battle of the labels: gifted and AS/HFA/ADHD/NVLD/etc.

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anbuend
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03 May 2010, 3:15 am

The only reason I went there about IQ scores was that you at one point cited your recent IQ as reason you couldn't be gifted. And given my most recent IQ was 85, that seemed strange to me. Personally I don't actually believe in the category of gifted that much, but you seem to, so I was going through all the areas that could possibly seem to be what you meant.

I said I was reading adult-level books at the age of five. I mean reading as in decoding. I am hyperlexic, and I am a very classic stereotypical hyperlexic -- I actually comprehended very little language at that age, including written language. I could map the patterns of language but barely knew what words were for. Hyperlexia of that type is about an attraction to the written word, and a decoding of the sounds of the written word, but severe deficits in comprehension of both spoken and written language. It's a learning disability that has more in common with dyslexia than it sounds like from the names.

Even today, when I read a book I not only have to look up words all the time, but struggle to put together meaning from the words. I find my eyes going down a page as if I am reading, but not taking in the actual content. Or doing the decoding without the language processing. But I am unable to read slowly. So what I end up having to do to squeeze any meaning out of it at all is to read it over, and over, and over. Each time I read, it's much like a new book to me. I have real trouble retaining knowledge of what is in a book, which is one among many reasons that I am unable to summarize a book usually. The one area that I do remember from the book is combinations of phrases and patterns between them. And that's not entirely consciously retained, I just notice that my writing later contains the phrases from the book.

The trouble with college is a large number of problems I have regarding different academics-related skills. See, what happened in grade school was I basically went into cognitive overdrive because my IQ resulted in being placed in classes that were too advanced for me. But even if I did badly on tests they would assume I was just being careless and advance me anyway. I was therefore basically BSing my way through school through brute force. When I turned about 12, it all came back to haunt me because I was totally out of my depth. I began to do worse and worse in academic areas. And people said "She's gifted. she must be acting out from boredom." And ended up skipping me forward and forward until I crashed hard and that's when I was diagnosed after a suicide attempt. That's just so you know what was going on academically.

So okay. When I took college classes... how do I even describe this. Okay... the default setting for my brain contains little to no of what I'd call abstract/intellectual thought for lack of a better term. My default state is to take in my environment, perhaps notice patterns about what I take in, but not to do what most people (including most people with intellectual disabilities) seem to do. Most people seem to build towers and other structures of thought and then live in those structures. In my case I can with great effort build a structure that's wobbly and falls into oblivion the moment I stop concentrating.

College requires building those structures. I couldn't sustain it. I would just shut down, or melt down. I remember trying to write a paper on the Passover Seder for my world religion class. Simple paper. I ended up trying harder and harder to do the kind of thought required, getting virtually nothing, and then screaming and pounding my head so hard a friend intervened and then I was so confused (and I feel terrible) that I lashed out at what I perceived was this "thing" grabbing my arms and hurt her. Because at that point I was only capable of perceiving sensory data, I couldn't put meaning into it.

So my single biggest problem was my inability to sustain both that kind of mental tower-building, and also the equivalent problem with interpreting what came in through my senses. How do you comprehend an abstract idea when all your brain wants to do is sort sensory information into patterns? How do you even get to understanding the input when it just sounds like chickens clucking or running water, or just looks like squiggles on paper (which might sometimes map to sounds but the sounds are just more chickens clucking)? And how do you force a brain to do the high-level stuff college demands when your brain is balking at the "simple" stuff?

So yes, being unable to comprehend the material was a huge problem. Comprehension, especially comprehension based in language, symbol, or anything requiring mental tower-building, has always been one of my biggest problems. (And the tower-building is present even in what people consider simple concepts. Because it's the fundamental way most typical people and even many autistic people think.)

There were a lot of relatively smaller problems that all added up to huge problems too. The memory issues I described were one kind. Test questions did not always trigger the answer. I'd better explain how this works for me.

So... memory is like every other facet of life for me -- pretty good if triggered. Pretty terrible otherwise. To me a question (and certainly not the stuff on the Weschler Memory Scale) is not a trigger usually. Quite often a question just leaves my brain stalling. What helps trigger my memory is some fairly random object, event, someone's words at just the right spot. Often if someone makes a false statement about something that is a far better trigger than a question is. Don't ask why, I don't know. And even that doesn't work all the time. Similarly when I needed to climb something once my body almost completely froze up. But I was able to lean forward enough to fall, and the fall triggered my legs into motion so I could climb. If I try to just stand up I can't always do it, but I have a better chance if someone holds an object out of reach and tells me to touch it.

