I received an e-mail telling me about Hélène Nicolas, known as Babouillec, a 34 year old woman diagnosed with a severe autistic deficit and who never attended school. She has, in her own words, “never learned to read, write or speak”. She does not have access to speech, yet after twenty years of silence, she manages to write using cardboard letters on a blank page. Her books Rouge de soi and Algorithme éponyme are published by Payot et Rivages.
I have attempted a very imperfect translation of a brief text on her Facebook page Babouillec Sp.
…..”I am deeply touched to be intimately heard. Thank you for your very encouraging compliments. Through Julie Bertuccelli’s film a portrait of the author is highlighted. One can read my difficulties in resembling you between the lines, and especially my lack of desire to belong to this world of mental order.
To be born with supercharged neurons often means disconnecting from the connection of humans in boxes. It is also possible to be in a different connection phase as is my case. In this system of hyper connection, I write with cardboard letters and I hyper connect with the celestial roof, the antennas of the universe.
We are childish beings. We pretend to be connected to information invented by ourselves and we don’t know how to reproduce a living cell, our identity code.
I am happy to have remained trapped in the egg of conception where the apocalyptic resonance with the big picture is played out. Let us not get lost, because the invisible big bang inhabits our brains and our bodies. Let us remain attentive to the light of the beings clinging to the lantern of the world that swings between earth and sky”.
It might seem a little strange to our rationalist use of language and thought. I am much less deeply affected than this young lady, and I was educated in the traditional way. I had no problem of speech and I was reading and writing fairly fluently at 4, even before going to school. Still, I resonate with this “other intelligence” and experience as an alien to this materialist world of noise and deceit. She certainly has someone to help her with the technical aspects. The above text was taken from this page. Watching a documentary about her, she seems little more like an extremely retarded imbecile. On the contrary, her intelligence is intact, but her problem is communication as well as the usual sensory issues of autistic people.
Even by the slow and laborious method of placing cardboard letters onto a piece of paper, she has somehow learned to write and communicate. This is astounding. Perhaps in time, she could learn to type, since she does not have the ability to write by hand. It would enable her to express herself much more rapidly, but that would require very special teaching methods and her willingness to use a computer keyboard.
More importantly, she has a conception and experience of another world, another intelligence, as the distinguished Dr Laurent Mottron expressed it in his book L’autisme, une autre intelligence. Blind people can make excellent piano tuners because the acuity of their hearing compensates for their lack of sight. In the same way, when we have less ability to communicate with or “fit in” with the “normal” and “neurotypical” world, we have greater insight into other realities.
This person might not be formally religious, but clearly understands the notion of a higher form of life involving consciousness of oneself and what is universal and something like Plato’s World of Ideas to give a crude analogy. Her work of forming words in such a laborious fashion helps us either to understand the existence of another level of life, or even another dimension in our own beings – the γνῶσις of God.
This is just one more step in my own desire to formulate a “philosophy of autism” or philosophical understanding of this condition, not merely a medical or psychiatric analysis in view to finding a cure or special methods of education. Autism is precisely a problem of communication, of putting experience in words and conventional categories so that everyone can understand. This is where the paradox lies.