I am EquiisSavant, an Autistic Savant living in Florida with an intense restrictive interest in people with Autism like me who ride horses, play music, create savant artwork, and who believe people with Autism should be given equal opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
I was diagnosed with high functioning autism and savant abilities by my neurologist, Michael Hoffmann, M.D., at the University of South Florida. To see Autism diagnosis, go to Documents link.
My late mother, who was my first teacher, met Bettleheim's accusations of "refrigerator mothers" responsible for the vast waste of autism, by obtaining a teaching credential, studying special education in the doctoral programs at Michigan State University, and dropping out of her Ph.D. program to devote her time to creating one of the earliest personalized autism interventions of the 1960s for me.
My mother provided me with many activities and challenges to develop and enhance my high functioning autism savant abilities, including banning me from watching movies or TV (except for very limited shows) 24/7 to try to teach me to be able to read; swimming to enable me to pass the junior lifesaving course at our local high school by age 11; ballet to enable me to reach levels on toe by age 12 (because I was an autistic toe-walker) with invitations to dance in annual recitals; music with the flute and recorder to help my ability to communicate, with invitation to and participation on the All City Band in my community by age 12; and therapeutic horseback riding that ultimately integrated me into the mainstream of American competition to enable me to achieve a U.S. National A/O Hunter Championship by age 19 -- qualifying for and competing at Madison Square Garden three times.
My mother always told me not to be afraid to dream big dreams and that despite my Autism, I could reach those dreams and achieve anything I wanted to be.
I believed her then and I continue to believe in her vision now for the successes of people like me with Autism.
And so, my dream goes on in my pursuit of eradicating the many barriers in California, Florida, and other states to the ability of a savant with high functioning autism to achieve the American Dream based on "training" her "autistic savant talents and special abilities." This is precisely what the autism experts recommend for autistic people, because we are different and don't "fit" the non-Autistic "cookie cutter" mold.
My neurologist. Michael W. Hoffmann, M.D. believed one of my high functioning autism savant systematizing abilities was evident in my artwork. But, as autism researchers have more recently learned about females with autism, we have a unique and special rapport, communication, and relationship with animals -- in my case, with horses and ponies.
My hopes and dreams -- and my journey, however, are not mine alone, but mark that of generations of IDEA graduates and other worthy people with autism to come.
I began my journey no different than any other child with autism -- as the high functioning autism child featured below. The difference from the ABA autism interventions World of today being, like Temple Grandin, I grew up during the age of Kanner and Asperger, during the era of "refrigerator mothers," and the innovative 1960s when special education, knowledge about autism, and autism interventions in the United States were still in their infancy.
I received a comment that people who smile or laugh, such as following the photographer's directives to "smile for the photo" (above), cannot have Autism. This is a common stereotype about people with Autism.
Yes, people with Autism DO smile, but not all of the time. The myth that we 'don't smile' is based on the non-autistic NeuroTypical idea that Autistic people do not have a life worth living. This is wrong. We want to be accepted and appreciated for our Autistic differences, and not constantly forced to suppress our autism to "pass off" as non-Autistic NeuroTypicals so NeuroTypicals can "feel better" about themselves.
Autistic people can and do Believe we have lives worth living. What we are missing are equal opportunities to achieve our Dreams, the same as everyone else.
I smile a lot when I'm with my horses. I posted family portraits initially, because they were left in my late Mother's belongings, and also because Neurotypical "others" often wrongly think that if they don't see an Autistic smiling, then the person is assumed - often wrongly - to be "angry" or "in a rage" or some other negative emotion we really don't feel is projected on us or ascribed to us by others or some other nonsense, including that Autistic people must not have lives worth living.
These views are mostly due to ignorance about about Autism.
So, I decided to post more photos of my childhood to let others into my Autistic world and hopefully teach and enlighten others what Autism is like - or at least was like for those of us who grew up in the 1950s-1960s. I hope everyone enjoys !
Enjoyment from Looking at Geometric Patterns:
Oct. 20, 1956 - 6 months, gazing at patterns: "Only autistic babies looked at the geometric patterns more than 69 percent of the time. 'It's pretty clear that showing heightened interest in geometric patterns and repetitive moving objects is a risk factor for autism.'" http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_103003.html.
Thinking and Reading in Pictures
My Mom initially taught me communication using pictures because I only had two words by age 2.9 months.
"Because [her Autistic child] was nonverbal, she initially taught communication using pictures." Vance, Woman engages autistic son every waking hour, Sept. 19, 2010, http://www.newbernsj.com/articles/son-90615-judy-disabilities.html (emphasis added).
Pica and Stimming:
June 15, 1957 - 14 months, mouthing objects, stimming. "Licking or mouthing objects is classified as a stim." Stimming, http://aspierations.blogspot.com/2010/08/justins-middle-school-orientation-part.html .
Lining-Up My Plastic Breyer Horses:
I used to line up my Breyer plastic horses. E.g., "Rather than engage in imaginative play with the cars, [the Autistic child] prefers lining them up. The exception is when we have road mats for him to help him take his cars from place to place." Stimming,http://aspierations.blogspot.com/2010/08/justins-middle-school-orientation-part.html .
Creating Horse and Pony Snow Tunnels: