synesthetes and seekers

Synesthetes and Seekers

Synesthesia is a connection between senses. It could be the key to understanding brilliance. Most people are born with it, but in a few rare cases people have acquired it after a traumatic brain injury. We'll also cover pattern seekers and the neurodiversity of autism.
simon baron-cohen
Dr Simon Baron-Cohen

My name is Lowell Brillante and this is Prodigy

“I heard as much as felt this deep, low-pitched thud as the first guy ran up behind me and smashed me in the back of the head,” “And I saw this puff of white light just like someone took a picture. The next thing I knew I was on my knees and everything was spinning and I didn’t know where I was or how I got there.”

Jason Padgett was a furniture salesman from Tacoma, Washington.

He never liked math. He didn’t see the point. “I cheated on everything, and I never cracked a book,” he said. Jason dropped out of college his sophomore year.

His life revolved around girls, bars, and drinking. He’d wake up the next day with a hangover, get out of bed and do the exact same thing.

One friday evening in september of 2002, Jason went to a seedy karaoke bar. After he sang he bought a drink and when he pulled out his wallet to pay, the number of bills in it did not go unnoticed. When he left the bar 2 men followed him out and attacked him from behind. They punched him in the back and sides of the head. Jason was dazed but adrenaline kicked in and he grabbed one of the men by the crotch and bit his thigh. The other man kicked Jason in the back of the head. They rifled through his pockets, stole his jacket and ran off. 

When Jason got to his feet things looked different. “Everything that moved had trails of colored light following close behind it. There were triangles and squares in repeating patterns wherever I looked, from the windows to the lampposts to the street signs.”

He made his way to the hospital where they diagnosed him with a concussion and bruised kidney then sent him home.

When he woke up the next morning he noticed something peculiar with his vision. Lines were extruding from objects. Curved objects appeared pixelated and movement seemed like a stop motion film. He became fascinated with every shape in his house. 

Jason soon realized he had suffered a traumatic brain injury and started experiencing negative effects such as tremors, PTSD, paranoia and OCD.

Gradually he became more withdrawn and fearful.

In his isolation he began to contemplate what had happened and what he was seeing. Everything seemed to be related to geometry. Numbers become important. Rinse the toothbrush 16 times. 

He began doing extensive online research until one day he came across an image  Fractals are never ending, infinitely complex, self similar patterns. Another way to think of it is 1 object being made up of the same but smaller objects.

About 3 years later he was watching TV when he saw a documentary about a savant named Daniel Temmet. Daniel could calculate the answer to math problems to the 100th digit. He recalled over 22,000 digits of pi and is a polyglot, meaning he knows several languages. He even learned a new one in a week in an experiment of his skills.

When describing his abilities, Daniel said,

“When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That’s the answer. It’s mental imagery.” 

Jason jumped out of his chair and ran to his computer.

The imagery that Daniel described was synesthesia.

 

Synesthesia is a neurological union of sensation where stimulation of one sensation triggers an involuntary reaction in another sensation. 

Dr Simon Baron-Cohen gave Daniel the diagnosis of autism and synesthesia.

I asked Simon to explain the cause of Synesthesia which is a really difficult question because we don’t really know.

Simon [00:00:59] Um, I think our best guess is that there are connections that exist between two sensory areas that in a typical person have been pruned away. Um, so often there are more connections than we need during the development of the brand and these get pruned. Uh, or they may be under a kind of genetic timetable where they get pruned, but in synesthesia, some of these connections may remain.

Scientists believe that babies are born with more neurological connections than needed. The unused connections are usually discarded or “pruned” during development. Most synesthetes are born that way but very rarely it’s acquired from trauma.

Another example is Derek Amato. He got a serious concussion when diving into the shallow part of a pool. After being released from the hospital he visited a friend who had a piano. Derek had never played before but he sat down and began playing complex original music. It’s the only known case of musical ability from acquired savant syndrome. Derek’s brain injury had given him synesthesia.

Jason Padgett describes his story in a book titled “Struck by Genius” which is an excellent read.

