What alleviates the burdens of autistic people

Autistic people tend to enjoy stacking objects more than other people do. It’s a common observation that autistic children stack or line up their toys, rather than simply playing with them as other children do.

There are certain blessings that come with being on the autism spectrum. The greatest of these blessings is probably extreme mental fortitude. Greta Thunberg is a great example of someone with extreme mental fortitude. Regardless of whether you agree with her views or not (I agree with most of them, but feel less agreement with her proposed solutions) she will do something that makes her feel extremely vulnerable, hated and humiliated, because she feels a moral obligation to do it. What allows her to do that? The same thing that makes society place a medical nametag on her personality type. I hope she can feel joy with the new friends she made and stop feeling an obligation to carry the world’s problems on her shoulders. I also hope her parents will better learn to recognize when too much is being asked of her.

Emily Bronte was probably another example, although it’s obviously impossible to make a conclusive statement about historical figures. When Emily was bitten by a dog with rabies, she cauterized the wound herself, down to the bone. She was unable to socially function when away from her family and appears to have harbored incestuous yearnings for her brother. Mrs Elizabeth Gaskell, a family friend of the Brontes, wrote about Emily: “She never showed regard to any human creature; all her love was reserved for animals.”

I personally believe that autism, particularly in its high functioning forms, is not 100% congenital. I think to some degree high functioning autism is a product of growing up in circumstances of extreme social pressure placed upon children by other people. There’s a huge overlap between symptoms of children considered “gifted” and children suffering high functioning autism. Apparently if you go to Mensa meetings, people there wear buttons that signal how comfortable they feel with being hugged. What do gifted children and children with high functioning autism/Asperger’s generally have in common? Parents who place large expectations on them and make them feel unable to live up to those expectations. I think autism is becoming increasingly more common in many societies, because we are placing increasingly higher expectations on children.

Of course there are also great struggles that come with high functioning autism. My intention today is to give an overview of things that I believe can help people. Below you will find a short list of things that seem to help me and some elaboration on how they help me. I have to make clear that I base my judgement entirely on my own personal experience with these substances and that I was never formally diagnosed myself, my mother kept me from being formally diagnosed as a teenager. Some of these substances are already used to help people with autism.

I can elaborate a bit more on the theoretical framework that leads me to these conclusions if people want me to, but I primarily base myself on personal experience. I have already explained the theoretical framework for some of them in earlier posts. It’s possible that some of these substances have effects on you that differ from the effects they have on me, but I think in general most of them will have similar effects on you as they do on me.

Almost all of these substances appear to have the effect of reducing inflammation in the brain. Almost all of these substances also seem to have in common that they generate new connections between neurons or strengthen existing ones, but the pattern of these connections and the parts of the brain where they carry this out seems to differ between the different substances. For this reason, I believe all of the above substances are subject to diminishing returns; experiences with a range of these substances can probably help people more than merely experiencing one of them on a constant basis.

Salvia: Helps you to feel adequate as a human being, rather than feeling inferior to other people.

Psilocin: Helps you interpret the world and the information you have been exposed to throughout your life in a more positive manner. It makes you more receptive to positive impulses and less receptive to negative impulses.

DMT + Harmalas: Help you to overcome traumatic memories that hold back your potential to contribute to society.

LSD: Helps you to intuitively understand what would be logical emotions for other human beings to experience in certain circumstances. Allows you to better understand people when they imply things to you, rather than explicitly stating them to you. You won’t be able to read their minds, but you’ll have a better functioning theory of mind. An insightful anecdotal experience can be found here.

MDMA: Helps you overcome the anxiety you feel when you take the initiative in expressing your intentions and desire for interaction with other people, particularly the opposite gender (assuming you’re attracted to the opposite gender).

Cannabinoids (particularly THC): Help you derive enjoyment from non-profound experiences. You’ll feel less obliged to carry the world’s problems on your shoulders.

Mescaline: Provides a number of the above effects. It delivers some of the effects of Salvia, Psilocin and MDMA. In addition, it makes you feel more physically comfortable in your own body.

My hopes:

My first hope is that scientists with the means to research these things will look at what I stated above and will try to (in)validate my beliefs.

My second hope is that if empirical evidence ends up validating my beliefs, children and teenagers with symptoms of autism will have the chance to experience these substances under safe circumstances, around experienced and empathic people who can help ensure that they have a positive experience, so that the amount of pain they will have to experience throughout their lives as a result of being different from other people is reduced, while still maintaining the ability to make use of their innate mental fortitude.

