A blog advocating autism through my own personal experiences and insights.

Archive for August, 2014

Why I Don’t Lie

I have rarely lied at all in my life. Of course, most people do tell the truth most of the time because most of us are more or less honest people with many of them uncomfortable with lying and I would definitely put myself in this category. But for me, my reasons to avoid lying go down deeper than this. I don’t avoid lying simply because I’m an honest person and that I believe that other people need an honest answer from me. I also avoid lying because telling about an event that didn’t occur, or telling about a thought that I’m actually not having, etc. somewhat scares me in and of itself. Don’t get me wrong, this scary feeling doesn’t come from not being able to lie convincingly or afraid the other person or people will look through me. It comes from the fact that I’m describing something at least partially if not totally imaginary, something not grounded in reality. And as soon as I start talking about something not grounded in reality, and there’s nothing to hold my world “in check” (for lack of a better phrase) anymore and I just feel the world turning into a mess.

Back when I was 16 years old, I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, which is a story about an autistic boy named Christopher. There was a page in the book where I could very much relate to Christopher’s own attitude toward lying. He explains that he can’t tell lies and that writing things down that aren’t true makes him feel “shaky and scared”. Even though Christopher himself is a fictional character, I’m sure I can safely assume that Mark Haddon did his research correctly (I did hear he worked with individuals with autism, for example) and that are other people with autism in reality (even if it’s only a few) who feel this way. There was one sentence out of the book that I will quote here that really illustrates the point:

“This is another reason why I don’t like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn’t happen and they make me feel shaky and scared.”

While Christopher’s problem with lying has reached so far as to make him unable to read fiction, it has made a less impact on me (if it didn’t, I wouldn’t have a driven passion of writing novels, for example). However, there have been moments in my life when my love of fiction has come into conflict with the lying problem. When I was very little, I remember hearing about books, but not knowing that they were about events that weren’t real. I incorrectly assumed, like the naive child I was, that some higher power made the events real in our world or that the world was so big that it could incorporate all the different possibilities so that whenever a new story came out, it was bound to be real. Also, in my late teens, I felt the strangeness of fiction not being real coming back to me, especially after reading that sentence about Christopher’s own attitude toward novels. As I recall, there were only a few down periods when I actually felt my attitude toward novels becoming more like Christopher’s and it would sometimes be scary reading or thinking about fiction sometimes and I sometimes felt it put my newly found passion of writing novels at risk. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced these feelings since they occurred when I was in my teens and I think I can safely assume that I can continue reading and writing fiction without worry about it having a deep impact on my life.

I would also like to add that this reason doesn’t affect my ability to lie by omission. Because when I’m in that situation, everything I say is still the truth, I’m just not saying all of it or not saying as much as what is implicitly required, but I do not explicitly say something that is not true. But being an honest person, I of course also try to avoid doing this as much as possible regardless.

I have also felt the issue of lying having a lesser and lesser impact on me over the years, although it still certainly contributes to my motivation of avoiding lying. So even though the impact of it on myself is certainly less than on Christopher, it still is there only in a more weak form. I’m also sure that there other individuals with autism out there who don’t experience this sensation at all.

After all, they call autism a spectrum disorder for a reason.


Learning about Others with Autism

Over the last little while, I have done quite a bit of research on autism. This is primarily driven by the fact that the I want to write a novel about autism (a series of novels actually). While I do have high-functioning autism myself and my experience will inevitably play a huge role in my novels develop, I am after all but one example of living with autism. Autism is an incredibly diverse condition and by educating myself more fully on how others with the condition live their lives, I will be able to be more accommodating to have my writing shine on their perspectives, thoughts, and behaviours as well.
So far the research is proven very interesting. I watched a full set of course video lectures on autism at AcademicEarth found here: https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewCourse?id=495056283&s=143441.

I have also subscribed to a magazine called Autism Spectrum Quarterly on my Apple Ipad. In the magazine is a mixture of personal stories from those affected by autism and their close ones and professional articles. It even has a cutting-edge research section which has a few articles that describe in plain English on the current research conducted on . For example, there was one article that speculated on whether Autism and Asperger’s was really one part of the same entity and that Asperger’s was an extension of autism spectrum disorder off of the higher end or whether Asperger’s was something separate. There was also another interesting article on how strength of certain brain connections could indicate good ways to working with those with Asperger’s. More specifically, the article speculated that connections within local parts of the brain are stronger in those with Asperger’s, but connections between distant parts of the brain were weaker, which may explain how someone with Asperger’s behaves through such things as repetitive behaviours and intense focus. Another article that stood out was how a school called Heartspring in Kansas had come up with the idea of using robots to teach students with autism proper social skills. So the robots would be programmed to behave as a normal human would in social interaction and would interact with the students with autism. And these articles are to name but a few of the interesting tidbits of what this magazine has to offer.

I have also been researching not just autism itself, but also on the philosophy of autism and how the ideas of how the autistic mind works may have philosophical implications in the fields of ethics and what exactly a human mind is. It feels so refreshing to get all of these creative ideas for my novels. Not only is this research ensuring that I write accurately about autism and accommodate as many autistic perspectives as I can, but it is giving me an endless stream of inspiration for such things as plots, characters, etc.!
Most importantly, however, and this goes beyond my writing passion, the goal of educating myself on the so that I may speak not only for myself as an individual with autism, but also for all individuals with autism. We’re certainly a diverse group, probably one of the most diverse disability groups there is and the more I educate myself on it, the more I will be able to speak for for this group.