TED Conversations

Christopher Davis

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The Intense World Theory and early intervention

In this TED talk, the speaker illustrates a graph where infants with autism seem to be born with a higher developed sense of eye connection than those without autism, and then dips down, whereas infants that are not eventual diagnosed with autism start lower but stay relatively stable.
The Intense World theory is a theory by Makram and Makram that pursues the idea that instead of the idea that people who are autistic were born with an undeveloped sense of empathy and connection towards other people, it is actually the opposite, and that over-sensitiviy has caused people with autism to have natural aversions to other people over time because it causes too much emotional distress.
What do you all think of this theory? The data shown in the TED presentation seems to be consistent with what the theory proposes. What kind of implications would this discovery have on this concept of early intervention?

Topics: autism
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    Jul 1 2012: Empathy

    [5]Another basic flaw in how autism is being described and tested has to do with the concept of empathy. This concept is viewed from the perspective of the neurotypical way of being, with all of its neurotypical centric applications.
    When we let go of neurotypical centric and any other kind of centric view the result would be the following: The range of being an individual can communicate with also entails a range of being with which this individual can empathize with. This range is usually limited to what the individual trying to understand how another might feel, would feel himself in the situation the other is in. This of course has the basic flaw that the variation of ways to experience a situation is much larger than the range of feelings any single individual will experience within that situation.
    The solution is to try to understand the way the other individual?s way of being works, and to do this in the terms the other uses, letting go of all your own experiences for that situation.
    For the neurotypical way of being this is almost impossible. The neurotypical way of being starts out with how it itself would feel in any situation and then ascribe those feelings to others. This works for all other neurotypical individuals and this is a successful strategy in those situations. However, this strategy utterly fails when trying to empathize with someone outside the neurotypical range, for example an autistic person.

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