To the Editor:
The recent commentary by Haley Holland Graves (“Autism awareness through the eyes of a teen,” 04/23/15 LCN) prompted me to learn a few things about autism. The following is a mix of information from the Autism Fact Sheet of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and some Wikipedia articles:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders.
There is no known cure for ASD. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to remedy specific symptoms and can bring about substantial improvement.
The Internet has helped autistic individuals bypass nonverbal cues and emotional sharing that they find so hard to deal with, and has given them a way to form online communities and work remotely. Sociological and cultural aspects of autism have developed: some in the community seek a cure, while others believe that autism is simply another way of being.
Autism and autism-spectrum disorders have profound effects upon both social interactions and sensitivity to sensory stimulation in persons with such conditions, often making it uncomfortable or impractical for them to turn to other human beings for comfort.
As someone who is sometimes (okay, maybe often) obsessive and disorganized myself, I can appreciate the “another way of being” part. (I think that would make a good song title.)
Through the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism), I learned about Temple Grandin. She is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, a best-selling author, an autistic activist, and a consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior.
At age 18, while attending college, she invented the “hug box” as a form of stress-relief therapy. In 2010, Grandin was listed in the Time 100 list of the 100 most influential people in the world in the “Heroes” category.
Thanks to Ms. Graves for helping an old guy to learn some new things. I’ve been thinking of organizing some occasional jam sessions of local amateur acoustic musicians, and I hope you’re able to join us.
As Bono, Willie Nelson, and others have famously said, “All you need is three chords and the truth.” (Sometimes two chords are enough.)