May 9, 2002
Going through the backlog, found a few links with a common theme, of sense and mind related handicaps: was the oldest link, people who have the same double handicap that Helen Keller. You know, I think I can imagine what it would like to be deaf, and I think I can imagine what it would like to be blind (I think I could more readily cope with the former) but I'm not sure I can really wrap my mind around constructing a map of the world without sights and without sounds; it's an almost completely alien experience to me.

Then there's a more specific problem: prosopagnosia, or face-blindness. Some of us have trouble remember names and faces, but these people really mean it. It's written by a woman, Cecilia Burman, who is coping with the condition and writes about it fairly well. Her stones visual metaphor is interesting.

Finally, NPR recently had some coverage on Temple Grandin. This is a woman with autism who has done some amazing things. The NPR piece focused on the work she's done to make slaughterhouses less cruel (not quit the contradiction in terms that might seem.) On her page, she writes in great detail about her condition, fascinating stuff. An interesting tie-in is that she sees some of her nervous system's reaction to that of a wild animal, missing some of the layers that a "normal" child has. Years ago (when she was 18) realized that the "squeeze chute" used at ranches to calm cattle provide a physical stimulation that she craved, so she built her own for human use, and it's had a great calming effect for many autistic people. (Shown here is a chair version she made in collaboration with an artist.) Her work at working to remove the fear and panic from livestock's last hours is her way of paying back what she has learned from them.

(2020 Update: perhaps the spiritual successor and commercialization of the general idea are weighted blankets. pinged me to link to them)