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Dr-David-Banner

Are Aspies Really "Thick"?

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Dr-David-Banner

Excuse the thread title - that's just me making an "attention grabber" with a bit of humour. However, I wanted to say that in psychology there's an assumption that runs thus: Those with Aspergers gather lots of information about their special interest but show no genuine understanding of the overall subject. To quote:
"They may also have difficulty thinking around problems and predicting what might happen next in subjects such as science.While they may often excel at memorising fact in a specific subject, people with Asperger syndrome find it hard to think in abstract ways. This can cause problems for children in school where they may have difficulty with certain subjects..."
It's taken me ages to figure out what causes this perception but now I can relate to it. I recently joined another electrical engineering forum - this time an American one. I got kicked off others I joined in the past as I stood out somehow. Anyway to get to the point: Yes, I do gather and gather information about my topic of interest. I also do this in a very disjointed fashion with no organised system - systems bore me. I've worked out actually the other forum members always tend to approach the same subject less theoretically. They build a lot more things than I do. They tend only to learn what they need. On the other hand, I will build less stuff and spend a lot of time visualising, using theory, maths, diagrams and graphs. There are occasions too where I've neglected basics and had to backtrack. However, I'm finding if you ask a complex question on these forums, people don't seem to know. If it's to do with, say, modulation indexes, there's either silence or irritation.
Thus, I've worked out my whole approach to learning is theoretical and will give you a simple example: Suppose two people decide to learn a language. Student A sets about learning to speak to others, actively communicating and learning only what is needed. Student B doesn't get actively involved but becomes engrossed by theory and structure of the language. In fact student B would make a good student of dead languages.
Conclusion: it's not the case student B is simply gathering information with no core understanding. It's more a case of a theoretical, isolated approach to the subject.

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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Asgardian

No, I get fed up with generalisations about people on the spectrum and this is yet another one. Actually, I get fed up with generalisations about anyone, on the spectrum or not.

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Ben
Quote

"They may also have difficulty thinking around problems and predicting what might happen next in subjects such as science.While they may often excel at memorising fact in a specific subject, people with Asperger syndrome find it hard to think in abstract ways. This can cause problems for children in school where they may have difficulty with certain subjects..."

Who said this? Mr Bean? 

Thinking around problems is a basis of what I do! Abstract thinking, again, what I'm pretty much paid to do... if I couldn't do either of those I wouldn't get very far. 

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Miss Chief

I don't know where you got that from, I would say the complete opposite is true, people on the spectrum tend to be logical, they are organised lateral thinkers (thinking outside the box, seeing the big picture) they have an analytical approach, all of this contributes to us often being more intelligent than those around us.

However, a lot of people on the spectrum also have learning disabilities (I assume you do based on posts you have made, the math one springs to mind where you said you had to approach it differently to how you were taught it... the very definition of a learning disability) and that can mean that they struggle to grasp theories during education and if they cannot find a way around it and this might give the perception that they are stupid when in fact it is just that they need to learn differently to others. People with learning disabilities are not stupid.

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Nesf
13 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

They may also have difficulty thinking around problems and predicting what might happen next in subjects such as science.While they may often excel at memorising fact in a specific subject, people with Asperger syndrome find it hard to think in abstract ways. This can cause problems for children in school where they may have difficulty with certain subjects..."

Yes, actually I did have difficulty with abstract thinking, and difficulty with certain subjects. However, the subjects I had difficulty with were not sciences, which are often based on a knowledge of facts and understanding of processes, but English lierature and algebra. I did well at subjects that require you to learn facts and understand processes and theories, and badly at those that needed a degree of interpretation and abstract thinking. Take poetry for example - I could learn poetry and quotes, when the teacher gave us notes on the correct interpretation of the notes, I did fine because I could just parrot what the teacher told me, but if I had to provide my own interpretation and understanding, that was a different matter. One skill which was required of us was to read and interpret an unseen poem, and I did really badly at this, I couldn't do it at all. I also couldn't organise my ideas into an eaay, couldn't write fast or think fast - it was a disaster. The best I could manage was a D. And yet, for physics, chemistry and biology I could get As no problem. Also, I had difficulty summarizing texts - I used to get caught up in the details and unable to prioritise which details were important and which weren't - for me, everything was relevant and important. So my essays just consisted of long lists of facts, with no summarizing and not organisation. Actually, I did well to get a D even.

Another thing I had difficulty with was algebra, again because that requires abstract thinking and problems can't be solved by memorizing facts. I was not able to work round the problems or improve at it. Yet, in geormetry, which relies on visual thinking and memorising formulae, I did well. So: loved geometry, hated algebra.

I was also very slow to finish tasks, the last to finish - I don't process quickly, and want to do things well and take my time over them, and won't move on until I know that they are perfect or correct. I was also easily distracted and likely to go off on a tangent. I also had social difficulties, meltdowns and other behavioural issues, or AS-related issues that were interpreted as behavioural issues. I was bottom of the class and the school decided that I was slow, and wanted to put me in the slow learners' class, or go to a special school, so basically yes, they thought I was 'thick', but I certainly am not thick, I just go at a different speed and process things in a different way.

