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  1. #1 autism 
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    Are there any experts out there on autism? Does anyone know how to stand outside autism and autistic behavior and actually monitor how autistic people can possibly rehabilitate?

    Are there any, for instance, artifical instruments that can measure "autism", any ways we can calculate what autism "is"? Is it "not being appropriate with your own survival ability", for instance?


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  3. #2  
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    The recently discovered "mirror neurons" appear to be inoperative in autistics.

    Mirror neurons are structures in the brain that light up both when one does or imagines doing something, and when one observes another doing it. They are sympathy at the lowest level. Babies readily clone these structures by observing people. We can have people perform actions, and have them observe others doing likewise, while we watch and measure for identical - "mirror" - activity in this special area of the brain.

    People with autism perform the actions well enough (e.g. pick up a pencil), and comprehend what they see as that same action by another (Jane picked up the pencil, like I did), but the mirror neurons ain't happening. So the autistics are really on their own trip, so to speak.

    When my son had just learned to walk, he'd watch kid's shows with dancing characters. You know the kind, like "everybody jump up... now clap your hands.." and he'd copy the dance. I believe that's solid proof he had those mirror neurons working nicely... better than I at his age. In child development, we call this modeling. This turns out to be one of my son's innate strengths. He's highly attuned to what others are feeling, thinking, doing. He likes to manage groups of children at the playground.

    We diagnose autism very early when a baby shows no sympathetic response, or, modeling. Now we're able to see clinically what's amiss. And maybe treat the brain, that part of the brain, directly... we're just investigating now.


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  4. #3  
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    Is it possible to mirror someone with "autism", or is that where the line is drawn?
    Could we be talking about people with "ego-complexes" here, like celebrities, or people who are legends in their own mind?
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver
    Is it possible to mirror someone with "autism", or is that where the line is drawn?
    Yes normal people try to sympathize with, for example, their autistic children. And it's painful.
    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver
    Could we be talking about people with "ego-complexes" here, like celebrities, or people who are legends in their own mind?
    No it has nothing to do with self esteem... this is not arrogance. Newborn babies may be autistic. First thing you can try, is, engage the baby's attention and stick out your tongue. The normal baby will often copy that. Even monkey babies will. Autistic babies, no.

    Perhaps an "ego-complex" baby would initiate the tongue-sticking.
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    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    That's quite interesting, makes a lot of sense. It both explains the learning problems and the problems with empathy.

    It's hard to imagine learning a skill like speaking if you had to 'reverse engineer' it all by yourself, without being able to just copy and imitate things.

    But there seems to be another trait in autism: isn't it true that autistic people often have some specific skills beyond those of most people, for example in composing music or thinking through complex logical systems? I've even heard autism being explained as 'over-specialization', the development of certain skill to a high level at the expensive of more everyday skills. Is this at odds with the explanation through mirror neurons, or can it be combined somehow?

    edit: maybe the specific skills result from having had to 'reverse engineer' normal skills, which in a way trained them to solve complex problems of logic?
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    I had an autistic child who came to one of the summer holiday kids clubs i ran.

    He was quite taken with the plastic animals box and would spend all the time placing the animals in a long line weaving all around the floor in the room. He used to do the same thing every time he came. He totally ignored the other kids like they didn't exist.

    The only time he seemed unhappy and distressed was when his mother tried to stop him doing some of the behaviour she felt was abnormal, because she thought he might be disturbing the other kids.

    The other kids just accepted him and didn't seem to regard him as abnormal. That's one of the things i love about kids.

    There was no point trying to get him to respond to you. If anyone spoke to him he would just turn his back on them.
    So i would just tell him i left his juice and biscuit on the side and let him have them when he wanted.

    If he was just left alone to get on with it, he was perfectly happy and content.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selene
    I had an autistic child who came to one of the summer holiday kids clubs i ran.

    He was quite taken with the plastic animals box and would spend all the time placing the animals in a long line weaving all around the floor in the room. He used to do the same thing every time he came. He totally ignored the other kids like they didn't exist.