That discrepancy exists for memory and also for language, thought, and movement. Everything has to operate off a chain of triggers. Your post this time was easier to respond to because of the number of false assumptions in them, which trigger me into correcting them. Correcting misconceptions may be annoying but it's easier than questions alone.

So there was the memory stuff. There was the fact that I have trouble learning on demand, especially in classroom situations. If someone has me read a chapter of a book, then even if I manage to learn something from it, it's unlikely that what I learn is what the teacher wants me to learn. (This has been a lifelong issue.) Similarly I can't teach myself anything either. I mean I can't set out to learn something and then learn it. Whatever I learn is totally accidental, and totally uncontrollable, and I often don't even consciously realize I learned it until later. So for instance what I learned in linguistic anthropology class had to do with the pattern of behavior a class bully engaged in, rather than knowing the material. Even though I read and reread the material several times.

Another problem is that I have next to no recall of anything I have ever been deliberately taught in school of any kind at any age. Even school I did seemingly well in at the time. And that never helped either.

But the biggest thing by far was having to sustain mental tower-building and standard interpretation of sensory data, and comprehension of just about anything at all. That pushed my brain to the limit, and the mental towers toppled faster each tine until I had to give up because trying to do college was destroying my life.

I can't remember every topic you covered nor can I read my own writing so I don't know if I've answered every question or cleared up every misconception. My mind is trying very hard to revert to it's default state, which is devoid of standard interpretation or comprehension, devoid of standard thought, and otherwise as divorced as possible from all this stuff that makes up what most people think of as their minds. And this is just from writing one post. Getting a degree requires much more of that foreign mental state than I even possess.


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Janissy
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03 May 2010, 7:39 am

Horus wrote:
Mosaicofminds wrote:




Quote:
Would it comfort you at all to know that these are really good questions?


No. Mastering calculus to the point that I could at least PASS the class would comfort me. Mastering guitar to the point where most professional guitarists would at least define me as "good" would comfort me. Learning and remembering as much as alot of WP-er's know about computers, science, history, economics, etc...ad infinitum would comfort me. I could go on forever, but i'll spare you as i'm confident you get my meaning.


That's a really high bar. I took calculus twice and failed both times (then just accepted that I will never understand calculus). I practiced guitar for 5 years but the only people who ever called me "good" were friends who had never played it themselves and then only after a couple beers (at many parties there is somebody sitting on a couch platying guitar badly as drunk people sing along, I was that person). I know far less about computers, science etc. than many WP-ers. Is the greatest difference between us that I am ok with this???? Why is happiness contingent on mastery? Why is muddling through not ok?



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03 May 2010, 7:56 am

Because perfection is ok :)
Perfection is fine.
Perfection is beautiful !



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03 May 2010, 8:36 am

* Did you receive a gifted label as well as an AS/HFA/ADHD/etc. label?
I have received a label for gifted, HFA and ADHD

* If so, which did you receive first?
Gifted but I didn't know about it for a long time and neither did my parents. I wish the school told me because I spent a long time thinking that I was an idiot. Then ADHD when I was about 15/16 and finally HFA at 17.

* Which do you identify with more?
I don't know really. Probably HFA.

* How do you feel other people see you? Do they judge you more on the gifted or more on the disability, or do they know about neither and get confused and angry at your uneven behavior?
I often get told (in different ways) "I know you have ASD but you're smart enough not to behave like it". It's annoying but I understand where they are coming from because they are only thinking how can someone so smart not understand things that are so simple? I tend to ignore it when people say stuff like that because I don't have the ability to verbally explain it to them.


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anbuend
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03 May 2010, 12:22 pm

Oh I guess I should also note the fact that I retain virtually nothing that is learned while in the mode of thinking that requires building abstract towers like that. And again by abstract I mean simple abstractions are part of this. Any kind of thinking that requires categories for instance.

I see it like this: If skills in this kind of thinking are measured from one to ten, most people (including many autistic people) start out at a level of six. Only they don't know this because to them "everyone" starts there. So they think six is zero. But I actually have to start out at zero. I have to climb up to six and hang on using my fingernails if I want to do what other people think of as basic. And even higher if they want me to do something more advanced. But the moment I let go, I'm back to zero again. Whereas most of them if they let go will either not fall at all, or fall to six.

