Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

Autistic education

on 2010 January 30

This paper summarizes my view of the education of autistic students.

On a recent trip to the library, I read a few dozen scholarly articles and teacher’s manuals related to autistic education. While all of the articles talked about measuring success, not one of them defined success. The unwritten purpose in that literature is to normalize students’ behavior, regardless of whether normalization benefits anyone. If this is how the world is handling autism, then to the extent that we are “successful”, we are breaking down, and spiritually asphyxiating the next generation. Autistic students need a whole different kind of education, as I will show below.

But first, what is school? I don’t accept the myth that schools exist to happily pass on the accumulated wisdom of the ages to serve the next generation. Schooling is compulsory; if it were so desirable, there would be no need to enforce it. Schools are a political battleground in which truth and priorities are contested (not by students) and students are exposed to the version of truth that serves the interests of those in power. Since power is diverse and incompletely centralized in our semi-democratic society, the battle is never won; school is an ongoing laboratory or microcosm that reflects its enclosing political divides. It forms the first rungs of the ladder of social competition, by setting academic, athletic and popularity standards, then constantly testing the contestants and sorting them into levels.

Thus, the modern school is a supremely non-autistic place in its very conception. The self-identification that arises from the results of the sorting process is contrary to the independent cognitive style characteristic of autistics. Autistics are predetermined to lose in a system whose basis is striving to converge on a commonly defined pinnacle of achievement. To make society a place where autistics have equal rights and dignity, our schools have to respect the way we relate to authority and submission, not just coerce us into the standard competitive model.

The purpose of autistic education should be to permit the students to excel in their own particular directions, rather than as measured by a common standard. Facilitating the development of each person’s unique greatness will build a society with adult autistics who contribute at our highest potential. The special role of autistics is to diverge, pull society in many directions, to be outliers, curanderas, shamans, and hermits. Only a few of those outliers will be “great” in the sense of widely recognized contributions, but all can work towards our own potential. Schooling designed for autistics should therefore honor our creative and independent nature, and help us be more fully autistic, rather than less. It should never try to make us imitate convergent people; that will only lead to empty shells of adults who are disabled and ineffective.

Regarding the argument between “accepting autistics as they are” (viewing it as a condition) and “trying to treat autism to make it go away” (viewing it as a disease): If you lean too far on one side, you are saying “whatever is fine”, and you are not helping the person grow and develop. If you lean too far on the other side, you are disrespecting the person, to whom autism is as integral as being left handed. Somewhere between the “whatever” and “warfare” attitudes is a healthier mix: Education and treatment has to both accept the person and challenge growth; without acceptance, there is no growth.

Highly developed people, whether autistic or otherwise, know themselves deeply. To know is to accept and love yourself. In a world where autistics are outnumbered by such a huge margin, an educational setting devoted specifically to autistics could be a great place to get that foundation of self acceptance. Otherwise, the tendency is just to teach children to mimic non-autistic behavior, which can work against self-acceptance.

The costs of “treating” autism can be large – journalists are throwing around numbers like $3 million in a lifetime. Education can mean the difference between a person who is just soaking up resources and one who is giving back. What we don’t want is to train people to be ineffective, passive recipients of expensive services.

Differences between NT and autistic learning

I will list what I have observed of differences between autistics and others in learning style and motivation. In this list, “A” abbreviates autistic students, while “NT” indicates neuro-typical, or what might be appropriate for general education. Admittedly, most of my “observation” is on myself and my daughter. In my attempt to tease out what is a general way of being for autistics, I may have only succeeded in identifying what is true for me. In general I’m more convinced about what I write about autistics. When I say a technique is suitable for NTs, I’m often making a guess based on its prevalence; perhaps education isn’t working well for anyone.

1. The role of schooling as a preparation for a career is (NT) training for jobs, or (A) developing interests into ways to contribute. In either case, the goal should be to prepare the person for work, and not be a burden on others to the extent possible. Autistic students might not be able to adapt and generalize skills to fit into a pre-existing job category, and so it will be more necessary to adapt the job to fit the autistic.

2. Motivation is (A) internal, or (NT) external. I don’t really believe that anyone’s motivation is totally external, but to prove that, I would have to argue against a large body of research that deals with motivation in schooling as a problem domain. People tend to dislike doing what they are forced to do, and particularly autistics, who can be much less steerable. NT children probably absorb motivation for school work from teachers excitement (even if feigned), while autistics might see the same situation more as a master/slave relationship. It has to be more about inspiration for us, and less about control. One might counter this viewpoint by saying the “real world” of jobs is about authority structures, so we need to get used to it. But autistics are not going to be able to work well in that real world anyway.