Another well known savant characteristic is calendar calculation. It’s the ability to know what day of the week any date falls on. So if I were to say March 6th 1985 they’d quickly say wednesday. This is also associated with synesthesia.

 

It’s very impressive and they can do it much faster than the average person but there is a formula to doing it and some have credited this ability to mnemonic strategy. Let’s test it out with the date March 6th, 1985.

 

First we calculate the year code. Take the last 2 digits of the year, in this case 85 then divide by 4 and remove the remainder. This gives us 21 then add the last 2 digits of the year. So 21 + 85 = 106. 

 

Then you find the month code. March is 4. And the day code which is simply the date, in this case it’s 6.

 

We add the year, month and day code together. 106+4+6= 116

 

The Final step is to take that number and multiply 7 by the highest number that goes into it. For this date it’s 16. 7×16=112

 

116 – 112 leaves us with  the number 4. Which correlated to a weekday. The week is numbered 0-6 with saturday being 0 and friday being 6. So 4 equals wednesday.

 

It’s still impressive how quickly savant’s can calculate this in their head and they probably aren’t doing it consciously. The formula becomes even more complex the further in the past or future the dates are.

 

You can find this formula and a date checker at prodigypodcast.com

 

So we’ve seen it in math but what about art?

 

When Aelita Andre was a toddler she crawled onto her father’s canvas and started smearing paint around. Her parents thought it was impressive and eventually showed her work to a curator at the BSG Gallery in Melbourne, Australia. He insisted on showing the pieces- unaware at the time that they were done by a two year old.

At the age of eight, she was the youngest artist to have her work featured in a solo museum. 

She’s had art shows all over the world and in 2020 Aelita was awarded the Global Child Prodigy Award for being the youngest professional painter in the world. 

Here’s her mom.

Nikka: [00:19:13] When she was, I don’t know, five years of age and the after was like, it just, it shouldn’t learn like all basics and everything. And she said, Oh, look, I want to play violin my way. And so she just really interested because like, she was constantly obsessive thinking, like why I, I hear the sound from my artwork, every single, like we do in the universe, like everything is like, um, have a sound, you know, like for example, because she was watching lots and lots of documentaries, like calls most from Carl Sagan, lots of the commanders.

And she realized really early. So everything is in the world. Vibrates. Everything is, it says a sound of it, and this is why she she’s introduced like musical aspects. She was really old West, want to introduce musical aspect artwork. And so back to her, and this is also obsessive sort of, um, thinking about sound constantly, sound, sound, sound, sound, or be collar sound because it’s all in then of course we realized that that she’d got the.

Um, synesthesia and then I’m sorry. Yeah, like she can told us, but it’s all by sound painting, sound painting. It’s just really interesting how it’s all developed. 

Aelita is a synesthete that paints abstract art. This may be one of the most subjective domains for a prodigy to be recognized in due to the subjective nature of it but it’s hard to perceive Aelita’s work as anything but beautiful. 

We’re gonna hear from some people with Synesthesia after a quick break.

Welcome back to Prodigy. You can find any resource or website I mention on the episode page at prodigypodcast.com There should be a link in the description.

So I posted on the synesthesia subreddit looking for some clarification. A couple people responded. First is a 19 year old artist that goes by Kayn, spelled kayn. He has the same form of synesthesia as Aelita, it’s called chromesthesia and is characterized by people in which sound evokes an experience of color. 

[00:03:10] Kayn: Yeah, as long as I can remember, I’ve always been like, this never really questioned it, but one day my mom came into my room and just because I believe I also have autism or Asperger’s or something and she just came to me kissed you already knew that.

[00:03:26] And this seems like you could have this is that true? And it just went yep. Is that not normal to seek others when listening to music and she just went no. And that just blew my mind that something special.

 

His art is incredible and he’s only been painting for 6 months because he just realized he had synesthesia.

[00:06:57]Kayn: Yeah. I usually have the one song I’m painting on loop and I just listen to it over and over again. Do not miss any details. 

