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Dr-David-Banner

Intelligence

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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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EccentricChemist

I like your last sentence in this post where you said everyone needs to find their strengths, I've said in a simpler way that everyone needs to find their thing whatever that means to them, for me my thing is science, chemistry in particular.As for speed of information processing, when I'm around people I often lose my words, or say somthing awkward, only to "find" them later on usually after the interaction is over and i'm going over it in my head. It's really frustrating when this happens, but I think I'm pretty intelligent and do well on non timed iq tests, but score really badly on the timed ones. I think speed of processing is not as relevant to iq as is solving the problem.  I'm certainly not claiming to be any elite scientist, I really don't like calling myself a scientist sounds kind of arrogant to me. But I am a pretty good chemist, and feel very lucky to have found my thing.

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Sanctuary
7 hours ago, EccentricChemist said:

As for speed of information processing, when I'm around people I often lose my words, or say somthing awkward, only to "find" them later on usually after the interaction is over and i'm going over it in my head. It's really frustrating when this happens, but I think I'm pretty intelligent and do well on non timed iq tests, but score really badly on the timed ones. I think speed of processing is not as relevant to iq as is solving the problem.  

Your point about speed of processing is a very good one and where many autistic people struggle. They may have the skills (academic or practical) but struggle when asked to act quickly, especially if it involves "improvising" rather than using an established procedure. Time limits by themselves may not be the problem - the demand for speed or very quick responses is more of an issue. When I was in education I managed well with exams lasting hours but more recently have encountered tests just lasting a few minutes and found them far more difficult and think this may be true more widely for those with autism. In very short tests the tasks may be relatively simple but the short time span demands very quick thinking which creates its own demands. By contrast longer exams or assignments allow much more time for planning and organising and to really think through responses. The autistic mind tends to be attuned to nuance and variation and be uneasy with a demand for quick, simple answers.

More broadly it's important to recognise there are many different types of intelligence of which academic intelligence is only one (albeit a "privileged" one in our societies). Therefore it is quite possible for someone to be academically talented and have poor practical skills and vice versa. Even the division between "academic" and "practical" is simplistic as there are many different forms of academic and practical intelligence. A strong performer at Maths can struggle with Biology or History and vice versa while the person who is skilled at car mechanics struggles at decorating or cooking. Experience and anxiety also though play key roles and sometimes apparent lack of ability or intelligence is more related to lack of experience, lack of confidence and sometimes lack of support than actual lack of skills. This may be particularly true for those with autism who feel anxiety about doing new things - when they attempt these things lack of experience and anxiety may lead to poor performance which doesn't relate to their real potential.

As a final point there is also "social intelligence" and some use the term "emotional intelligence". Once again these may bear little relation to academic and practical intelligences. It is probably social and emotional intelligence where autistic individuals struggle the most although even in those cases lack of experience (or past negative experience) and anxiety may suggest skills are weaker than they are in reality. 

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Dr-David-Banner
17 hours ago, EccentricChemist said:

I like your last sentence in this post where you said everyone needs to find their strengths, I've said in a simpler way that everyone needs to find their thing whatever that means to them, for me my thing is science, chemistry in particular.As for speed of information processing, when I'm around people I often lose my words, or say somthing awkward, only to "find" them later on usually after the interaction is over and i'm going over it in my head. It's really frustrating when this happens, but I think I'm pretty intelligent and do well on non timed iq tests, but score really badly on the timed ones. I think speed of processing is not as relevant to iq as is solving the problem.  I'm certainly not claiming to be any elite scientist, I really don't like calling myself a scientist sounds kind of arrogant to me. But I am a pretty good chemist, and feel very lucky to have found my thing.

I think "scientist" is O.K. as a general term for someone who researches a science. For example, there were amateur radio enthusiasts who contributed to the field. Einstein likewise studied but worked as an accountant. So long as generally people aren't led to assume the scientists is being paid by a department. 

 

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Dr-David-Banner

One big problem I have is a lesser known autistic symptom of lack of systematization or short term purpose or concept of beginning and end. Also lack of will to do physical aspects of an interest. Due to all of the above I "read and analyse" far more than I physically work on projects. Due to this I tend to draw more diagrams and maths, because theory alone is a hard way to learn. Concentration has to be very intense. As Grigory Perelman stated, time is of no importance. To get depth you need to analyse slowly. Although I can't compare my own problems with Perelman's maths I find it works for me in as much as I do solve my maths problems each time. I will stare at the problem and play it over again and again. In the past I made the mistake of sharing a problem on forums but it inspired ridicule. I felt too people were unsettled by any question that threatened a basic understanding. So now I will struggle on my own. It's all so theoretical it becomes removed from practicality as many of my problems relate to more dated technology. I have a knack for applying myself to stuff that no longer interests the majority. I am aware though theory has limits. What I do resembles learning precisely a language but never speaking it. In fact I did once meet an autistic language sthdent who studied all day and night but never spoke his chosen language. Instead he just made tables and lists and memorized obscure words.

