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Touring Styles Relating to people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), nerds, and mainstream tourists.

Posted: Dec 1, 2012 | 6:37 PM
by Jared Goldstein
Here is a lauded video about what it is like for a person on the Spectrum to have a sensory overload then a meltdown.

Giving tours of NYC to children and young adults with Autism and Aspergers seems paradoxical. 

New York City is known as the delirious city.  With myriad happenings, honkings, people jostling, density, conversations, smells, weather.  It seems like the last place someone with Autism and Aspergers should go, much less focus on a tour exploring this cacophony.

I have done it successfully, so far.  So far it probably involved luck, flexibility, empathy, getting into someone's head, and not making a big deal about a "disability," which I am trying to accept as a "differentability."

I am reading up to improve my technique. 

Two things I am working on is possibly dealing with a "meltdown," approaching one with a sense of quiet confidence, calmness and empathy.  I have not experienced a meltdown on tour.

Secondly, I love to use metaphors on tours, especially on foot where we have time to explore themes.  I probably need to be much more literal approaching people on the Autism Spectrum.  

This is a good skill to develop, since most tour-goers like this approach to touring anyway.

Paradoxically, nerdy tour-goers love the metaphorical-simile approach (with "like" or "as" comparisons), adjectives, as well as adverbs (comparisons and in depth descriptions). 

Mainstream tourists prefer a literal approach favoring nouns (people, places, and things). 

People on the Autism/Aspergers spectrum are very concrete-noun oriented, not abstract. 

Here is the paradox:  Many nerdy adults seem to be on the Aspergers spectrum, as long as the tour is based on a topic that they are very interested in.

Perhaps doing an in-depth tour of an area of interest which involves metaphors, similes, adjectives, and adverbs is fine with people with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), since such elements are heavily based around the nouns that they are hyper-focused on, like trains, martial arts, basketball facts and playing.  These are actual examples.

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