Autistic People: Sensitive or Perceptive Revolutionaries?

photo by Erik Estabrook

By Erik Estabrook

I’d like to start off this blog by stating how great it is to interview and become acquainted with the great minds of the autistic community (Erik and Kelly Green host a popular radio show on Saturdays at 1:00 PM PST Poetic Travels on the Autism Highway). I’ve met autistic people who’s perceptions and gifts are almost supernatural.

I know for some reason when you bring up autism, people don’t say “you must be very perceptive.” In fact, most of the time I hear, “What are you doing and why are you doing it that way?”

It’s not kept in mind that we are perceptive (sometimes overly). Yet because our nonverbal behavior, our instincts, and actions can say the opposite, we don’t usually hear that.

I ask you to take a look at what autistic people know; how we excel at math, visual arts, word arts, or fields like engineering. These fields take a calculating mind and a clear and refreshing view of what’s around us.

The other myth I hear is, “Why are you so sensitive?”

The word is perceptive if you think about it. Look at it this way, if the environment’s not cool or accepting, many autistic people tend to leave or ignore rather than face a “bloody hatchet.” If someone hurts our self-pride by saying something demeaning or hurtful, standing up for ourselves is a perception. It’s not being “sensitive.”

One of the reasons I believe autistic people can be perceptive about their environment is because of an insatiable curiosity and the need to test our surroundings. How else was anything ever invented?

To answer another question that seems to pop up about perception is “Why does it look like your lost if your perceptive?”

Not knowing social cues, customs, or judgements doesn’t mean we aren’t perceptive. It means we have “different perceptions.”

I’d like to share this poem.

photo by Erik Estabrook
photo by Erik Estabrook

Humanities Imagination

Templated room, bouncing off its hinges, flowing, breathing life,
Immersed visages and parallels of images, point frame to frame,
A dissection of behavior,

I haven’t behavior, I have my ways, how mirrors intersect, the lines of a face then promptly pixelate out a display,

I would draw you linear if I could, then space by space you would Fill in, your dimensions of pronounced dismay,

There you go again asymetrically, once I’d almost had you caged,
We aren’t information or replaceable,
But for some reason humans become inhumane,

We interfere with each others hearing, their visual and verbal Displays,

This is just the way its stated, to you its not complicated but to me Its a punch in the face,

I’m belonging in a society that’s in each others ears all the time,
Simplify, simplify and relate,

Once its jotted down, more human on the page now, more of a Storm than an hurricane,

Relate to me, instead of looking through, I’ve a need to belong, to Be free,
All it takes is a structured view, an equation,
You must take away all selfish things, and dream of a landscape of Equality,
The substance that bends the souls imagination.

Erik Estabrook’s facebook page is Erik Estabrooks poetry. He has a new book out An Autistic Poet 3: My Wondrous World.

2 replies on “Autistic People: Sensitive or Perceptive Revolutionaries?”
  1. says: Simon

    I totally agree with you. I wanna add to your points that, suddenly noticing it today, actually a lot of high-functioning autistic people may be very empathetic and sensitive to certain types of human emotions. Anecdotally, I observed that my autistic friends were usually those people that could notice my subtle and delicate “sad” feelings if tho both they or I couldn’t tell what that is till I have carefully explored it philosophically, psychologically, politically (I wouldn’t look at individual’s reactions purely independent from the social background coz our perception of our feelings are disciplined by the society through language) etc. On the other hand, those non-autistic people are, again empirically, usually the first to jump into a box and label themselves. I think being overwhelmed by the things that they notice and perceive serves as a potential good actually explanation that why the autistic people

  2. says: Simon

    Btw, tho I usually don’t read poems esp english ones coz it has terrible rhythm compared to poems in other languages, like this one of yours a lot

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