Autistic people are cautious, physically and emotionally. Why trust strange people, things or places? There's nothing mysterious about this trait: it's very much tied in with having non-standard sensory perception. Autistic people like the stable, the predictable, the routine and this is because we have so much difficulty sorting out new people or situations.

Amanda, looking out from behind her kitten
David Golding is at a party and holding it together by gripping the table tightly. Picture: Amanda Golding

Amanda, left, is able to face the world (and the camera) by looking about from behind her kitten while David Golding, right, is at a birthday party and is just coping by gripping a table tightly which has the effect of giving him some stable sensory input to offset all the garble reaching him from the other kids.

Shaun is coping with an unexpected classroom visitor. Picture: Lindsay
Tim doesn't want to be anywhere near this wallaby.

Shaun, left, used to like Lindsay coming to his school. It meant that he'd chase him around the yard at break times and they'd both have a lot of fun. But he needed to know that Lindsay was coming. If nobody told him and he had to cope with an unexpected visitor, even Lindsay, then he found it very hard. Tim, right, is being made to confront a wallaby. "Come over here and look at the wallaby, Tim, it won't hurt you. You can even pat it if you like!" Oh dear. So well-meaning but missing the point entirely.

Brent is looking very dubious about what might await him next
Daniel and Esther are dressed up as clowns. Daniel is not happy at all.

Brent Conner, left, is looking pretty dubious about whatever it is that awaits him while Daniël Schenk is anything but happy about dressing up as a clown. Dressing up like that is an unusual event and it's associated with socialising, something he is not at all good at. I suspect he doesn't want to be.

Lindsay is reluctantly patting a dog. Picture: Mum
Daniel is perched stiffly on the edge of a fountain. Picture: Wouter Schenk.

Lindsay's aunt told him to pat this dog. He hated dogs. They were loud, smelled bad, felt awful and you never knew when they might bite. His aunt won but the price was that he never liked her after that. The picture on the right is a recent one of Daniël Schenk taken in Portugal where he was visiting. How could he relax? A strange country, a strange language, a strange climate and strange smells. Being out in public at all was pretty brave of him. It takes a special ability to shut ourselves off before we can handle other countries. Think about it: airports, planes, lines for immigration and customs, forms to complete, questions from officials which may be in another language, baggage claim, a taxi or car rental, accomodation, travel, etc etc etc. Even with full support from his family, Daniël would find the going tough at his age.

Hamish is very cautious about the camera. Picture: Lindsay
Jamie is wary about being photographed with Russell and Ban. Picture: Lindsay.

Hamish is being very cautious about Lindsay's new camera, which he hadn't seen before. Jamie was an autistic teenager Lindsay worked with a few years ago. He was a nice kid who had seen more trouble as a child than most people see in a lifetime. He was cautious about everything, including being photographed (on the left) with his houseparent Russell and housemate Ben, who is now 18 and has given permission for his picture to be used.

A picture of Jack being quiet, thoughtful and somewhat cautious. Picture: Lindsay

The other pictures of Jack on this website show him being loud and funny but for the most part Jack is quiet and very reserved. He can go into withdrawn moods which last for days. Lindsay managed to catch him in this mood a few years ago, rather cautious about being photographed "as he really is".

Klaus is carefully watching grasshoppers being placed in a jar. Picture: Lindsay

Klaus, right,is very carefully watching in fascination as his friend places grasshoppers into a jar.


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