Now before I go on with this blog post I need to put up a rather big disclaimer. I do not think Spock is on the spectrum and nor will this blog post be used to try to prove that. Also, please forgive me for any inaccuracies in my part of trying to describe Spock and the Star Trek universe, I rarely watched the series and these observations are based more on the recent movies. I do however believe there are some uncanny similarities between his logic driven through process and the thought process of someone on the spectrum. Now die hard Star Trek fans who understand some of the challenges of a person with Autism will instantly know what comparisons I’m going to make but to those who don’t understand, allow me to elaborate. In Star Trek, the character of Spock is half human and half Vulcan. Spock however develops based on his Vulcan heritage. His race suppresses all emotion in favor of logic. Logic drives their thoughts and their actions and how they approach situations. Spock is no different in this regard and his logic based approach to various challenges drive certain plot lines in the series as well as his interactions and relationships with the rest of the cast.
Spock’s logic driven thought process at times can prevent him from understanding human emotion and why humans act a certain way. He also struggles to understand why humans make the decisions they do and has trouble comprehending any decision or reaction that is driven by pure emotion. He serves as the outside perspective on the human condition and provides a “looking glass” into human behaviors. Watching the most recent Star Trek movie, I found myself quickly identifying with Spock and his inability to get people. His questioning of human actions and trying to answer those questions using pure logic reminded me of things about people I struggled to understand. At times I feel very robotic akin to Spock’s personality. A lot of my interactions with people I don’t know well are always the same and always involve me asking the same questions. What’s your name? Where are you from? What are your Hobbies? Sometimes a connection maybe made and in that moment all logic goes out the window as I loosen up and can have more free flowing conversations that are emotionally driven but until that happens, I come off as very robotic in my interactions. Spock is always very straight to the point and doesn’t take the scenic route with his explanations and statements. Spock is also very efficient at absorbing information about his surroundings and has a logic based approach for every problem around him. He’s very efficient in combat and knows what has to be done to solve a problem. As efficient as he is he just doesn’t get humans for example in Star Trek: Into the Darkness, he tries to stop a volcanic eruption at the cost of his own life and lack of acknowledgement for what his death would mean to his entire crew. Captain Kirk realizing that Spock is inches from death violates several protocols and orders in order to save Spock. Spock then spends the rest of the movie using logic to try to understand why Kirk would violate so many rules and orders to save him at the cost of being severely reprimanded. What should have amounted to an answer as simple as “Because he gives a shit and you’re dear to him” becomes a complex puzzle of the “why” that usually results in deviation from a simple truth which as a result makes the question harder to answer.
I am very logic driven and can solve a wide variety of problems. Logic helps me greatly with math, physics, and calculus. It helps me fix people’s computers and it helps me solve complex puzzles and allows me to deuce patterns in order to determine someone’s next course of action. This logic however prevents me from solving a lot of my own problems and prevents me from reaching very simple conclusions about my life. I friended a co-worker of mine on facebook over the summer and when the summer ended she deleted me. I used as much logic as I could to try to deduce what could have possibly happened for her to delete me. I went back through my statuses to see if I wrote anything offensive or if any of our interactions didn’t go the way they should have or if I said anything stupid even though I knew deep down I did everything I could to not make enemies. Even when I visited my summer internship a few months later she was the only person who was slightly cold towards me. Tried really hard to conjure up a logical explanation as to what could have happened but every answer was simply a deviation from the obvious yet simple truth, she just flat out didn’t like me and there was nothing more to it. I continued to use logic to try to figure out if there anything I could have done differently to to make things different and once again that logic prevented me from just simple accepting the fact that she just flat out didn’t like me and that I had to move on.
