Daily Archives: April 1, 2007

A Way of Describing/Explaining Autism


The original title was A Way of Describing Autism, but I kept putting the title as A Way of Explaining Autism. Oh well. At any rate, I asked Dave Spicer his permission to make a video of his article, and he said yes. So here it is, an analogy between autistic people (or at least, how lots of people perceive autistic people) and different kinds of rocks:


(Edited to add: Here is Dave Spicer’s website. I met him at a conference years ago, and he was really nice.)


You’re like an object to me. And that’s a compliment.


I just had a friend visit for a few days. I hadn’t seen her in a couple years. We’ve known each other since childhood. And one quality she has that nobody else I know does, is registering to me as almost like an object.

When she’s in the room with me, I do not feel intruded upon, even the tiny slight amount that most human contact entails. She is so familiar and has been through so much with me that nothing I can do will particularly shock her. Touch from her (usually in the form of getting my head scritched) is not uncomfortable or patronizing or awkward or any of the other things it usually is. She can read over my shoulder while I type things, which normally drives me nuts when other people do it. And she does not exhaust me to anywhere near the extent anyone else does.

I’ve told her a few times that it’s like being in a room with a rock. And in this context that’s a compliment. It means I’m as close to absolutely comfortable with her presence as I can be with another person. And that’s cool. Interestingly, we both find it easier to relate to each other offline than online.