July 5

Diagnosing the Autistic Culture

Diagnosing the Autistic Culture

By Deborah Johnson

July 5, 2024

Angela Lauria, autistic, autistic culture, Deborah Johnson, hyperconnected brain, neurodiversity, neurotypical culture, podcast

If you were diagnosed with Autism as an adult how would you respond to the autistic culture? With many, a diagnosis brings relief for the identification to give a name to the lifelong challenges that have been experienced. Dr. Angela Lauria discovered her autism as an adult and she drew on her own experience as well as her interest in autism to help others write, publish and promote their stories.

Autistic individuals possess hyperconnected brains where one of the symptoms is to intensely focus on one project and this can either be a good or destructive outcome for their lives. There are many famous figures in history that Dr. Lauria believes have displayed autistic traits and after understanding more of the symptoms and characteristics, we can make our own make our own analysis. In the podcast and this article we talk about characteristics of autism and dispel some of the misconceptions. It’s just a taste of the amount of information available and I urge the reader to peruse some of the sources and scholarly material available for more information.

7-9-2024
Women at Halftime by Deborah Johnson Diagnosing the Autistic Culture with Angela Lauria 7-9-2024
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Autism and Autistic Culture Defined

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects how people communicate, interact with others, and experience the world around them. It's characterized by a wide range of challenges, including difficulties in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors.

I found certain behaviors particularly intriguing, especially given that the young boy next door is autistic. He frequently tosses pebbles over the fence into our pool or yard, watching intently as they fall. Similarly, he observes leaves drifting from trees, seemingly mesmerized by their descent. While much remains unknown about the autistic brain, research indicates reduced connectivity between its hemispheres. As these connections become further apart, language production is often affected. Consequently, simply informing our neighbor boy once that he shouldn't throw pebbles over the fence isn't effective; it requires ongoing reminders from both his parents and us, delivered with extra patience, as we strive to better understand his condition.

Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, the condition can affect individuals in different ways and to varying degrees. Some people with autism may need significant support in their daily lives, while others may lead relatively independent lives. Autism is a lifelong condition, but early intervention and support can help individuals with autism achieve their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

The Autistic Spectrum

Sensory sensitivities are acknowledged and accommodated, with environments designed to minimize sensory overload. This is especially important for teachers to understand who have kids in the autistic spectrum in the classroom.

The autistic spectrum encompasses a wide range of characteristics, abilities, and challenges that individuals with autism may experience. At one end of the spectrum, individuals may have significant difficulties with communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors, requiring substantial support in their daily lives. This is often referred to as severe or low-functioning autism.

In the middle of the spectrum, individuals may exhibit moderate challenges in communication, social interaction, and behavior. They may require some support to navigate certain situations, but they can also have strengths and abilities that allow them to function relatively independently. This is sometimes referred to as moderate-functioning autism.

At the other end of the spectrum, individuals may have milder challenges associated with autism. They may excel in certain areas, such as attention to detail or specialized interests, while still experiencing difficulties with social communication or sensory sensitivities. This is often referred to as high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome. It's important to recognize that the autistic spectrum is diverse and complex, and individuals with autism can vary widely in their strengths, abilities, and support needs.

Stereotypes, Dangers and Misconceptions

Many of those on the autistic spectrum don’t do well in the classroom as they have a hard time communicating. It feels like they’re from a different planet. When Dr. Lauria found the website “Wrong Planet” with information about Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, ADHD, PDDs and other neurological differences, she started understanding herself a bit more. The forums, articles and videos made sense to her.

As with any mental challenge, there are dangers for those who are autistic. Autistic adults with no learning disability are 9x more likely to die by suicide than the general population according to the International Society for Autism Research. Overall, autistic people make up approximately 1% of the population, but 11% of suicides, which is a national crisis.

Goals in Life

According to the Autism Fact Sheet from the Nat’l Autism Association, autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder, yet the most underfunded. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls. Autism is treatable and not a hopeless condition, though how much progress depends on the autistic spectrum. People with Fetal alcohol Spectrum disorder (FASD) often have a number of autistic-like traits and some are also on the autism spectrum. It is important for every parent, teacher and leader to educate themselves as much as possible to understand the condition as well as solutions.

Leveraging Strengths

The hyper-focus of Dr. Laura’s brain has helped her accomplish a great deal in her life but she realized early on that it can also be destructive. With no guardrails on this hyper-focus, there can be a blind eye to what’s important and very little awareness of physical needs.

It is extremely beneficial to have a family member or close friend who understands the individual challenges to give feedback and encourage limits. Before our podcast interview, Dr. Laura’s husband had a cup of hot tea ready for her as she walked in the door from another appointment. He knows that this helps calm her down and they have developed the type of relationship where they work together to manage her challenges as well as strengths.

It is important to be understanding, yet not use any disability as an excuse. Dr. Anderson, MD, PhD professor of radiology at the U. of Utah says that, “Many people with autism don’t see it as a disorder. They may see it as a gift.” He goes on to say that society gains enormous benefits from those with autism as they are so good at important tasks.

Application

Autistic culture values authenticity and honesty, often promoting direct communication and a lack of social pretense. When examining notable figures exhibiting autistic traits, it's crucial to recognize their remarkable ability to concentrate intensely and demonstrate unwavering dedication, resulting in profound expertise in specific domains. On the podcast, Dr. Lauria offers insights on this topic, discussing individuals like Dr. Temple Grandin, Elon Musk, and others. Reflecting on Dr. Anderson's perspective, we can appreciate the substantial contributions that individuals with autistic tendencies offer to society. Their characteristic hyper-focus and adeptness at navigating their weaknesses often lead to remarkable success, offering a valuable lesson for everyone.

Additional Sources:

Suicide and Autism, a National Crisis

Autism Statistics and Facts from AutismSpeaks.org

National & State Estimates of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder from Nat’l Library of Medicine

What are the Differences between FASD and Autism? from proofalliance.org

How Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is Affecting Today’s Kids podcast & article

Find out more about autism at: https://www.autisticculturepodcast.com/

Difference in the autistic brain:

https://www.healthcentral.com/condition/autism/autism-brain-differences

- about Angela LAURIA

Dr. Angela Lauria is a late-diagnosed Autistic adult who has drawn on her life-long special interest in non-fiction to help almost 2,000 entrepreneurs write, publish, and promote their books through her company Difference Press. Angela works to lift the voices of marginalized groups by giving them the guidance and support needed to successfully launch their books. She is also an author herself with 8 books, including a Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestseller. She also created The Autistic Culture Podcast

Autistic individuals possess hyperconnected brains where one of the symptoms is to intensely focus on one project and this can either be a good or destructive outcome for their lives. 

deborah johnson

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Deborah Johnson

About the author

DEBORAH JOHNSON, M.A., creator of Hero Mountain® and former president of Los Angeles National Speakers Association, is an international award-winning music artist, author, speaker and National Media Commentator. She also hosts the popular podcast "Women at Halftime." Deborah provides tools to create your ideal lifestyle and work at mid-career or during the halftime of life, getting unstuck. You can live your second half fulfilled, focused and free! Up for multiple GRAMMY Awards and spending over 20 years in the entertainment industry, she's an expert on how to constantly reinvent yourself in a gig-economy. She is also the recipient of the Women's Economic Forum Exceptional Women of Excellence Award. Deborah is the author of multiple books, over twenty albums and musicals and speaks and performs in both live and virtual events.

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