Friday, March 14, 2008

On The Axinar's (And The Axinar's Old Man's) Verbal Abilities

Well, we do have quite a fascinating little comment discussion going on surrounding the topic of how some people with autism spectrum disorders can SING perfectly fine, but, if I'm catching the lingo correctly, can't facilitate any other meaningful communication through speech.

Now this in and of itself is a topic worthy of some discussion.

For instance, a Torah reading in a traditional synagogue is canted, or sung. In fact, recordings of this canting can be played here.

And, yes, these are memorized verses, but one can arguably say useful information is being related in this way. In fact, whole cultures have been based upon this information.

Now, it's common knowledge that people with various forms of autism and Asperger's have trouble with small talk - eye contact, picking up body language, etc. However, the topic at hand is how someone might come to abandon speech altogether for the purposes of carrying out, as The Old Man's case worker explained the phrase to me, Activities of Daily Living.

So, I tried to figure out what many would consider a "simple" situation where one would use ordinary speech to obtain something related to Activities of Daily Living - for instance, oh, making an order at Mickey D's

Now, a new contributor, AnneC, painted the picture that she might very well start to place the order if she had been able to figure it out before approaching the counter, but if anything went wrong at all (what she wanted being out of stock, etc.), things just might come to a crashing halt.

Oh I certainly recognize this behavior from The Old Man. If something even trivial goes wrong an entire mission can get aborted. I remember once when my grandmother was in the hospital or something of the sort he abandoned a whole cart full of groceries because he brought the wrong check book or something of the sort. I think by that time I was in college and had a credit card with a $500 limit or something like that and was able to save the day. I think he had plastic on him too, but of course the whole concept of adapting to changing circumstances escaped him.

I do suffer from a touch of this myself. In the MickeyD's scenario, if they were out of the thing that I wanted I might very well have to step back out of the line and think for a second how I wanted to proceed next. There have certainly been thousands of times that a phone call hasn't gone the way that I wanted and it may be many minutes, hours, or even days before I have been able to work out a "Plan B" in my head and call the person back.

But probably the most fascinating comment comes from Amanda herself - "speech is that stuff that generally comes out totally unrelated to what I'm thinking when it comes out at all."

Oh that's REALLY beginning to sound like me.

Particularly the last few years people have stopped me in mid-sentence over and over and over again and told me I was not making any sense whatsoever.

Of course, as many of you have noticed, quite often my TYPING doesn't make much more sense.

AnneC also mentions that she thought eventually e-mail would replace the telephone because, to her anyway, typing was much easier and more straightforward than talking. Interestingly enough, there are certain areas of business that were almost exclusively conducted on the telephone that now go on almost exclusively in email. I'm pretty sure it's not because any of the participants are on the autism spectrum. Quite frankly I think it's because of the ring and voice mail time. Pretty much, if you type fast enough, there's no "wait time" while trying to "push" a message via email. Between the ring and the "greeting", you can be looking at an investment of a couple of minutes or more on each phone call.

In any event, yes, what started out as someone questioning an autism diagnosis has gotten me thinking even more strongly I have a touch of it MYSELF ...

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