Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Bridge Concept

From the first time I sat down to write I never thought or claimed to have "the answers." My goal was always to explain the way the mind on the spectrum works and I've done this through analogies, metaphors, and my stories. It's been a while since I came up with a concept but during my 1,000 car drive on Sunday I got what could be one of my favorites.

Let's say you're driving on an interstate and up ahead, say, about five miles ahead is a bridge at the crest of a hill. Getting to that bridge is your destination and you drive with a obsessive focus never wavering on the sight of that bridge. You are so focused that the amazing canyons to your left are irrelevant. You are so focused that the winding stream with all sorts of animals drinking from it on your right isn't doesn't even cross your mind. And, you become so focused on your destination that you don't notice that the road is actually closed half-a-mile ahead because the only thing, the only thing that matters is that bridge that lies ahead and anything else just simply doesn't matter.

This is the way the mind with Asperger's may think. It's been a resounding story that I've heard this year and I was that way (okay, I still may be this way at times) when I was younger. The story I'm hearing most for parents is that their child is confused as to why they need to learn so much "irrelevant" stuff in school. "If one wants to be a computer programmer why must one learn history?" is one variation of what I've heard and that completely goes in line with driving towards that bridge with no regard for anything else because the only thing that matters is the destination.

The way this plays out in life can be positive but also it can be highly negative. I would say that this bridge/goal and Kansas (the main concept of my book) would often be close if not the same and since "if you were paralyzed in every state except Kansas, where would you want to live?" is true, that then means this concept of getting to the bridge is the only thing that matters. This can create an enormous drive to reach one's goal, but this too can mean that this drive will create a blindness to everything else. If a person only looks far into the distance one will miss the hurdles of today and be fully unprepared once and if they arrive at the destination.

I hope this has made sense. If you haven't lived life with having one goal and everything else is simply irrelevant I don't know if this driving metaphor can fully be understood. For most people the canyons, streams, and road outages of life are registered and dealt with. For us on the autism spectrum, however, we can become blind to everything except our goal. This sometimes may make us seem arrogant, aloof, or rude but for us we have no idea this is how we are coming across because we are just on our way to the bridge off in the distance. So you can tell me about that canyon, you can tell me about all the animals that were playing in that stream, and you can warn me about the hazards that lie between me and my goal but what does it matter? I'm on my way and the only thing that matters is that I reach the goal.

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