1. Are you on the autistic spectrum?
I don't know. You've got me wondering again.
2. If not officially diagnosed, have you ever thought that it was likely that you might be on the autistic spectrum?
I did at one point suspect it enough to join an AS meetup group.
3. If either one or both of the previous questions apply to you, how would you describe your autism (or in the case of the second question, possible autism) in relation to your life? How would you describe your condition? How is your life affected by it, if at all? How do you perceive non-autists?
I have always know that I think differently from most people. I am rather slow at processing most things except for a select few things (the type of things that show up IQ tests like pattern recognition, categorization, math, etc.) I have a horrible time concentrating, so most things I do go at a snails pace. In the rare event that I can concentrate, I am incredibly focused and often amaze myself on how quickly I can finish tasks. Before I take a first step in almost anything I do, I need to know where it is going, what the point is, and how the particular thing fits into the big picture. This has gotten me into a lot of trouble both at work and school, since I have had drawn out arguments over the "pointlessness" of tasks both with my teachers and bosses. These days I am more quiet/diplomatic about it, but the "pointlessness" of things I don't understand yet is one of my most pervasive barriers to motivation.
4. This question is for everyone, whether on the spectrum or not: How many people with an autistic spectrum disorder do you personally know personally? How severe is it? If possible, what do you think the would be the MBTI type of the person?
I've met many. I have only had extended contact with two of them.
One is my little cousin who seems severely afflicted. He is almost 7 and doesn't speak coherently yet. He runs around and makes a lot of noise, and won't listen to anyone. His teeth are rotting due to lack of care. I would say some sort of E--P based on his activity level and his tendency to want to interact with everyone he meets (despite his interactions being incoherent). He is also always saying something. I think both his parents may be on the spectrum too...and I am a lot like those parents.
The other one is an adult and also seems severely afflicted. He speaks coherently, but is impossible to have a conversation with. The only responses that he seems to appreciate are "that's interesting" and "mmhmm" and head nodding. Giving your own view point, or even a "I had a similar experience" is met with "anyways..." and a continuation of his monologue (which can be quite interesting at points). However, he holds a steady job, can drive, and has friends who care for him.
5. If you are NOT on the autistic spectrum, how would you personally describe autism and how you perceive it?
I'll answer this one too, since I have experienced a lot of the "neurotypcial looking in" perspective also because I have met many who were severely afflicted compared to me (if I am at all).
I perceive it as strangeness in focus that happens at a fundamental level. Everyone filters what the external world gives them and produces a coherent consciousness of what is happening. I think, for autistic people (and everyone on the spectrum), the filtering difference makes it hard for them to map their subjective realities to those of others.
6. For everyone: What do you think is the cause of autism? Do you think that it is, in fact, a disorder, or rather a difference in brain structure? Do you think there should be a cure? What is your opinion of the neurodiversity movement?
I never like the label of disorder for anything. I think with the proper guidance autistic people can learn to cope well in the world. I think the use of the very logical and predictable world of computers and mathematics can greatly aid those who have the difference in perception. As "training wheels" of sorts.
The reason I say this is that math and CS teaches a precise way to communicate that greatly aids mapping different subjective realities to each other. It also teaches flexibility in "translating" those subjective realties between each other. In addition it improves general problems solving skills, and provides a way to deal with "hard boundaries" (things I cannot change).
Initial development is likely to be slow. I had a horrible time making quick decisions (still do). But I use the laws of probability, etc now to make decisions under uncertainty, and have gotten comfortable with the "anchor and adjust" way of doing things (no matter how flawed it seems).
As a kid (and often now, too), people would say that I never react to anything. But I learned to spot real and fake smiles by practicing on a website. I also learned to mimic expressions by practicing copying captures of people expressing things. I also practiced keeping track of NLP markers, and have now gotten somewhat decent at the "empathy game."
I taught myself to say, "I don't know" and "let me think about it" as a means of buying me time, since I get very stressed out when people ask me questions.
Unfortunately, their particular interest may not be in this area, but I think if their narrow interest can somehow be mapped to more general contexts, they will be better able to handle those contexts and eventually switch to more appropriate strategies in those contexts.
What I said above is a challenge to everyone, not just people on the autistic spectrum. Relating our own realities to those of others is a challenge that requires a great deal of effort.
I think the effort is greater for autistic individuals because they have far fewer "common points of reference" to start with.
9. If you are an autist, are there any relatives of yours that you suspect of being on the spectrum?
My mom and dad both have some of the tendencies (different ones), but I don't believe they would get an Asperger's diagnosis. My mom has a lot of the sensory overload like issues, while my dad has a lot of the perfectionism/rigid thinking issues. I inherited both.