A Way of Describing Autism

Written 8/98 by Dave Spicer, who is autistic

Materials needed: several small polished stones (and a pouch to keep them in).

The stones are:

Quartz - clear white
Apache tear or equivalent - uniform deep black
Hematite - silver/chrome
Leopardskin - complex multicolored patterns
Amethyst - violet at one end, white at the other
Tiger Eye - lustrous shifting patterns inside

There are many, many people in the world. Some of them are unusual, just like some of the stones on a beach are unusual. The unusual stones can help us to understand the unusual people who are autistic.

Look at the first stone (quartz). You can see clear through it - nothing is hidden. Some autistic people hide nothing, revealing themselves completely to anyone who cares to see.

Now the second stone (Apache tear). Nothing can be seen about it at all. Some autistic people hide everything, and remain a mystery to everyone.

And now the third stone (hematite). The bright chrome finish is very striking. It says just one thing about the stone, but in a way that captures our attention. Some autistic people have one special interest, or one special ability, which captures our attention the same way.

Now the fourth (leopardskin). There are many complex patterns, some so intricate and detailed that we cannot see them without help. Some autistic people have many rituals, and structures, and rules for how things need to be.

And the fifth (amethyst). Hold the stone so that only the violet end shows. Now hold it so that only the white end shows. It looks like two completely different stones, but it is still the same one. Some autistic people look quite different, depending on one's viewpoint: is a particular characteristic an asset or a liability? Can it be appreciated and enjoyed, or does it seem to just get in the way? Would the person be better off with it or without it?

Finally, the tiger eye. With good light, and time to spend gazing at it, and the inner quiet to pay attention to it, the stone seems almost alive as we shift it in our hands and see how the light is transformed inside it. The lustrous, shifting patterns have always been there, waiting to be discovered... like the way of being known as autism.

- Dave

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