3. Behavior goals are (NT) to converge on successful behaviors, or (A) to not hurt people. The autistic behavior goals have to me more concrete and offer true freedom within a range of acceptable behavior, because the autistic child needs to be able to self-measure, and can only do that if the expectations are unambiguous and do not make reference to norms or “common sense”. Autistic students must be held to common standards of manners, and autism should never be an excuse for being a nuisance.

4. The subject matter is (NT) best determined by the public, or by authorities, or (A) best determined by special interests. In the pessimistic view of schools as instruments of social sorting, the subject matter is not that important anyway – any subject will do. For example, you could have students memorize the state capitols, and use that to distinguish winners and losers. While I don’t wish this sort of trivial education on any children, NT children are more directable and apt to take an interest in whatever is presented, or at least in achieving the tasks presented. Subject matter for autistics should be more driven by our interests, as they develop. We should let go of the idea of giving autistic students a well-rounded education in all subjects. Our rate of being able to learn varies so much by subject and stage in life, so it is less practical to standardize. Also, autistic students have fewer pre-conceived notions of what is correct, and less ability to absorb subject matter from others, and instead rely on the senses to draw scientific conclusions; in this way, sensory sensitivity suggests that autistics are more apt to believe our own experience more than the curriculum.

5. The development path is (A) through, or (NT) composed of elements. NT children appear more able to learn one thing, then learn the next, and so on in a series of distinct lessons, then compose those into a whole. Developing curricula is therefore the process of breaking down complex subjects into simple steps and then practicing each step separately. For autistic kids, the word “through” is the key word to understand the path of development. The child will need to go through the subject, or more deeply into the subject, as a whole. Even if the subject is a “perseveration” on video games, or some type of interest that is not viewed as educational, the best development path might be to get more into the games, rather than balance the games with other pursuits. Autistics may resent forced practice of elements that don’t obviously relate to our current motivating interest.

6. Relationships with students can be (NT) more conditional, or (A) more unconditional. Caring relationships are essential for everyone, but autistics might react differently than others. The kind of relationships that might propel some NT children forward are conditional: the love or alliance depends on the student’s success. Unconditional relationships might feel too weak for them, and not motivating because it doesn’t matter whether the student succeeds or not. That kind of conditional relationship might fall flat with autistic students, if they don’t associate performance with the relationship. Since relationships tend to be fewer with autistics, and more about permanent loyalty bonds, and less about alliances, it’s natural that the kind of relationships that benefit autistics’ education would be different.

7. The way success is displayed is (NT) convergent behavior, or (A) inspired or divergent behavior. Most people want their children to succeed according to established standards – that is, to conform. Conformity should not be taken in its most negative sense of mindless imitation, but as approaching established ideals of expertise. Successful NTs become recognized leaders through convergent behavior. Autistics are not as likely to understand those kinds of ideals, or be motivated or able to achieve them. For us, success is also possible but will be outside of any establishment, and may not be recognized or understood.

8. Evaluation of performance is most effective (NT) by tests, ranking against a norm, or (A) by portfolio, unambiguous skill level, or other literal non-normative measures. For students who are motivated by competition, it makes sense to evaluate against a norm, or standard of achievement. But for autistic students, evaluation does not need to be ranked at all. Since motivation is more internal for us, measures of success are not as strong motivators, and to the extent that they work, they could serve to derail progress towards our own divergent success path. However, evaluation can still be important, in the sense that society needs ways to ensure that people are qualified for jobs. These two types of evaluation might be the best fit for autistic students:

  • Quantitative, unambiguous and literal evaluation: For example, the ability to speak a foreign language can be expressed in levels from 0 to 5, where 4 is fluent and 5 as equal to native speakers. Several independent judges would rate a given speaker roughly the same, making the rating scale fairly unambiguous. The student might want to achieve level 4 in order to qualify for a certain job, and could get to that level by a variety of means. Notice that this type of evaluation does not depend on the amount of work done, the age of the student, attendance, or any other complicating factors, but only on the target skill.
  • Qualitative, truthful feedback: This would include feedback about creative work such as artwork, writing, or a lab experiment. I hesitate to call this “evaluation” at all since it does not involve an authority or any reference to value (good vs. bad). But it is still important to evaluate by truthful connection to the student and the product. The teacher as judge has to judge her own internal reaction to the student honestly, not just say “that’s nice”. If the teacher feels disgusted looking at a student’s work, she can say that. If the teacher feels nothing in particular, she can at least say “you drew hundreds of lines on this paper and it is crinkly”, or something that is factually true about it. The honesty of this type of evaluation maintains a relationship.

