Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Look: Is There One?

I enjoyed this blog post by John Elder Robison on the Psychology Today website about the look of autism. Many of life's transforming events make us attuned to new realities, such as the newlywed who notices couples everywhere or the new parents who begins to see babies everywhere. The same can happen to the parents of a newly diagnosed child: We begin to see autism everywhere.

It's probably not a good idea to sit around and trying to diagnose people on the street but sometimes we can't help noticing things that make us wonder. Fortunately, John's article gives credibility to the idea. I don't have the confidence he may have in identifying people on the spectrum but his article makes me feel a little bit less crazy about the topic.

I especially enjoy that he discusses the idea of autistic children being beautiful. I'd heard this discussed before, at the Autism & Asperger's Conference at Southfork Ranch in 2008. At first, this sounded like typical parent-bragging but I've started to wonder about it. As Robison's mentions:

Judy Miles, a geneticist, said something fascinating to me. "In the 1940s, Kanner wrote about beautiful children with autism." Later readers have taken that as a metaphor, but what if he meant it literally? As she says, there are some kids with profound autism who are also have beautifully sculpted faces. Could there be a connection?

Click here to read the rest.

If you haven't read John's book Look Me in the Eye: My Life With Asperger's, go buy it. It's a great read and surprisingly funny.


  1. I think there is a 'look'; Andy and so many of his friends are tall, skinny, blonde, often with glasses, and a certain look in the eye...

    This video about another book I have to get shows another brilliant Aspergian- I wish it didn't contain the 'Rain Man' reference, but boy, is he interesting- and yes, he has 'the look.'

  2. Here's that link to Good Morning America I was intending to paste in...!