I understand where Jim Sinclair is coming from when xe says:

Quote:
Simple, basic skills such as recognizing people and things presuppose even simpler, more basic skills such as knowing how to attach meaning to visual stimuli.  Understanding speech requires knowing how to process sounds--which first requires recognizing sounds as things that can be processed, and recognizing processing as a way to extract order from chaos.  Producing speech (or producing any other kind of motor behavior) requires keeping track of all the body parts involved, and coordinating all their movements.  Producing any behavior in response to any perception requires monitoring and coordinating all the inputs and outputs at once, and doing it fast enough to keep up with changing inputs that may call for changing outputs.  Do you have to remember to plug in your eyes in order to make sense of what you're seeing?  Do you have to find your legs before you can walk?  Autistic children may be born not knowing how to eat.  Are these normally skills that must be acquired through learning?


(And I really was one of those people who was born not knowing how to eat.)

Another really important thing xe says is:

Quote:
I taught myself to read at three, and I had to learn it again at ten, and yet again at seventeen, and at twenty-one, and at twenty-six.  The words that it took me twelve years to find have been lost again, and regained, and lost, and still have not come all the way back to where I can be reasonably confident they'll be there when I need them.  It wasn't enough to figure out just once how to keep track of my eyes and ears and hands and feet all at the same time; I've lost track of them and had to find them over and over again.


That part is another huge part of my trouble learning things that require climbing up to level six or higher. When I drop back down to zero I lose a whole lot. This is why I got in over my head in academics and was never able to climb out of that hole: Most people seem to learn by walking to a higher elevation with their feet on firm ground. I learn by scaling cliffs where I fall all the way down afterwards. These are totally different experiences. If I went to college again (assuming I had a much higher energy level than I do) I would find that I haven't retained even the stuff I "learned" before college, let alone at it.

Even with my special interests, I may read a lot about something. But I find myself merely enjoying the process of reading about it. I am not able to access that knowledge easily if it's retained at all.

Anyway, I think the main reason I'm reasonably happy isn't that I have all these wonderful abilities that you imagine I have. It's that I just don't place the same value on certain kinds of intellectual achievements than you do, and I lack the energy necessary to sustain self-pity even if I were inclined in that direction. I am perfectly fine living in a way where my mind usually lacks conventional language, conventional thinking, conventional memory, conventional movement, etc. I am perfectly fine being more about direct experience of the world than I am about conventional intellectual skill-gathering. I'm not pretending to be fine with this, it just really doesn't matter to me. I don't devalue such achievements, I just don't depend on them for happiness.

As to what I do depend on for happiness? I have noticed for a long time that all patterns lead back to one place. And somehow that is enough for me. That's using the parts of my mind that simply see patterns among sensations.

I know all this seems weird coming from someone who can write. But the way I come at language is through patterns as well. I just gradually learned that certain words happen in certain situations, and learned to fit them together that way. Many of these things I am saying are things I have struggled a lifetime to learn how to say. I used to be able to fake comprehension of language and fake the ability to communicate what was in my head but I learned real comprehension and real expression quite late. So I didn't just have to struggle to form words around my thoughts, I had to struggle to suppress the meaningless but plausible strings of words my brain spat out. As Donna Williams put it, learning language after a pure delay is like struggling to ride a tame horse, but learning to communicate when there's dysfunctional language present is like riding a bucking bronco. Or something like that.

The problem is that language is inherently incapable of matching my thoughts. Language belongs to that whole cliff-climbing thing. It depends on category and other things absent from my actual thinking. So it can only ever be a crude approximation no matter how hard I work, and that is annoying. Even the most concrete language depends on abstraction, symbols, and categories. So to me all words feel like lies.

So my happiness has nothing to do with possessing these vast intellectual skills you value so much. It's like the other person said -- I just don't care about such things, and I am not usually prone to self-pity over lacking an ability. I will point out what abilities I lack, because people like me are vastly underrepresented in communities like this one. It's important to let people know that not everyone who can use words starts at level six or even five or four etc. It's important to let people know that people like me exist whose minds can easily get into a state where even processing our surrounding environment is too hard and we just sit there oblivious to both "thought" and even many aspects of perception, who don't notice the passage of time, don't have "understanding", don't have "thought", who feel like statues that the entire world whizzes past it's important for people to know what exists down in the depths below level six.