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Dr-David-Banner

It's very important to try and understand your thought processes and why everything is as it is. Doing this took a lot of pressure off me. It seems I've managed autism better lately by understanding my weaknesses and strengths. My biggest weaknesses are low physical motivation and a far greater drive to "just think". That means just a textbook and lots of coffee. There is never any short term objective or idea of planned activity. There is a distant longer term goal of just getting as good as I can get. All of it is vague and mentally based. Whereas normality is to base all your study efforts on organised, staged goals (exams) and a view to a job. Ironically though, this weird situation gives me clear advantages. Neurotypicals tend to be so collectively meshed they tend to gravitate towards the obvious. They seem lost without courses or tutorials or agendas planned by others. Therefore they miss a lot of detail and tend to pass by whatever never in fact lost any relativity. Being autistic isn't so bad if you get aware of the pros and the cons. If you can make efforts to improve on the negative traits there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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Dr-David-Banner

One huge factor here is "defective thinking" very common with autism, schizophrenia, O.C.D. and so on. This is when all your menta energy is burnt up with negative thoughts and anxiety or phobia. Not fitting into society is "hugely" stressful in itself. Someone with HFA can worry endlessly about being disliked. I had an autistic friend who was gifted at maths but later in life got bogged down by dysmorphia delusions (I suffer from this to a smaller degree and dislike cameras). For a huge number of autists the stresses of being different prevent application to some field. It's a real struggle. What I notice though is suspected autists like Perelman direct all their energy into their interest. They still suffer from isolation and frustration but choose to bury themselves in their work. Musicians may likewise just practise for hours. For me maybe the turning point came as I realised most people live an illusion and have a one dimensional view of the world. They idealise appearance but not substance. They tend to view everything here and now but rarely consider how limited we are in vision. I always figured science has the solution to every problem whether sickness, overpopulation, famine or equality. It seems though science no longer attracts people to hope and more countries are replacing sciences by religion. The mathematician Perelman was at one time living on just 200 dollars a month and much of his research was mostly voluntary. 

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Dr-David-Banner

Just a slight deviation. I located an essay by Stalin on linguistics and language. It sort of surprised me as the essay was quite academic and showed signs of a lot of research and thought. Much of it was based on Marxist philosophy so it would take me some time to try and analyse the arguments. Stalin was by no means autistic and today in Russia there's a deep divide over his legacy. What did strike me though was that Stalin by his writing seemed so much more intelligent than Donald Trump. To add to that the USSR led by Stalin defeated Nazi Germany at a cost of 25 million dead within the USSR. Prior to that was WW1 plus the Civil War. The mistake I see often is to judge historical figures by modern norms and standards. We forget in the 1930s and 1940s life was unpredictable with war, famine, revolution and even cities like London bombed by night. Last week I saw Roman Polanski's film The Pianist which was about the occupation of Poland and repression of Polish Jews. I'd no idea Polanski had witnessed this in childhood. The war was so bloody the scars today haven't healed. Poles, Ukranians and Baltic States still blame Russia due to Stalin's repressions, labour camps and exiles. I just found it odd to read Stalin's academic essay on linguistics and find he was so much more intellectual than Trump. Being a Night Owl too is a good sign and Stalin tended to, rise around noon. 

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Dr-David-Banner

Articles I am digging up from USSR autism research I consider to be very high quality. USSR research I think was ahead of modern Russia. Interestingly "all" my symptoms would likely have led to classification of "organic" autism which means supposed damage to part of the brain via pre-natal infection, either of mother or foetus. Symptoms of organic autism are: Dominant linguistic intelligence with pronounced delay in mathematical, time-spatial capacity. More pronounced motor impairment and physical clumsiness. Definite learning issues at school due to attention difficulties. Prosopagnosia. Very acute lack of emotion and empathy. Complex speech patterns as in long-winded and formal. Usually "special interests" tend to be very non-practical. Above all I was fascinated by the description of low physical motivation to start and finish some task. As well as the kind of drift in thinking processes where focus shifts from subject to subject. All of this describes me perfectly. However, this is only one grouping. Those believed to be autistic without biological cause or birth infection (measles, fever) differ somewhat. School education tends to be excellent in some areas including maths. Dyspraxia less evident. Interests more intellectual. I do not know if either my mother or myself had some infection during pregnancy. I did feel though so far as symptoms go the biological classification corresponded. Finally I would agree my linguistic intelligence was far higher than mathematical and logic. I was naturally good at language. However my maths is now quite strong due to some years of intense study but maths was forced. I used to get real blocks doing even simple maths. At school problems tests used to be traumatic. Such as if Molly has five pounds and spends fifty five pence of her money on liquorice and twenty pence on a toffee apple, how much change does she..have? At school somehow I just froze and switched off. Yet today I can create complex maths formulae to solve electronics inductance or phase exam questions. Without ever having a teacher. So I guess my maths was developed through intensive work.

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Dr-David-Banner

I am simply relieved to know kids in the USSR who showed identical symptoms to me were helped in special schools. One became a radio engineer just like me although such people worked in special faculties. It was clear kids who struggled with autism were addressed by specialists although the downside was there was this tendency to use medications. Somehow it was thought everybody should be normal and adjusted. 

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