Is it an assumption to say LFA means unintelligent?

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Robdemanc
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10 Nov 2011, 12:29 pm

I have wondered about this because usually LFA means comminication is very difficult between the child and others. So how can doctors say they lack intelligence. They shoud really say they lack the ability to demonstrate intelligence.

I often wonder what life is like for LFA and wonder if really they can think very sophisticatedly about things but cannot show this to others.

Do people agree?



Jellybean
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10 Nov 2011, 1:38 pm

I can't speak for all LFA people, however I do believe that some of them are more intelligent than people give them credit for. Quite often a severely autistic person may learn an alternative way of communicating and they appear to have at least average intelligence in these cases. Obviously there are some people with LFA who have learning difficulties as well but the ones who don't just struggle to communicate.

Carly (in the video) has changed many people's views of LFA.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34xoYwLNpvw[/youtube]


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MrXxx
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10 Nov 2011, 1:49 pm

I agree, but how else are they supposed to measure intelligence? If it can't be demonstrated, how is anyone to know it exists?

Takes an imaginary situation as an example. Say you have a safe. It's the ultimate safe that know one can open. It may have a billion dollars worth of gold in it, or it might not. No one can open the safe. Even if it does have a million in gold, no one can tell, because no one can open it or see in it.

How do you value the safe?

The answer is, you can't. Even if you can prove there is gold in it, it's not worth anything to anyone if you can't get it out.

I don't like the analogy because it reduces intelligence to monetary value, but I think you get the idea.

The question really is, what is the best assumption to make? What is the best way to treat LFA's? It's hard to say because there are pros and cons to both treating them as if they are highly intelligent, and treating them as if they aren't.

Is treating a low functioning Autistic as if he/she possesses high intelligence, when they fact possess very little, damaging?

Is treating a low functioning Autistic as if he/she possesses kiw intelligence, when they fact possess a great deal, damaging?

I don't know. I know of no way to tell. it's a very perplexing line of thought for me. :?


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DC
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10 Nov 2011, 2:19 pm

Carly isn't the only autistic that is highly literate but non verbal.


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnylM1hI2jc[/youtube]



MrXxx
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10 Nov 2011, 2:28 pm

DC wrote:
Carly isn't the only autistic that is highly literate but non verbal.


Interesting video. Carly though, is able to demonstrate her intelligence. If she could not, for example if she had lived before we had the technology that allows her to communicate, how would anyone know? Thank goodness there are ways now for her to do do it.


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DC
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10 Nov 2011, 2:29 pm

MrXxx wrote:
DC wrote:
Carly isn't the only autistic that is highly literate but non verbal.


Interesting video. Carly though, is able to demonstrate her intelligence. If she could not, for example if she had lived before we had the technology that allows her to communicate, how would anyone know? Thank goodness there are ways now for her to do do it.


Skip to 3 minutes 12 seconds, you may be surprised. ;)



MrXxx
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10 Nov 2011, 2:41 pm

DC wrote:
MrXxx wrote:
DC wrote:
Carly isn't the only autistic that is highly literate but non verbal.


Interesting video. Carly though, is able to demonstrate her intelligence. If she could not, for example if she had lived before we had the technology that allows her to communicate, how would anyone know? Thank goodness there are ways now for her to do do it.


Skip to 3 minutes 12 seconds, you may be surprised. ;)


Yeah, that's what I was talking about. What did you think I meant?


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Janissy
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10 Nov 2011, 2:49 pm

MrXxx wrote:
I agree, but how else are they supposed to measure intelligence? If it can't be demonstrated, how is anyone to know it exists?

Takes an imaginary situation as an example. Say you have a safe. It's the ultimate safe that know one can open. It may have a billion dollars worth of gold in it, or it might not. No one can open the safe. Even if it does have a million in gold, no one can tell, because no one can open it or see in it.

How do you value the safe?

The answer is, you can't. Even if you can prove there is gold in it, it's not worth anything to anyone if you can't get it out.

I don't like the analogy because it reduces intelligence to monetary value, but I think you get the idea.