But I don't do the "nobody understands my pain" stuff. That's different. I could do it if I felt like it and people would believe me because most people consider living at level zero to be terrible and horrifying, and incomprehensibly scary. I could get away with it because people assume the more severe an impairment the more miserable a person ought to be. And my cognitive impairments (living at level zero by default) count as quite severe by most standards, that's why most people here don't share them. But generally I've found that people like me, who need all the energy we can get just to poke our heads up into language/symbol/category/abstraction-land at all (let alone other stuff)... we rarely have the energy to waste feeling sorry for ourselves. It's purely a practical thing. If I felt sorry for myself it would make me lose the grip I have on being able to read and write, to identify and use basic objects, to find my body and move it -- to use all the basic building blocks that more complex things are made from. So I just can't do it. Can't afford to. Not because of Judeo-Christian whatsits or whatever. It really is possible to have severe or profound impairments and not to be constantly miserable and envious of others who have more or seem to have more. (I notice that the misery often creates a distorted thinking pattern where the person who is miserable will make constant assumptions that everyone else must have the abilities they wish they had.)


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03 May 2010, 12:30 pm

I was always told how smart I was, but I hated it because most people didn't see why I was smart, or what I wasn't smart at, and I've come to despise the generic "you're so smart" response to some things I say.

I wasn't diagnosed for AS, but I was a bit young for it to be widespread (was born in 1980), and I didn't get as much attention for my social impairment as I did my intellect, and socratic bastardism.

While I could have gotten noticed earlier as being AS, I was too busy abusing the rules for my own amusement, driven by a perverse curiousity to see how far they stretched.

Never give a bored aspie kid a copy of the bill of rights, and tell him he has detention after school.

'That is unlawful imprisonment, and I will not tolerate it, good day to you!'



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03 May 2010, 12:35 pm

justMax wrote:
While I could have gotten noticed earlier as being AS, I was too busy abusing the rules for my own amusement, driven by a perverse curiousity to see how far they stretched.

Never give a bored aspie kid a copy of the bill of rights, and tell him he has detention after school.

'That is unlawful imprisonment, and I will not tolerate it, good day to you!'


I can really relate to that!


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03 May 2010, 3:57 pm

Wow anbuend....this is quite alot of information to absorb and ponder. :!: In fact...I don't think i'm absorbing and pondering it all that well at all. That is certainly not your fault, it's just very difficult for me to conceptualize how the minds of other people work. That said....I don't even know where to begin in terms of a reply and i'd probably start feeling like a bigger fool than I already do if I attempted to reply. It might literally take me DAYS to complete a response which would be acceptable to me assuming i'd ever be satisified with any response in the first place. Thus....I really hate to think you went through all this trouble (assuming that it was a burden for you....all I know is that it would be for me) with the expection that I would reply in kind. If you did....then i'll do my best, but I just can't even begin to imagine what i'd say in response to all that you've written in your last two posts. I can't even wrap my mind around alot of it. I think this thread has run it's course for me in any event.

In sum....I just believe that most, if not all, human beings have their own idiosyncratic "threshold of acceptability" for want of a better term. Maybe i'm wrong here, but I think most of have certain things we DEMAND from both ourselves and the external world. If these demands aren't met, chances are we're not going to be very happy. Maybe some people can make lemonade if life gives them lemons. For reasons I can't possibly explain or understand, I just don't see to have that capability.



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03 May 2010, 4:05 pm

Oh no need to reply if it's hard. Regarding threshold of acceptability you may be right. In my case mine is pretty flexible. Yours sounds like you have a hard time changing it. In my case it's like... I used to think I couldn't live without something, but then I lose that thing and don't feel as awful as I expected, or I feel awful for a couple weeks and then adjust. Like climbing trees of all things was one of those things. But it sounds like you have a lot more trouble than I do changing that point where you can't stand things. (My own areas like that are primarily ethical ones, that don't require a certain ability beyond the possession of a conscience. But I know you've already stated your reasons you don't see that as a viable thing for yourself.) Sorry to write incomprehensibly. I don't mean to it just happens. :-/


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Horus
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03 May 2010, 4:35 pm

Janissy wrote:
Horus wrote:
Mosaicofminds wrote:




Quote:
Would it comfort you at all to know that these are really good questions?


No. Mastering calculus to the point that I could at least PASS the class would comfort me. Mastering guitar to the point where most professional guitarists would at least define me as "good" would comfort me. Learning and remembering as much as alot of WP-er's know about computers, science, history, economics, etc...ad infinitum would comfort me. I could go on forever, but i'll spare you as i'm confident you get my meaning.


That's a really high bar. I took calculus twice and failed both times (then just accepted that I will never understand calculus). I practiced guitar for 5 years but the only people who ever called me "good" were friends who had never played it themselves and then only after a couple beers (at many parties there is somebody sitting on a couch platying guitar badly as drunk people sing along, I was that person). I know far less about computers, science etc. than many WP-ers. Is the greatest difference between us that I am ok with this???? Why is happiness contingent on mastery? Why is muddling through not ok?



