Monday, March 26, 2007

Autism File -- Echolalia and other things

One of my many posts about Amanda Baggs popped up in the referrals and led me to drill back into the links. Among the comments at the CNN link I found this...

My daughter also showed signs of autism right from birth, and the doctors dismissed it, at the time. She isn't non-verbal, but the opposite.

Combine ADHD with echolalia, and you get a child that repeats everything non stop. As she has grown and come to understand her environment a little better, she has, more and more, progressed to using the correct "pre-recorded" phrases for the situation. I am not around other children her age often enough that I notice constantly that she speaks a little differently, but I do notice it when I spend time around other children.

Sometimes, her unusual turns of phrase are actually more appropriate than what would be considered the 'norm'. She has always believed her middle name was Caffeine (Kathleen) and with the ADHD, it is often more appropriate. She asked if a boxing ring was the same as a bathtub ring, and says 'buckle me out' as the opposite for 'buckle me in', and asks us to 'take her a bath' instead of give. It makes sense, and I have often described her way of speaking as someone who did not learn English as a first language.

I love how she has brought a fresh new perspective on things I had become used to. I ache to see how loud silence is for her, and how frightening things we all take for granted are. (sensory integration disorder seems to twine through autism, silence can be loud, visual things can taste, light can hurt, and so on)

I applaude you, Amanda, for having the drive to do what you have done, even though as you say, communicating in words is not your natural state. Thank you for expending the effort to teach.

I suppose I am lucky to have been born with an open minded personality, my first experiences with someone who could not communicate as I did, did not make me think they could not, but made me think - how can i? Thus I met my best childhood friend.

I am still not convinced that autism is a disease that needs to be cured, but perhaps more of an evolution into a new way of communicating.

Lots more to read at the link. Inspiring and enlightening. Life-changing, perhaps? Consider this...
Amanda, I watched your video and the news piece about you and read your blog, and I love what you say about people with autism and other differences being treated as "real people". I believe all people (and beings, like you said about cats) are in a spectrum and all are valuable. I am bipolar. A lot of my friends, my spouse, and my child are bipolar. I've been chastised by doctors for choosing a bipolar donor and having a bipolar child, and then marrying a bipolar spouse, like i am doing some horrible thing by "creating more broken people" and valuing a bipolar family. but we are not broken. we think and feel and communicate differently from what you called
"nuero-typical". i love that term. We bi-polar people take medication to function in the "normal" world, but it costs us. it costs our creativity and our brain-speed and our intensity. i value you and i wish you a wealth of experience communicating in your own way and interacting with the world in your own way. it is valuable and special and REAL. - Toby

Reading these comments reminds me of that wonderful film, Benny and Joon. I've only seen it two or three times. In my estimation it is one of the great movies of our time. Very smart. There are tons of great moments, including this...

Benjamin and Juniper are discussing Sam's cooking. Sam is played by Johnny Depp. His character is nearly as uneven as Joon. He used an electric iron to make grilled cheese sandwiches.
J: He can really cook, can't he?
Benny: Yeah, although for grilled cheese, I might use the wool setting.
Joon: That's what I told him.
B: Really? What did he use?
J: Rayon. Silk would have been too soggy. Cotton would have...
B: Would have burned it.
J: Right. Fortunately, he consulted me before giving it steam. I was four square against it.

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