[00:07:05] Lowell: Yeah. And so like you’re painting in square, like a square canvas. Does the song like, has it just, does it just give you a feeling or.

[00:07:17] It doesn’t like relate parts of the song relate to parts of the corners of the painting, like coordinates, like top right. Is like this part.

[00:07:26] Kayn: No, I guess that’s more like artistic choice. I only see the colors, but how I arrange them. Yeah, and pretty much the quantity or where I put the colors which kind of I put in the foreground, which I put in the backgrounds.

[00:07:39] It’s just up to me, if what makes the most sense to me. So if I hear a female singer, usually the voices either light blue or pink purple, that kind of stuff. And if the female is voice is Really penetrant really in the foregrounds. I tried to put that vibrant blue also in the foreground of the painting.

You can find his art at on instagram @kayn_stevens_2 

Another person I spoke with is David Molofsky. He’s a product manager and has a website dedicated to comic books and superheroes, it’s ap2hyc.com

David: [00:00:40]When I was a kid, I have some memories where I know that I would ask my mom questions. Like, why is Brown? Why is it like, why is blue? And yellow is yellow, but gre en is Brown. Meaning like, why are the words different colors from the colors themselves? But it wasn’t until I was like 16 that I actually realized that the way that I see the world was different from the way anyone else experienced it.

[00:01:04]When I first heard that heard about Oh, there’s people that read in color and my reaction was like doesn’t everyone read in color. Isn’t that how it works? And It was a couple of years later when I was 18 that I first heard the word synesthesia. And when I looked it up on Wikipedia, there was a very helpful, easy diagnosis thing that you could do where it had a image of a bunch of twos.

[00:01:29] And then within that, there was a triangle made out of fives. And if you basically, if you could see the triangle almost immediately, and it was because you could see the colors, that was like an easy way to get like a. Yeah, Wikipedia diagnosis. After that I did some other research on my own, and then I spoke to my psychiatrist and he was basically just yep, you definitely have synesthesia.

David has multiple forms of Synesthesia. 

[00:01:54] So the main one is graphene color synesthesia, which is seeing letters and numbers in color. That’s probably the strongest of the four that I have. The next would be, I have some auditory color, some mostly music color. But also sometimes it works out to Like I have really good directional hearing in terms of and it hits the same part of the brain, if that makes any sense.

[00:02:23]And then I also have touch color or touch vision. So I sometimes will see things as I’m touching them or feel them in color. And then I also have like a minor version of scent color, but that one, I often have to be like, actually thinking about it for it to register.

David has a podcast called podcapers that interviews comic creators like dave gibbons the graphic artist of watchmen.

Synesthesia appears more commonly in people with autism. I want to start by addressing something.

In the episode I did on Ted Kaczynski I talked about lack of empathy being a symptom of Asperger’s Syndrome. A listener named Georgie reached out and educated me on some things which I want to share with you. I also want to encourage anyone else to do the same. These are complex topics that require a massive amount of research in a limited amount of time but the last thing I want to do is misrepresent a sensitive subject. You can find several different ways to reach me at prodigypodcast.com

 

Georgie explained that categorizing people with autism as having a lack of empathy is misleading. It’s not that they lack empathy at all, it’s just more difficult for them to recognize emotions in other people. However once they do they can often display above average levels of empathy. So a more accurate phrasing would be the appearance of a lack of empathy. Georgie didn’t suggest this but I do want to reiterate that autism is not an explanation of Ted’s behavior, my non-professional opinion is antisocial disorder.

 

This is Dr Simon Baron-Cohen again, He directs the autism research center at the university of cambridge.

Simon: [00:20:56] They want to help others. So they’re not like psychopaths or people with antisocial personality disorder who simply don’t care, but they do have difficulty in reading other people in terms of facial expression, vocal, intonation, body language, just kind of imagining somebody else’s state of mind, but once it’s pointed out to them, then they’re very empathic.

 

Georgie also explained something about Hans Asperger.

 

He was viewed as a pioneer in the field of research and even as a hero who saved children from Nazi euthanasia by discovering their intelligence.