9. Reinforcement of success is most effective (NT) by common rewards, or (A) by unique rewards. The topic of reinforcement is related to motivation and evaluation. Autistics might not be interested in typical positive and negative reinforcements, or conditioning, as others. Smiley face stickers, letter grades, privileges, having mistakes pointed out, and other common rewards and punishments might not inspire someone who doesn’t have the built-in need or ability to conform to common markings of success. Unique rewards for autistics would be specific to each person. Here are some kinds of reinforcement that might be the most meaningful to autistics:

  • Natural consequences: This would include any result that is not imposed by the educator. Negative examples of educational consequences include being disqualified from a program or job, or not being included socially. The educator can let those happen by not preventing failure or success.
  • Truthful feedback: Autistics, and perhaps everyone, can be inspired by a relationship based in truth. As discussed above, truthful feedback is a form of evaluation. But it is also a form of reinforcement. For example, if I tell a student that her writing touched me, and that is the only thing I say about it (I ignore all the grammar errors), then she will want to make an impression on me again, because (1) relationships matter, and (2) that gives her more power. And she might develop the secondary motivation to correct the grammar and spelling, because those things are connected to what writing can do (the power), so it matters too. The trick is, it has to be true and not feigned for a desired effect.

10. Readiness for a program is (NT) based on age or experience, or (A) based on audition. With autistics, physical age or the amount of time spent on something tells almost nothing about our level of mastery. Also, autistics don’t define ourselves by age, and can more easily cooperate in mixed age groups. Therefore some kind of audition or readiness test can be used to determine if a person meets the minimum requirements for a program, particularly one that requires collaboration. By filtering out people (regardless of age) who cannot collaborate at the level needed, it keeps the program intact and does not permit one person’s immaturity to sabotage it. In NT groups, it is more widely expected that the less mature or disruptive members would be pressured to rise to the occasion and conform to the group norms, rather than being ejected; but this could be wildly unrealistic for autistic groups. Autistic learners may be very late in some areas, and learn very rapidly at unpredictable times, so there need not be any expectation for how long an autistic would remain at one educational level.

11. The mental framework is (A) discrete facts, organized in frameworks, or (NT) organic, or fuzzy information combined with meanings. The sense of knowing something can be quite different. When partial knowledge is present, NT students may be likely to over-report understanding while autistics may under-report understanding. When posessing only fragments of knowledge that lack a framework, autistics are less likely to be able to use or memorize the fragments.

12. Informational (non-fiction) texts used should be (A) mostly original authors, or (NT) mostly secondary work. Original texts permit the autistic to connect to the inspiration and mental framework of the original author, and get it in an unfiltered and intellectually sound way. It helps autistics to get the full depth of the subject matter “straight up” without any distractions. (The incompleteness of partial knowledge can feel distressing.) For NT students, original texts can be dry, and can be too much at once. NTs can benefit more from texts that are graduated and dressed up with added interest including pictures and links to current media, which help them find it relevant.

13. Balance is (NT) encouraged, or (A) not necessary. For example if you are “behind” in math, you might harder so you can be at the same level as everyone else. This is the conventional wisdom, but is less practical with autistics, who tend to be much more specialized by nature. It is more difficult to stimulate interest in unwanted subject matter with an autistic student.

Vision of an autistic school

What would the ideal autistic school be like? For the purpose of this paper, I am going to look only at the learning style and social style of the student, treating autism as a profile or type, rather than a problem.

I’m envisioning that a school for autistics might be a place where people do new, original research or engineering, or provide social services (something that counts, is not practice), and where there are few rules or external evaluations, no attempt to motivate, and no fixed curriculum. It would be an environment where inner directed learning is safe and possible, by having access to tools and materials, and having a moral mission that is for the greater good, to which people can plug in at whatever level they can. There would be no segregation by age, gender, or achievement level.

