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.