A personal view of Asperger syndrome and autism by Marc Segar, taken from his book, Survival Guide for People Living With Asperger's Syndrome


From Survival Guide for People living with Asperger's Syndrome

by Marc Segar


I personally believe that the best key to overcoming autism is understanding it. It is caused by various biochemical processes which affect the way the brain develops.


For some time I believed that the brains of autistic people were structured slightly differently so that there is a greater tendency for neuronal impulses to travel up and down (literal thinking) and a lesser tendency for them to move sideways (lateral thinking). This phenomenon would be spread throughout the whole brain rather than being local to certain regions. Experiments with neural nets on computer systems have shown that nets which emphasize up and down movement of information (like in autistic brains) give excellent storage of detail but show less ability to distinguish things.


On the much larger and more complex scale of the brain, this means that non-autistic people are more aware of plot but autistic people are more aware of detail. Autistic people are better at logical problems but less intuitive. This doesn't necessarily mean that autistic people should have brilliant memories, on the contrary they can often be quite absent minded about certain things. The heightened sensory awareness and constant recall of extra details, many of which are unimportant, can be a never ending source of distraction to concentration and learning skills. It can be especially difficult to pick up information regarding the culture one lives in, especially in today's Western society which I feel is suffering from cultural overload (see general knowledge).


I now feel that perhaps the root cause of autism is an increased bias towards the re-assessment of previous thoughts (hence the repetitions and rituals). Consequently the capacity for intuition and context awareness is reduced.


To assess a social situation, one needs to pick up on as many clues as possible and swiftly piece them together. The final deduction is often greater than the sum of its parts.


Also, a difficult thing for an autistic person is "finding a balance" and this may show its self at all levels of behavior and reasoning. The ability to adapt to the "situation continuum" and conform to the surrounding world is, however, an extremely ancient survival strategy which is most reminiscent in the social sector of life.


Many of the problems experienced by someone with Asperger syndrome can feel like nothing more than an unexplainable continuation of bad luck. The only way you can really make this feel any less frustrating is to see your problems as challenges instead of seeing them as obstacles.


I certainly wouldn't want people to think that just one definition of autism or Asperger syndrome was sufficient but if I could explain it in just one sentence it would be as follows:


Autistic people have to understand scientifically what non-autistic people already understand instinctively.



Allan Pease, Body Language, (Sheldon press)

David Cohen, Body Language in Relationships, (Sheldon press)

Ursula Markham, How to deal with difficult people, (Thorsons)


Related articles

Marc Segar: The Battles of the Autistic Thinker

Dinah Murray: Normal and Otherwise

Continued survival guide WikiBook: Survival guide WikiBook.


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An analysis of living with Asperger syndrome by Marc Segar from his book, Survival Guide for People living with Asperger's Syndrome