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Jacob Barnett is an American mathematician and child prodigy. At 8 years old, Jacob began sneaking into the back of college lectures at IUPUI. After being diagnosed with autism since the age of two and placed in his school's special ed. program, Jacob's teachers and doctors were astonished to learn he was able to teach calculus to college students.
Jacob is a perfect example of how Autism is wrongly defined by society. Jacob is definitely on the spectrum, but he also has the ability to solve mathematical equations at a moments notice. This directly correlates with Chris, as they both struggle with certain social queues and specific social conventions, but they both have an incredibly strong affinity for Maths and complex problems with a definite result.
“People are so afraid of variety that they try to fit everything into a tiny little box with a specific label,”
Rosie is a 16-year-old student that has a severe form of autism, who struggles immensely to distinguish the real world from an imaginary one.
She explains that she'll be in class, finding it dull and boring, and due to her imaginary world becoming seemingly real, she will begin to express how she feels in the real world. This can vary from rocking forwards and back, feeling the urge to run, or screaming at what appears to be nothing.
She discusses how society attempts to make everyone the same, but still wants individuality and for people to be unique. She explains that her autism doesn't hinder her, but rather allows her to achieve more in life, such as creating documentaries, writing books and giving regular talks about her form of autism.
Rosie's autism is similar to Chris' form of it, as they both often have their minds wander at random points in time and are unable to differentiate between what is real and a problem and what is not real and cannot harm them.
Autism and addiction, two words rarely combined but a mixture that can lead to immense challenge. He discusses his early life and how he was always academically advanced, yet also socially lacking.
He explains that he switched to an online school in year 10 & 11, and he was happy to sit in front of his computer for up to 9 hours a day doing school work. This was fine, until he found out that doing this was not normal, unlike him, other teenagers were displeased with working for many hours a day. He goes on to talk about how he became addicted to drugs such as his anti-anxiety medication and other drugs that affected how he coped mentally. He eventually relised this and got assistance from the people around him. Dylan is now in a healthy state of mind and takes only the required medicine for himself, as well as doing things he wants to do, not just working for hours on end.
Dylan Dalilor is a student with Asperger's, whom also does research into how Asperger's affects people's empathetic capacity.
During his talk Dylan explains that there are 2 forms of empathy: Cognitive and Affective. "These forms of empathy are very different from one another", he explains. Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels and why, whereas Affective empathy is the ability to feel a specific emotion around you, such as when there is a room of people and you can feel that someone, or multiple people in there are angry at something.
He explains that people with Asperger's commonly miss affective empathy, causing them the inability to understand what everyone else is feeling and causes them to struggle at reciprocating and conveying emotions.
This directly links with Chris' form of Asperger's as he struggles greatly with understanding how other people are feeling as well as struggling to explain how he feels, causing great amounts of stress.
Krister Palo is a 15-year-old student at the International School of the Hague who just happens to have Asperger's syndrome. In his talk he explains how Asperger's has affected him through his school life. He also explains how the definition and stereotype of people with Asperger's is incorrect.
During his talk, Krister explains that during his school life he was mocked and teased. When he finally had the courage to tell the offender to stop, they did not. This lead him to become aggressive and threaten the other person with a javelin. After this incident he continued to use this style of threat and became more, and more aggressive towards other people. He eventually went to a doctor and was diagnosed with Asperger's. After this he found out that a common stereotype for people with Asperger's is that they are of lower skill in some areas but will thrive in one specific branch of life. As he did not have this occur, he proceeded to explain that this stereotype is not the normal for Asperger's, but rather the most common form of it causes people to be overly sensitive emotionally or under sensitive emotionally. He also explained that by pushing the idea that he (and others with Asperger's) should be geniuses in specific areas of life, sets up these people to fail. He explains it like this: If you give someone a seed to plant and grow and also place pressure on them while they're emotionally compromised, you in turn cause them to do the opposite of what they were told, and they will instead crush this seed.
Krister's form of Asperger's does not directly correlate with Chris', but he does explain that Asperger's will commonly affect a person emotionally, like Christopher is very clearly affected in the book.
Alix Generous is a young woman with a million and one ideas — she's done award-winning science, helped develop new technology and tells a darn good joke.
Although Alix has struggled through her early life and teens, she has managed to overcome her differences by pushing forwards and staying determined, through all manner of issues, ranging from being assaulted, being given poor medication that caused her many other medical issues, and also having an inability to reciprocate and convey emotions. Although Alix has struggled through these problems, she appears to be a highly capable person and seemingly more determined and comedic than a person with no disabilities. Alix has suffered due to her inability to handle emotions, and has struggled to find a job suitable for her. She attempted to get a job at a small Diner known a Waffle House, but had no such luck, as she was unable to pass her interview due to her emotional flaws.
This correlates to Christopher, as he too has trouble reciprocating and conveying emotions, as well as having a strong affinity for a specific area of life, which for Chris is Maths. Chris also shares Alix's inability to handle emotions causing him to struggle in a similar way as her, as they were both unable to express themselves normally and have had to resort to other means, such as Alix's comedic talent and Chris' writing skills.
This short poem about the mindset from people about autism, reflects on the concept that almost everyone has a defined opinion about how autism affects people, until they actually meet someone with autism and begin to realise that what they once believed was false and that they needed a first hand experience of what autism does, to alter their perception of how it truly works.
This poem directly correlates with the idea that people with autism still have a sense of belonging and that not everyone sees, hears, and feels how they do, so how could anyone else understand what they're going through? This poem also shows how autism doesn't explicitly affect the communicative region of a person's brain, but it will rather affect different aspects of people and nobody has the exact same form of autism.