My third hope is that people who are not on the spectrum will take more effort to make sure that they do not make autistic people feel as if they are less worthy of love, dignity and respect. Please understand that autistic people’s mental fortitude can make them attracted to radical convictions that can be very taboo or intimidating for other people, Greta Thunberg’s convictions are a good example.

5 Comments

  1. I’m beginning to feel that you (and many many others) are conflating high functioning autism with being gifted/sensitive and having poor social/emotional skills due to trauma (at least with respect to socializing with normies). Have you read “Drama of the Gifted Child”? Because the beginning of this post sounds a lot like what is being described in that book. Lots of intelligent and sensitive kids, who would have enough trouble fitting in on their own, are socially isolated from their peers and alienated from themselves by parents and teachers trying to make these kids “successful” in the way society defines success, largely just to stroke the egos of those parents.

    It happened to me. Very intelligent, somewhat sensitive, grew up in a home with the constant threat of violence, no extended family around (like a lot of people in the American middle-class, my family went where my dad’s career took him), and strictly controlled by a narcissistic mother. I was very, very awkward. Never formally diagnosed as autistic, but treated the way special ed kids were treated, and avoided (and sometimes bullied) by my peers. I dealt with an enormous amount of depression and anxiety.

    For a very long time, I really did think that there was something wrong with me, and that this was just my fate in life. But then I left moved out and made a conscious effort to learn how to relate to people, started exercising, got a good job, etc. I’m not claiming to be the most charismatic person in the world, but I get along well with just about everyone, and people generally want to be my friend. It does help that I moved to an “elite” coastal city and am surrounded with much more intelligent people than I grew up with, but wow, I never thought things could be this way. Basically no social anxiety, depression gone, and I am comfortable being myself.

    I think pathologizing social awkwardness is doing a disservice to people like me, who could improve their lives dramatically by taking responsibility for their awkwardness and working your way out of it. You don’t have to love normies, but learning how to make peace with them and maybe even enjoying a bit of small talk here and there can go a long, long way into improving your life.

    Links:

    https://nymag.com/news/features/autism-spectrum-2012-11/
    https://www.amazon.com/Drama-Gifted-Child-Search-Revised/dp/0465016901

    • >I’m beginning to feel that you (and many many others) are conflating high functioning autism with being gifted/sensitive and having poor social/emotional skills due to trauma (at least with respect to socializing with normies).

      I think the two are tied at the hip. High functioning autism sets you up for trauma, trauma makes social interaction more difficult.

      >For a very long time, I really did think that there was something wrong with me, and that this was just my fate in life. But then I left moved out and made a conscious effort to learn how to relate to people, started exercising, got a good job, etc.

      Now you’re making the mistake most people tend to make. Almost everyone already knows what you’re supposed to do to get your shit together. I knew it too back when I was a NEET. You’re skipping over the hard question: Where did you gain the mental fortitude to go exercising, get a good job and learn how to relate to other people? Most people in a situation like yours would probably end up like NEETs. How come you didn’t? That’s the interesting part. The NEETs already know this is what you’re supposed to do, but they don’t have the energy and mental fortitude for it.

      If you’ve been abused, neglected, betrayed and exploited by almost everyone you ever had the misfortune of interacting with, then you won’t find that energy within yourself unless you’re unusually resilient through a miracle of nature or figure out a trick most people don’t know about.

      >I think pathologizing social awkwardness is doing a disservice to people like me, who could improve their lives dramatically by taking responsibility for their awkwardness and working your way out of it.

      To emphasize my previous point: I’m genuinely glad it worked out for you, but we can’t extrapolate from one person.

      • >You’re skipping over the hard question: Where did you gain the mental fortitude to go exercising, get a good job and learn how to relate to other people? Most people in a situation like yours would probably end up like NEETs. How come you didn’t? That’s the interesting part.

        Well, there’s a large random element at play here. Many people have a much worse situation, and far fewer resources, than I and still have the fortitude to struggle out on their own. Some people have relatively minor trauma/struggles and it destroys them forever. It’s cliché, but personally I found that Jordan Peterson and some of the writers he recommended were what tipped me over the edge, though of course there were several other factors as well. And psychedelics could be that kind of tipping point, or a powerful (not drug-induced) aesthetic experiences, or a very loving friend/relative. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the phenomenon you are tapping into is much broader than “high functioning autism causes depression, psychedelics fix depression,” though this is certainly a significant subset, and certainly one you have the most authority to speak on if that’s what you feel your experience in life has been.

        Just my thoughts, not a criticism. I really really enjoy your blog.

      • BTW: really interested in the idea of treating depression/social anxiety/autism with psychedelic drugs; it’s probably not an end-all-be-all but an efficient partial solution that’s faster than waiting around for the inspiration and energy to finally move yourself out of a local minima

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*