Monday, January 4, 2010

Reflection: Of Appearance and Illusion

I was reading a blog by a woman who's autistic. She said that people naturally assumed she was high-functioning when they met her online, and that they assumed she was low-functioning when they met her in real life. Well, reading her narratives, I doubted many people would think she was autistic at all; they'd think she was simply articulate and perceptive. The woman expressed herself in writing much better than the average person does, and was probably more astute than average in her discussions of human behavior. But if you look at her features and facial expressions, it's very easy to imagine she has a developmental disorder. Well, I don't doubt that there were autistic symptoms (sensory overload, difficulty reading body language, or even speaking) that came out in face to face interaction. Yet I also wonder to what extent it would affect her to simply be looked at the way people probably did.

How many times in my own life have people looked through me, so certain that their social perceptions and capabilities were beyond mine that it didn't even merit thought? And haven't I done the same, looking across the aisle of a bus as if from some great height? I've written about neurological irregularities before, in Modeling the Latest in Hypertonic Arm Wear and Sometimes You Picture Me. I won't spend a lot of time discussing 'stereotypies' today -- but I will link to a bit of writing. I think I've written 3 lenses since the last time I linked to one in a post! There's one titled Teaching Critical Literacy With the Ugly Duckling that seems on the surface like something written by my teacher persona that wouldn't be of interest to friends. I'm not on my soapbox in the overt way that I am here, but there's quite a bit of me in that piece. There's also a bit of theme music and some stunning swan and duck pictures, that no, I didn't take. (Of course I've got my own snapshots and Animoto shorts in Step Into Ravenna Creek Ravine.)

picture credit