What is Autism?

Some thoughts about autism provoked in a good way by anonymouslyautistic and a bad way by the folk at magiquiz.

INTRODUCTION

I am not going to attempt a scientific answer to the question in my title, merely to lay out some of my own thoughts. The original inspiration for this post was a post produced by anonymouslyautistic, titled “WHAT IS AUTISM – FROM AN AUTISTIC’S PERSPECTIVE” and brought to my attention by americanbadassactivistsAs readers of this blog will be aware I am branch secretary of the National Autistic Society’s West Norfolk branch as well as being autistic. 

 

WHAT AUTISM IS NOT

Among the things that autism is sometimes supposed to be but is not are:

  • A form of mental illness (more on this at the end of this section as you will see). 
  • A disorder
  • Something to be feared or worse still hated
  • Something that needs to be cured

I end this section with an example that absolutely shocked me when I saw it by way of twitter this weekend. I invite readers of this post to collectively identify everything they can find that is wrong with the formulation of the question below:

ableist question

If you click on the image you can go to the quiz, take it yourself and then post a comment (if you choose to do this please follow me in highlighting the problems with this question).

AUTISM AND ME

My unsuitability for front-line customer service and the difficulties I have with communication are down to autism. On the other side of the ledger my eye for detail, reflected in my photography among other things, my mathematical skills, my aptitude for working with computers and several other of my strongest attributes are also due to autism.

I will finish this section by reminding people that different does not necessarily mean less, and that we are autistic people – note the emphasis given to the second part of that designation.

PUZZLES

In this section I provide the solution to one puzzle and offer another for your inspection. Both are mathematical in nature. 

In ‘Midweek Mixture‘ I set the following puzzle:

The above table shows two putative sets of coin toss records, each for one coin tossed thirty times. Which is more like to be genuine based on what you can see?

a) series one
b) series two

To begin the solution, here is the table above with a column added:

coin tosses complete

You will see that the two sets of coin toss lists in the original problem were made up, but if you look at the results for the set of coin tosses I actually performed you will note that it looks much more like series two than series one – randomness is clumpier than we intuitively expect (the idea for this problem came from a book by Natalie Angier, in which she tells the story of a teacher who uses an experiment in which half of her class are assigned the task of inventing a series of coin tosses, and half of actually tossing coins and recording the result, while the teacher goes out of the room – and nearly always the teacher can tell the real from the fake). 

My new problem comes from the mathematical website brilliant:

octagon

PHOTOGRAPHS

As usual I end this post with some photographs, in this case featuring a family of swans I saw swimming along the Gaywood River yesterdary morning:

Swan familySwan family 2Swan family3Swan family 4Swan family 5young swanstwo swansyoung swanwhite swanwhite swan 2white swan 3Swansswans 2Swans 3

 

Autism Related Finds

Three autism related links including one featuring a seriously good infographic and one in which I get an honourable mention, and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I was planning to do a major sharing post today, but other factors have intervened, so I am just going to share three autism related pieces. 

AUTISTIC ADULTS WANTED
FOR ART PROJECT

This was posted on messymiscreation and is exactly what you might expect a piece titled “Autistic Adults, I’m seeking your input on an art project” to be. I hope it gets plenty fo responses.

AN INFORGAPHIC ON DIVERSITY

This is an example of why Erin Human is a firm favourite of mine. This post has wonderful title: “Diversity is Beautiful“. Below is a screenshot of the feature infographic. I urge all of you to visit the original and read the accompanying text. 

Screenshot 2017-08-20 at 6.20.19 PM

NAS WEST NORFOLK OFFICIAL POST ABOUT THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY

Our vice-chair Rachel Meerwald with some input from the rest of the committee created a post for our website about this event, which you can see here. Below is a screenshot of the end of the piece (my reasons for choosing this section will be instantly apparent!).

Website10thAnn

A FEW FINAL PHOTOGRAPHS

CGs

CG
This is either an Iceland Gull or a Glaucous Gull (they have very similar colouring).

Moorhen and algaeMoorhen

RMC
The Red Mount Chapel, a sprightly 600 year old
All Saints 3
These last two shots are of All Saints Church, reckoned to be the oldest in King’s Lynn, which means that ;parts of it date back a thousand years.

All Saints 2

 

NAS West Norfolk 10th Anniversary Celebrations

A personal account of NAS West Norfolk’s 10th anniversary celebration garden party.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday saw the celebration of NAS West Norfolk’s tenth anniversary. We had a garden party in a quite magnificent garden in Castle Acre which we had been very generously allowed to use for the occasion. Here as a reminder is the poster we used to advertise the event:

MY ROLE IN THE CELEBRATIONS

As branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk I was involved in running the event – I helped to set things up at the start and with the clear up at the end. As an autistic person I was also delighted to take part in the event in between times. 

THE GARDENS

These gardens are truly amazing – this is where the original fortified village that adjoins the castle was located, and at one point there is a steeply sloped bank that leads down to a section of the old town moat. There are some amazing plants and grasses in these gardens, some excellent garden sculptures, a pond with ducks of various breeds and dragonflies around it, many fowl which run free and a swimming pool the excellence of which I can personally vouch for having spent an hour there. Near the pond is a summerhouse which was our designated Quiet Area (an absolute necessity at events for autistic people, or if you want autistic people being comfortable attending your event). There was also a house that was open to the public in which cakes (some baked by our wonderful hosts and some by members of our group), raffle prizes and such were set up.

The hosts had provided a few games for us, and one of our members brought along a swingball set as well.  

THE DAY

Once the set up had been accomplished there was plenty of time to enjoy the day, and it went excellently. For me the magnificent setting was one half of a superb equation, the other being autistic people enjoying themselves without worrying what anyone else was thinking because everyone present had some sort of connection to autism, and therefore some degree of understanding. Everyone present was at least at the ‘Understanding’ stage of the Awareness-Understanding-Acceptance-Appreciation line. I was regularly taking photographs except for the hour I spent in the swimming pool and we had a photographer from Your Local Paper present as well. The raffle prizes were presented by the Mayor of King’s Lynn. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are my photographs from the day…

Moat
The bank leading down to a section of the old town moat – an entangled bank worthy of the closing words of On The Origin of Species.

Butterfly2

Butterfly
The only one of many beautiful butterflies that I was able to capture.

Swingball2entrance to swimming poolPicnics3953Table tennis2Table tennisYoung cockerelbannerBig house

decorative brickwork2
Half of this brickwork Tudor Rose has disappeared.

decorative brickwork1Brick and flintbuildingmini clocktower

Watering can
A watering can sculpture (it is huge – one could not actually use iut.
big bird2
I saw this bird early on, but it kept itself to itself later in the day.

Big bird 1

wire sheep
Wire sheep near the pond

cockerelAvian flotillaJemima

Dovecote
What used to be the dovecote – the brick nesting boxes are still in place.

Dovecote2

Pond3
The pond.

Pond2Pond1Ducks

summerhouse
The designated Quiet Area.
Dark den
Inside the summerhouse we assembled the Dark Den – the framework is a little like Quadro except with that the plastic tubes have a smaller diameter. Initially we had failed to notice that the tubes have to go through the tenting, so we took longer to get this assembled than we should.
Dark den interior1
An interior shot – once I pulled the second door flap at the back into place and someone else had added a blanket to soften the base it was ready for use.
Private
This was in the summehouse.

NASWEN notice board

Swingball
The swingball set in use.
swimming pool
The swimming pool.

Bird2bird1

wire ducks2
wire ducks – there were also wire sheep near the pool.

wire ducks13913

Autism Infographics and Some Photographs

A couple of classic autism infographics I spotted in the last 24 hours and some photographs of my own.

INTRODUCTION

The photographs which will be appearing in two tranches at the end of this post are mine, all taken yesterday. The two autism related infographics are shared from elsewhere (credit given at appropriate points). I saw the first of these yesterday evening and the second this morning.

AUTISM INFOGRAPHICS

First, courtesy of Patricia, who tweets as @pgzwicker, comes this gem:

Autistic chiuld infographic

The second was originally posted on Our Autism Blog this morning, and I link to that post so that you can comment on it there should you wish:

OABinfog

PHOTOGRAPHS

The first of the two sets of my photographs that I am putting up here were taken while out walking yesterday morning:

Upper Purfleet
The Upper Purfleet
giant slug
A giant slug on the path alongside Bawsey Drain
Moorhen
A moorhen swimming in a clear pool
Moorhen and lilies
This second pool was covered in water lilies.
white duck
A town centre section of the Gaywood River
Moorhens and algae
In the parkland area – this stretch of river is covered in algae.
Magpie
A magpie on the path alongside the Great Ouse
Cormorants
Near the end of the walk – some shots of cormorants and boats on the town centre section of the Great Ouse.