I just don’t get humans a lot of the time. I am constantly seeking the truth and am extremely engrossed with the “why” of the universe. I constantly try to understand why people do the things they do, why they steal, why they cheat, why they hurt others, why people don’t act on what they say. The answers usually amount to nothing more than “because they can” and yet I’m not satisfied with that answer. It’s too simple and lacks numbers, theories and complex reasoning. In Sci Fi movies every problem is explained with something long and complex but yet it makes sense. Math is explained with long and complex theories and rules that make sense. Why don’t human behaviors have such theories? Why isn’t there a complex mathematical formula to explain why women are so complicated or why I’m not in a relationship that goes beyond “you just haven’t found the right one”? Why isn’t there a complex equation that explains why I don’t have a job that goes beyond “You just haven’t found it yet” or “it’s not time for that to happen yet”? Being Catholic, I’m supposed to accept the fact that everything happens on God’s time with no actual explanation as to why or anything that explains it. I’ll ya, being Catholic and Autistic feels like as much of an oxymoron as being Catholic and a scientist at times because my mind is constantly trying to find numbers, patterns, equations, theories, and other forms of concise logic to try and explain my life and why things are they way they are and my feeble cranium isn’t always content with “because it is or isn’t God’s will”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike my religion, I just find it difficult at times to accept things in life based on something so simple as what we refer to as “God’s Word”. Something as complex as humans and the universe deserves a far more complex explanation. Guess that’s the logical me talking rambling on, my mind complicates things more than it should much like Spock complicates something as simple as why his crew mate/friend would put his rank and job on the line to save him. It like it when something as complicated as life has a logical explanation because it’s easier to accept when you know that there is a supporting reason or theory behind its complexity.
I have always been like this, every since a very young age I have questioned the very fabric of life. I have always questioned people and their personality. This overwhelming logic has prevented me from enjoying many childhood traditions. I ruined Santa for myself at a very young age. When I was seven, I was taken to a Christmas party at my former preschool and went to take a picture with “Santa”. This Santa was how I imagined him based on stories and children’s movies. He was middle aged, over weight and had a deep yet wisdom filled voice. He was everything I imagined Santa to be. The following year however this Santa happened to be way too energetic and lacked the age and wisdom of the previous Santa and I knew in that moment that something was very wrong. This clearly wasn’t the Santa from last year. Having a recall memory as efficient as mine further complicated this. Logic would later do it’s work in destroying the magic of Christmas. I went to a Haitian Christmas party and this time, Santa was Haitian. My mind was blown harder than a guy to took a shit ton of acid followed by a few caps of shrooms, several puffs of weed, and an entire keg of beer. I couldn’t believe it, Santa is supposed to be a jolly overweight white man, not some short and slightly fitter Haitian. In my feeble eight year old mind it all amounted to “but Santa isn’t black”. My mother wasn’t too happy when when I said in a not inside appropriate voice “But Santa isn’t black”. Logic further shattered the magic when I realized that we had no fire place and or chimney. “How the hell is Santa supposed to deliver gifts when we don’t have either? Santa doesn’t believe in the front door”. Later that year my brother caught my mother wrapping the gifts and in that moment I realized that there was no Santa. My overly logical mind shattered a holiday tradition faster than the Seattle Seahawks Football fans could shatter glass sculptures with just their screaming. I never could just enjoy the moment after that. My mind has always been consumed by the why because it has difficulty accepting things as is, especially when the “why” lacks a logical enough reason. Hopefully one day I won’t be as logic driven and learn to accept things at face value. I don’t know when one day will come and honestly, no equation or theory in the world can ever give me and exact time when I’ll stop being so logical, I just know that it’ll happen eventually. Stay classy people.
I teach a Catholic catechism class to autistic kids (my son, for one) I love the class. We explored the typology behind the Old Testament (puzzle) and linked it to Jesus. This year, we’re going to find the autistic elements of the Bible and how that corresponds to the faith. Granted, it is not the typical way I address the teaching of our faith, but it is a heck of a lot more fun this way!
There are some things that are quite literal about the Bible, but the Old Testament is not one of them. It is metaphorical, and when you discover the key, it makes perfect sense! If you want to know more, or if you would like to participate in my dissertation study (I am examining how the Catholic Church can adapt and assimilate the autistic culture into itself) I would love to hear from you. My email is email@example.com Feel free to contact me and I’ll add you to the list.
Keep plugging away at this. Oh, and if you ever want to know the background story to Santa Claus (the real one) let me know. I even have a picture of the real Santa. It wasn’t too far off from the actual (minus the blue eyes and the reindeer.)