Well...this was a slight exaggeration on my part. Sometimes I exaggerate things without making it clear to others that i'm doing so. It's a stupid habit on my part and i'm wholly to blame for your misunderstanding here. I never passed intro algebra and I honestly wouldn't beat myself up too much (if at all) if I could never pass calculus. Most people, NT's and non-NT's alike, never make it past college algebra at most whether they're actually capable of doing so or not. And plenty of otherwise bright and talented people literally cannot pass a intro algebra course. My dad would be a prime example of that. He's a stationary engineer without so much as a AA degree. Not too long ago...he thought of getting a BS degree in engineering so he would have the formal credentials necessary to obtain a better-paying position. But he gave up on that dream after he (like his son) couldn't even get past the first few weeks of material in intro algebra. This was after several attempts and endless tutoring from my stepmother (who is very gifted at math). As far as I can tell....my father is an NT and very gifted (unlike his son) in terms of all things mechanical. He could build a house from the ground up, but when it comes to X + Y=.....he seems hopeless.

In any event....I can assure you i'd feel significantly better about myself
(and thus, substantially happier) if I could just manage to pass college algebra with a
B. Would I be perfectly happy? Of course not. I don't think there is any such thing as absolute happiness. Happiness is a never-ending work in progress IMO and it would just be nice to feel SOME degree of happiness and contentment. Ditto for the guitar thing and everything else I mentioned. I'm not expecting Eddie Van Halen-level playing from myself, it would just be nice if I could manage a goodly reportoire of songs, play (and remember :( ) solos, improve my fingerstyle playing (crappy fine motor skills hardly help me in that respect), etc.....

All that said....I really don't see how I have any unreasonable expectations of myself. Just for one thing....I dreamed of being a great guitarist/musician ever since I was a tiny child. This and many other alternatives which equally came to naught has been burning in me forever. Is it ever legitimate for one to be unhappy in life when even the smallest fragments of their most soaring dreams, ambitions, goals and passions remains unfulfilled?



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03 May 2010, 4:58 pm

Mosaicofminds wrote:
* Did you receive a gifted label as well as an AS/HFA/ADHD/etc. label?
* If so, which did you receive first?
* Which do you identify with more?
* How do you feel other people see you? Do they judge you more on the gifted or more on the disability, or do they know about neither and get confused and angry at your uneven behavior?


I was labeled as gifted in Language Arts -- reading, writing (grammar, punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary, but not spelling), speaking, and listening. In 1st and 2nd grade I attended gifted classes for LA. In 3rd grade, my parents were able to start me in an independent school, where everyone was academically gifted to some degree.

I recieved my gifted label (which my independent school did not use for anyone) when I was 6. I was not diagnosed with ADHD until I was 18 and in college. I did not recieve my AS diagnosis until I was 32! It's coming up on a year since my diagnosis became "official." (Previous to that, I was pretty sure I had AS but had not proof, so to speak.)

I'm not sure I identify with one or the other more. I've known I was gifted longer, but I never think of myself as gifted. Of course, I don't go around defining myself by AS either. They are both parts of who I am but one doesn't seem more "me" than the other.

Other people probably see me as weird...however, once they give me a chance, people generally like me. Maybe I gravitate toward other weird or unusual people -- gamers for sure, and a lot of artists and actors (including one friend who's a gay porn star). I don't tell people I'm gifted -- I'm socially pretty inept -- and I do tell them about my AS. However, I think my speech and my ability to give thoughtful commentary in discussions shows that I'm pretty smart, and while some people aren't at all surprised I have AS, others can hardly believe it. (My new friend Cary was really astonished -- turns out he has a cousin with AS and knows a lot of the signs, but didn't see it in me.)



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03 May 2010, 5:56 pm

@Horus: "No. Mastering calculus to the point that I could at least PASS the class would comfort me. Mastering guitar to the point where most professional guitarists would at least define me as "good" would comfort me. Learning and remembering as much as alot of WP-er's know about computers, science, history, economics, etc...ad infinitum would comfort me. I could go on forever, but i'll spare you as i'm confident you get my meaning."
:!: Being competent to good at more than a few things is rare for most people. Good in the eyes of professional guitarists is pretty damn close to professional. People who can do that, probably aren't particularly good at other, unrelated things, never mind calculus AND computers AND science AND history AND economics. And you do realize people on WP are probably focusing on 1 or 2 special interests at the expense of...well...everything else?

