I spent the better half of a year asking myself how to define autism because its not only me that’s effected by it as my brothers and thousands more are affected by it also.
In order to truly define it I had to look at it from my brothers points of view. My youngest brother, who we call Bear has severe autism, also known as classic autism. My other brother, who I call Gremlin has the same severity of autism (if not less) as I do.
Over time I watched them and could relate to certain behaviour in Gremlin but was dumbfounded by the effect some things had on Bear; certain smells, noises, and even things he touched would make him scream. At the worst of times he would hit himself in the face or bang his head on the wall or floor.
After watching Gremlin struggle with situations much like I did as a child and to watch Bear run away from some things as if they were going to set him on fire, I finally figured out how I could truly define Autism.
Its impossible to define it.
Just as a person can’t be defined by there look somebody with autism can’t be defined as a set case, it effects everybody differently. That may be a hollow answer but its the truth.
Bear can’t stand undefinable sounds like crowds for instance and Gremlin can’t stand certain smells or the feel of grass on his bare feet. I can’t stand the feel of sand or water with things in it (dishwater). Just in our family alone we are all so different but we are all labelled with the same definition.
So if I can’t define autism as a whole, maybe I can give you my view of it and “maybe” a better insight to how it feels to have it.
Imagine you have just recently lost your arms and you need to reach something up high in the kitchen, so you walk in and go to pick it up with your hand. Now your mind would kick in and go, “oh yeah, I don’t have my arms anymore.” Basically you use your mind to define your problem; (no arms =I can’t reach item). But for somebody with autism in this scenario there missing arms is there mind.
I’ll try and simplify that by using the same scenario; “You go to reach for the item” BUT your arms are missing now instead of you using your mind to realise ” oh I lost my arms” you have to use your missing arms to define what’s going on. So basically you come up with (reach for item= can’t reach= try again) and this goes on and on.
My mind understand that it can not do something but because of autism it over rides the ‘practical’ part of my brain and makes me continue to do something that I already know is impossible to do. This in turn causes the anxiety that goes along with autism and how so many things become overwhelming for a person with autism.
As much as you desire it if you have a mind with autism practicality can not define you.
My example is very confusing I know but to be honest Autism is confusing. In the end basically what your left with is that you use your mind to define your mind. It’s not impossible but it takes a VERY long time to understand why I, as a person with autism am effected by things the way I am.
I still don’t know why sand effects me the way it does. But I live with it and will continue too. I don’t have a choose and that is a very important point that I am trying to make. People with autism are effected by different things and we can’t choose what effects us, it just happens, it just is.
With Bear because of his severity of autism it would make him go through this loop several hundred times in a second till it drives him to run away or try and hit himself to divert his thoughts.
I hope this has been helpful even slightly.