I believe there should be a balance between separation (all autistics together) and mainstreaming (being with typical students). Since life is unlikely to be spent exclusively with other autistics, it is important to be at ease in the general society and know how to be successful there. But it is also important to have an autistic base for a deeper level of acceptance than is possible in society at large, and to develop a culture. The students need to study the NT culture like a foreign culture, compare notes, and help each other navigate that culture. This is very like the way a group of Americans studying in Japan would want to spend some time together where they can be in familiar territory and share their experiences concerning Japanese culture.

A school day in an autistic school should have these elements:

1. Choice. Students are there because they want to be. This does not imply that students can come and go whenever or take commitments lightly. You make a choice to the program, and you follow through with its requirements. Younger students could benefit from some of the choices typical of college programs, such as a choice of how many classes to take at once.

2. Sensory-friendly environment. The noise level, lights, and other types of sensory extremes are kept down, so that sensitive people can be there without a lot of anxiety. There must be places to retreat to for privacy.

3. Schedule. There are blocks of study that are independent of each other. Each one is time-limited, may have its own audition, and represents a level of commitment that a student can reasonably make. All classes would be in these time blocks, and a student could take any number of these at once. This is very different than the typical system of having year-long classes and tracks, where students of the same age progress at the same rate through the same curriculum, enrolled in all the same subjects at all times.

4. Mix of activity. There is a mix of types of activity, including sensory down time, physically active, social, and mental.

5. Socializing and communication is learned in the process of doing other things and presenting work to each other, rather than as a separate skill.

6. Independent study is accepted as a standard way to meet educational goals.

7. Teaching methods are not a central point of concern. Forming relationships and being flexible about methods are more important.

The teacher’s job in autistic education would include:

  • Being honest.
  • Finding situations that count, such as actual research or service.
  • Providing a space for reflection and communication, where relationships can develop.
  • Providing resources: books, art media, technology, etc.
  • Lecturing, and providing information “straight up”.
  • Noticing when a student has exhausted all available materials and needs more (experts, materials, etc)
  • Noticing when a student is in an endless loop and is needing direction.
  • Asking students to present and defend their work, and provide their beliefs for their own and peers’ inspection.
  • Setting and enforcing clear standards of manners.

The school should support an extended “graduation”, where the student can remain in the educational community, while starting to work, and can even return to it if the first foray into the work world is not successful. Transition out of schooling years is often a very hard transition for autistic people, and getting a lot of support at that time can make for more success later on.

Appendix: cultural education

Eighteen years before I had any knowledge of autism as a term, I wrote a college paper on education and learning. Reading it now, I see that the paper was about autistic learning in particular, and I’ve done quite a bit of reflection on what I was thinking back then. I’m still considering which aspects of my undergraduate thinking were universal and which are peculiar to autism.

In it, I defined cultural knowledge as the area of knowledge between direct and predicate knowledge. Direct knowledge is from direct experience of events. Predicate knowledge is verbal knowledge lacking the subject “I”, such as facts and beliefs about things not experienced. Cultural knowledge is gained from direct experience but is also shared. Language is the most basic cultural knowledge, and cultural knowledge also extends to things like social roles, common sense and the meaning of socially constructed events.

Autism is partly defined by words being less dominant than normal, and by extension, culture. The autistic mind is less oriented around cultural knowledge. It may be more oriented around gaining direct (nonverbal) knowledge from perception.

I argued in the paper that education should intentionally strike at the level of deep faith, challenge beliefs, and should consist of shared experiences that form culture, rather than just consist of adding on facts. I was strongly immersed in the idea of evidence and perception as the source of knowledge.

Here are ten points that define “cultural education” from the paper. These points from the past hold clues for me on the development of an autistic culture.

1. Learning is motivated by inner drive rather than by external standards. “An individuated person’s deepest motivation is clear to herself. When this clarity is present, she has an inner voice that directs her outward life. When a person is called to act by her inner voice, the action becomes her vocation.” In terms of modern autism language, I would say that autistic education should be directed by a person’s special interests, and try to develop the special interest into a career.

2. A topic to pursue suggests itself based on past experiences, rather than being purely rational.

3. Learning is a structural change that incorporates new information, rather than an act of adding information to one’s memory. It seems that autistics can know a lot, but also forget things that are not structurally incorporated.

