CO-OPERATION & TURN-TAKING

People engaged in a co-operative activity are inherently equal in it. They are participants with a common interest, taking turns as the occasion arises to lead or be led. Conversation is in this sense a cooperative activity, and so are many computer games. In computer games unlike conversation, it is perfectly clearcut when it is one person or another's turn. It is also usually quite clear what each turn-taker is meant to do. For those reasons, people on the autistic spectrum may find turn-taking much easier in a computer game than they do in spoken discourse. When playing together at the computer, all the Mason children, including Sean (who is the least communicative of them) take their turn just as the world hopes they will.

Turn-taking is also clearcut on the Internet, which has the added advantage of not being time-pressured. It provides a forum in which people on the autistic spectrum from all over the world exchange news and views and provide each other with mutual support (and criticism). For example, Jypsy's page, and the On One Page site, cited above for its creativity and playfulness, are also models of mutuality and helpfulness. Autism Network International, initiated by Jim Sinclair and Donna Williams inter alia, and Independent living on the autistic spectrum, organised by Martijn Dekker, are two e-organisations by and for people on the spectrum. See also the One Community Pledge, signed by several individuals with autism: "I affirm that we on the autistic spectrum -- Kanners and Aspergers, high functioning and low functioning, rich and poor, those of us with additional disabilities and those without, all of us of whatever age, race, creed, sex, sexual preference, or any other subgrouping -- are one community."