weaker than the women on the all other nuances. This is just in terms of general majority bases statistics, of course. If this is true than I can see why women, and men who exhibit a lot of the "female aspie" or "artsy aspie" like traits, get the brunt of discrimination.
If a person is not able to read a face very well, they'll fall short in terms of being able to adequately imitate the expression. If one's expression looks scripted, and even "calculated" in some way, it is liable to be erroneously judged as insincere... as lying. It's also liable to be misinterpreted in all kinds of ways, included "weird", "manic", "mad", "high on something" etc.…

This is because a person with this kind of social-nuance-reading profile will present as something like this; "something is a little strange about that person but their speech is strong, they're articulate, their tone is good"(autism, in the way society currently thinks of it, doesn't come to mind.)

So, really, one can see why those who struggle more so with the face, but are savant in all or most other areas, would be the most severely misinterpreted. It's actually very sad, and cruel if you think of it. I know, because I am one of these people.
Society needs to be educated. More studies should be done, and there are some underway. If anyone comes across any of these studies, please by all means post the links on my page and upcoming groups.

Rudy Simone says "we miss the obvious, but sense what's not obvious" I suppose those subtleties in people's body language and voice tone more so reflect their underlying emotions, than their surface one. So, this could be the more logically based explanation for that "sixth sense." Yes, it is real...and so are we.

- Rose Whitson-Guedes

*Like what you read/wish to support? Diary of A Girl Outside The Box and others (Kindle) are available to purchase via the "books" link on my site!

Entry 70: Unless …

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March. 24. 2014

(about a documentary I watched on Romanian street kids)

Bless the souls of these disturbed, yet eerily wise, adult like children on the streets. Though I may be unassuming, I vaguely relate to them, in ways not meant for Internet blogs. I'm glad I survived what I did, so I could have my heart open to see this for what it really is. What I see is fallen angels, walking on broken glass.

What I see is a product of an unruly socioeconomic system, gone haywire and a causing global mental, physical, spiritual illness rampant within not only political systems, but also familial systems. The ones most vulnerable are people like this, beginning as kids who don't "fit" with the system. This is even more rampant, in countries that have suffered more blatant political corruption.

It isn't just rudimentarily depicted people starving in bamboo huts. It's so much more, which the world is too sheltered (by each persons' own will) to look at. Too afraid to look at. The only way to stop it is to follow the advice of the Lorax, and say "Unless"...

Unless we are fearless, willing, and able to see truth, this kind of thing will only continue to happen. We can't save all, do all, it's just impossible...but it starts with saying Unless. If enough people wake up, the world will eventually be awoken. These kids believe in God. They're not religious per se, but believe in God as an Entity. I find that interestingly astonishing, in words I cannot quite find.

- Rose Whitson-Guedes

*Like what you read/wish to support? Diary of A Girl Outside The Box and others (Kindle) are available to purchase via the "books" link on my site!