I started to read Temple Grandin’s book, “Thinking In Pictures, My Life with Autism” this week-end. I can only read it in small portions, because I am processing so much of it.
T actually recommended this woman to me. He wanted me to see the HBO movie about Temple, because she is autistic--apparently he and I both do a great deal of research on things on our own. This surprises me because I have asked him so many times for reading recommendations, websites, whatever he has to offer, so I have more resources to study. We both agree N is not autistic, but we also both agree that he is different.
I still hold to the fact that there is also something wrong/up w my son’s hearing and once we get that documented, diagnosed and dealt w, his verbal skills will progress in terrific manner. The boy is whip smart, but he has trouble repeating things back, unless I say them a couple times. Couple that w the fact he has to watch me say things sometimes before he gets them…and I think hearing is an issue. If he were not so empathically gifted, I think he would miss more than he does. I am not so close as Jenny McCarthy is to her son (see her book, “Louder Than Words”, which still makes me cry), where she would pass out when he son had one of his fits, but N and I do have something unique. This difference w N is he has to let me in…when he thinks he is protecting me from things, there’s no way I can get to him. He’s very interesting in his protectiveness of me. Scary things on tv and I cannot watch. We went to cabela’s the other day and they had stuffed lions attacking stuffed gnus—and he wrapped his arm around mine and pulled me gently and w no fanfare in another direction so I wouldn’t see them.
Back to Temple Grandin’s book. It’s killing me to read this, in a good way. For some reason, I am connecting with/to her, to her experiences, far more than I have connected w other books I have read on similar subject matter. She and I share that connection w animals, I will give it that, but she is far superior to me in so many ways. I read fast—everyone who knows me knows I read very fast, unless something is boring the snot out of me—which is when I will struggle and meander through things. I am on page 20 of “Thinking In Pictures” after two days—not because it is boring me—but because I am having to re-organize things in my own brain—I am gaining new insight unto myself here.
Friday, when T dropped off N, he and I had a nice little chat. Both of us together, not one nor the other of us, are responsible for N being the way he is, genetically. Don’t say, yah, duh, we know that. T and I both have those near borderline autistic-like behaviors. He hates crowds—I hate crowds. If there is an outskirts to anything, he or I will be there. He and I are similar in many ways—if we hadn’t dated, we might have been decent friends. There is simply no communication between us. A grunt from him is an entire conversation. One which tells me nothing. There are too many assumptions about things on his part that will never be copacetic w me. We have different learning disabilities—he is so freakin’ slow. I am overly fast. Pretty much sums us both up. He’s too darned slow for me—and I am too darned fast—for much of anyone usually. And I do not tolerate slow people that well…especially if I find them beneath me, or ignorant, or not worth my time, or any variations thereof…I do not like to make the time to drag people up to see what I see the way I see it, unless they are really special to me.
Temple … acquires? Accesses? Mental input as pictures. Vivid pictures. She gives a far better description than I ever could. She does not think in words, does not think verbally. N does not think in pictures, per se. He has a vivid imagination. He can see things very clearly. But his mode of cerebral input is not all pictures. I cannot tell you 100% what his style is. But I can tell you mine. I am not 100% visual. I do not think in English, for one thing. Most of the words, the verbiage in my head is me writing things…the eternal writer who may actually get things on a page at some point. Otherwise, I think in colors, emotional, and scents.
Scent is always a strange one for me, as I spend so much time w allergies and sinus colds and whatnot, which means I cannot smell even if I wanted to smell anything. Plus, even if my sinuses are clear, and there is not an allergen in sight, I do not always smell things. The way I smell is also different. I have to open my mouth most of the time, to taste the way things smell, before I can figure out what they smell like. It’s the reptilian hindbrain of humanity coming out in me, apparently.
One thing that keeps ringing true w me is the whole studying human behavior as if she were an anthropologist from Mars. What exactly do you think I have done my whole life? Did I do it to understand people, to be able to fit in to society better, to learn my own place more? I don’t think so. I spend more time proving I am who I am and if you don’t like it bite me than anything else. I have a fascination w the abnormal psych subjects…how they thrive outside the norm while pretending to be normal…serial killers, mass murderers, you name it. How they adjust their reality to the supposed reality of everyone else around them. Have you seen the movie “Bug” w Ashley Judd? It’s all about the way the mind operates…and how what is real for one person is not real for another. How exactly can that be? That’s what I want to know…what is real…and why…
My favorite thing about animals is that they are who and what they are, without apology. A bird stuck in a plastic soda can 6 pack collar does not just sit there and whine and cry about things until someone saves it. The bird continues to live its life as best it can until either the plastic comes off—or somebody else eats him. A dog does not care if your best company is in attendance; his butt itches and licking it is what makes it feel better. Yada yada yada. I have more examples of what I have seen, but they only get more graphic and unnecessary. An animal acts the way it’s going to act, no matter what, because that is how the animal is wired to act. It can change to act the way a human wants it to act, but that does not mean the animal itself has changed. The animal is simply reacting to its training and current surroundings. Here’s where we step into pet chimpanzees that kill their owners. Where trained lions and tigers and bears who have always been the most perfect pet turns around and snarfs up the one who loves them best. An animal is an animal and will always fall back on its own genetic coding for behavior.
But, as a human, what do we do? Have we lost that caveman connection, the one that Jean Auel has so vividly shown us in her amazing books about Earth’s Children, the race Memories—or is it hidden within the deepest regions of the brain? I find myself thinking I have spent my life studying one animal’s behavior after another…studying man is just studying another animal for me. I can play the alpha of the pack for the dogs – I can listen to the voices of the ravens and practically tell you what they are saying – I can watch the way a coyote holds his head and tell you which way he is about to run… I can tell you when I am not behaving as expected in human company…when I am failing to meet expectations like the rest of the herd mammals at dinner parties and whatnot. I can also tell you I purposely seek out other broken ones like myself, people who do not fit the mold, those who pretend to fit the mold, those who have given up trying and are suffering due to the sharp edges left from the escape of their mold. These are my friends, my beloved ones.
I now have roughly four of Temple Grandin’s books. It may take me a bit to work my way through them all, but I am going to stick with it. I am learning so much about myself, and about the way I do things…it may just help me reconcile the uneasy fit of my current life…not that I am planning to try to fit in more w others…but I can apply some lubricant and make myself more accessible to people who might not have found my work appealing before these changes…
It’s a journey. A very interesting journey.