    The only time he seemed unhappy and distressed was when his mother tried to stop him doing some of the behaviour she felt was abnormal, because she thought he might be disturbing the other kids.

    The other kids just accepted him and didn't seem to regard him as abnormal. That's one of the things i love about kids.

    There was no point trying to get him to respond to you. If anyone spoke to him he would just turn his back on them.
    So i would just tell him i left his juice and biscuit on the side and let him have them when he wanted.

    If he was just left alone to get on with it, he was perfectly happy and content.

    How would one, for instance, control an autistic desire for the "opposite of sex"?
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  9. #8  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Autism is a broad category of disorders though, different autistics will display different features of the disorder. Some can be completely withdrawn from the world, while others with Aspergers Syndrome can live relatively normal lives.

    I think there has been massive success with socializing Asperger children since historically the disorder was often misdiagnosed as mental retardation anyway. People with Aspergers are capable of grasping that they have a disorder and are easier to reason with and avoid the environmental triggers that so often upset autistics.

    Those with more severe forms are usually reliant on their parents and the state for life. I'm not sure their is much you can do to ameliorate their condition, besides working around them to avoid things that upset them.
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night is an interesting novel that features an autistic child.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pendragon
    maybe the specific skills result from having had to 'reverse engineer' normal skills, which in a way trained them to solve complex problems of logic?
    That seems fruitful and got me thinking.

    Have a look at Google maps: Swindon, Wiltshire

    The link shows satellite view, with some place labels. This is a natural way to understand Swindon. But suppose your brain cannot process all that scenery. Click "Map" view for a possibly autistic vision. No shades of green. Yet the road network is clarified in stark relief, easily traced.

    If autistics wield all the raw brain power of other people, brought to bear on relatively sparse, pure data, they must process that with awesome speed and precision.



    Digression:

    Now, wouldn't it be nice to switch between different views? So one could think undistracted by information peripheral to a particular problem. There are several ways to accomplish that in the brain, I can imagine.

    One is to have dual monitors. Left & right for example. We all have these specialized areas, analogous to discrete computer parts like math-coprocessors and graphics cards. But there is difficulty relating several large components of a problem if each is processed entirely at isolated locales.

    Another method, is to use transparent overlays. This can be accomplished at the neural level by "clock timing" or "interleaving". The former is like Swindon's grander scheme of traffic light changes. The so-called brain waves. You can thus have multiple larger patterns, sharing the roads, so to speak. We do have some evidence that high IQ scorers enter a sort of brain-wave "fugue" or "blank channel snow" when working on puzzles. The other overlay strategy, interleaving, is like Swindon's back network of shortcuts and trails only children and dogs know of. They can go about their business while others, theirs; yet synchronicity is easy. Many cities have a network of back alleyways as long as the front streets, for service vehicles and other utility. Perhaps our genius brains employ a touch of all these schemes.

    They would be near impossible to detect clinically.

    Perhaps those schemes are normal, and some individuals lack them.
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  11. #10  
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    I actually have asperger's myself. Not a very severe case, but it gives me some insight into what I imagine outright autistics might be experiencing.

    My understanding of it is that it has to do with having a bad filter. You take in too much data and you can't make any sense of it. Narrowing one's entire focus to a small, menial, task provides some relief, because you can sort information that relates to the task from information that doesn't relate to it.

    I think an autistic child's problem, like in cases where a kid doesn't even speak, is like the problem of a person trying to dial a telephone number, but who doesn't know the number. I think some of them can talk, but they don't realize that's what we want, so they just keep on guessing other things.

    I don't know. I've had to guess at a lot of things to get them right. I keep kind of a running database of behaviors that elicit responses and behaviors that don't. One of the hardest things is convincing people that I'm listening to them. It takes all my concentration to make the right look, and then I don't hear what they were saying.

    For normal people, it's informative to know if you're not behaving right. For an autistic, it's only informative to know if you are behaving right.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I actually have asperger's myself. Not a very severe case, but it gives me some insight into what I imagine outright autistics might be experiencing.