Maybe my personal experience is coloring matters here, because I'm a dabbler. I have one special interest which is itself fairly multifaceted (as anyone who has read my blog would see immediately). I have friends with interests in everything from anime to evolutionary biology to natural language programming to Kant, and whenever I talk to them, I feel stupid, because I know enough to ask them decent questions (sometimes), but not enough to really converse in-depth. I used to dabble in music, art, dance, and theater as a child, but was never particularly good at any of them. When in late elementary to early high school I was expected to focus on just one and be really good at it, I quit all but music, and I dropped music in college to focus on my studies. I guess this is a long-winded way of saying: being smart does not mean being good or even competent at everything. It would be really fun to be competent at everything, wouldn't it? I'm just afraid if universal competence is your goal, you'll be disappointed. It COULD be reasonable to try to get a degree OR move out on your own OR get a job OR improve your guitar playing (the problems you've described yourself as having would seem to make it hard to do it all at the same time).



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03 May 2010, 6:08 pm

WARNING: this comment is kind of off-topic.

@anbuend: Wow, what you're saying is fascinating, but kind of hard to imagine as if I were experiencing it. If you've read Thinking in Pictures, do you identify with how Temple Grandin says she thinks?

Also, some things you say sound like certain sorts of meditation, especially this:
"all patterns lead back to one place. And somehow that is enough for me. That's using the parts of my mind that simply see patterns among sensations."

I know you get overload and all sorts of other unpleasant feelings, but does it ever feel really good and peaceful to just be there and see things the way you see them? I HAVE had that sort of "be there now" feeling a few times in my life and I'm wondering if that's anything like the good parts of not thinking in words and categories.

BTW...when my brother was a baby I used to wonder what it felt like to think without words...then in some of my psych classes I learned that researchers debate whether it's even possible to think without words ( :!:) you have me convinced that it's completely possible, and you've shown me a lot of little glimpses of what it's like :) ...so maybe someday I'll understand...



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03 May 2010, 6:09 pm

The way I understand it, teachers wanted to put me into a gifted program but it was the kind where they pull you out of existing classes. I was getting along okay without it so not much ever really came of that.

I also have no idea what my IQ measured out to be. Supposedly my parents know, but I've never asked them. I do know that I've had wicked good aural skills and music comprehension since I was very little.

I was never saddled with an AS label either, since such things did not exist when I was in school. For all the reading I've done, I've never really been able to understand what the difference is between an autistic neurology and a neurology that makes you a "highly sensitive person," "gifted," or otherwise blessed with "overexcitabilities." Perhaps the learning disabilities are less severe in the gifted neurology (or are simply masked by better coping mechanisms?) Are they possibly two windows looking onto the same condition?


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Mosaicofminds
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

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Joined: 17 Mar 2010
Age: 30
Gender: Female
Posts: 319
Location: USA

03 May 2010, 6:21 pm

@justMax: "Never give a bored aspie kid a copy of the bill of rights, and tell him he has detention after school. "
LOL! That made my day.

"I was always told how smart I was, but I hated it because most people didn't see why I was smart, or what I wasn't smart at, and I've come to despise the generic "you're so smart" response to some things I say."
Sorry if I'm missing something obvious, but what didn't they see about why you were smart, or what you weren't smart at? When they say "you're so smart," do you mean they say that to pat you on the back and dismiss what you say, or they say "you're so smart why can't you do x?", or did you mean something else I haven't thought of?

@fiddlerpianist: "Are they possibly two windows looking onto the same condition?"
:idea: I've wondered about this myself, actually (although you could just as easily say the same thing about gifted and ADHD as gifted and AS...and there are exceptions to the gifted/AS connection, too. For instance, I knew someone who was profoundly gifted, extremely overexcitable, but also extroverted and very socially skilled). I do have some tentative theories about what might be going on, and would be happy to discuss the subject further if you're interested. :)

Never understood the point of pullout programs either...doesn't really solve the problem of feeling like your brain is shutting off the other 90% of the time you're not in the pullout program...

@Rose: "Maybe I gravitate toward other weird or unusual people -- gamers for sure, and a lot of artists and actors (including one friend who's a gay porn star)."
Awesome! Yeah, looking for quirky people has helped me make friends, too... :) Haven't tried artists or actors really, so that's something to think about. Do they care that you're socially awkward? A lot of the artsy people I've met seem pretty extroverted and flamboyant.