Human book launch


My book was launched on 30 April 2016. The people who attended heard me give a talk on “What does it mean to be human?”. Then the book was formally launched by Dr Winnie Lau, she described described six aspects a person will observe as they read the book:

  1. Knowledge and scientific information on the Autism Spectrum.
  2. Journey of an adult within the Autism Spectrum, pre-, during, and post-diagnosis.
  3. A peek into a human soul.
  4. A life of paradoxes.
  5. An honest reflection on humanity.
  6. A love story.

Winnie’s use of six points referenced an idea from the book: the “Cube of Abilities”. It is used in the book to describe autism, and is reproduced below.

Now, about the cube. A cube is a six sided, square faced object. Having voiced previously my dislike of the “triad of impairments” phrase, I will offer an alternative – the “cube of ability”. The alternative defines six ability categories, which can then be mapped on each face of the cube:

  • Imagination:
    • can be highly creative and original,
    • routine oriented,
    • literal interpretation of communication,
    • difficulties in taking on other perspectives.
  • Relationships:
    • loyal,
    • unique ways of showing emotion not understood by others,
    • desires friendship but has difficulty sustaining them.
  • Communication:
    • truthful and tactless,
    • delayed language,
    • may fail to understand the full message in person-to-person talk,
    • accurate language,
    • little desire in conducting meaningless talk.
  • Physical:
    • hypo or hyper sensitive to sensory input,
    • clumsy,
    • stomach/bowel problems,
    • self-awareness and calming assisted by repetitive movements,
    • epilepsy,
    • increased congenital minor physical anomalies.
  • Talents:
    • deep interests,
    • intense focus,
    • recognising patterns,
    • systemising the world.
  • Unique thinking:
    • detail oriented,
    • uneven intelligence profile,
    • high risk for intellectual disability,
    • higher fluid intelligence,
    • great long term, poor short term memory.

That list is already unwieldy and it is in no way exhaustive! There could be many abilities listed under each category, I have listed a few to illustrate the idea. The Rubik’s Cube was a great puzzle from the eighties so good it is still available in toy shops today. It is a mechanical device dividing each face of a cube into nine coloured squares and allows those small coloured areas to move around. A mixed up Rubik’s Cube will have many colours displayed together on one cube face. The challenge of the puzzle is to return it to full colour faces – I loved the puzzle when I was in the last years of primary school. To better understand autism, imagine the “cube of ability” with the abilities of the same type lined up on six sides. Now, mix them up so it is like an unsolved Rubik’s cube!

A cube is a three dimensional object. So, if it is mixed up a certain way, you could rotate the “cube of ability” a certain way and you would mostly see autistic strengths. Turn it another way and autistic weaknesses are in the majority.

This is how it is for me. In public life it is probably easy for you to look at me and see stronger abilities within a total package including quirks and an introverted style. That is because I am putting in a significant amount of energy to keep certain aspects of the metaphorical cube facing toward you. I am sure this is something to which everyone can relate. Just as you dress up to go out, you ensure the best you is on display in public. What is not the same for me, as for everyone else, is the aftermath of being in public.

Live with me and you will see the impact of the energy expenditure on me and what I need to be able to recover. This is despite my intentions to hide the impact even from the people with whom I live. If you stay with me, you will probably see other weaker abilities revealed as well. Guests have been unintentionally offended by my ways simply by staying in my house for a couple of days. Relaxing from the vigilance required outside the house has often resulted in misunderstandings or unexplained situations.**

** Quote taken from the book Human: Finding myself in the autism spectrum.

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