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Re: THEORY: Asperger syndrome and hyperpolyglotism.

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  • Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
    ... We re everywhere! :P ... Not rude at all. I prefer people asking rather than assuming :) . First, there is a difference between *having* emotions, and
    Message 1 of 8 , Mar 9, 2013
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      On 9 March 2013 02:29, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...> wrote:

      > I knew I would find someone in this list!
      >
      >
      We're everywhere! :P


      > Excuse my ignorance, but I have heard the people with this syndrome
      > usually can hardly perceive or expresse irony, humour, etc., but you
      > seem to express yourself with a wide range of emotions in this list.
      > Is this information I got about Asperger syndrome wrong? How exactly
      > it affects you? (If it's not rude to ask.)
      >

      Not rude at all. I prefer people asking rather than assuming :) . First,
      there is a difference between *having* emotions, and being able to perceive
      or express them. Second, the prejudice that people with Asperger's syndrome
      are unable to perceive or express emotions is one that cannot die too soon.
      We're not robots!

      To simplify things a bit, what people with HFA (High-Functioning Autism, of
      which Asperger's syndrome seems to be a variety) lack is an innate "Theory
      of Mind", i.e. the ability to *automatically* put oneself into somebody
      else's shoes. It's something that appears in neurotypical children quite
      early (generally it's there by the age of 4 to 5), while children with HFA
      lag behind. Notice that I wrote *lag behind*. We do eventually develop a
      Theory of Mind (by the age of 8 to 10 people with HFA have usually reached
      a level similar to neurotypical people), and thus the ability to understand
      people's motives behind their behaviours. The difference is that it's not
      an innate one. It's not a reflex. Rather, it's our cortex, our high
      reasoning faculties, that compensate for that lack. This has various
      drawbacks:
      – It's a conscious effort. Keeping track of people's motivations through
      the few hints they usually give is quickly exhausting. That's why we
      perform better with fewer people around, and in formal situations, where
      the context is clear and known to everyone.
      – It's slow. Imagine someone without a pain reflex, i.e. someone who, when
      accidentally putting their hand on a hot surface, would have to consciously
      realise their skin is getting blistered to retract it. That's the
      difference between our learned Theory of Mind and the innate Theory of mind
      of a neurotypical person. This means that in live situations we sometimes
      have difficulties keeping track, and get overwhelmed easily. Asynchronous
      situations like e-mail conversations are actually beneficial to us: we have
      enough time to think things through.
      – It doesn't work perfectly. It's a set of rules we had to develop
      semi-consciously as we were growing up. Naturally during that time we
      haven't experienced all the possible situations we would encounter later in
      life. So in some new situations we can react in a way that seems
      inappropriate, whether because we're misapplying a rule we learned, or just
      because we have no idea how to react. Confusion is unfortunately a powerful
      emotion that often takes over everything.
      – It can shut down when we need our cognitive faculties for something else.
      Basically, we're constantly reserving part of our cortex's cognitive power
      to "read" people. When we're tired, or when we are busy with a difficult
      problem that requires all our reasoning faculties, that reserved part will
      be allocated to something else, which means we'll temporarily lose the
      ability to "get" others. This situation is rife for misunderstandings.
      – Because we didn't learn to understand and express emotions through innate
      osmosis but through semi-conscious self-training, some people with HFA
      develop an idiosyncratic way of expressing their emotions. It's not that we
      don't have them, it's just that the way we express them can differ from
      other people's expectations. In this case, everyone is actually different,
      including neurotypical people. We just have a wider range of difference.

      Notice that this only concerns the issue of the Theory of Mind. Another
      problem is our hypersensitivity. Autists are often portrayed as being
      insensitive to their surroundings. That's actually the opposite: we're
      hypersensitive to external stimuli, and lack the ability to automatically
      filter out the irrelevant from the relevant ones. Depending on how strong
      this hypersensitivity is, people will react differently, from repetitive
      behaviours (to create some kind of regularity in the chaos around us) to
      meltdowns and withdrawals for the worst cases. Personally, I suffer from
      mental blocks: when I cannot handle things any longer, my brains just shut
      down, and I cannot think anything but the most simple thoughts. Making
      decisions becomes impossible as well, which is particularly bad because it
      also means I cannot make the decision to leave the situation that makes me
      block.

      I guess that's enough for now. This is particularly off-topic, so it might
      be better to take it off-list if you want more information. Just one last
      thing: what I wrote is very simplified, and everyone is different. Every
      Autist (whether someone with Asperger syndrome, another form of HFA, or any
      form of classic Autism) is a unique person with a unique behaviour. What I
      wrote about are generalities, common traits that are often found in people
      on the Autism Spectrum. They are not absolute universals of Autistic
      behaviour. In a way, they are like linguistic universals: mere trends,
      statistically likely, but you'll always find someone who breaks them.
      --
      Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.

      http://christophoronomicon.blogspot.com/
      http://www.christophoronomicon.nl/
    • R A Brown
      On 10/03/2013 02:55, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote: [snip] ... Yes - but it is useful for people to know, I think. I think the frankness of your
      Message 2 of 8 , Mar 9, 2013
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        On 10/03/2013 02:55, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:
        [snip]
        >
        > I guess that's enough for now.

        Yes - but it is useful for people to know, I think. I think
        the frankness of your comments is commendable and helpful.

        > This is particularly off-topic, so it might be better to
        > take it off-list if you want more information. Just one
        > last thing: what I wrote is very simplified, and everyone
        > is different. Every Autist (whether someone with Asperger
        > syndrome, another form of HFA, or any form of classic
        > Autism) is a unique person with a unique behaviour. What
        > I wrote about are generalities, common traits that are
        > often found in people on the Autism Spectrum. They are
        > not absolute universals of Autistic behaviour.

        Absolutely - at least that was my experience as a lecturer
        in Computer Science. Several of students during those years
        (I'm retired now) had varying degrees of autism/ Asperger's
        Syndrome - _all_ were very different. As Christophe said,
        they were not robots, but all as individually different as
        everyone else.

        > In a way, they are like linguistic universals: mere
        > trends, statistically likely, but you'll always find
        > someone who breaks them.

        In the words of Poirot: "Précisement, mon ami!"

        --
        Ray
        ==================================
        http://www.carolandray.plus.com
        ==================================
        "language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
        for individual beings and events."
        [Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]
      • James Kane
        Thank you for that explanation - it is very informative and you re openness helps other people to understand. Personally I have one HFA friend who doesn t seem
        Message 3 of 8 , Mar 10, 2013
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          Thank you for that explanation - it is very informative and you're openness helps other people to understand. Personally I have one HFA friend who doesn't seem at all different other than sometimes he is a bit selfish or can throw small tantrums, although he usually overcorrects the selfishness and is a very nice guy. And also quite socially adept.

          However other people I know without (diagnosed) HFA also act in this way, sometimes to even greater degrees. I think most of these people are just plain selfish.


          James
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