Autism

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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Fri May 18, 2012 6:26 pm

PadmaVonSamba wrote:
tracefleeman wrote: Famous people with autism include Thomas Jefferson, HP Lovecraft (one of my favorite authors) and Albert Einstein


I don't know whay you would think any of those people had autism. If they did have some atypical brain patterns, they certainly weren't disabilities. Autism was not even a diagnosis in Jefferson's time. If every person who is smart and eccentric has autism, then sign me up.


Seriously, H. P. Lovecraft sounds (from what I've read about him) about as 'aspie' as they come. I can't personally see how an autist could run a newly-independent country, but then I've never been in a position to attempt this myself :lol: . In any case, atypical (i.e. autistic in this as in most cases) brain patterns that weren't disabilities in the past are more likely to constitute disabilities now, as there's more stimulation in the environment, greater expectations for one's independent progress in life, and a higher 'minimum' level of social skills. Obviously, these form larger obstacles for autistic people than would have been present in Jefferson's or Lovecraft's times, and those who fall below the threshold of acceptable *being* are naturally classified as being in need of treatment.

Also, parents of autists are typically 'smart and eccentric', and not without reason ;)
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Fri May 18, 2012 6:36 pm

tracefleeman wrote:As a man with Aspregers syndrome, I usually don't identify myself as Autistic. When you think "Autism", you don't usually get positive thoughts. When in actuality, most people with autism are very bright and high-functioning.


It seems that the more profound the autism, the more likely it is is to cause learning disabilities by cutting off the potential pathways of learning. Clearly something like this could affect one's potential for dharma practice, as was noted recently in another thread.

One wonders, though, whether the number of high-functioning autists is really far higher than the (approximate) 1:1 ratio of high-functioning to low-functioning auties that appears in most recent surveys.
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Fri May 18, 2012 10:24 pm

tracefleeman wrote:As a man with Aspregers syndrome, I usually don't identify myself as Autistic. When you think "Autism", you don't usually get positive thoughts. When in actuality, most people with autism are very bright and high-functioning.


What people choose to label themselves doesn't really matter.
Likewise, "bright and high-functioning" are pretty vague terms.

Whatever causes the variety of conditions grouped together as "autism" creates a severe disability in some people,
and perhaps only an awkward challenge in others.

If those conditions make it so that the person is unable to express their own needs independently (independently can also mean with the aid of a mechanical device), for example, if they cannot tell you if they are suffering, hungry, sick, or have been abused, or what they need etc. then that person is disabled.

If there is a line of division to be drawn, then disabled /not disabled is where I draw it.
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Re: Autism

Postby Angelic Fruitcake » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:36 pm

I find that some of my features that are connected to autism are beneficient as a buddhist but tricky with respect to the world. Other features are just plain tricky. Basically, I think my chances of enlightenment are about as good as those of an average person, but I might have slightly different challenges and advantages.

As far as moment of "natural mind" goes, who knows? I have certainly experienced a mind that seems free of ego, boundless and in appreciation of all things in a way that my regular mind is not. Whether this mind is what I should strive for or not I cannot say, but I think it's a good starting point.
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:09 pm

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Last edited by undefineable on Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:18 pm

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:I find that some of my features that are connected to autism are beneficient as a buddhist but tricky with respect to the world. Other features are just plain tricky. Basically, I think my chances of enlightenment are about as good as those of an average person, but I might have slightly different challenges and advantages.

As far as moment of "natural mind" goes, who knows? I have certainly experienced a mind that seems free of ego, boundless and in appreciation of all things in a way that my regular mind is not. Whether this mind is what I should strive for or not I cannot say, but I think it's a good starting point.


:good: ; :thumbsup: 4 coming back. I guess one particular challenge for the autistic meditator might be that we can feel comfortable meditating! In other words, as with 'the meditation of the gods', meditation sessions might be less prone to dredging up painful psychic material which we could then process to our benefit.
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Re: Autism

Postby Angelic Fruitcake » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:37 pm

undefineable wrote:
Angelic Fruitcake wrote:I find that some of my features that are connected to autism are beneficient as a buddhist but tricky with respect to the world. Other features are just plain tricky. Basically, I think my chances of enlightenment are about as good as those of an average person, but I might have slightly different challenges and advantages.

As far as moment of "natural mind" goes, who knows? I have certainly experienced a mind that seems free of ego, boundless and in appreciation of all things in a way that my regular mind is not. Whether this mind is what I should strive for or not I cannot say, but I think it's a good starting point.


:good: ; :thumbsup: 4 coming back. I guess one particular challenge for the autistic meditator might be that we can feel comfortable meditating! In other words, as with 'the meditation of the gods', meditation sessions might be less prone to dredging up painful psychic material which we could then process to our benefit.


