What if there's no such thing as 'autistic'?Abstract By autistic author and consultant, Donna Williams
http://www.awares.org/conferences/show_paper.asp?section=000100010001&conferenceCode=000200050002&id=170MY FRUIT SALADAt six months old, I had jaundice and began what would become 26 years of recurrent infections and antibiotics. Two years later, in 1965 when I was 2 and a half years old, I was in a hospital for a three-day observation because I was thought to be deaf, showed no response to pain, was coughing up blood and had chronic infections. At the end of those three days, my parents were told I was not deaf, did not have leukemia and that the coughing was compulsive and self- inflicted. I was assessed as a psychotic infant and sent home. In the 1970s, I was labelled by the school as emotionally disturbed and by 1972 was still being tested for deafness at age 9. Then it was finally explained that I could hear but not understand language. Gesture and the use of representational objects was brought in, by 1973 I was put on zinc, C, multivitamin-minerals and began to understand speech with meaning. I began to use functional speech (previously jingles, songs, lines from TV shows as happens in Semantic Pragmatic Language disorder - essentially a product of visual-verbal agnosia). My parents used mirrors, coloured light bulbs, there was swimming and skating and swings and nobody stopped me tapping, rocking, rubbing, flicking or smelling things for recognition or posting my 3-year-old little brother down the stairs (though my mother did insist on zipping into a hooded jacket with a pillow up his back for protection). In my 20s, a psychiatrist noted that I was agnosic, I was diagnosed and treated at allergy clinics with gut, immune, metabolic disorders. I was formally diagnosed with autism (not Asperger's on the basis of a significant receptive language- processing disorder) and a few years later assessed byeducational psychologists as having a visual perceptual disorder. In my 30s, I had cranio-sacral therapy, Mc Timony Chiropractic and Brain Gym for neurological integration problems diagnosed by a brain injury clinic, dreamwork hypnotherapy for PTSD, OCD-related obsessional thoughts, Exposure Anxiety, Social Phobia and Generalised Anxiety issues and finally medicated (very low dose mood leveller) for a collection of mood, anxiety and compulsive disorders. I have relatives on both my father's parents' sides of the family with coeliac disease, ADHD, bipolar disorder, dyslexia and a few diagnosed with Asperger's and another diagnosed with autism. On my mother's side are Colitis, agoraphobia, addictions, rage, depression, suicide, sociopathy and violence. I have the artistic, idiosyncratic personality traits from my father's side, the solitary and vigilant personality traits from my mother's side, which makes me stereotypically a pretty autistic personality whether I also had autism or not, and a self-sacrificing trait from my paternal grandmother which can make me look too giving to be stereotypically autistic. I'm a kinesthetic, musical, logical thinker and a solitary learner. I'm not designed to fit the mainstream. Do I still have the same autism issues I had all along? To a degree, to a lesser, and less compounded, and more managed degree. Am I still autistic? And which 'autistic' am I? Can any of my issues and their management indicate what may help others, perhaps more severely autistic than I am? For now, I'd like to demonstrate what has led me to question whether there is such a condition as 'autistic' at all. Questions for Donna Williams (AS YOU CAN SEE BELOW YOU HAVE TO GIVE DONATIONS TO PUT A QUESTION TO DONNA WILLIAMS)http://www.awares.org/conferences/registration_update.asp?conferencecode=00020005§ion=000100010002
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