May 3rd, 2009


Fever and Autism

I heard about this on this weekend's episode of Quirks and Quarks: segment / complete show

It's very interesting. I no longer label myself in this way, but I have to admit that the feverish moments I spent, say, in Ukraine and Poland, were accompanied by an astonishing mental clarity and a lot of "A-ha!" moments. Perhaps I had the luxury of time to think, but it's interesting to think that the different parts of my brain may have been in better-than-usual rapport with one another. Also, as the theory goes, if there are people who can function more normally during a fever, the brain must have had the capacity all along - there are just some parts that are usually latent.

Part of me is also vindicated that there's now some tangible physiological thing that could be going on with this. People are always like, "It's all in your head," or "You're not even trying," - and sometimes they're right! And the thought that, even with a cure, I would just suddenly "get" everything and be perfect is ridiculous. But sometimes it just feels like people perceive that I should be doing something or saying something that I would never think of, and I'm dismissed as "selfish" or whatever. Not that I'm looking for an excuse, and I suppose this doesn't really change anything for me personally, but it's just nice to know that this whole business isn't some lame self-destructive theatrical thing I've cooked up for myself. That said, I can do pretty much anything that neurotypicals can do, I just have to overcome a bit more. This is why I don't go around brandishing a label.


Scientists propose new theory of Autism (from Shrink Rap, a psychology blog)
The Sometimes Son - fever may temporarily cure autism (Humanist, January 1999)

Socializing Notes

Reconstituted from notes written in my chemistry binder

I wore too much scented crap to chemistry class (OMG the irony) and since the room was so staid and stuffy, it got to be extremely awkward. I did manufacture some goodwill, though, mostly in picking good moments to speak out. I'd written down the formulae representing a bunch of chemical names, and the only thing I got wrong was that I wrote a "P" for potassium! ;-) Sharing this fact, "What if we wrote a 'P' for potassium?" got a few laughs.

I'd started the class on the wrong foot, too. Anxious to show off, when the professor asked what we would write for lithium phosphate, I knew it was Li3PO4, and after waiting to see that nobody else was going to volunteer I ended up blurting out "three lithiums, four phosphates." "No, PO4 is one phosphate." Whoops. =)

Anyway, it's always good for me to keep in mind that I'm not the only sharp basketball in the class.

I'm finding it difficult to apply my new social principles all the time. Sometimes I just fall back on making a conscious effort to look pleasant. I'm trying to passively read other's body language, too. And there's also the choice of what to and what not to tell people - I can usually tell when I've said too much after the fact, though! =)

In conversation, if there's a lull, I should actually be more assertive about what interests me. If everyone's deferring, I should be making my own segueway, and seeing if I what I have to talk about will engage the other party(ies).

On names, here's some good advice. Start out with (for example), "'Will,' by the way," not "What's your name?" The former is casual and disarming, the latter puts people on the spot. I've been relying too much on direct questions in conversations - especially with the opposite sex. I guess, instead, I should be laying the groundwork, talking a little about my own interests, and seeing if the other party opens up. [With some people, there's just so much labour involved. I usually don't want to bother with it, and as a result I come off in the end looking like a snob.]

In the course of a certain bachelor party, I forgot most of these principles. (When I remembered them, it was only to worry incessantly about having transgressed them.) I can take a small bit of comfort in one thing: so did everybody else! =) And with all that wildness out of my system, I can sit back and enjoy the wedding, reception, and next-day-BBQ in relative sobriety and tranquillity. ;-) I know there are a few people that I have yet to establish goodwill with, and I should have done so before, but I'll have more opportunities next weekend.