Thursday, November 26, 2015

Borrowing Praxis

This becomes relevant every now and again, when people decide to have a problem with people who need more significant or obvious communication supports. The stars have aligned & I can write about it at a time that it's relevant to the broader community.

One of the things Autistic people know that doesn't make it into the literature is that we have difficulty with movement. Not necessarily clumsiness (though that is common), but inertia. Stopping is hard. Starting is hard. Executive dysfunction to a rather extreme and annoying extent. So, we have people who need support for typing, some members of our community are very prompt dependent, et cetera.

But a lot of us need to borrow praxis or initiation. It's a Thing. On a fairly regular basis my roommate & I will be standing at the top of the stairs and one of us needs tea or coffee, the other needs food. So whoever is having more trouble getting started will ask if they can come down at the same time. Or we both are stuck & need to go at the same time to borrow, so to speak, the other person's intention to go down the stairs. Thus we both go to the kitchen.

Am I making her tea? Is she making my macaroni and cheese? An awful lot of the arguments against supported typing go with "well, the supporter is the author of the communication". Someone standing behind someone else, touching their shoulder, is hardly showing evidence of writing with the other person's hand, any more than my roommate is making my mac & cheese because her movement helped me initiate my movement to get to the kitchen. Or maybe I'm making her tea.

No wait, that's ridiculous.

I don't even think this is autistic-specific phenomenon, though we are more likely to have to borrow others' movement. There's all sorts of psychology literature on how people perform better and easier among liked peers. They may not actively need a trusted person around to communicate clearly, they may not require someone else's momentum to get down the stairs (I keep saying that because it's my actual existence), but all people benefit from others. Study groups are basically this exact same thing, on a cognitive level (until they turn into socializing with a pile of books present).

Being skeptical of supported typing requires being skeptical of a whole lot of movement and getting shit done that I do, that many of my friends do, that non Autistic people do, is the point here. Taking a kick start from other beings is a thing we all do. It isn't valid when able people do it, sort of valid when people with fewer support needs do it, and non valid when people with more intense support needs do it. It's the same thing regardless, & it's valid or it's not valid.

And if it's not valid, I've been making an awful lot of tea with someone else's hands.


Usethebrains Godgiveyou said...

Homework was very hard work for Ben,and he would spend 3 or 4 hours while other kids might spend one half hour. It might have been praxis, it might have been as it is referred to in some of his testing as his "processing speed" that qualified him for double time in writing, time and one half in Math when he attended college.

I think it affected his ability to keep his mind on his work. You did NOT want to send him to his room, it would never get done. What worked best was if I was sitting by him, not necessarily helping him... or in the kitchen next to the table cleaning up or cooking---he asked me to be by him when he worked. And as hard as homework was to him, I think typing for communication is much harder.

Anonymous said...

"Borrowing initiation" is such a good way of describing it. My partner and I get so much more done when we go in the kitchen together. Even if ey only stays for a little while, it's so much easier for me to start cooking with em there. Unfortunately, we also borrow inertia from each other sometimes. I get less done when ey is watching TV, even if I'm not actually interested in the TV show and could theoretically stop watching and do something else.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is my exact experience. I also need a close person when I go shopping in order to not get stuck while talking to people. Good thing I pay with my money, or else I wouldn't be the one buying.

I feel that sometimes, it is easier to "ground" myself than others are present and help me.

I guess it is all about people seeing a person who they think that can't think and their "obvious" thought is that it is not them.

I have this experience with people while I shop and go to the bank. If someone is present, and looks normal enough, my words are taken more seriously and people don't brush me off and ignore me. It is similar but different, because I can talk with my mouth, and if this "normal" looking and moving person agrees with me or just say nothing but they are "clearly" a thinking person, so my words must be as valid as theirs. Although sometimes, only if they repeat what I say, my words are heard.