enjoys picking at the festering splinters of humanity


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January 15
Still Contemplating the Mysteries of the Universe, this dangerously analytical critical-thinker is beginning to enjoy the view from her life's predictably unpredictable path.

Jewellya's Links
OCTOBER 30, 2012 9:59AM

How to Make an Autistic Child

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Did you know dolphins discipline their young? And not just the mother. If a youngster is out of line, any of the older dolphins will rake their teeth across his body or give him a good smack with a tail.

Dolphins are like humans in other ways, we know. They are sociable and intelligent, even without domestication and training. Wild pods have been known to protect lost swimmers from sharks. It is believed they circle and protect their young in much the same way.

A dolphin alone is a dolphin dead. Without the group, they are just as vulnerable to sharks as any other creature in the water. They cannot corral a school of fish for effective hunting. Maintaining group cohesion and following the rules keeps them alive. Therefore discipline is necessary as the threat of death is constant. “Pay attention, do as we do or you will die” would be the underlying fear driving the discipline, even if the message is “Pay attention, do as we do or we will hurt you.” Dolphins are intelligent enough to inoculate their children against the greater threat of the unknown predator with the lesser threat of group disapproval. Whether this is due to altruistic or utilitarian motives is beside the point.

Humans used to be this way: when we as a species were sparse in number, when our technology was crude, when we were susceptible to the dangers of the dark and the cold. Perhaps a lone hunter could find himself a meal enough to live on, but there was always protection in numbers and the social contract ensured survival of the group if not the individual.

Again, discipline of the young was necessary: “Do as we do or you will be hurt.” They traded the greater pain of injury or death with the lesser pain of a hand or a switch. And yes, the switch became a cane in many cases, likely because it was very effective on the more obstinate youth who learned they have the power not to fear the hand or the switch. But nevertheless, the fear of the dark and the cold driving these methods was constant in their lives. The dangers were very real and reinforced every time a member of the group perished from his own bravado.

Obviously, here are other kind of animal groups that do not behave this way. Antelope herds do not have to hunt for food in the way of dolphins or humans. So long as the grass grows green and the water is wet, everything they need to live on is provided for them. If a young fawn is pestering the wrong adult, they may be kicked out of the way, but otherwise there is no effort to train the young in the “ways” of the adults. If a lion attacks, no effort is made to protect the young, which are usually the ones pecked off for the lion’s meal. The surviving herd will then continue to graze beside the feasting lion, seemingly oblivious to the death (good or evil) of its own kind. The survival of this group hinges solely on reproducing faster than the lion can eat; there is no social contract, no need for communication, no need to maintain group cohesion or threaten the unruly with expulsion. All that is needed is provided for; the only thing to fear is the hungry lion.

As humans in a digitized world, most all that is needed for survival is provided for us by way of our advanced technologies and social contracts. As adults, however, we know we must struggle day to day to maintain our existence with balance: monetary and dietary, occupational and personal. But for the children in our not-so-brave new world, living in a home without corporal discipline, living in a home were their favorite meals are a request or tantrum away, living in a home of endless customizable entertainment choices of passive and interactive varieties, they have no fear of their elders, no understanding of limited resources, no understanding that the world is not by its very nature customizable to their whims.

Within the last century, we have seen the consequences of the evolution of society past the point of diminishing returns. 1 in 88 children are deemed affected by the condition called Autism. For autistic children the big people in their lives become benevolent deities cultivating paradise for their little Adams and Eves. To them, these are just the rules of the game until proven otherwise. If all that they could ever need is provided for them, they learn/decide/deduce via high intelligence, that there is no need for communication, manner, or expression. At some point a cycle of withdrawal and compensation begins, the adults never understanding that the child is growing ever more dependent upon them because on a deep subliminal level the psyche of the child effected a cost-benefit analysis and deemed dependence on these deities the path of least resistance to survival.

The young antelope has someone to protect him from the lion. That someone has always been there, always will be there, until proven otherwise.

Without resistance from the elders, without the message of “Pay attention, do as we do or we will hurt you,” without the driving force within the elders of fear of the unknown, fear of an angry God, or fear of greater social disapproval of “bad parenting”, the child will turn himself into an antelope, willing to block out emotional and social stimuli, willing to forgo the joy of accomplishment over adversity, because this intelligent creature of our making knew that adversity itself can be avoided through a parent’s love and devotion. These are just the rules of the game as he understands them. Tell him the rules have changed. 

I do not currently observe that all children are potentially autistic given the same level of doting parents and malleable environments. I believe autistic children (including potentially myself and many of my kinfolk, now my daughter) share a trait of inherent stubbornness and laziness, combined with advanced intelligence. This perhaps is a genetic trait of evolutionary significance, because convenience technology (bicycles, laundry machines, computers) and therefore society as a whole would not advance without the willingness of some to put an inordinate amount of brainpower into figuring out how not to do something.

It is the brainpower of the very intelligent which has allowed society to advance to the point where we as parents are now afraid to inoculate our children against the greater pain of injury or death, by way of the lesser pain of a firm smack on the butt. We parents, fully inoculated, still fear the pain of exclusion from the group. We fear the disapproval and legal action of authority. We fear that we have not adequately stripped our child's life of pain and danger and risk of all kinds.

We fear the moment when the lion sees the deity has fallen asleep.

Those who do spank today do so with an unknown pain of guilt (or layered arrogance) that they are inept in not mastering the mythical non-spanking method.

