Explaining Autism in Simple Terms

Over on my facebook page someone asked …“If you had to explain what is autism in simple terms to a person who knew nothing about it what would you say? “

It was a great question and putting autism in simple terms… well that’s so hard because the word is misused for SO MUCH.  For example among the conditions I identified in The Jumbled Jigsaw as part of an autism 'fruit salad' were… Agnosias = the brain fails to put meaning to what the senses perceive.

Alexithymia = where the brain can’t easily process emotions.

Aphasias = the brain fails to connect thought to verbal speech.

Selective mutism = anxiety severs the connection to verbal speech.

Oral dyspraxia = the brain fails to co-ordinate articulation.

Motor dyspraxia = the brain fails to co-ordinate physical co-ordination.

Dyspraxia = there parts of the brain are not processing information efficiently, resulting in mono-track, partial and delayed information processing with related information overload and potential for meltdowns.

Co-morbids = the brain’s chemistry is imbalanced resulting in involuntary mood, anxiety, compulsive disorders, attention deficits, mental confusion and sometimes psychotic episodes.

Gut, immune, metabolic disorders = where genetic and/or environmental physical health disorders effect information processing, behavior, interaction, communication, development and functioning styles, levels and abilities.

Brain damage = where genetic or environmental damage to the brain has resulted in loss of functions, inability to use existing functions in an integrated way or leads to such needs to adapt the use of the body and senses that it sets in motion altered developmental paths.

Seizures = electrical surges in the brain which are generally identified as epilepsy and which can include atypical epilepsies and complex partial seizures resulting in staring spells, involuntary movements and utterances and disturbing sensory perceptual and physical experiences.  Seizures can also result in progressive brain damage, learning disability, loss of functions, inability to consistently use the functions one has and interfere significantly with development.

Personality disorders = where particular personality traits have become so extreme under a range of different environmental, physical or genetic circumstances, that the personality trait has made the person unable to function to their greatest potential or so disrupted their environment as to make it unsustainable.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder = where someone (with or without autism) who has a strong self-confident personality trait has become so over indulged that their natural tendency to presume rights over those of others has reached disorder proportions.  NPD would be complicated if the person was raised in a situation of ‘emotional incest’, particularly where the parent has become co-dependent to their child’s personality disorder.

Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder = where a person is so details oriented, perfectionist, achievement driven and afraid to lose control, that their life is built around their obsessive interests.

Reactive Attachment Disorder = where due to early separation, severe health issues, significant sensory perceptual deficits or due to abuse or neglect, the bonding process was interrupted severely enough to result in later social-emotional development

Exposure Anxiety = Involuntary avoidance, diversion and retaliation responses resulting in difficulty doing as oneself, by oneself or for oneself.

Autistic withdrawal = temporary or long term, acute or chronic reaction to distress, overload and vulnerability in which one shuts down or closes off to communication, interaction or consideration or others.

Autistic encapsulation = where a range of conditions and circumstances result in extensively diminished ability to consider, turn to, relate to, trust or need the involvement of others.  This may be to the degree that the individual either ignores all needs or desires which might require or involve others or the behavioural/neurological pattern has become so ingrained it cannot naturally occur to them as to how they might involve or want to involve others.

Autistic culture = where a group with a shared diagnosis or identification with a shared diagnosis, see themselves as a distinct social group.

Autistic pride = where a group with a shared diagnosis or identification with a shared diagnosis, focus and embrace the perceived shared traits that adhere to popular autism related stereotypes.

And so… what’s autism?

Well that’s usually the diagnosis when a most diagnosticians meet someone with an autism fruit salad and can’t differentiate, recognise or label the individual parts or when there’s no funding for the sum impact of those parts which has presented itself ‘autistically’.