 

It was later discovered that he was an active participant. Psychologist Uta Frith translated his 1944 paper which said “We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfill their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers.”

 

However he also said, “Unfortunately, in the majority of cases the positive aspects of autism do not outweigh the negative ones.”

Here’s Georgie

 

Leona [00:04:53] Yeah. And he like, basically, if kids weren’t intelligent enough would basically give them to the Nazis to kill, but if they were intelligent, he then said they were all there. Aspergers. He literally called the mindful Genesis.

 

So children that did not meet his criteria were referred to a center for euthanasia as part of the nazi’s social engineering efforts.

 

Asperger’s was considered a subgroup of autism and included in the DSM 4. In the DSM 5 they removed it. One reason was that they felt it wasn’t being diagnosed consistently.

 

Simon [00:09:27]The other reason why it was dropped more recently,was the revelation that Hans Asperger, the pediatrician, after whom that subgroup was named, uh, may have collaborated with the Nazis during world war II. He was a pediatrician working in Vienna in Austria. And, um, because of kind of concerns over his role during the Nazi regime. Again, it was felt that, uh, maybe this upgrade on the autism spectrum shouldn’t really be given his name.

 

One of Dr Friths notable students was Sir Simon Baron Cohen. He was actually knighted for services to people with autism. He comes from a pretty talented family of writers, directors and actors. 

 

During my research everywhere I looked Simon’s name kept coming up. So I reached out to him for an interview. He recently released a book titled “The Pattern Seekers: How Autism drives human invention.”

 

He argues that human innovation is driven by an if/then systemizing mechanism of causality. This mechanism consists of 4 steps. Step 1 is a question. Why did this happen? Step 2 is answering the question by creating a hypothesis. Step 3 is testing to see if results are consistent.  And step 4 is modifying the input to determine the effects of the new pattern. This method is the basis for human innovation.

 

If you’re familiar with programming or math you may recognize this as a boolean logic which is centered around the following 3 operators. Or, and, not.

 

Simon also describes another trait that enabled homo sapiens to innovate. He calls it the empathy circuit and it consists of 2 networks, cognitive empathy and affective empathy. Cognitive empathy is the ability to imagine the thoughts and feelings of another person. Affective empathy is the drive to respond to those thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion.

Simon: [00:15:44] And in my recent book, it’s called the pattern seekers. I kind of explore some of the evidence that autistic people, have a mind that is seeking patterns, seeking these very logical patterns, to understand objects, to understand tools, to understand data. That, that has been a kind of very important characteristic of what makes us essentially human, because when you look around, look at humans, modern humans, homo-sapiens what seems to be very distinct about us compared to all other animals is that we look for patterns and we make complex tools, tools have a range of different times.

[00:16:33] Um, you can go back in the archeological record and look for the first paintings, the first musical instruments, uh, the first weapons, the first jewelry, all these sorts of things start to appear around a hundred thousand years ago to about 70,000 years ago, they start, you start seeing the invention of new systems, but what we’ve found in kind of looking at a temporary.

[00:17:02] Living populations today is that people who have an aptitude and understanding systems, people who score high on this systemizing questioned also have more autistic traits. The two things seem to go hand in hand. So we’ve been looking at research, looking at whether the genetic contribution. To this pattern seeking systemizing overlaps with the genetics of autism and found indeed that there isn’t overlap.

[00:17:38] Um, so the new book, the pattern seekers is really just kind of looking at whether autistic people have actually played a very important role in human evolution, particularly around invention.

We’re gonna hear from Georgie right after a quick break.

Welcome back to Prodigy

Georgie isn’t her real name, she preferred to be anonymous due to concerns that public knowledge could unfortunately affect her job.

Gender Difference

Leona: So I’m not diagnosed with autism. I am diagnosed with dyslexia and suspected autism. It’s I don’t know about in the States, but it’s quite difficult on the NHS to get a diagnosis, especially if you’re an  adult female, just because there’s not a lot of people worldwide, quite frankly, who know an awful lot about female autism

[00:00:48] It’s not NHS. So for a lot of. Women, especially not just women, but a lot of women, especially w like people that I know on Facebook, I would say a lot of people that don’t have a diagnosis, because, you, it’s very difficult to get, especially given some of the ways autism presents in women is the opposite to how a present in a man.

