In Her Own Language

I thought this story and video would be enlightening for those who have an interest in how we, and others, respond to/communicate with existence.

The video opens with a woman facing away from the camera, rocking back and forth, flapping her hands awkwardly, and emitting an eerie hum. She then performs strange repetitive behaviours: slapping a piece of paper against a window, running a hand lengthwise over a computer keyboard, twisting the knob of a drawer. She bats a necklace with her hand and nuzzles her face against the pages of a book.

Then “A Translation” appear on a black screen, and for the next five minutes, 27-year-old Amanda Baggs — who is autistic and doesn’t speak — describes in vivid and articulate terms what’s going on inside her head as she carries out these seemingly bizarre actions. In a synthesized voice generated by a software application, she explains that touching, tasting, and smelling allow her to have a “constant conversation” with her surroundings. These forms of non-verbal stimuli constitute her “native language,” Baggs explains, and are no better or worse than spoken language. Yet her failure to speak is seen as a deficit, she says, while other people’s failure to learn her language is seen as natural and acceptable.

Thanks to Wired for the article, and to the kind chap who passed on the link.

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4 thoughts on “In Her Own Language”

  1. This woman’s perspective rings compassionate and true. To be brightly aware outside of social convention and conditioning is obviously neither a blessing nor need it be a curse, if we only consider how we all(differently) use out senses to be in touch with our surroundings. In the past I often thought of autistic folks as being somehow trapped inside themselves. And perhaps many feel that way, like any of us. But after meditating and training for awhile, it’s a little clearer to me that the Bright Mind manifests in all beings. And that includes the little dog on the coach (beside me).

  2. I think I would be scared if I met this woman without hearing her explanation, but at the same time I can sort of understand where she’s coming from and would probably just let her get on with whatever she’s doing. So my initial reaction would be fear, and then curiosity. She probably gets this all the time and it must be very frustrating for her. Thanks for posting, it has given me a lot to think about.

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