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

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katzefrau
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05 May 2010, 5:39 am

pandd wrote:
Mosaicofminds wrote:
...then in some of my psych classes I learned that researchers debate whether it's even possible to think without words..

Joining you in the region of "off-topic", I have never understood why there would be any debate about this. There is a common phrase "on the tip of my tongue" to describe a common enough circumstance where a person cannot locate the word/s that convey their thoughts. Obviously when this happens they are thinking the thoughts that they cannot remember words for, so it must be true that people can think without words.


often i get pictures first, words second (and i will sometimes "draw" something in the air before coming up with the word). so unless a picture is somehow considered a word, i know this is possible! and good explanation, pandd.

in response to the OP ..
I was considered a gifted kid, also no dx when i was young so i am just pursuing it now. but self-diagnosed (or if you would prefer, very strongly suspect) AS and ADD, unaware of both until my thirties. i would say the "gifted" element of the mix has fallen off the radar, since my memory / accomplishment / functionality doesn't really correlate with my base intellect. i write well, but in real life there's some process interference.

i haven't read all posts so sorry if i'm repeating, but i did see someone mention something re: giftedness hiding autism, and i would have to agree, but i don't think i am less profoundly affected, just less obvious. i don't make a blatant conversational faux pas nearly as often as someone else might, but i am still the last to get the joke, for example.


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05 May 2010, 10:29 am

I don't think all forms of autism get less obvious because of the cognitive advantages that sometimes get called giftedness and sometimes don't. 

The two people with the highest vocabularies of anyone I've met, one of whom is thriving at college that he entered at the age of 13, both of them have such severe sensory and/or motor differences that their IQs tested at 10 in one case and 30 in another. Neither of them remotely pass for normal, despite both meeting certain definitions of giftedness. 

When I was growing up, including during the time I was described as gifted, I was an extreme "sensory seeker". I interacted with objects in a noticeably unusual way, due to perceiving their sensory qualities without easily perceiving their identity or function. I carried my body in a way that a childhood neighbor describes as being like my arms and legs were too heavy for me. I had unusual mannerisms. The only thing preventing people from calling this autistic was a lack of knowledge about autism. Instead I was called retard, psycho, tard, spaz, and crazy. 

I think that those sorts of cognitive advantages only help the social aspects of autism. You can use them to memorize and calculate how to respond to people. But they don't really do much for perceptual and motor differences. 

I have real trouble finding and connecting to my body. I experience the world from "beneath" language, "beneath" typical sensory awareness, and "beneath" typical (symbolic, abstract) thought. I don't know entirely how to describe beneath but I made the following to describe my relationship to language:

Image

There are eight different levels shown on there, one on top of the other.  

The top level, or typical language, shows ordinary words. It represents being able to understand words and their meanings. 

The second level shows nonsense words. It represents being able to understand the sound of the word but not knowing the meaning. 

The third level shows jumbles of letters. It represents being able to recognize the letters but nothing else about a word. 

The fourth level shows jumbles of symbols. It represents being able to recognize that the letters are symbols, but not being able to recognize the symbols or anything else about it. 

The fifth level shows a bunch of short lines disconnected from each other. It represents being able to recognize that there are separate pieces there, but not even recognizing them as symbols.

The sixth level shows a bunch of lines connected to each other. It represents being able to see a pattern but not recognizing the separation of the letters on any level. 

The seventh level shows (the real painting shows it better than the flash photo of it) a painting of various flowing and overlapping shapes. It represents being able to see sensory impressions and the patterns between them, but not picking out even the pattern of letters as anything special, nor recognizing objects, etc.  

The eighth level is gradually shaded into from the seventh. It is all black except for a white circle. It represents the point where even sensory impressions and the patterns between them don't make it into awareness.

Each level is beneath the last one, showing what I mean by "beneath" language, "beneath" typical thought, etc. 

Where my mind most naturally lives is the seventh and eighth levels. The highest I can climb without much pain is the fifth and sixth levels. At the fourth level things become noticeably painful -- every time I look at such a symbol, my brain hurts. And it only becomes worse going higher and higher up to the first level.

