This Section will remain Under Construction for some time. I have severe Autism, and it is difficult for me to compose and organize materials unless I do it like a jigsaw puzzle rather than writing a linear story.
I am EquiisSavant, an EquiisAutisticSavant living in Florida with an intense restrictive interest in people with autism who ride horses, play music, create savant artwork, and who believe people with autism should be accorded professional licenses and equal opportunity.
I have been diagnosed with high functioning autism and savant abilities by my neurologist, Michael Hoffmann, M.D., who is the most capable doctor I know in his ability to deal with the many sensory issues, conundrums, abilities, and paradoxes of persons with autism.
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 devoting her time to creating one of the earliest personalized autism interventions of the 1960s.
My mother provided me with many activities and challenges to develop and enhance my high functioning autism savant abilities, including reading interventions to enable me to regularly read complex materials of interest such as Scientific American by age 5, 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 with invitations to dance in annual recitals, music with the flute and recorder to enable my invitation to and participation on the All City Band in my community by age 12, and therapuetic 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, competing at, and playing along my journey, 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. In 1986, I received my B.S. degree in International Business Management, graduating in the Honors in Humanities Program, with Arabic, Russian, and Spanish foreign languages from the University of San Francisco. In 1990, I earned my joint J.D./M.B.A. degree in Law and Business from Kendrick Hall at the University of San Francisco School of Law and the McLaren College of Business.
In July 1997, after battling with the California Bar Examiners and State Bar for seven years to secure their commitment to accommodating persons with disabilities and those like me on the California Bar Examination, I was able to demonstrate my abilities in the law by passing the most difficult bar examination in the Nation as a person with autism.
And so, my dream goes on in my pursuit of eradicating the many barriers in California, Florida, and other states to licensing a savant with high functioning autism as a member of the Bar. My neurologist believes one of my high functioning autism savant systematizing abilities is not only evident in my artwork but also in my abilitiles in the law. 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 of today is, 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.
First of all, some Autism subtypes are overly friendly and social, such as WIlliams syndrome, so this stereotype is really not true: "People with Williams syndrome-known for their indiscriminate friendliness and ease with strangers-process spoken language differently from people with autism spectrum disorders-characterized by social withdrawal and isolation" according to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Krein, Language as a window into sociability, physorg.com.
Although I do not have Williams syndrome, the comment and stereotype I received caused me to decide I should post more photos and pictures about my Autism and childhood Autism vaccine injury.
Yes, people with Autism DO smile, but not all of the time.
I smile if I am prompted. I have dysregulated laughing and crying, so I smile sometimes out-of-context. 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. I wanted to avoid that negativity and some of the hate that people with Autism get form others on an almost daily basis - from those who remain ignorant about Autism.
I also get many comments, e-mail and Inbox messages, form responses, and other interest about my Autism from fans of my artwork.
So, I decided to post more photos of my childhood, which will be forthcoming a few at a time, 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 !
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.
"Hyperlexia (Silverberg and Silverberg, 1967), a spontaneous (uninstructed), precocious, interest driven ability to decode written words is also strongly associated with autism (Grigorenko et al., 2002)." Michelle Dawson, Laurent Mottron, Morton Ann Gernsbacher, Learning and memory: A comprehensive reference: Cognitive Psychology, J. H. Byrne (Series Ed.) & H. Roediger (Vol. Ed.), New York: Elsevier (hereafter "Dawson, Mottron, & Gernsbacher, 2008").
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).
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 .
I used to line up my Breyer plastic horses, rather than engage in imaginative play (see plastic horses lined up on the picnic table behind my dog). The exception was when I built snow roads and tunnels to help me take my Breyer horses from place to place. "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 .