CormorantBoat3 CormorantsCormorants on platform2 cormorantsCormorant2Boat and gulls

The last few pictures for today were taken yesterday afternoon while sitting outside my parents house in East Rudham. These are probably the last shots I will have from there as my parents are moving to Plymouth.

Bee1Bee3Bee2

Giving a Radio Interview

A post focussing on me giving a radio interview. Some mention of a roller-skating session and of the current test-match. And of course some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The title part of this post refers to one of the things I did yesterday. I also have some pictures to share.

AN AUTISM CENTRED MORNING

Of course, as branch secretary of the National Autistic Society’s West Norfolk branch and an #actuallyautistic person there is a way in which autism is always at the heart of what I do. After three days carrying out my concatenation of roles at a James and Sons auction (operator of the system that enables us to take online bids, database administrator, query fielder, in-house ‘Gordianus’, occasional customer service person – see here for a full account) I had a day on which my only preset commitment was to supervise a roller-skating session at Lynnsport between 11 and 12. In the absence of direct confirmation of a time that would be convenient to speak to Ashleigh at KLFM 96.7 (our local radio station) about our upcoming 10th anniversary I decided that I would set off early for Lynnsport and see if I could speak to her on the way or as a fall-back arrange to call in on my way back.

Ashleigh was able to fit me in straight away, and the interview went well (she will be sending me both a recording and an online article that will accompany the actual broadcast), and I left for Lynnsport with my spirits high – I had helped myself, advertised our upcoming 10th anniversary event and due its connection with the foregoing also made mention of our gardening grant and the allotment on Ferry Lane + plans for a sensory garden in part of the plot. It is because of this gardening stuff that we gained the use of the magnificent garden where our 10th anniversary celebration will be held.

The roller-skating passed without incident and I was able to listen to some of the action from the third test-match (even assuming I had both the ability and the willingness to pay the Biased Bull****ting Conservatives £150 per year I would choose to follow cricket by listening to radio commentaries rather than watching on TV). Yesterday was truncated by rain, but England have had a good day today – first reaching 353 largely thanks to a magnificent innings from Stokes and now bagging a South African wicket before tea – debutant Toby Roland-Jones breaking through.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Pot
Being vertical sided these pots should not blow over in the wind (there were two of them).
BP1
The first of two shots showing James and Sons’ tray of Beatrix Potter coins

BP2

Victoria heads
I don;t know what the original purpose of this object was, but it has been a feature of James and Sons longer than I have!
Bee2
Wild marjoram is useful as a herb, as well playing a vital role as a plant that bees just love .

Bee1Bee3

Butterfly1
A huge butterfly

Butterfly2

Giant fly
A gargantuan fly.

FountainSquirrel

Public Libraries 150
My public libraries display.

Coming Up: NAS West Norfolk 10th Anniversary

Some details of the evnt planned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of NAS West Norfolk.

INTRODUCTION

Both the poster, and the facebook event that I have screenshotted and linked to are the work of NAS West Norfolk vice-chair Rachel Meerwald. Something about this may well be going out on our local radio station – I am at least half-expecting to visit them on Blackfriars Street this Thursday for that purpose (I am as my regular followers will be aware both branch secretary and #actuallyautistic). 

POSTER AND FACEBOOK EVENT

I will start with the poster:

NASWN10GP

The facebook event is more detailed, and hence required two screenshots. A left-click or its equivalent will take you to the event in question, while a right-click or equivalent will enable you among other things to view the images individually and at full size:

 

Autism 101

This infographic by Erin Human is really excellent – I urge you to study it and then share it. This is Erin’s work, so if you wish to comment you must do so on the original.

Erin Human

autism 101Autism 101

a simple neurodiversity-based explanation
[image of head with brain]

what is autism?

Autism is type of brain wiring (neurological type) that processes information differently than typical brains do.
[image of head with abstract wiring pattern]

This means that autistic thought patterns, sensory perceptions, social interactions, language processing, and emotional regulation all develop differently than those of people who are not autistic.

Modern societies operate in ways that often disadvantage autistic people, which makes autism a developmental disability.

who is autistic?

[image of globe]
About 1-2% of the world’s population is autistic.
Many populations are under-diagnosed, but autistic people are everywhere!

[image of birthday cake]
People of all ages are autistic.
Though people usually talk about autistic children, autistic adults need support too.

[image of three people with varying skin tones and hairstyles]
Autistic people are found across all genders, races, and nationalities.
Boys are diagnosed more often than…

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