Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An Aspie Video made by an Aspie

Today I want to talk about a you tube video made by an aspie, Alex Olinkiewicz.

Have a look at it, it's embedded below.

It's insightful, the way it talks about aspergers as a kind of half-autism. There are several places in the video where Alex talks about a kind of "split-personality". Aspergers isn't schizophrenia and I don't think that Alex is suggesting that. He's simply making a point that sometimes we "switch gears" and act in quite different ways.

He talks about having adult maturity combined with childlike behaviour. While it's a good analogy, I think that the childlike behaviour is probably more impulsiveness than anything else. I certainly don't seen any reason why a normal (NT) teenager couldn't or wouldn't watch cartoons like Spongebob. Of course, being obsessed with Spongebob would be different.

Alex also talks about not fitting in, which is a major part of Aspergers. Most aspies don't feel like they fit into society or even into aspie groups. Aspies are very solitary creatures and tend to like it that way. Of course, they're also often lonely and depressed as a result.

The key in the keyhole analogy is good, but he gives the impression that it is only a "music" thing. In truth it's all kinds of stimuli. Being deaf myself, I don't have such an issue with music, though I have problems with certain vibrations and I have issues with things that I see. Some of my greatest visual issues are with things like a book appearing upside down, or with a mismatching (not lined up) label or logo. I like order.

The "mind like a table" analogy is very good. Spot on, in fact. Alex is right in suggesting that it sounds like a plea for watching more TV instead of doing homework but unfortunately, this is how the aspie brain works.

Recently, when discussing my son's learning with my wife, I said; you concentrate on the English and Maths, and leave learning about things like Science and History to me. That's not to say that I won't help with the English and Maths, obviously I'll need to be involved, particularly when he reaches more difficult levels. The problem as I see it, is that subjects such as Religion, History and Science are mostly just exercises in English and Maths with a bit of "flavour" thrown in.

I firmly believe that TV/Movies can provide better history and religion lessons for aspies than written materials. In the case of science and geography there are some TV series which could help but practical experience (experiments and observations) are also quite effective.

Some things, like languages really aren't suitable for aspie learning while others, like art (not art history) would benefit from leaving the aspie to their own devices with only a "technique hint" here and there.

Finally, a lovely finish from Alex. He's happy being himself and wouldn't "cure" Aspergers. A sentiment echoed by most aspies I've spoken to.


Anonymous said...

my son has difficulty reading. It's like he completely forgets things and other times remembers the words very well. It's like an on-off thing. It's so frustrating when you tell him the word, point to it, and he STILL won't tell you what it is. But other times he can. Even letters of the alphabet. It's LIKE he forgets. He's extremely shy. I figure he wants total confidence before he'll respond. Sometimes he shocks me and knows a great deal. But it would help if he practiced it more, because then he would be much better.

I was just wondering what advice you would give to help asperger's kids become good readers. Especially after seeing this video and the talk about learning better from t.v. I don't like t.v. too much because I think it decreases attention span, but we do some nature videos.

My daughter has aspergers and is obsessed with reading and does so well beyond her age. But my son is extremely shy and sometimes won't even talk much. Other times very talkative. They both seemed "terrified" to do things in public but are outgrowing much of that now.

I'm starting to think my son might have dyslexia, maybe mild. He reads and then he shut down. ::sigh:: I luv your blog, please address any of this you can.

Rachel said...

I really do like what he says about "acting like a six year old". I am a 17 year old, and I still play with legos!

Aspergeek said...

About the learning languages thing.
I found that "school learning" of languages indeed isn't very much for me, although it is handy for expanding vocabulary when I already have a basis in said language.

On the other hand, I understand nearly all Euro languages at a very high level and some Japanese and Russian, mostly from experiencing them and two very peculiar reasons:

1) I like anime, which is mostly in Japanese, just by reading subtitles and watching it, I learned a whole lot.

2) When I have an interest in a subject, I'll look up things online, often bucket loads and bucket loads of information.

If that information happens to be presented in another language, I'm driven to learn what it means, by looking it up and translating it, in the process, learning the language.

This imho goes to how aspies seem to learn best in general, for instance, if an aspie has an interest in computers, give them a computer and make them read 500 handbooks before being allowed to touch said computer. Reading the books will take a long long time and be very hard for an aspie to actually learn or memorize said information.

By the time you do let them touch the computer, they'll know some things from the books, but still won't have any level of proficiency on working with that computer.

On the other hand, if you give them the computer and let them at it, exploring how things work, look up things they need more information on from the aforementioned books or from the internet, within a VERY short time, they'll know more about that computer, its operating system, the applications on it and the hardware in it then anyone else.

I would say, even going as far as to be able to suggest adjustments in all those parts to make the computer work better, faster and more stable.