T h e   C a v e   D w e l l e r s

Each one of us is in a cave--a cave of fear of social rebuke, that is.

Yes, each person on the autistic spectrum lives in a cave, metaphorically speaking.

Our caves are the only means of personal security that each one of us has.

If we try, as we do, to venture forth from our personalized caves, we risk more than the loss of security.

We risk never having a place to call "home", because that is what the cave is for each of us--a home.

From this cave, we can signal, as primitive humans did, in various ways, to others beyond the cave.

Some caves might be strikingly similar, whereas others are strikingly different.

Some caves are so tight, as far as an entrance, that once a person has entered the cave, there is virtually no way to exit the cave. The person is bound by his or her cave for a lifetime.

Others have very large and easily accessible entrances, and these people seem to be able to leave the cave at will, only to return as soon as there is any threat on their security.

Some caves are so full of echoes that when a person on the spectrum tries to say anything, all he or she hears is constant echoes which will never stop, and hence the person is in constant fear of uttering anything, less it become a permanent echo in the cave. Other caves are far more open with less chance of reverberations, but still some feedback nonetheless.

Each person's cave is a repertoire of his/her visual works, as was the case of the early cave dwellers, millenniums ago. The works are still there, but only the cave dweller can appreciate those works, as others who live beyond the cave treat the cave as a danger, and many refuse to enter, even if invited.

The caves are scattered over the landscape, with caves in most of the hillsides and areas of rough topography.

Each cave, though, is quite unique, and there are no caves identical to others, when it comes to layout, details, or repertoire of impressions. Some caves are easy to access, but others are very difficult, if not impossible to gain access to from the severe rock formations and potential for earthquakes in the regions.

Each autistic spectrum person speaks from inside his/her cave, and express himself in graphical means in cave, as well. What one autistic person says from inside one cave is the message from that one cave.

Unlike the general public, which does not live in caves, metaphorically speaking, the spectrum person's life is built in the cave, with moderate to very little contact with the world outside the cave.

The few who are able to contact the external world from their individual caves are treated in various ways, either as people worth exploring (as a study case), or people who are "disabled" in that they are not able to exit their caves for very long without having to rush back for personal security--based mostly on physical sensitivity issues that exist beyond the cave. In the cave, the echoes, if any, can be controlled, mostly by silence to constant "humming" or other repeated tone, but, beyond the cave, it's an uncontrollable world out there, with no means of exercising a control on the volume. Also, the light is far more controllable in the cave, as one can get away from the  glare of the sun a lot faster than in an open field.

However, once a person has been able to contact the world beyond his or her cave, a problem of identity becomes apparent. Is this person an example of the way that people who live in these caves think and feel about life in general? Can this person's outlook and descriptive forebodings be an indicator of how the others (especially those who dare not venture beyond their caves) see life and all its diversities?

So far, the anthropologists and other social scientists studying these cave dwellers have been trying to get a general outline of how these individuals live in these caves and according to the theories so far, the cave people are lacking in a special chromosome that permits others to absorb the physical sensations (sound, light, taste, smell, and touch) in all their intensity, and lacking this, these people are horrified at what, to others, is just an everyday event that is just taken for granted.

These cave dwellers, once developed in their individual ultra-sensitivity, will notice sounds, sights, and other details that most people could not hope to grasp. They become perseverated on the sound or light lest it be lost, as others around them seem indifferent to what they hear or see, and when the volume is increased, and they find that they have no control over the volume, they have but one choice--to escape to the cave.

The more they feel threatened for being in their caves, the more they dig deeper, especially in early years, and any attempt to show them life beyond the cave is met with fierce resistance.

However, a few that did escape to their personalized caves managed to become experts at areas of life that can only be seen or heard within the caves. The caves offered silence from the usual chit-chat of everyday living in society, and permitted the cave dweller to become a genius or expert in music, art, physics, poetry, or mathematics, to name a few fields that these cave dwellers have touched upon and made daring discoveries not found in everyday society.

The problem for those outside the caves is to differentiate, when applicable, between those who do need help in their living arrangements within the cave, and those who are not in need of help, and are capable of living independently. Some cave dwellers might have times for both--help and independent living, and to know when help is needed is very difficult, at present, to determine.

Some cave dwellers are sending out messages that say, in effect: "Leave me alone", whereas others are saying "I speak only to other cave dwellers, as they, alone, will understand me!". Still others will send out no message at all, and it is these cave dwellers, in all their silence, who present the problem of whether or not to give any form of assistance, whether needed or not. If a person does not say if he or she is hungry, how does one know whether to give food or not? Sometimes, the messages are very sublime, and only those who have studied the cave dweller for a long time can decipher the messages that he or she is sending...

There is no presumption of what each cave dweller is trying to say, or how he or she feels about any situation, or about life in general. Each cave dweller is unique, and what one cave dweller has to say is no indication (however supported) of how other cave dwellers feel about any issue. That person speaks for himself or herself only, and even if a lot of other cave dwellers who can express themselves show support, that does not mean that most of the other cave dwellers support that person's perspective. Many cave dwellers are so deep in their caves that there is no way of knowing how they feel about a particular perspective, and their deep methods of communication shed little light on their support or lack of support for any opinion or perspective.

As each cave dweller can only see life from his/her cave, and the caves can be so extreme in diversity, it is next to impossible to describe, in a general way, the life of a cave dweller. As more come forward, and more are discovered, each outline of life inside the cave becomes more unique, and each perspective a lot more different than the perspective given by any other cave dweller.

Whereas, one cave dweller might have needed more water in his her cave, which was high above the ground, the next cave dweller, whose cave was constantly inundated with water, was forever searching for a way to get away from water. The same could be said of shadows, precipices, cliffs, and skylights in the caves, as well as the presents of other predators or pests in the caves. Each cave presents its own problems and potential to cave dweller, and what is needed by one cave dweller is often the very item that the other cave dweller wants help in trying to eradicate.

So far, these cave dwellers have no geographical or time boundary; they have existed for centuries in all continents and defied any attempt to classify them by race or genealogical pattern. They might live close together, when cave topography permits, or one might live beyond the horizon of any other cave. The pattern of living of these cave dwellers is so diversified that it goes, to use an analogy, beyond the visible spectrum (as to the frequencies present in the visible spectrum of light), and we are still tapping into the invisible spectrum as we try to unearth how these cave dwellers have continued to permeate this planet since the dawn of time. As each cave dweller lives alone, the only way others have, for centuries, looked upon them, as being utterly selfish in their attitude, and that is why, today, they have been given the label of "autism", as the root of this English term literally refers to "selfishness". It is a cruel and degrading term, to say the least.... No wonder many of these cave dwellers have problems with self-esteem!                                                                            

Brian Henson©2004