Schroedinger's Safe

I agree. You can't value the safe. So maybe it's best to stop trying. To continue your analogy, maybe it's best to cease attempting to guess what's inside the safe and instead concentrate on trying to figure out how to open the lock: communication. There is always something inside the safe. In Carly's case, she somehow taught herself to read and write and so typing worked. How did she do that? I don't know and it seems as though nobody around her knows either. Did they try to teach her to read and type when she was younger and then just gave up? That isn't clear. But there has got to be some route of communication. Typing. PECS board. Sign language. Analysis of behaviour (behaviour is communication)- this one is extra tricky because it's so easy to get wrong but it's worth a shot.

I am a believer in neuroplasticity. I think the mental effort required to organize one's wishes into something communicable can actually rewire the brain. Going from not knowing why the terrible feeling is there and flailing around to knowing the feeling can be removed by water and flailing towards the sink (communication by behaviour) to pointing to a picture of a water glass to typing "want water" all require increasing degrees of mental organization. I think the act of working towards that organization may actually make people what we call more intelligent because they become more mentally organized as they learn to communicate. This would mean that Carly the typist is smarter than she used to be when she hadn't yet learned to organize her thoughts into something communicable.

Or I could be completely wrong about that. It's impossible to know.





Quote:
The question really is, what is the best assumption to make? What is the best way to treat LFA's? It's hard to say because there are pros and cons to both treating them as if they are highly intelligent, and treating them as if they aren't.

Is treating a low functioning Autistic as if he/she possesses high intelligence, when they fact possess very little, damaging?



It might be all in the approach. If it leads to getting frustrated with them because they are unable to do the things you think they should be able to learn to do (like type), then yes. They'll get lost and frustrated. You'll get frustrated. Lose-lose. Is it possible to pitch the teaching at exactly where the person actually is and make no judgements about whether the person is intelligent or mentally retarded? I sincerely hope so because that's exactly what I'm doing at home with my daughter and so are her other family members. By mutual agreement, we all have put the IQ score on the back shelf and try to meet her exactly where she is rather than where we hope she is or fear she is. After years of worrying, I've just stopped trying to guess what's in Schroedinger's Safe and that seems to be working out.

Quote:
Is treating a low functioning Autistic as if he/she possesses low intelligence, when they fact possess a great deal, damaging?

I don't know. I know of no way to tell. it's a very perplexing line of thought for me. :?


It seems like it would be. But is Carly damaged by the previous assumptions of her mental retardation? It's impossible to tell. Does she have anger about that? Maybe she'll blog about it when she's older and we'll find out. It sure would be damaging if a person never got access to the communication technology that would let them communicate. They would likely wither away mentally and it would become a self fulfilling prophecy. That's what makes me believe in neuroplasticity. I've heard it works both ways and the people who used to be institutionalized in childhood actually became far more mentally retarded than they would otherwise have been because an institution doesn't promote brain growth like a family does, even without the ability to communicate with them.


I'd like to see the emphasis taken off intelligence and put on communication. If neuroplasticity is for real, then mentally retarded people may become smarter through the practice of working to organize their thoughts into a communicable form. Perhaps the contents of Schroedinger's Safe are not static but can change depending on what happens to the safe.



Last edited by Janissy on 10 Nov 2011, 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

DC
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10 Nov 2011, 2:51 pm

MrXxx wrote:
DC wrote:
MrXxx wrote:
DC wrote:
Carly isn't the only autistic that is highly literate but non verbal.


Interesting video. Carly though, is able to demonstrate her intelligence. If she could not, for example if she had lived before we had the technology that allows her to communicate, how would anyone know? Thank goodness there are ways now for her to do do it.


Skip to 3 minutes 12 seconds, you may be surprised. ;)


Yeah, that's what I was talking about. What did you think I meant?


Perhaps I'm being dense, my apologies.

When you said

[b]Carly though, is able to demonstrate her intelligence[/b

I assumed you meant that Carly COULD demonstrate her intelligence but silentMiaow COULDN'T. It was the use of the word 'though'.

If you skip to 3:12 in the video that I posted silentMiaow also demonstrates that she is highly intelligent and literate.



