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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Prisoner of the MInd

The word "Austism" was chosen for what is now understood to be a spectrum of developmental disorders because it referred to living within one's own head. Autism is a mental prison of varying severity accompanied by a range of other mental and physical disorders. On the mild, high-functioning end of the spectrum is what was once called Asperger's Syndrome, where intelligence is unaffected but there is pronounced social and physical clumsiness. On the other end are the poor souls completely trapped in their skulls, unable to relate to the outside world, overwhelmed by unintelligible stimulation of their overdeveloped senses, and incapable of expressing themselves.

It's no wonder that many of us bang our heads against literal walls. Some are frustrated. Some are trying to stop the confusion and pain. Some are trying to get out.

Like most prisons, ours is far from a calm, safe place. Anxiety and depression of overdeveloped intensity and power  are common, partly due to brain structure and partly due to experience.

For me, life is like watching a movie in that the outside world seems separated from me by a invisible surface, an unreachable reality where everyone has a copy of the script to improvise from except me. The smallest social interaction is stressful. I seem deaf to body language with limited social intuition, having to employ constant intellectual analysis, experience, and strategy to avoid unintentional offense. Social occasions are nightmares. I'm not a wallflower because I'm shy, I'm overwhelmed and trying to escape through the wall.

 So I retreat into my prison, where I have entertainments as well as troubles. It's rich familiarity brings comfort, like the routines to which we cling.

Still, it would be nice to be able to get day parole once and a while.

Or a copy of that damned script.