[extropy-chat] Fwd: CNN features amazing user with autism

Anne Corwin sparkle_robot at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 27 05:01:54 UTC 2007

Mike Dougherty said:

"I was wondering if there is a common symbol set that would allow two autistics to communicate using more bandwidth than the 'limited' channels we use".

Who is "we"? (I can't imagine I'm the only non-neurotypical on this list, though you could simply be meaning, "we who primarily communicate using standard symbol sets").

I wouldn't say there's a common symbol set, but there are definitely some commonalities in communication between many (but not all) autistics.  This probably has to do with similarities in perception -- e.g., in Amanda's video, I wonder how many people noticed the flag out the window and how its motions correlated with the hand/paper-flapping in the foreground.  

In addition, I also do things like smell paper and books (especially new CD or DVD liners with that spicy ink smell!) so if I saw someone else doing these things, I would understand why they were doing it and not think it was a strange thing to do.

Amanda answered some questions at the CNN site here: http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/02/22/autism.emails/index.html

Regarding autistic communication, Amanda says in response to the question

"Amanda, would you please describe some of the body cues that autistic people use to communicate to one another? Thank you for sharing your story.":

"BAGGS: It's hard to describe them, the same way it might be hard for a non-autistic person to explain exactly what cues in another person lead them to believe that person is snobby. I've never made an analytical study of our responses and communication methods, it's something that just comes naturally to me the way non-autistic nonverbal communication seems to come to non-autistic people. I wish I had a clearer answer than that, and I would find it interesting if someone did figure out a way to describe some of the common autistic communication styles in words.It's the way that just before I walked down the hall with Dr. Gupta, and I was drumming my fingers on the shelf in Laura's apartment for stability, Laura knew to drum her fingers on the other side of the shelf. We continued that until I was laughing and flapping and she was grinning. But that's just one tiny example, and I'm not sure I can translate what was conveyed in that.
How do non-autistic people translate into words what happens when you're upset and your friend holds your hand?"

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