Piggybacking on yesterday’s post, I’d like to talk about a related neologism called Caetextia. Caetextia(a portmanteau from the Latin caecus(blindness) and contextia(context)) refers to a functional conceptual “blindness” that people with Autism express wherein the mind is unable to adapt and adjust behaviours or perception to deal appropriately with changing variables in situations. It may manifest as rigid thinking, concrete thinking and literal thinking.
The term was coined by Drs. John Griffin and Ivan Tyrell, two psychologists who study Autism, in an attempt to develop a theory on how Autism happens in the brain. There are many theories that have been developed to attempt to explain Autism, and while I do not believe there is one overarching theory that explains Autism, I do believe that Caetextia could be a PART of how Autism happens in the brain. It is plausible that caetextia in autism arises from an inability to process information in several channels at once(being monotropic as opposed to polytropic). This would explain my example from yesterday of not realising that people had moved from one location to another. It may also explain what NTs understand as a lack of theory of mind, when it may be an issue of rigid understanding of context and singular channels of information processing.
Several examples exist within my own life. One particular example I can think of comes from a year ago when I went to visit my husband at his work. I managed to find the location but upon reaching his office I was shocked to find the door closed. I had visited many times but the door was never closed. I was entirely thrown off. This was a new context that I had no idea how to adapt to. I was frozen on the spot and unable to walk up and knock on the door, or even more horrendously, open it of my own accord. I did not know what to do. I had learned over time not to just walk in through a closed door. I did not want to disturb anyone inside and the possibility that my husband was even IN there did not occur to me. I texted him instead, looking for confirmation that I was indeed allowed to enter the room.
Another example comes from the origin website itself:
“Sarah, a woman with Asperger’s syndrome, was asked by a friend what she thought of an expensive fancy handbag the friend had just bought. Sarah didn’t like the bag and was completely nonplussed as to how to respond. She could see only two possibilities: to tell the truth, which was that she disliked it, or to say nothing. She was unable effortlessly to juggle in her mind conflicting perspectives (not liking the bag, liking the friend) and choose an appropriate one to communicate, on the basis of a wider knowledge of the possible consequences (upsetting or pleasing her friend). She was unable to see, for example, that an honest opinion is not always required in such circumstances; she could have pretended to like the bag, complimented her friend for buying it, or told her that it was a bargain. In fact, she said nothing at all, which totally perplexed and unsettled her friend. (This inability of people with Asperger’s syndrome to be tactful or diplomatic is often interpreted as frank honesty.)”
These are just a couple more examples piggybacking on yesterday’s when I spoke on rigid thinking and set shifting in adult autistics. I believe caetextia is an aspect of autism and that autistic individuals are likely to be caetextic in one or more areas of the brain and when facing varying contexts and experiences in real time in life.