Ah, yes - benefits. As I have expressed already; Autism/Aspergers - however you wish to define it - is not a disease. Indeed, it is a genetic mutation across several chromosomes - though, research has yet to identify all and the specifics, give it time - that results in different forms. Expressions, or manifestations, of Autism, if you will.Personally; I can't stand the original definitons of Autism and Aspergers - named after people that, frankly, had only the barest minimum of ideas as to what they'd stumbled upon. Still, those are the names it's known by...
Autism and Aspergers are, in truth, the same thing - only a different manifestation of the mutation across a spectrum best explained as a mutli-level gradient form, rather than the currently accepted dead-end definitions of HFA, Autism, Aspergers, PDD-NOS, etc.Basically, I use a 3D grid-based reference system, applying numbers and letters to classifications fitting certain behavioural tendencies, and cast these into sub-types of the greater definiton of Autism. In short: those that are higher functioning are labelled "critical manifest", those that are low-functioning are "atypical manifest", those that are non-functioning are "detrimental manifest",those who carry the gene, act in eccentric manner but are otherwise considered "normal" are "typical manifest", as current evidence indicates they make up the majority. Even if they don't know it themselves!Lastly, those with Tourettes, which is in the highest probability the same mutation expressed, again, in a different way, are labelled "limited manifest".I include Tourettes because of enourmous evidence suggesting that it is the same mutation - as Tourettes and Autism appear in the same family genesystems with apparently equal mathematical presence. Still; that's what current evidence suggests - like any scientist, as more evidence becomes available, theory and hypothesis adapt to suit.
This is really only a temporary system for my personal use; but I find it to be far more accurate than blanket-definitions. Others may use as they see fit.
Myself, I fall within the "critical manifest" column. Typically, a "critical manifest" class Autistic will be either what is currently known as HFA or Aspergers. In my definitions, HFA is high-functioning but somewhat more rigid in rituals than an Asperger.
Again, I stress; this is still developing processes and theory.
But, what of the title? I said something of benefits, did I not?
The common thought is divided on this; some believe Autistics are all idiot savants. Others believe that all are simply mentally retarded. Others still have yet to align themselves with one camp or another. There is an alarming tendency among people to be unable to form their own opinions... oh, well, never mind that.
So; assuming, for a moment, that all Autistics are neither idiot savants nor are they mentally retarded - right, you can stop assuming now, it's a well known fact - how do we define benefits?Now, the core of Autism is a difference in abilities, is it not? Typically, "critical manifest" and "atypical manifest" class Autistics have certain gifts or talents - in laymens terms, it can be suggested there is a trade off of sorts. Not exactly accurate, but it promotes some idea of the concept.
Now, genes are specific chemical structures that, now I will make an effort to have this easier for you to understand, sort of "fold out" like reverse-origami. Again, far from accurate - I hesitate to think of someone taking that little bit of twisted terminology as a true example, but, still, here at least it serves it's purpose.Genes don't work as the commonly-expressed idea of a blue-print to build biological material. If they did; I'd like to know who reads it.
Now, I am struggling to over-simplify this for the purpose of a blog, but, in a nutshell, the specific "patterns" of genetic matierals have a different result - they fold out in different shapes, sizes and directions as a result of small differences. Those fold-outs - I know, I'm playing with the origami example for all it's worth - then "fold" into other "fold-outs" according to the initial pattern of it's own "fold-out".Wow, I think I made it even more convoluted than if I'd just explained out-right. Still, I highly doubt every person associated in any way with Autism and reading this blog will have any scientific understanding, so, I simplified as best I can. I've always hated simplifying... I feel dirty.Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go abase myself before god. Which, for me, just so happens to be a bottle of scotch I've got in my cupboard....
A-hem... In any case, the end result is that the "patterns" formed can differ greatly if there is but the tiniest difference. Typically, that means different coloured eyes, hair, skin, different height, bone structures, etc, etc. Environmental factors also have an effect; hence people in more sun-intense places of the world having darker skin than people in regions less harsh, because of the changes or lackthereof to their genes.
Autistic people are the result of a mutation, at least two hundred years old but evidence indicates perhaps it had it's origins more than fifteen hundred years ago, perhaps earlier still.This mutation is, as all are, coincidental in it's result. By merest chance the altered genetic sequences resulted in a different neurostructure - with as much variation as with skin, eyes, height, etc. in other people. Hence my need for an identification system.
But, back to the benefits: by chance, again, the specifics of the neurostructure differ. Call it a re-prioritization. Basically, whereas a typical "neurological gene pattern" - ye gods, this simplifying... Well, whilst a typical pattern of such would point so-and-so resources here, such-and-such here, if that pattern is altered, a greater percentage of so-and-so may go, instead, to such-and-such - if not all. Resulting in hyperactive regions of the brain in some parts, low-functioning parts of others. Typically, a "critical manifest" class person will have the "resources" from the more primitive and instinctual areas of the brain - ie, those controlling social, motor, short-term memory, etc. and have those "resources" re-distributed to the more higher-functioning areas.The result: a clumsy, awkard, socially retarded, distracted, unfocused, logical-thinking savant. Einstein was one. I am one. Many people around the world are such.
However; I cannot understate the rarity of the childish savants such as Albert Einstein, Emmanual Kant, myself, and others. It's not so much intelligence as method of thought...It is also a lonely existence. Imagine not being able to make any connection with other people, but still feeling the age-old need to do so? The method of thought, too alien - can't connect intellectually. The instinctual social functions, gone - and felt to be missing. You're left hating the world, hating yourself, but still trying anyway. Oh, well. I'm not exactly exstatic about my existence, but I'm not going to be anything less than honest about it.
As for others, the more common expressions of the mutation who may possess a talent; typically a "trade off" of sorts will occur. We've all heard of the Asperger man who can master any language in a day - yet, with limited social capacity, it's something of a cruel irony, is it not? As with the Autistics who can brilliantly and accurately play the most complex of music on the most complex of instruments, yet cannot create their own.Still; remember they are not meant to, by dint of their own genetics, be like others. For that Autistic musician, perhaps their personal contentment lies simply in playing the instrument?Perhaps for the Asperger linguist, the seemingly logically illogical patterns of speech are a source of joy, and that alone, without needing for them to be put into practice?
As for the rest... a little extra physcial strength for some, better linguistic capabilities, better mathematical understanding, a natural born engineer or such.Regardless of what is "traded", it is important to concentrate rather on what is gained. If, apparently, nothing? Well, find what there is, if anything, and concentrate then on that as a positive.
Unlike what many fear-mongers are saying: Having an Autistic child does not mean that the "real" child you "should" have had is imprisoned; it does not mean the child is walking dead.They are simply - vastly - different, but perhaps content with what of their world they have in excess. Perhaps content with simply what they have at all.
Personally; I envy those few that have that contentment, but I would not deny them of it.