Simon [00:26:17] right. Um, so the sex ratio in autism is four males to every one, female, at least that’s what we thought it was over the decades. And it has. That ratio has reduced a little bit. It may be more like three to one at the moment, but it’s still kind of more males than females get diagnosed. And that may be because, um, there’s, you know, there’s a partly biological reason.

 

[00:26:46] That’s, that’s a possibility. We talked a little bit about hormones in the womb earlier on, and we know that the male fetus produces more of, uh, hormones, like testosterone. Um, then female fetuses do so that may be affecting brain development. And there’s kind of a, not quite a lot of evidence from animal research that how much of these hormones you’re exposed to does change your brand development.

[00:27:15] Uh, but there might be kind of non-biological reasons for that. Uh, sex ratio in autism too. There may be that for example, clinicians are just less good at identifying autism in females, or it may be that females who struggle with social skills are better at hiding it. People talk about camouflaging, uh, that there might be more kind of social pressure on females to be sociable.

[00:27:45] And to be communicative. And so they kind of put more effort into hiding their social difficulties.

Here’s Dr Michael Morrier, he’s the director of the Emory Autism Center in Atlanta.

Morrier: [00:05:20]There is a male to female disparity. There are four to five males for every female. Again, we’re not exactly sure. Why is that a genetic component? Is it some that females display. Okay. Behaviors differently than males do. We expect males to be doing certain things at certain ages and females will be doing different things.

[00:05:40] And is that kind of masking it or when it comes to more like repetitive interest and behaviors, is it that females, when they become like perceptive or they become really overly attached to something, it’s something that’s more. Typical, you would expect a little girl or even a little boy, but a little girl, especially if they’re be playing with dolls, wanting to dress up, wanting to be princesses, wanting to be the newest Disney character or Disney princess.

[00:06:07] So if they’re over attachment to that may not seem as unusable. As a three-year-old boy that knows every kind of car that there is out there and can listen to a car and know that’s a 2016 Ford Fiesta or, something like that. So the interest and behaviors may be just different. And so we are looking at them as in the us, that’s unusual, but that is not you know that genetically we don’t know what’s going on with that, but there is some belief that there’s this female kind of protective factor, but what that specifically is, we’re not sure yet. 

LeonaI was obsessed with Barbies when I was a kid, but it wasn’t really that I knew how to tell stories because my sister’s five years younger than me. She recalls that when I was at school. But so in this, in the UK, we go to school from when the age of four. And she was saying before she was going to school, but while I was at school, Apparently I would come home every day and have massive tantrums because she had moved the dolls and my doll’s house.

[00:02:30] And I would say, you’ve messed them up, but my mum was always saying, but she’s just playing with them. That’s how you play with dolls. But I was like, no, they’re not worried less than they’re not in the right place. For me, it was more like collecting and ordering and tidying rather than actually.

[00:02:47] Imagining if that makes sense. So if you look at it from like a shadow level and we’re like, Oh, that girl’s got lots of Barbie dolls, therefore that’s not autistic

Since autism is mostly diagnosed in males, a lot of the diagnostic criteria is based on the way it presents in them. We need to invest time and research into how it manifests in different people. 

I think the important question here is do we approach autism as something that should be treated to help them function in a neurotypical society?

[00:33:26] I would love for people, especially. Especially doctors, but people in general to, like I said, not see it as an illness, it’s just the same as being gay. I use that example because I am queer. So I’m not like saying, Oh, w like I experienced both.

[00:33:46] You have to come out multiple times again and again, both people seem to think a bad rather than just different both. You could have conversion therapy for And while being engaged and in the DSM anymore, being trans, it still is and being neuro-diverse. So is so it’d be great if people didn’t see it as a negative thing, but also both doctors and the general public don’t are just not aware of the gender differences and.