I contend that corporal discipline, sustained limited resources (food choices: eat this or go hungry), and rigid environmental structure can be used effectively with potentially autistic children by inserting oneself as the deliberate, measured adversary a child is required to overcome. It is far better that their fears be controlled by the adult hand than by their own developing, beautiful, yet fragile minds. As parents we want our children to grow and blossom, not wither and wilt before our eyes, but not every flower will bloom in nutrient rich soils. Some flowers are meant to bloom in the desert.

My previous thoughts, musings on Autism:

Autism's Inconvenient Truth - June 25th 

Organizing Your World - October 10th (An allegorical attempt at illustrating how some children process information)

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Though not an advocate of corporal punishment, I certainly agree that a wholesome discipline is essential to us all, autistic or not. If we don't set limits on ourselves, nature will set them for us. The parental adventure continues.
I've heard that children have an instinctual need to have limits placed on them. They look up to the adults to set limits, and set the boundaries of reward and punishment.
not advocating for it, either, Dan. just starting an honest conversation with hopes of finding a solution. another analogy I've used is horse training, where in years past the way to "break" a wild horse was to break it's spirit and force it to submit to a saddle. not many were asking for an alternative but a man named Parelli sought to learn about horses from the horses' perspective. and developed his system from there. Officially we no longer want to "break" our children into submission, but there is no viable universally proven alternative.
the first step, I believe, is to seek out the (autistic) child's world from the child's perspective.
Trudge, on one hand they do. an adult who cares about a child's behavior is an adult who cares about the future of the child. Could be instinct, could be intuition, could be subliminal deductive reasoning.
On the other, once the boundaries have been found to be pliable, inconsistant, or non-existant, many children will settle into a directionless state, and crouch within their own psyches.
So perhaps it's not about what the child's "instinct" is or is not, but about being realistic to the likely outcomes to any parenting style given account for certain variables within the child.
Children absolutely need boundaries. Parents that do not do so are raising an entitled children and the world stops for no one.
Thanks CG! globally speaking, this may be one reason (the reason?) America has been lagging behind the most industialized nations in innovation/education. When a society has reached a certain threshold in standard of living, generations begin to settle in to the hammocks their parents make for them. And if a fire is not lit beneath them to get them moving again the hammocks are doomed to break beneath the weight of our own lethargy. The cycle of civilization continues...
This is confusing to me. Are you saying you think parental lack of discipline and lack of requirements/expectations can develop into autistic children or at the other end of the spectrum, brats?
good point, JT. I'm saying both. If a child has certain traits that may predispose him or her to autism (high intelligence, stubborn). then doting parents who are able to provide anything and everything for that child, if the child never feels a sense of struggle or an understanding very early in development that the world is not subject to customization, if it never occurs to a kid that parents were not put on this earth to cater to their desires, then autism will set in. the greatest benefit (all needs provided for) for the least cost (wanting "more" out of life, sense of fulfillment from achieving over adversity).
The spectrum of autism arises as the inherent nature of the child interacts with parental and environmental challenges. The more a parent compansates, the more a child withdraws. the more a parent requires of a child in order for the child to receive love and/or attention, the more child engages with the world, because they must.
Perhaps entitled bratdom is the inverse of autism...?
I am very familiar with the autism spectrum. At best, I think you are confusing an isolated child with an autistic one.
Smart and stubborn does not arise into autism, although autistic children may be smart and/or stubborn. Your premises may work well (or not) with an isolated child.
That is not an autistic child.
Autistic children have abnormal neurological development and often are hypersensitive to noise and other stimuli which makes them shut down internally to handle their environment -- that is different than being stubborn and withdrawn. Each autistic child requires treatment customized to their own *brain development* to understand how progress can be made -- there is no blanket "cure," no blanket "making" of autism. It is dangerous to say there is.
That said, certain children with autism can do well with cognitive therapy that brings them into a more social world, therapy that may seem like what you suggest, but only certain cases. Another child might get much worse with this form of 'treatment.'.
How autism is presented here, as if it is just a smart and lazy child who just *won't*, is just wrong.
Rated for the discussion, so you can get on the feed and have more weigh in on this topic....
Gracias JT, I do appreciate the discussion and what you are saying is valuable to me because I am in agreement with you, what i need to learn is how best to express the complex understanding i have in my brain.
I do not see autism as a factor of 'can't' vs 'won't'. I see a complex interplay of sensory stimuli, reaction to sensory stimuli, coping mechanisms for and against which are and are not developed based on the variables of parental involvement.
I see evolutionary traits much as was described here on OS regarding ADD, using the allegory of a rabbit hunter vs a deer hunter (post: "Saint Adderall", i believe). the traits of lazy and stubborn combined with intellect when applied in a challenging environment can result in great advances in problem solving skills, including psychological coping mechanisms. those same traits in a Edenic environment activate the same problem solving skills which create a different set of coping mechanisms in which reliance on caregivers becomes a Given for existence.
After some contemplation, I removed the reference to "brats" vs "autistic" in what was actually a coarse transitional sentence that did nothing for the advancement of my central points.
Calling a child a brat is both highly subjective and morally judgemental toward the child and the parents. the cultural assumption is that brats have the capacity to control their behavior while autistic kids do not.
My hypothesis which is only solidifying given further discussion is that autistic kids *could* and *do* have the capacity to control their behavior, but the training starts EARLY. and the longer that the child is not trained to handle their environment, the more difficult the training process would be as they age.