My Autistic Experience

Check out the first post for My Autistic Experience, a student written blog post looking for possible ideas for new posts!

UOIT Student Mental Health Services

So let us begin.

I am an autistic individual who attends UOIT. Through this forum, I hope to share my experience with my condition and to provide insight to others. I am particularly lucky that despite my condition I am able to interact with people in a normal fashion. No one would be able to guess at my condition by observing me (the only way anyone would know is at my say so).

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What’s Art Got to Do With It?

Take a look at one of our student posts from earlier this summer!

UOIT Student Mental Health Services

When I was a kid, I hated art & crafts and much preferred sports…the concept of sitting still and focusing on a single task was a challenge for me; specifically, having someone tell me to follow certain steps to produce a final piece was a huge drawback for me and I always felt more comfortable doing my own thing.  I thought ‘doing art’ was more about conforming to others expectations and less about personal expression; how I was mistaken for so many years is beyond me!

I’ve always been drawn to beautiful things and who isn’t, am I right? I love spending time outdoors and love the wide spectrum of colours displayed in nature; specifically I love sunsets and I’d probably enjoy sunrises too, but I don’t wake up early enough!

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My Autistic Experience: Push Against Fear And Shelter

So recently I came across this:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

Looking through it, I see it as an excellent opportunity to talk about an issue that I have wanted to talk about for a long time. It is a sensitive topic but it is near and dear to me, given my immersion in university life and education. However, I’d like to begin by tying it to my autistic experience. If I do not, there is no reason to talk about it here in this blog.

When I was little (and even still today to a lesser degree), I had what I call my strong literal sense. When I hear something, my first instinct is to take it literally. Jokes and euphemisms generally went over my head as I took the literal meaning of what was said. Also, in my sensitivity it was really easy for my feelings to be hurt. Perhaps that was okay when I was little, but adults carry certain expectations of each other.

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Continue the Conversation: 60 Minutes

On January 26th of this year, 60 Minutes correspondent, Scott Pelley, told the story of Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds and other parents who the American Health system failed when it came to their children who were in crisis. The story focuses on the small portion of the mentally ill that are violent, and a danger to themselves or others. But, Pelley stresses that the vast majority of people who suffer from mental illness are not violent.

“I really don’t want Gus to be defined by his illness,” Deeds repeatedly says throughout the interview. “I don’t want Gus to be defined by what happened on (November) 19th, Gus was a great kid…It’s cleared the system failed Gus, and killed Gus.” He goes on to say that Gus could have been saved, if he was hospitalized that night instead of being sent home because they couldn’t find him a bed in a psychiatric ward.

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Continue the Conversation: Johann Hari

In this addition of Continue the Conversation, Johann Hari discusses his journey on finding out what causes addiction after he was touched by addiction through his family.

At his TEDtalk in June of this year, in London, Hari talked about his interest in addiction since it’s been 100 years since Britain and the United States banned drugs in their countries. Later, that ban was imposed on the rest of the world. He goes on to say that it’s been a century that a treatment regiment was created to take addicts, and make them feel bad for their addiction. We did this, because we thought that negative reinforcement would make them deter from their addiction and give them the incentive they need to stop.

After realizing that he really didn’t know the answers to basic questions about addiction, and decided to go out and talk to people who had first hand knowledge of addiction after his research still didn’t give him the answers he wanted. His travels and discussions led him to a realization: everything that we know about addiction is wrong.

The story that we are fed is that anyone who takes hard drugs (heroine, cocaine, etc), will immediately become a drug addict. But, what that narrative is really telling us is that if someone has no other choice, they will choose drugs. But, if they are surrounded by friends, family, things to keep them stimulated. A person won’t turn to drugs.

He quotes a couple of Professors that say addiction is about bonding with the drug, especially if the person feels isolated. Human nature is to bond with things, we tend to bond with things that give us a sense of relief. Hari believes that the core to addiction is not being able to bear the idea of participating in your life, and you use your addiction as a means of escape.

Hari also discusses the experiment that Portugal did to deal with addiction, which as seemed to succeeded. It’s a different approach than Britain and the United States, and no one seems to want to go back to the way things was.

“The opposite of addiction is connection,” Hari explained.