[00:34:18] Are in complete denial of the fact that women do experience this too, just differently. And it’s really hard by the way, like if you’re a woman and you want to have friends and you actually enjoy chatting with people and you extroverted, but you can’t read body language, facial expressions, and aren’t very good at reading social situations that can actually be really isolating because you want.

[00:34:43] To be part of those social groups, but people often just aren’t interested in including you because you don’t quite get it. I think there’s this idea that autistic people don’t want friends, but that’s not true. And a lot of the people I speak to who are part of that Facebook community that I’m in have often quite depressed actually, that they can’t make friends.

A lot of people argue that early intervention in autistic children to help them build social skills is the best treatment, but that could be the wrong way to look at it.

Leona: [00:22:52] Like it didn’t stop me from learning. It stopped me from being able to. Do things as an adult, it never stopped me from learning as a kid. I just think it’s a very ablist way of thinking about it in the same way that being gay used to be in the DSM and now it’s not you can get gay conversion therapy.

[00:23:14] You can also get autistic conversion therapy, which is something called ABA therapy. 

ABA stands for applied behavior analysis. It’s a method for changing behavior that is the most established and longest running form of therapy for people with autism.

It’s. It’s very abusive. You’d struggle to find any autistic adult that was in favor of it. You would really struggle to find any autistic huddle who’d been through it and was in favor of it. And yet parents of autistic children, rather than listening to adults with autism, completely dismiss the adult community and state go well.

[00:23:40]Our kids started doing what we wanted them to. So we don’t want to know about the fact that it’s actually going to cause them psychological damage and, make their life worse for them because they’re now doing what we wanted them to

ABA is highly criticized by many adults with autism who experienced it as a child.

Dr Morrier is an advocate for the early intervention of applied behavioral analysis.

Morrier [00:08:34] Like what characteristics do you need to really respond to the different treatments that are out there? Every time we act differently to treatment. And so looking at, does the child have this and this behavior? Are they going to respond well to more of a applied behavior analysis type treatment, more of a naturalistic, developmental behavioral intervention treatment?

[00:08:56]What is the characteristics where a child’s going to be. Be making their optimal progress. Again, we don’t know the answer to that, and we’re not really sure if there’s a treatment that is better than another. We just know that providing treatment early intensive and including the families and having it be as functional as possible produces the best outcomes, but how that is specifically seen in individual children or individual families went on.

[00:09:23] So do you do a bit of a trial and error to determine what form of behavioral therapy do you use? I wouldn’t necessarily say trial and error. It’s more I think the principles of applied behavior analysis or ABA, where you’re really looking at, how do you break down these skills at the time needs until smaller pieces and how do you teach those and reinforcement for using those behaviors?

[00:09:44] And then how do you build on that? Building keep building and building. So the child keeps learning is really there regardless of what the research is saying. That’s the best practices. But what we don’t know is the better to teach it in more of an individual one-on-one situation where it’s just the child and the adult learning this.

[00:10:03] And once the child has skills, then move them into the regular environment or their natural environment. Or what we tend to do here at the autism center is look at what are the functional skills they need for those natural environments. And then break it down into those smaller pieces and get them used to the natural reinforcement they’re going to be getting when they’re out there.

Critics of ABA say that trying to make autistic people “normal” is harmful. Instead they want people to accept the concept of neurodiversity.

Simon [00:24:43] Uh, but the concept of neurodiversity that we don’t all. Find the same aspects of the environment equally. Interesting know that we differ in the way we attend to the environment. I think that’s kind of, uh, an important message, uh, just to kind of make space for kids being different.

 

Neurodiversity is the idea that people’s brains work differently. So instead of framing things like autism, dyslexia and ADHD as disorders that need to be cured, we should accept them as differences`. 

Morrier [00:13:18] Everyone has strengths.  Everyone has areas of needs. And so really as a treatment provider, it’s your job to really figure out what are those areas of strength. We have some kids that I witnessed, let’s say it’s a savant scale, but they can read, even though they’re not talking or they identify numbers and they can really look notice patterns in different things that are going on, but they can’t have a conversation with you about.