And it is as I said like climbing a cliff. The moment I let go (or the moment my arms and legs tire and give out) I plunge down to the seventh and eighth levels again, although sometimes I can manage to grab on again at the fifth and sixth. 

And down in the depths like that, the only cognitive ability that could possibly get me out of there is the one that would mean not being there at all, except possibly during extreme shutdown.  And that's obviously just a contradiction in terms. So the cognitive abilities that result in being called gifted would probably not help me pass better. 

The same kind of painting could be used to represent being beneath symbolic/abstract thought, beneath standard recognition of objects, etc. Language is just a special case.

But at any rate for someone like me and many other autistics, the social stuff that can be calculated out is only the tiny tip of the iceberg when it comes to autism. I don't think such calculation would help me respond typically to objects, connect better to my body, relate better to language (especially receptive), etc. People often assume that since the main problems they can overcome through calculation are social, then those who can't pass are just more obviously socially inept than they are. But it's more complicated than that -- most people who can't pass have a lot more going on than social problems.  And our sensory-perceptual differences are usually a lot more complicated than hypersensitivity.


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05 May 2010, 12:15 pm

@anbuend: Oh, wow. Love the painting. Makes it a lot easier to imagine what you see.

There's no way I could prove this, but I bet there are 2 traits that are genetically linked, that can produce both "gifted" and "autistic" people. These would be obsession over special interests and sensory processing differences. I would guess that obsession over special interests can work in a positive direction--savants have it, for example, and so did just about every creative genius who ever lived. I think what separates the groups is probably sensory processing differences. I don't think you can reason your way into seeing what your brain doesn't want you to see.

The type of sensory processing difference probably matters...gifted checklists just talk about hypersensitivity, but there's also hyposensitivity and just plain difference, and then there's what anbuend just described. The severity probably also matters.

The areas of life affected probably make a difference, too. There's a theory that reading and math disabilities are caused by visual and auditory processing problems. But not everyone with visual or auditory processing problems has a reading or math disability. If your sensory processing problems affect academics much, you probably won't test as gifted. If they selectively affect non-academics, then you can.

And when sensory processing problems are severe but don't really affect academics, that's probably where gifted + autistic happens.

Thoughts?



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05 May 2010, 1:17 pm

anbuend wrote:
I don't think all forms of autism get less obvious because of the cognitive advantages that sometimes get called giftedness and sometimes don't. 

People often assume that since the main problems they can overcome through calculation are social, then those who can't pass are just more obviously socially inept than they are. But it's more complicated than that -- most people who can't pass have a lot more going on than social problems.  And our sensory-perceptual differences are usually a lot more complicated than hypersensitivity.


Brilliantly said, anbuend.

"Intellectual capacity" can only do so much to allow an individual to compensate for neurological differences, or as you say, sensory-perceptual differences. There seem to be any number of neurological differences that can lead to someone being considered on the autism spectrum. It is the combination of differences or inefficiencies that result in the particular presentation of those on the spectrum. They the "building blocks of autism", except, the building blocks are not just based in behavior, but rather in the neurological differences that can result in particular behaviors and abilities.

I've read a couple of studies that indicate that sometimes a certain amount of neurological inefficiency can cause the individual to develop unusual abilities because they essentially learn from an early age to work harder than those with more typical neurological development. I've even heard it called a "work ethic" that some with learning differences and higher intellectual capacity develop to learn what others learn more easily. That might contribute to obsession over special interests as Mosaicofminds says.

However, intellectual capacity seems to have a glass ceiling, above which there is limited impact of capacity to allow the emulation of typical function. Some people have inefficiency of auditory processing and processing of emotions as their main difficulties, and those can result in being diagnosed on the spectrum or not. Add to those inefficiencies others such as faceblindness, nonverbal learning differences, and tactile sensitivity, and the inefficiencies begin to more heavily impact the behavior and "aloofness" of the individual. The underlying intellectual abilities might still be there, but the layers of neurological differences result what is diagnosed as autism. I surmise that due to the huge volume of neural connections, large number of possible combinations of inefficiencies, and complexity of the brain, that we've been limited in holistically understanding our differences and abilities.