4. Learning is confronting the foreign – things you didn’t know were there to be known.

5. There is no teaching method. The teacher is a person; the method is not the teacher.

6. Cultural knowledge is learned by result, not by procedure. In other words, people learn what the need to at the very moment it is needed, for the internally motivated results. Abstracting transferable skills and trying to pass them to another person in a practice situation does not work. Autistics seem to be particularly resistant to forced practice.

7. Cultural education happens all at once, not in elements. The error in “elementary” school is in breaking up fields of knowledge into elements, each of which is useless in isolation. Autistics seem to resist being told to mimic and trust that the behavior will be useful at some unknown future time.

8. Learning is successful when you are mentally present where you are.

9. Education should expose internal paradoxes, which are embryonic changes in the mind, such as a simultaneous belief in opposites, which when exposed, challenge the individual to restructure the framework.

10. Learning requires a cycle of action and reflection. The effect a person produces on others lets her see into herself.

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8 responses to “Autistic education

  1. This is a wonderful paper.

    People who are wanting to establish or be part of an autistic school or educational system can definitely read this and take feedback.

    I especially like the teaching methods and the extended “graduation”. When you have these loyal alliances, it’s nicer to keep them than to break them (unless for a very good reason!).

    I too learn a lot from original works, whether based on my interests or not.

    TOEFL is very much based on the quantiative system, certainly learning and getting certificates.

    And what about excursions and scholarships?

  2. Paul TREHIN says:

    Thanks for this excellent paper Ian.

    I learned many important things while reading it. I share many of your ideas on this subject, something that gives me some problems in Parent Societies to Which I belong…

    I am a parent of a young autistic adult (38 years young)who has developped, throug time, an exceptional talent for drawing but far more than that. This lead me to develop an interest in the subjects of talents and autism. I have expressed my vision in several articles. Here is one that I think could be of interest to you.

    http://trehinp.dyndns.org/prehistautistic/a_different_view_of_autism.htm

    It covers only a small part of the education process. But it concerns primarily the subject of how to view autism as an asset rather than a disability, while recognising that there is s wide diversity of skills and competences as well as potentials.

    Feel free to contact me.

    Paul

  3. amanda says:

    I think the description of NT vs autistic people at times veers off into stereotyping people, such as the idea that NT success is about conformity which isn’t all true even if you mean the good kind of conformity.

    Also I don’t think that avoiding educating someone at all is the extreme form of letting someone be who they are. I view learning and growth as part of being who you are, so keeping a person from changing at all is an artificial situation that keeps them from being who they’d otherwise become.

  4. Bryn says:

    Ian, I absolutely adore this article. I’m an educator who plans to open her own school one day; a sort of alternative private school for kids with exceptionalities. I share many of your ideas about how education should be, but I think it’s true for all people… not just autistics. Actually, I’ve recently begun questioning the relevance of my plans for children with autism, so this was a particularly compelling and reaffirming read.

    Anyhow, I would love to discuss this further with you at some point, if you’re up for it!

  5. Lisa D says:

    I agree with most of this, but I think it’s very important to remember just how diverse autistic people are, and how different their educational requirements would be. That means that you would have to have an educational system that is, primarily, extremely flexible. Some people would need a lot of structure, need to know exactly what was expected of them. Some people have difficulty making choices. Some people need to be left alone to do their research; others prefer to be directed by a teacher.

    If there’s any one problem you need to solve to educate autistic people properly, it’s the problem of how to create a school system that will adjust itself to the student, rather than expecting the student to adjust to the school.

  6. While I largely agree with the issues raised in your article, I think its wrong to fixate on the autistic vs neuro-typical issue.

    Humanity as a species is as strong as it is because of diversity. Autism vs neuro-typical is just a single, stark example of this diversity. Even within a single group it is imposable to apply stereotypes, even within the neurotypical domain where conformity is common, there is still substantial diversity in thought patterns and methodology.

    I don’t believe that ‘autism’ as a stand alone condition actually exists, its just a social construct created to explain one corner of neurodiversity.

    Just like we have evolved physically, we have also evolved mentally. Every time people breed, the brain subtlety re-wires itself, creating diversity in our thought process.

    With regards to schools, it is absolutely no surprise to me that autistics frequently melt down in this environment, in fact they could have been designed specifically for this purpose. The following article documents my own opinions on the matter:

    http://achievingextraordinarysuccess.com/2011/04/14/designed-for-meltdown-schools-can-never-support-autistic-children/

    Basically autistics need more freedom of choice in how they go about there own education, forcing them to learn something which does not interest them or forcing them to do that which they cannot physically do (writing by hand in my own case), will only ever end badly.

