This sign is a combination of the sign for "involved" and the "self" location
near the body. Which could loosely infer the idea of "self-involved,"
"self-absorbed," or "in your own world."
In a message dated 2/11/2011 3:23:55
P.M. Pacific Standard Time, Sarah Leathers writes:
Hi! My name is Sarah Leathers, and I teach 6th grade at the Jean Massieu School
of the Deaf in Salt Lake City...
I was reading some of the dialogue about the sign for “autism.” Colleagues at my
school use a sign that looks just like “include” (similar to the sign on your
website for “involved”) but the non-dominant hand is near your chest—as if you
were signing “included into me” but your dominant hand starts with the palm
facing up—not down.
Hope that makes sense. J
6th Grade Teacher
sarahl (at) usdb.org
In a message dated 1/21/2011 6:56:22 A.M. Pacific Standard Time, a web user from
Hello Bill. I do therapy with children with Autism, 2 of whom are Deaf, with
Deaf family members. The sign most accepted by the autistic community is
actually one that closer to "internalize" with left hand a closed C shape and
the right hand and open 5 then to a closed 5 inside the left hand in front of
the chest. Does that make sense?
(Please refrain from using my name for privacy reasons related to work) Thank
you!! Sent from my Sprint BlackBerry®.
In a message dated 12/25/2010 4:56:22
P.M. Pacific Standard Time, a student writes:
"I read [elsewhere, not at this site,] about the AUTISTIC sign [being made] with [a] claw-hand
showing [a] turning bicycle wheel in front of [the] signer's face. I also read
the (apocryphal?) story of the group of Deaf who met an Autistic boy engrossed
in a spinning bicycle wheel and created this sign. I have seen this sign (or a
modern mutation?)* used, but it is hard for me to pick-up in real-time ! (Ha ha:
all signs are hard for me to pick-up in real time, that's why I love the
still-images at ASLU.)
I'm also wondering if you can do a poll or know any other versions of AUTISTIC,
maybe something more 'PC'. (An endonym?) Also this sign strikes me as very
specifically about classic autism; I wonder about a sign that would be more
inclusive of highly verbal people, like myself, who Identify with Autism.
(Name on file)
I've seen several signs for "AUTISM."
For quite a few years I used an "A" handshape near the forehead that
Before that I used an interesting sign that placed an "A" onto an INDEX-finger
and moved both hands forward-and-down twice.
I've seen, but not used a version that means "MIND-NARROW."
My wife just wandered in and I asked her how she signs "autistic." She signed it
using the version that places an "A" onto an INDEX-finger and moves both hands
I showed her my (former) version and she replied, "That's stupid."
Me: Really!? [showing sign]
Her: Stupid! [emphasis]
[Note: Normally my wife is a very nice person. I think it has just been "one of
those days" for her. Or perhaps she was just being very silly or blunt with me
since I'm her hubby. I reckon if anyone else asked her she would be more polite.
Then again, someday she might read this and whack me upside the head.]
Update: I just asked an older friend of mine how she would sign
"autistic." She is Deaf of Deaf, married to Deaf, with Deaf children
(etc.). Grandmotherly type. At first nothing came to mind. Then
after she thought for a moment, she came up with the "A-hand near the head"
version of the sign AUTISTIC. I showed her the "A-hand on INDEX-finger"
version and she didn't seem too enthused. Her husband who happened to be
nearby (they are a very close couple) mentioned that he didn't care for the
"A-hand on INDEX-finger" because it would be easily confused with the sign
"FOOL-people-repeatedly." (Heh.) I showed them the "claw-hand moving in a
bicycle pattern near the head" version and they didn't like that at all.
I have a coworker who has an autistic sister. Next time I see either of them
(the coworker or the sister) I'll ask how their family signs "autistic."
-- Dr. Bill
AUTISM / autistic - (initialized version)
I don't recommend this version any more for general use. But it is still very
common and worth knowing.
AUTISM / autistic - (regional version, not showing up much any more)
Makes sure to do a double movement and move both hands forward and down together
at the same time so as to distinguish this sign from "to-FOOL."
AUTISM / autistic - (conceptual version)
I actually like this version (below), but just because I like it doesn't mean it
is being used widely. I recommend you stick with the "INVOLVED-self"
Note: The beginning handshape really isn't an issue on this sign. In the example
here, I'm using a flat hand because the beginning handshape is "anticipating"
the ending handshape.
This version could also mean "narrow minded" if you used a negative facial
expression with it.
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