The study of Autism Spectrum Condition is about humans. It is about neurodiversity in humans, who possess a wide range of human emotions, sensory and cognitive abilities or disabilities. Autism is also a very heterogenous condition, which makes research from any homogenous perspective most difficult, if not impossible.
Where, in the grand scheme of things, this current breathtakingly accelerating pace of ‘scientific research’ in Autism, does personal perspective fall? How important is personal perspective in Autism research?
Along with the increasingly high-tech experimentations (MRI etc), data mining of reactions in controlled studies within the ‘scientific laboratory’ set ups, the development of more and more educational-therapeutic remedial and intervention strategies etc, I believe that there should also be increasing focus on the socio-anthropological aspects of Autism studies.
Listen to what we have to say. Don’t throw out our perspectives as ‘unscientific’ – sometimes, the best science about humans can be found embedded in what these humans have to say about being human.
As I sieve through the vast swaths of autism blogs and utterances made by autists (diagnosed or undiagnosed), I do feel overwhelmed by the diversity. However, as researchers, we should not limit our approaches and there is available out there more than we ever have had before, in the area of personal accounts. If we are willing to wade through the murkiness, I can see a great deal of potential in finding valuable information inside this huge swamp of human-ness.
Oral histories, personal stories, are important. There may yet be more than just one Theory of Mind to be discovered. Perhaps to yet prove that ‘deficit’ can be interpreted in many different ways. And that our minds and sensory worlds cannot merely be discovered inside the four walls of a cold laboratory testing groups of humans responding to devised sets of questions, according to only one system of analysis. Perhaps autistic people are able to interpret the states of human subjects by being there with the human subject, and not from a series of photographs alone (which probably may not activate or captivate the sensory-cognitive attention that the tasks require for ‘accurate’ results).
I have not thought this through enough. It will be one of my ‘to do’ things. Among the many. However, as an artist studying Autism and Creativity, especially in the area of sensitivities, cognitive perspectives and empathic states, I know I am researching the humanity within this humanity. Hence, personal perspectives remain of great importance.
Here is but one personal perspective that seems to be echoed strongly all over the online autistic community. It is one of the things researchers – in any area of the vast expanse of ‘Autism Spectrum Condition’ – ought to take more notice of henceforth.