That problem is non-existent for me. I have ADHD too. Sitting still is so painful it itches. Literally. I have to begin with yoga or walking alone before I can sit. Personally I find my mind rests better when my body is exercising, so for now that's what I do. Maybe when my mind is better trained I can sit effectively.
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Wed Jul 04, 2012 1:00 am

Angelic Fruitcake wrote:Personally I find my mind rests better when my body is exercising


Me too I guess, especially out and about. I always wondered why I felt relaxed in the 'outdoors', until I reflected (recently) that I'm subconsciously reassured by the presence -all around me- of potential food sources. {Even in Antarctica there'd atleast be plenty to drink!}
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Re: Autism

Postby viniketa » Sun Aug 26, 2012 5:29 am

Just read through this older thread... Thanks to all who posted their personal experiences to this thread. I learned a lot -- about both autism and Buddhism.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:45 pm

Having had a couple of further thoughts on the subject, I thought this thread could do with being kept relatively new, particularly given the number of Board users who 'identify' as autistic {Btw "asperger's" is being phased out and replaced by a blanket use of "autism" in the DSM-V}.

I'm sure I'm not alone here in finding the recent "Mind Versus Self" debate a little too repetitive and prolix to read in full, but despite sharing LastLegend's impression from what I've read:
ocean_waves wrote:
LastLegend wrote:What is self?

Self is a concept.
What is no self?
No self is a concept.
That's my conclusion after reading 32 pages.

:D


:applause:

I thought I'd quote it here, as the debate there has apparently turned to the skandhas - which were 'implicated' in autism on this thread:
Astus wrote:
Son of Buddha wrote:Apparently you didnt read the top of the page(32) before you commented.

The very qoute I posted states to give up the 5 skandhas :)

Even gives an analogy of burning then and not caring cause they are not our self.

You do know the 5 skandhas themselves are produced from ignorance dont you?(do you need the sutra?)

Do you even know what Zhentong teaches?I think the true mistake is trying change The Buddha Nature sutras and Zhentong into something they are not.


It says that skandhas are neither I nor mine, that's what is to be given up, namely identification. Eliminating, destroying the skandhas would mean destroying your body and your mind, complete annihilation of all living functions. Apparently both the Buddha and his disciples were alive and well after their enlightenment, and they didn't lack their body or their mind.

The skandhas -particularly the first three- appear to function at a lower level (in the cognitive psychologist's sense of more elementary/less over-arching) in autistics than for others. As far as likely explanations for such situations are concerned, not only are the links between simple karmas and vipakas seen by a consensus of Buddhist exegesis/philosophy as too complex and elusive to be known by ordinary sentient beings (let alone such complex ones as autism would necessarily involve), but a similar consensus that autism is a blanket term rather than a specific one (google: "many autisms") had developed even before the DSM-V update was agreed. Autism, then, seems to me to describe the difference in scope between a normal human and one for whom the superstructure (as opposed to the separate functions) of the mind-brain complex operates sub-normally from around birth. {In this definition, the basic autistic problem of co-existing with others is related to the superstructure rather than the separate functions of the brain, as social interaction has been shown to draw on all major brain functions as well as brain regions; I could give references but then this is a Buddhist forum rather than a science one :tongue: .}

Some recent thinking (see:
http://www.hindawi.com/journals/aurt/2011/681627/
(of which I deliberately only read as far as the start of section 1:2 as I used to obsess over this kinda thing)- also suggests a particular problem with the higher-level operation of the 3'rd skandha, in that an automatic scanning event that compares each episode/situation (once the necessary perceptions have been processed) with every other remembered scenario doesn't reliably happen to an autistic, self-evidently leaving it hard for him or her to work out what's going on.
Returning to the "Mind Versus Self" quote, I see no reason why any number of karmas couldn't help cause and condition such a mind as I've described, particularly given the small number of brain cells possessed by so many of our invertebrate cousins:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/zoolog ... pider1.htm
However, given that I was somehow born in the mercifully uncommon position of being able to see much of both the world and my own autism from a 'normal' point of view (viscerally experiencing the social meaning of many hairstyles, for example), I find the idea of people of any Religion or worldview actively trying to destroy their own minds in the attempt to reach some kind of transcendent underlying state somewhat disturbing. Nonetheless, the sutra referenced in the above quote makes it clear that it shouldn't bother us if our skandhas are burned away, as they (presumably) are every time 'we' die, normally reconstituting at a lower potential level if the parable of the ocean turtle and the ring is to be taken seriously.