I most certainly disagree with the idea that I might have no real understanding of a science subject I study. I really don't know where they get this from. If I only gathered facts and had no overall understanding of the subject, I would not be able to understand the concepts and probably wouldn't be interested in sciences, and would have done badly at science subjects at school. It makes no sense.

 

 

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Sanctuary

Many people with AS are high achievers and almost are all at least average in terms of academic ability so any general argument that they lack abstract or higher order thinking is misplaced. However I do think there is tendency for those with AS to be drawn to (and sometimes distracted by) details and a desire to be comprehensive in their knowledge of a subject. This can be an asset in terms of rigour as they can be very skilled in spotting patterns and anomalies. However it can sometimes mean losing sight of the bigger picture. I have tended often to get bogged down in the details of a topic and too exhaustive in dealing with it, losing sight of the need to be more selective and concise. I'm not skilled in terms of portraying ideas in an imaginative and accessible way. Overall I think it's more accurate to say that those with AS can have an excellent eye for detail but not always to adept at pulling it altogether or communicating it in an accessible way. However there is no shortage of sophisticated thinking on the spectrum - the problem is often in expressing it to others. 

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Primeape

Only question i have is how is that title humourous? :wacko:

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Dr-David-Banner
On ‎11‎/‎02‎/‎2018 at 3:20 AM, Miss Chief said:

I don't know where you got that from, I would say the complete opposite is true, people on the spectrum tend to be logical, they are organised lateral thinkers (thinking outside the box, seeing the big picture) they have an analytical approach, all of this contributes to us often being more intelligent than those around us.

However, a lot of people on the spectrum also have learning disabilities (I assume you do based on posts you have made, the math one springs to mind where you said you had to approach it differently to how you were taught it... the very definition of a learning disability) and that can mean that they struggle to grasp theories during education and if they cannot find a way around it and this might give the perception that they are stupid when in fact it is just that they need to learn differently to others. People with learning disabilities are not stupid.

"I don't know where you got that from, I would say the complete opposite is true, people on the spectrum tend to be logical, they are organised lateral thinkers (thinking outside the box, seeing the big picture) they have an analytical approach, all of this contributes to us often being more intelligent than those around us."

All very much open to debate. More than likely, Paul Cooijman knows more than most about Aspergers and intelligence. This is because he creates intelligence tests for all people, autistic or otherwise. Even then, to be honest, I doubt he'll ever accurately be able to test intelligence - there are too many aspects to it.
With Aspergers too, what I find over time is (worryingly) nobody seems to be able to agree on what the stereotype is. I heard the famous character Mr Spock in Star Trek was based upon the stereotype of Aspergers. They wanted to create for TV a purely logical and unemotional Vulcan who had bypassed emotion. In many ways, that does fit me as I believe I have Alexithymia (except this latter does not apply to animals where I can be very sentimental). 
Anyway, as to the thread itself, I feel pretty sure psychologists from the outset have misunderstood the way people like me gather information in ways that always seemed irrelevant. Mine is simply a more theoretical approach and less active or applied. I may also spend time on material that's very much by-passed by the majority as they feel they don't need such information for what they do. In fact it really angered people on websites and got me kicked off a few. Did you know, for example, an FM transmitter operates at one 4th of the power of an AM transmitter and how you can illustrate this mathematically with a calculator? People will say, why on earth do you need to know that but it's not information I don't understand. I do understand, but it's a curious desire to keep on absorbing facts without any particular order. Some may say this shows a lack of understanding of the overall subject but I'd say it's more a case of theoretical.

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Dr-David-Banner

I won't be online as much perhaps till I can sort out a new mobile phone. Mine got soaked in a downpour and is still not working. It did boot up this morning for a minute. I tried rice and am hoping it might come back in a few days. Right now I'm at a library and when it shuts in 5 minutes, I'll be without internet and phone till I don't know when. I may have to get a new phone in the end although sometimes they do come back to life after a few days.

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Sanctuary

Where I think the statement might have some limited validity (not the "thick" part though) is with those with AS whose intelligence is around average levels. They may have remarkable levels of factual knowledge but not be able - or not particularly interested - to develop it to higher levels. Most with AS are able to do this but a minority in a sense "don't live up to their promise". This might be as much to do with their broader circumstances or teaching as any real lack of deep intelligence. 

A related issue might be the small number of autistic savants. They may show extraordinary skills, most notably in calculation, music or art. Being able to calculate correctly and instantly two huge numbers or produce a picture of stunning accuracy are examples of such skills. However these savants often lack the really high level, creative skills in those areas. The mathematical savant may not be able to do higher level maths and the musical and artistic savants may not be able to compose their own works - at least not with any great skill. They may also be unable to explain their skills which seem to come instinctively. In this sense the savants don't live up to their initial promise. However most on the autistic spectrum are not savants and are very skilled in the areas they pursue although they may approach them in ways that strike others as unconventional.

PS I hope your phone gets back to working order David.

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