Janissy
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10 Nov 2011, 3:04 pm

MrXxx wrote:
DC wrote:
Carly isn't the only autistic that is highly literate but non verbal.


Interesting video. Carly though, is able to demonstrate her intelligence. If she could not, for example if she had lived before we had the technology that allows her to communicate, how would anyone know? Thank goodness there are ways now for her to do do it.


The technology was actually created 200 years ago. Then lost. Then re-invented. I discovered this when I saw Truffaunt's 1970 movie L'Enfant Sauvage about a feral child who was found in the woods in 1800 in France. Here's a wiki of his story:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_of_Aveyron


These days there is speculation he may have been autistic. When the doctor who cared for him wrote about him in the early 1800's, that concept didn't exist. When Truffaunt made a movie from that doctor's writings, nobody was making that speculation about the boy. Certainly not Truffaunt. I rented the movie on a whim a few years ago and was struck by how autistic the character seemed, despite nobody involved having any such intention. I was also struck by the little wooden PECS board the doctor had made. Ok, actually the prop department made it for the movie but they based it on the doctors' writings. It was a wooden tray that held a combination of letters and pictures stamped on wooden blocks that the boy could arrange to communicate. A PECS board. In the early 1800's. It apparently went in the trash at the doctor's death (or the boy's institutionalization, which did ultimately happen) and had to be re-invented almost 200 years later.

It was a crying shame to see what could have been. Communication technology was invented and then discarded. We could have had 200 years of communication technology progress if only other people had seen and decided to adopt that little wooden tray with stamped and moveable wood blocks.



Robdemanc
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10 Nov 2011, 3:11 pm

Thanks for posting those videos. That is exactly what I meant. The assumption is that these people have no intelligence when really it couldn't be further from the truth. So perhaps those who are taking care of LFA children and adults should be constantly trying to find ways of communicating with them. In a distant way I can relate to the two people in the films. They seem to pick up on things that everyone else blocks out.

I have always been a materialist, but have been thinking more spiritual lately. Carly made me think about her soul when she said "She is trapped inside a body that doesn't do what she wants." and "It is like I am having an arguement with my brain."

I always think that if ever I am rich I will fund research into new ways of communicating with LFA people because I think they would have a lot we could learn from.



League_Girl
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10 Nov 2011, 3:21 pm

I think LFA people are normal in ways. Carly is an example because she has normal feelings and desires like any child. On the outside they appear unintelligent but really they are smart like everyone else. It's an assumption that people who are mute are not smart. Sadly I had that same assumption too for years. Now every time I hear of a LFA person or see someone in a wheel chair who cannot speak, I am not going to assume they are retarded. They could be smart as everyone else.



Robdemanc
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10 Nov 2011, 3:28 pm

League_Girl wrote:
I think LFA people are normal in ways. Carly is an example because she has normal feelings and desires like any child. On the outside they appear unintelligent but really they are smart like everyone else. It's an assumption that people who are mute are not smart. Sadly I had that same assumption too for years. Now every time I hear of a LFA person or see someone in a wheel chair who cannot speak, I am not going to assume they are retarded. They could be smart as everyone else.


That is what I always thought. So I think it is very bad that LFA is described in the medical world as meaning: low intelligence and low communication skills. How can they know the former without communicating with these people?



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10 Nov 2011, 3:28 pm

I found How Can I Talk if my Lips Don't Move an interesting book that is solidly on this topic. Tito, the author is non-verbal and was unable to communicate by writing for a good while because of not being able to hold a pencil, though he eventually started writing books on autism. This book had been free for kindles for a while.



Robdemanc
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10 Nov 2011, 3:31 pm

Janissy wrote:
I'd like to see the emphasis taken off intelligence and put on communication. If neuroplasticity is for real, then mentally retarded people may become smarter through the practice of working to organize their thoughts into a communicable form. Perhaps the contents of Schroedinger's Safe are not static but can change depending on what happens to the safe.


I like this analogy - depending on what happens to the safe.

I also like the think that the gold may one day be able to find its own way out of the safe.