April 7, 2004
Sometimes autistic people are viewed as dumb. Sometimes they are viewed as being really smart. Autism essetially is the trait defined by the lack of ability to see inside the mind of another.
At a young age most people develope the ability to understand how people around them think. Tracking eyes from near birth and absolutely possessing the skill to predict external mental behavior by the age of 4.
Since the brain is modular and weaknesses often offset our strengths it is very common for autistic people to be mathematically strong and exceptionally weak at communicating. I did take the college level entry exam after doing good on a math test in 5TH grade.
While I am not outright 100% autistic, my lifestyle is / was certainly one which would progress the situation...and I was really good at math when I was a kid. Most of my social interactions occur through words I read or the letters I type. As a kid I had few friends.
Anyway the autistic test ranges from 1 - 32 with an average person being a 16.4. The higher the score, the more likely a person is to be considered autistic. Fully autistic people usually score about a 35. I took the autism test and had the following results
Agree: 4,7,9,12,16,18,19,22,23,26,33,39,41,42,45,46: 1 point
Disagree: 1,10,11,24,27,31,38,47: 1 point
My autims test scores are probably slightly off due to my recent engagement to learning in a book and my slight understanding of neurology.
As one continues to read through Mind Wide Open, Steven Berlin Johnson talks greatly about eye tests and how some can instinctively read the emotions of another just by a glance at the eyes. Non autistic people have their amygdala light up when they try to figure out what emotions another set of eyes portray. If one goes with their innitial reaction they are right a majority of the time. Second guessing and over analysis almost indefinitely leads to the wrong answers.
Autistic people do not have this same activity within the amydala and are forced to use the neocortex to derive pattern recognition in others - to realize what different things mean. The problem is that this is the very action which provides incorrect results for others.
This lack of empathetic feeling points exactly to why I did illegal things which offset some of my own psychological states. For example, the effect of alchohol deadens the over analytical portions of the brain. It prevents me from over analyzing things. In addition alchohol temporarily boosts serotonin levels, which increases a sense of empathy between people.
When I drink a little (but not too much) I have this rare sense that I know exactly what other people are thinking based on their body language. This feeling is exasperated exceptionally well because of it's lack of existence within my own mind from day to day. It does not necissarliy mean that I understand people more than other people do, or that I even understand other people more than I normally do. What it means is that based specificially on physical attributes in that state I believe I can read people better than I normally can. When I first meet new people this is not one of my strong natural attributes.
Thus the effects of my own lushness were the exact opposite of everything I knew...no analytical reactor, no weeks without sunlight, no weeks of crying myself to sleep. It provided a connected sense of empathy which I could only get artificially for brief periods of time...and so I did.Posted at April 7, 2004 8:44 AM