Monday, November 18, 2013

This is Autism (CJ Shiloh)

Written by CJ Shiloh

Originally published at The Musical Autist

We are thrilled and honored to be a part of the This is Autism Flashblog
It’s so crucial for us to join forces in advocacy for Neurodiversity, especially during these trying, yet victorious, past few weeks, to celebrate the many beautiful things that only autism can bring to society. Like Absolute Pitch!  Synesthesia! Need we say more? People that know autism already get our point. But we’ll take this opportunity for some brief explanation, or at least point you in some directions you’ll enjoy going.
First we’d like to say, The Musical Autist organization feels entitled and compelled to promote these two phenomenons as autistic traits for two reasons.
1. We put autistic people FIRST in our organization, in leading and guiding the organization itself. These are folks on the spectrum who have Absolute Pitch and Synesthesia for themselves, and they can attest to the wonderful musical gifts (though sometimes challenging, like with any gift) that Absolute Pitch and Synesthesia can be.  Feel free to go here to read Paula Durbin-Westby’s experiences with Synesthesia, and you can also go to Sunny’s page to learn more about her.  We’ll be posting another vlog soon, and Sunny will share with you her experiences with Absolute Pitch throughout her lifetime.
2. The other reason we feel entitled and compelled to promote Absolute Pitch and Synesthesia as traits of autism is because of our connections with the field of music therapy.  This is the kind of stuff Music Therapists love to study! Check out our Community Music Therapy Team. There you will find some wonderful, competence-presuming, evidence-based-practice-minded Board Certified Music Therapists who interact regularly with people on the spectrum that have Absolute Pitch or Synesthesia. We strive to understand the neurological underpinnings of autism, and we also realize the efficacy of highlighting the positive traits of people on the spectrum in order to cultivate self-empowerment and self-advocacy.
I mean really, wouldn’t YOU want to know what note or chord was being played just by hearing it? Wouldn’t you enjoy seeing specific colors when you heard certain tones?
To learn more about Absolute Pitch, we highly recommend reading this fascinating research study that came out last year. Or, if reading research is not your forte, you can find some great discussion about the article from Norman Lebrecht, which will highlight the topic of Absolute Pitch for you without getting into the nitty gritty of the research. Another website we highly suggest is from a Music Therapist who also has these auditory giftings - will be a great resource for you on this entire topic. To learn more about Synesthesia you can go to the wiki page here.You can also go here and here for perspectives on how much research still needs to be done. But our favorite article on the topic of Synesthesia is from our friend Ariane, at Emma’s Hope Book. After you read that, we highly recommend bookmarking Ariane’s site and visiting regularly.
Have fun! Be inspired! Be hopeful!
Your mindset is more than half the battle.
Your mindset has the greatest impact on those around you.

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