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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2019-10-17 12:03:29

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2740

artistic << autistic

I just finished reading Asperger’s Children by the historian Edith Sheffer. A chilling account of the transformation of Vienna’s social welfare experiment into a Nazi program in the late 1930s. The mechanisms that were set up in one of the most advanced socialist states transitioned smoothly into a killing machine. Systems of diagnosis and cure became, almost overnight, systems of diagnosis and termination.

In the early days of formulating a medical meaing for autism, Joseph Michaels, a Boston psychiatrist, visited the Vienna experiments and wrote about it in The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Sheffer writes: “He [Michaels] described their [i.e., the staff of the Curative Education Clinic] concept of ‘artistic children.’ ... Michaels describes how ‘artistic children may require special personal guidance’ because they have difficulty joining the ‘group,’ as ‘frequenly their attention and feelings are elsewhere.’”

Coming from Boston, Michaels may have been non-rhotic. Which may have led him to assume the pronunciation of “autistic” that he was hearing in Austria was a way of expressing “artistic.”

One suspects that speaking about “autistic children” as “artistic children” is a common confusion. In this Time Magazine article on the autism pioneer Simon Baron-Cohen, the author notes that “Autism was so poorly known, Baron-Cohen has said, that when he told people about his work, they frequently misunderstood and thought he said he was teaching ‘artistic’ children.”

You can see some web artism<<autism mistakes by scanning for “has artism”. Examples here.

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2019-10-18 08:21:36

Peter Forster
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1070

Re: artistic << autistic

Ah, I’ve come across this many times but failed to spot it’s clearly eggcornish potential and the mass of knowing use and wordplay makes it difficult to tease out genuine contenders.

I also have many years experience of working with children with special educational needs, especially children on the artistic spectrum. My own son has Autism and Developmental Delay.

A further difficulty may be that there is, or may be, a genuine link between the two:

Lead author of the paper, Dr Penny Spikins from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, said: “Detail focus is what determines whether you can draw realistically; you need it in order to be a talented realistic artist. This trait is found very commonly in people with autism and rarely occurs in people without it. “We looked at the evidence from studies attempting to identify a link between artistic talent and drug use, and found that drugs can only serve to dis-inhibit individuals with a pre-existing ability. The idea that people with a high degree of detail focus, many of which may have had autism, set a trend for extreme realism in ice age art is a more convincing explanation.” The research adds to a growing body of evidence that people with autistic traits played an important role in human evolution.



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