    My understanding of it is that it has to do with having a bad filter. You take in too much data and you can't make any sense of it. Narrowing one's entire focus to a small, menial, task provides some relief, because you can sort information that relates to the task from information that doesn't relate to it.

    I think an autistic child's problem, like in cases where a kid doesn't even speak, is like the problem of a person trying to dial a telephone number, but who doesn't know the number. I think some of them can talk, but they don't realize that's what we want, so they just keep on guessing other things.

    I don't know. I've had to guess at a lot of things to get them right. I keep kind of a running database of behaviors that elicit responses and behaviors that don't. One of the hardest things is convincing people that I'm listening to them. It takes all my concentration to make the right look, and then I don't hear what they were saying.

    For normal people, it's informative to know if you're not behaving right. For an autistic, it's only informative to know if you are behaving right.
    I wonder how many people drawn toward science or scientific research share similar behavioural characteristics...? My wife works with young autistic adults - she tells me that I display text book asperger's traits. Like you I struggle to convince people that I am listening and I can become highly focused on a single task to the detriment of all else. I also struggle with accepting that enough work on a particular issue is enough (I have Pareto on my wall to remind me that aspiration for perfection can be a wasted effort!). I have heard it said that the creator of Windoze suffers the same - but it seems to have worked out ok for him! I actually believe that years of software programming have conditioned me to a high level of attention to detail - but perhaps I just found a job that my personality is best adapted to.... omg... anyway, if anyone is interested I can recommend a book by a guy called Daniel Tammett titled Born on a Blue Day - this guy is an amazing mathematician who 'sees' mathematics as variations of colour... it makes you realize that the 'flaws' in certain people that make them different are sometimes quite wonderful.
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    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    I'm with you, Kojax and Highball. Often it takes me a while to realise that what I think of a mimicry of others' actions appears to them to be mocking. Lots of practice, a learned-reflex database of 'acceptable' behaviours, and occasional embarrassments in social situations new to me appear to be par for the course. Of course, that could just be because I'm a bloke: Simon Baron Cohen, who specialises is autistic spectrum research, titled his book on it The Extreme Male Mind...
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    Assuming I haven't read any response you've made, and now here I am making a response that basically sums up what I may as well assume you are trying to actually say, you would jump to the conclusion, immediately (at that), I am being very presumptuous in being able to read your mind, and if not that (because those games could go on, as we know), I know the limitation to this subject, and none of you have tilted that machine.

    So......

    Am I autistic?

    Am I the "pin-ball wizard"?

    (this is an "age-test" right now)
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  15. #14  
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    No, that's deliberate obscurity, to make oneself appear sophisticated.
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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    I'm with you, Kojax and Highball. Often it takes me a while to realise that what I think of a mimicry of others' actions appears to them to be mocking. Lots of practice, a learned-reflex database of 'acceptable' behaviours, and occasional embarrassments in social situations new to me appear to be par for the course. Of course, that could just be because I'm a bloke: Simon Baron Cohen, who specialises is autistic spectrum research, titled his book on it The Extreme Male Mind...
    Fascinating thread and topic

    Meanwhile, people often 'take me the wrong way'

    I always figured it was THEIR problem

    (I am serious too)
    'Time is the space between birth and death' by me.
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  17. #16  
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    Just been watching PBS Independent lense: Asperger Syndrome, Today's Man, very interesting and useful documentary. It shows the world through the eyes of a man who has Asperger's. The interesting thing is that the person in this documentary really seems to understand in what ways he's different to most people, even though his symptoms seem quite severe (for example he keeps losing his jobs because of them).

    There should be more awareness about Asperger's. Seeing a 1 hour documentary is enough to give me the idea that I somewhat understand what it's like. If I were an employer I think I could work with this man, understanding to some extent what he's like and how he thinks. This is clearly not true for most people (including his employers in the documentary..)
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  18. #17  
    Forum Professor Pendragon's Avatar
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    Btw TheQuestIsNotOver, would you agree to change the title of this thread to 'autism / asperger's', to broaden the topic? Asperger's and autism clearly seem related topics, but there's a big difference in scale/severity between them.
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