Some persons on the autism spectrum have extraordinary talents and abilities. These are known as savant skills. Rainman’s ability to count through an eight deck shoe in blackjack became well-known after the movie of the same name came out. One individual I went to special ed with could tell you what day of the week any date of the year was. More amazingly, he could tell you exactly what he’d done that day. Jerry Newport’s ability to multiply four digit sums in his head were also well known and helped land a movie based on his life’s story, Mozart and the Whale. Stephen Wiltshire’s drawing ability is also well known. Others have extraordinary musical abilities.
Bernard Rimland conducted a survey and estimated that ten percent of spectrumites have savant skills. Researcher Patricia Howlin thought that his estimate was far too conservative and claimed that it was possible that as many as thirty percent of autistic people have some sort of savant skill. Darold Treffert, an expert on savantism, stated that her figure was probably based on a liberal definition of what defines a savant.
Until recently, I felt left out that I was in the ninety percent of autistic individuals (or seventy percent if you take stock in Howlin’s more liberal estimate) who have no special talents or savant abilities. In one week from today I will be sixty-one years old and amazingly enough it took me that long to realize that I actually have a savant skill-the gift of prophecy.
Let me elaborate. The small number of you who have actually followed my blog know that autism has handicapped me in two ways. It has seriously compromised my ability to make a living. I’m likely in the Guinness Book of World Records for most jobs fired from. I have not worked in nearly ten years. I have also never had a girlfriend and my intensity and relentless negativity has been a turnoff to them. Some of you may also recall my quote of Freud’s stating that to work and to love are cornerstones of our humanity. Ergo, I have felt autism stripped me of my humanity. I’ve discovered that when this issue comes up I can predict what people will advise me to do about these problems and their general comments on these issues. I can also predict what a neurodiversity proponent will say is the reason I hate my autism so much. This must mean I have the gift of prophecy.
Multiple people have advised me to disclose my disability to perspective employers. This will solve my problems of being fired. They will say to themselves “that explains it” if I make a funny movement with my hand instead of being prejudiced against me. If I make too many careless errors, they will say “that’s all right his autism explains it” or they will make a better effort to work with me. Or that the Americans with Disabilities Act gives me the right to ask for accommodations and the employer will grant me these accommodations, they’ll work and problem solved. Ari Ne’eman has even gone so far to state that all social unpleasantries that autistic people commit in the workplace should be completely overlooked. I get fed up with explaining to them that if there is something the employer does not like about me, they are going to fire me and they won’t overlook errors and knowing I have an autism diagnosis won’t matter. Also that the Americans with Disabilities Act only gives me the right to ask for reasonable accommodations and being able to go more slowly or asking to put up with loudness and behavior they don’t like aren’t reasonable accommodations under the law.
As far as not having a girlfriend is concerned I should find someone “like myself”, a polite way of saying I’m not suited for a non-handicapped woman and “mixed marriages” are taboo. Or some unabashedly state “find an autistic girlfriend”. It does not matter that the ratio of autistic men to autistic women on the milder spectrum is 10 to 1 and at least nine out of ten guys are going to be unlucky. Actually the number is probably greater than that since “mixed marriages” between a handicapped woman and non-handicapped man aren’t as taboo. Not to mention the fact that the most desirable autistic women will have no trouble finding a non-autistic man and most of them will prefer them to the autistic man (barring extraordinary exceptions like Mike Carley and John Robison of course).
According to many neurodiversity proponents the reason I don’t believe my autism is a beautiful thing and I’m not celebrating is that I had a horrible domineering mother who taught me to hate myself. Because she wanted a “normal” child, I somehow sensed this and when I could not make her happy I ended up hating my autism. She’s been called overbearing, domineering, a witch and a shrew by at least some of these people. It has nothing to do with the fact that it prevents me from living a normal life, being able to make a living or having friends and girlfriends and I have the uncontrollable compulsion to twiddle during the day. Interestingly enough I actually lived through the Bettelheim era in the sixties where I and my parents had to hear this and castration anxiety was at least in part thought to be the etiology of my disability so it is nothing new for me.
I only wished that I’d known about this savant skill I have earlier. I would have been able to predict the weather and earthquakes and save lives. I would have been able to make a fortune playing the ponies. I would have been an expert poker player able to predict exactly what cards would fall and know what hands to play.
Perhaps it’s not too late, even at my advanced age. I could work on it and practice and develop this skill or maybe I could get TMS like John Robison did and it would stimulate the right brain areas and then I could actually bring out this latent ability.
Well, in spite of all the hardships that autism has caused me I guess I can take solace in the fact that I have the gift of prophecy.