The ego of an autistic still has need of the skandha functions it lacks in relation to other humans, even if its only complaint is that others take advantage of this lack. A fully-enlightened being, however, will have overcome this neediness of ego and studied the full complement of such functions within his or her mind, and -in no longer taking rebirth- may have no further need of them, given their ego-orientation.
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Re: Autism

Postby greentara » Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:49 am

The door of serenity written by Dr. Ainsley Meares was a distinguished Australian psychiatrist who has written a number of books concerned with meditation, painting and studies of interpersonal reactions. In this volume he reports a study in the therapeutic use of symbolic painting applied to a single seriously ill, totally withdrawn young woman. It is a beautifully written book, full of the author's sincere empathy for a patient who can only communicate with him through the medium of her paintings. The first painting represents the patient's chaos. It is bizarre, complete with darkness and eyes of people looking at her. It represented her complete disorganization, fear and inner chaos. The last painting, as the patient finally becomes calm, serene, and almost well, is a beautiful picture of a bird free to fly in the air.
If you can get hold of this little book, its well worth a read as its very inspirational.
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Re: Autism

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:32 pm

Greetings,

PadmaVonSamba wrote:What people choose to label themselves doesn't really matter.
Likewise, "bright and high-functioning" are pretty vague terms.
...
If there is a line of division to be drawn, then disabled /not disabled is where I draw it.

... which to me at least, seems equally subjective. Able or not able to do what exactly?... and there's the yawning gap of "things that can be done but are made more difficult".

I don't think there is any line to be drawn, because it is a spectrum.

Maitri,
Retro, on the spectrum :)
Live in concord, with mutual appreciation, without disputing, blending like milk and water, viewing each other with kindly eyes

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Re: Autism

Postby Kim O'Hara » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:38 pm

retrofuturist wrote:I don't think there is any line to be drawn, because it is a spectrum.

Agreed.

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Re: Autism

Postby lojong1 » Sun Feb 03, 2013 10:48 pm

ChangYuan wrote:So, I am dating a woman with 2 teenage girls with Aspergers Syndrome. And their mother wants to know how Buddhism would explain this.

Mostly that thing with the penis and vagina, and a whole lot of unknown variables that Buddha said not to ponder.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: Autism

Postby PadmaVonSamba » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:00 pm

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings,

PadmaVonSamba wrote:What people choose to label themselves doesn't really matter.
Likewise, "bright and high-functioning" are pretty vague terms.
...
If there is a line of division to be drawn, then disabled /not disabled is where I draw it.

... which to me at least, seems equally subjective. Able or not able to do what exactly?... and there's the yawning gap of "things that can be done but are made more difficult".

I don't think there is any line to be drawn, because it is a spectrum.

Maitri,
Retro, on the spectrum :)


The division is at the point where a person is able, or unable, cognitively,
to take control of their own affairs independently .
For example, to be able to call 911 in the case of an emergency,
to be able to tell someone else if they have been injured or need help or are lost,
to be able to connect being hungry with going to get something to eat,
to be able to use a restroom other than the one in one's own house, and for that matter,
to be able to identify the physical need to use the toilet in the first place, when it occurs.
to be able to know what clothes to wear during the cold winter months.
This is stuff which is basic to getting through life.
These are a few examples.

My son, for example, is quite smart in many areas. He could read when he was two years old.
Does he talk? Yes. Sometimes.
Is he be able to express his thoughts and emotions and wants and needs, verbally? No.
Will he ever be able to live on his own and take care of himself,
without some constant assistance from another person?
I don't know. It is very likely that he will not.
It doesn't look like it at this point.

In other words, the difference between being abled and disabled
is the ability to function independently, meaning to be able to make decisions for oneself
and to be able to convey what one's needs are to another person,
even if it non-verbally done.
This is a basic component of living.
This is what defines ability and disability.

The "spectrum" includes everybody. We are, each of us, neurologically unique.
"autism" and "aspergers" are not specific terms.
They are abstract concepts, defined as the occasion arises,
by the cognitive and behavioral traits of the individual.

Ironically, perhaps,
many who are challenged by the inability
to empathize with the situations of others
do not see that many people with autism are disabled in a severe way.

While "spectrum" is a vague concept, "disabled" is clearly definable.
.
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The Chinese characters are Fo (buddha) and Ming (bright). The image is of a student of Buddhism, who, imagining himself to be a monk, and not understanding the true meaning of the words takes the sound of the words literally. Likewise, People on web forums sometime seem to be foaming at the mouth.
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Tue Feb 05, 2013 1:55 am

Can't we just agree to call the 'line' a broad brush stroke? :thinking:
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Re: Autism

Postby treefairy » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:54 am

I don't think Autism is a form of enlightenment for a few key reasons-

Common Autistic Behaviors-- Why it doesn't correlate with enlightenment

1. will fuss if didn't get what wanted --an enlightened being does not fuss, doesn't really "want" either.