    Autistics need a free environment in which to learn, which is supporting of there choices. It should offer encouragement to help people through the inevitable hard spots, but it should not force situations which are clearly not working.

  7. emmajoey says:

    Looks like you’re on much the same track as someone else out there.
    http://steve-yegge.blogspot.ca/2006/07/wizard-school.html

    Perhaps it’s best for us to just stay out of muggle society until we are fully ready to serve it. Then what we can do will be so advanced that it may be indestinquishable from magic. ;-)

  8. TheMinXxX says:

    Reblogged this on My Inner Minx and commented:
    I grew up not knowing why I was different. I only recently learned why I’m not built like other girls.

    I’m an AspieGirl. A Lost Girl. One of those girls born before 1980 who fell between the cracks.

    I’m a neuroAtypical.

    Kids today are growing up knowing why they’re different…and being told it’s wrong.

    There needs to be another way. A better way.

    I think that’s what Star First is trying to accomplish (see reblog).

    Do any of you remember an episode of Star Trek TNG (yes, I’ve a tendency to relate life to television and film, but much of my young adult life was very much influenced by Star Trek of one series or another) “Darmok”?

    It was about the race that communicated only via metaphor. I remember he kept saying to Captain Picard…

    “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”, then: “Temba, his arms wide”.

    Sometimes when I’m in social situations, that’s how I feel…like these people are saying these same phrases, but they hold no meaning for me.

    I used to think…it all seemed like a game to me. I assumed everyone else was better at playing than me. So, I learned to keep quiet.

    I thought everyone needed to learn scripts the way I did. But I’ve since learned scripts aren’t what everyone else uses to communicate. But that’s also likely why when I’m in a conversation I’ve not encountered before, often I’ll just stand their staring at the person or people, unsure what I’m supposed to say, cuz I don’t have a script memorized.

    Sometimes I forget scripts and get yelled at…like starting a conversation with small talk. Or going on tangents about my obsessions and collections and not letting other people talk. Or not recognizing social cues…and interjecting comments at the inappropriate time.

    But now I also understand why certain  colloquialisms don’t make sense to me.

    Like…why would anyone not eat their cake if they have it? Why do people say…you can’t have your cake and eat it too?

    That doesn’t make any sorta logical sense.

    Or why do people now say call “out” to work?

    You’re not calling “out” of work. There is no “out” of work to call. You’re calling “in” to work to say you’re sick..and will be “out”. That is the sequence of events which needs to be expressed.

    When I was little, we were watching Wizard of Oz. My mom’s friend Dotty called. My mom said…if it’s Dorothy, I’m not home.

    I answered the phone. Like I said, it was her friend “Dotty”. I said, my mom said if it’s Dorothy, she’s not home.

    Dotty hung up on me…and stopped being my mom’s friend.

    I didn’t understand what happened. I still don’t.

    But my dad still thinks it’s hilarious to tell people that goddamn story. And no one will explain to me why it’s funny.

    Everyone just shakes their head…like you’re all in on some big secret I’m incapable of comprehending.

    I learned a long time ago not to voice such things.

    But I digress.

    Another common Star Trek episode was about the Kobayashi Maru. It is a training exercise in the Star Trek universe. The test is a sorta Catch 22, meant to denote a no-win scenario designed to test a cadet’s character, but is referenced on the series when a solution is needed that involves redefining a problem, which appears (at least on the surface) to be a catch 22 situation.

    Captain James T. Kirk was the only cadet to ever have beaten the test, but he did so by cheating…and won an award for original thinking.

    And it’s situations like this which remind me as to why I like the concept of the Archetypal Trickster Hero or Heroine.

    There are the leaders: those in control. And the followers: those who submit to this control. Then there are those who prefer to choose another path.

    The Trickster is the kinda hero who finds another way, tending to maneuver outside what is conventionally considered either right or wrong. They do not acknowledge the rules or limitations set by society. They do not accept the concept there are only winners or losers. Right or wrong. Good or bad. Leader and followers. Dominant and subdued (i.e. submissive).

    So, if there are only two options available, then the trickster will devise a third. Because, to their way of thinking: there is always another course of action.

    I think people on the spectrum are the third option in this topsy-turvy world. I think when the options are limited, it will be an autistic who will always find another way.

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