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  1. Dr-David-Banner


    So as not to hijack other threads, I figured I'll start a new one with reference to what I was discussing with Sanctuary. Namely, speed of information processing as it's related by popular opinion to intelligence. Not only that, but I think we ought to think a lot more about intelligence as it relates to H.F.A. and A.S. The other night happened to watch a really great DVD film (starring Henry Winkler). It was a film I picked up for 25 pence at a charity shop and it was about air-traffic control and how demanding the job is. As I watched the movie, I really became aware of how hopeless I'd be in such a job and the carnage that would follow were I put in charge of the aircraft runway co-ordination network. There is no way I could think that fast and also I think the time/spatial factor that relates to our condition would render me useless in that job. The truth is, even in a job that doesn't demand anything like that level of skill, I spent most of my life being shown the door. I have a few friends who work in retail and I'm amazed by how easily they scan goods, swipe cards, deal with customers and handle the stress quite naturally. Recently one very good description I found of early childhood autism by Kagan was (it was noted) autistic infants somehow fail to respond to external stimulate (from mother or parents). It was noted that such children didn't react normally so we can assume they sort of contracted inwardly, refusing to make contact with the world. If this condition continues to manifest itself, the result will be obvious educational/formative problems. This is because the usual, communicative system of passing on information is "cut-off". I should add here that not all autistics experience this to the degree their whole school years are disrupted, although it's true to say "all" Hans Asperger's patients were un-teachable at school. Those elite scientists we have suspected of autism (such as Einstein) actually did far better at school that folklore has us believe. Most of these elite but cranky inventors and physicists may have had issues with certain subjects but (unlike Asperger's children), Einstein for example got good grades in subjects like French. To be honest, I haven't yet found a single elite scientist who was totally hopeless at school, with the exception of great musicians like John Lennon who was un-teachable and always fighting and clowning about. Here is what I see tends to happen: Actual high-functioning-autism will be hugely disruptive throughout school but I often hear of people who later in life discovered they could compensate by learning to process information differently. Some autists may remain hopeless at maths and sports but suddenly find they can learn to play piano or guitar in a fraction of the time it would take a "normal" person. This is especially the case with Schizophrenia. What Asperger wanted to do was to create special schools that would use very different teaching methods for autistic kids so they could develop their particular skills. The USSR did develop such schools but I always found the psychiatrists tended to always look down their noses at these children as sort of "limited" to always spotting trains or listing Latin names. Only Asperger concluded there was some connection between elite scientists' thought processes and the children he treated in the clinic. In some ways, to my mind the basis of the Asperger puzzle is kind of obvious. If you add together the negative traits such as physical dexterity, manual skills and co-ordination, motor clumsiness, it becomes clear people with this condition may be better geared for theoretical, abstract sciences. Activities that demand a lot of slow, deep thinking and obsessive levels of concentration. The negative perception of people on the spectrum by some former psychiatrists I think is rooted in the fact that vast amounts of knowledge also requires participation and experience to then be able to show some evidence of your ability. There is this old saying about elite physicists who can carry out complex calculations but can't fix a leaking tap or change a bulb. That doesn't mean, however, that philosophy and maths and theory is useless. I think it does mean it's a good idea to figure out what your strengths are and with many autists it has less to do with navigating aircrafts in a busy, hectic control centre.
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