2. throws intense or violent tantrums -- again this would be completely against the idea of enlightenment

3. shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or schedules -- Not actions of an enlightened man

4. spends a lot of time stacking objects, lining things up or putting things in a certain order -- Order is not of concern to an enlightened being

5. gets "stuck" doing the same things over and over and can't move on to other things -- Same thing

Those are just 5 key behaviors common to Autistic children that fly directly in the face of the "theory" of enlightenment. In fact, one could say that these are results of being kinda stuck on the sidpa level of consciousness. That attachment to objects thing is a real big hint...
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Tue Mar 19, 2013 10:41 pm

treefairy wrote:Those are just 5 key behaviors common to Autistic children that fly directly in the face of the "theory" of enlightenment. In fact, one could say that these are results of being kinda stuck on the sidpa level of consciousness.
As in Sipa Bardo, hmm? Actually, I'd like to make a speculation about the whole 'debate' here - A few days ago, I gleaned from a couple of other threads that advanced meditation no longer centres on a sense of 'this experiencing here is watching that experience there - That rudimentary ego, which I understand has been labelled 'Watcher' by Trungpa Rinpoche, appears -from first-hand experience atleast- to form a central nexus for both an autistic mind and (in a more fleeting sense) a mind developing the ability to meditate: http://labelingthoughts.org/wiki/Watcher Whether 'Watcher' causes autism or is heightened by it I wouldn't like to guess, but a scarcity of experience meaningful enough (in the everyday sense) to be understood seems likely to strengthen Watcher, as does -conversely- a resistance (through intellectualisation etc.) to understanding the everyday meaning of experience.

But while 'Watcher' may well be the only ground on which to begin dharma practice, a mature ego is of course 'self within world/other', rather than 'self as opposed to world/other', the former being a clear development of the latter. It's worth pointing out, too, that actions are often incompatible with clear awareness {I still find it troubling that Buddhism appears to push action -as in managing businesses and so forth- to one side}. Autistics, in other words, are somehow 'stuck at the (spiritual) starting line' in this picture.

Bearing all this in mind, many have suggested that abnormal minds (in general) cannot develop spiritually, except in a perverted manner. It would be interesting to hear others' takes on this, whether for or against, since I'm sure there are still several autistic contributors to this forum.
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Re: Autism

Postby treefairy » Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:59 am

Yes. Ive kinda cross-referenced those states of consciousness with the Zen idea of makyo to get a possibly useful working map of the subconscious and the problems people have. Its a surprisingly accurate model that may have some biochemical correlates with serotonin functioning.

Im kinda on the line bout teaching people with problems. Ive seen too many users of deviant mantras come out of a troubled background. On the other hand, i see great promise here for helping people.
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Re: Autism

Postby undefineable » Fri Mar 22, 2013 1:16 pm

treefairy wrote:Ive seen too many users of deviant mantras come out of a troubled background.


Mantras in Buddhism are associated specifically with the Vajrayana - the 'vehicle' whose teachers have traditionally restricted to fully-functioning human beings, so it would be foolish to imagine many autistics successfully progressing that far on the level of practice - There's even an old claim (sorry I can't find the slightly-more-specific reference here) that success in Business is a good predictor of success in Tantra.

However, the Eight Freedoms / Ten Advantages model refers to those who are unable to get the gist of many dharma teachings (presumably including hinayana and mahayana) to begin with - before they are put into practice. Since there are so many people with very mild autism (formerly "mild asperger's") who seem comfortable with their Buddhist practice, I doubt I'm alone here in encountering only a few issues in this area - even after cross-referencing for 'pith instructions' and so on. Moreover, given the mildness of such autism (slash schizophrenia etc. in cases comparable for this purpose), it's possible for face-to-face interaction with a teacher to improve understanding, rather than perverting it as you implied. I feel that the Buddhist paradigms I have trouble understanding (and which others here have wisely ignored when I've implied or raised them) -mainly questions of what makes a karma 'positive' and why there is 'Mind' rather than an infinite number of self-contained/separate/everlasting 'mind-universes'- might be cleared up more quickly in this way than through contemplating them alone.

Oh *%$!, I just remembered reading a Freedoms / Advantages teaching which referred to those "unable to distinguish between positive and negative actions" in the context I referred to above _ _ Maybe the crucial point is that there never needs to be a perfect time to practice, and that one should 'proceed with caution' - For example, instead of harming other beings for reasons I might see as positive (i.e. they 'get in the way' of, or can be used to achieve, something natural to one's functioning in a given cultural context), I just assume there's something I'm not 'getting' about what makes an action 'positive', given the weight of opinion. {This year I made a successful new year's resolution to immediately become vegetarian, for example.}
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