[00:13:50] That those are all what I would consider more like splinter skills or skills, strength, and skills within that individual. But so I would use those to really treat how do you not only show your interest in letters and numbers, but how do you use that to, to communicate with someone else to interact with someone?

ABA is a highly contentious topic in the world of autism. Do you try to convert non-harmful behavior or do you accept it?

Leona 2: [00:05:56] So I guess there’s two issues here, right? One is how we, as a society, don’t find it acceptable when people are different, even when they’re not causing harm. And I think the second one is lots of young children do things that if they did it, then that adult, you know, you wouldn’t think was okay. But as you know, as you go into an adult, you change your behavior.

[00:06:21] So I think, you know, the alternative is just letting them go out and make normal children. And over time you learn to amend your behaviors and. You know, pick up different ways of behaving, I guess, more, more adult. So for example, a lot of autistic adults will play with spinners instead, or you can get em, chewy, things that you put on the end of the toggles on hoodies, which you can kind of, you know, she, while you’re walking down the street or something, it’d be a lot less, um, kind of obvious and flapping your arms.

[00:06:54] On the other hand, you know, if you want to have a spin around in the street, It’s not me causing any way, any harm. Probably don’t really do that in the office.

[00:08:58] I think people also kind of sometimes overestimate how important these skills are. I have a. Great job and you know, I do. Okay. Sure thing. Then it’s a bit harder for me, but I wouldn’t change it. Wouldn’t change it, be someone else, but I can’t be facial expressions. I can’t be body language that doesn’t stop me being, you know, generally accepted by society.

[00:09:27] It doesn’t stop me from having relationship professional relationships in the workplace, friendship, romantic relationships. It doesn’t get in the way of me doing a good job. So, and I can’t read facial expressions at all. Can’t read body language at all. I don’t really understand time, not in time. So you’d think that would be a massive issue, but actually it’s often not sometimes it can be really difficult, but I think equally there’s some times, uh, a worry that these things are going to be even more significant than perhaps they are in reality.

There are other methods for people seeking treatment. Georgie uses one called dialectical behavior therapy. Not everyone is going to respond well to the same type.

Simon:  [00:30:53] The kinds of support that they may need, uh, may be very different. And I suppose the kind of take home message is that we need to kind of treat autistic people as individuals, not to generalize about all autistic people. 

[00:31:35] I kind of used Twitter. Uh, to also, um, you know, be outspoken about how autistic people are not getting the support that they need. And we know in other areas of health and social services that, um, people do get reasonable support, but when it comes to autistic people, um, they often have to wait.

[00:32:04] A long time, possibly years, even just to get the diagnosis. And then even after they get a diagnosis, there may be no support. So, uh, what we, what we see is very high rates of poor mental health when even, um, you know, high rates of feeling suicidal or suicide attempts, uh, amongst autistic adults. And high rates of unemployment.

[00:32:34] So often I use Twitter just to kind of raise awareness of, of how society is kind of letting autistic people down. And in my book, the passing seekers, you know, I sort of point out, you know, how autistic people may have made remarkable contributions to the evolution of, of invention that our species is kind of, you know, that defines our species.

[00:33:01] But at the same time, society is kind of excluding autistic people and leaving them to almost languish, um, you know, uh, excluded from society.

There is still a lot of research to be done on the subject so we can provide people the support that works best for them. And we need to view it as a difference and not a disorder.

Prodigy was created and produced, tyler klang, 

Georgie wants people to avoid a charity called autism speaks, because they treat autism as a disease that needs to be cured. I looked into them after she said this and they have done some pretty questionable stuff. They made one video that used fear tactics called “I am autism” and have some other examples of pretty questionable rhetoric and distribution of resources.

If you want to make a donation or find more info she suggests autism.org.uk.

 

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen uses his twitter account to spread awareness, you can find him there @sbaroncohen He directs the autism research center at cambridge

Dr. Michael Morrier directs the autism research center at emory. You can find them at psychiatry.emory.edu

 

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