Z



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05 May 2010, 3:00 pm

anbuend wrote:
I don't think all forms of autism get less obvious because of the cognitive advantages that sometimes get called giftedness and sometimes don't.


you're right, anbuend. i should have said mine, and even so, specific to blending in socially.

it's always fascinating to read your posts. it must exhaust you to write them.


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05 May 2010, 7:06 pm

Pensieve wrote:
So does this mean I'm gifted? Or does it mean that I just like to waste time by answering lists?


Depend...
Those lists are not very helpful to know if you're gifted when you're autist.

@Zonder: Does the Raven is good to know the intelligence of a asperger. Also what mean a good verbal comprehension then? And what mean a good reading comprehension then too?


Psychomotor
* Needs lots of movement and athletic activity (ADHD: "hyperactive; impulsive")No
* Has trouble slowing down one's thoughts so one can go to sleep (ADHD; insomnia is a common trait in ADHD)Yes
* Fast talking (?)Yes
* Lots of gestures (?)Yes
* Sometimes nervous tics (OCD; often found in autism spectrum too)Yes

Sensual
* Demands to have the label cut out of the shirt (SPD, autistic spectrum: "overly sensitive")No
* love for sensory things -- textures, smells, tastes etc (for some reason, positive sensory experiences are NEVER discussed in writing about autism by non-autistic people, AFAIK).A little
* powerful reaction to negative sensory input (bad smells, loud sounds, etc.) (SPD, autistic spectrum, "overly sensitive")No
* sensitive to bright lights; squints (SPD, autistic spectrum, "overly sensitive")No
* sensitive to harsh sounds (SPD, autistic spectrum; if sounds are distracting, may be labeled ADHD)Yes
* Aesthetic awareness -- awed to breathlessness at the sight of a beautiful sunset, cries hearing Mozart, etc. (if the trigger is a sunset or Mozart, the child will be labeled gifted. If the trigger is a spinning wheel or an opening and closing garage door, the child will be labeled autistic).Yes

Imaginational
In my experience, the OEs that REALLY annoyed the hell out of teachers were this and emotional--as you can guess by the list of lovely adjectives I've put next to some of these traits. Wink
* dreamers, poets, "space cadets" (ADHD; "inattentive," "distracted," "not paying attention," "head in teh clouds," "wasting time")Yes
* strong visual thinkers ("poor verbal thinkers"; "disorganized work"; "poor writer")Yes
* use lots of metaphorical speech (when a child tells elaborate stories as if they were real, he or she will be accused of telling "tall tales" or "lies" and "not knowing the difference between imagination and reality," when in fact part of the game is to pretend it's real. If an adult says "this isn't real," he's breaking the game, and acting like that annoying person who interrupts an exciting movie to complain about the special effects).No
* day dream (ADHD; "inattentive," "distracted," "not paying attention," "head in the clouds," "wasting time")OH YES!! !
* remember their dreams at night and often react strongly to themNo
* take a long time to "grow out of" Santa, the tooth fairy, elves and fairies, etc.. ("immature," "doesn't know the difference between imagination and reality")Yes

Intellectual
*highly logical, and expects the same from others (Autism spectrum: "extreme male brain," "splits hairs," "rude," if constantly correcting teacher or other students, "rigid")Yes
* loves brain teasers and puzzlesNot much
* enjoys following a line of complex reasoning (if this comes with tuning out when the reasoning is simple, ADHD).
* enjoys figuring things out. (if this comes with insistence on working things out for oneself instead of being taught, may be diagnosed as oppositional defiant disorder, "rigid," "stubborn")Yes
* love of new information, cognitive games, etc. (Autistic spectrum: "special interest," "little professor")Yes for the love of new informations, A LOT

Emotional
This is where the differences from autism seem the greatest, although I would guess people here who describe themselves as empathic and overly emotional sensitive might identify.
* Emotions are very intense; happier when happy, angrier when angry, etc. (bipolar, depression; "explosive child," "strong-willed child," "mood swings," "drama queen")Yes
* Very broad range of emotionsDon't know
* Need for deep connections with other people or animalsYes
* Wants to find close and deep friends, and may invent imaginary friends if they can't find them (autism spectrum; "loner," "doesn't make friends," "has unrealistic expectations of friendships," "immature")Yes, but I never had imaginary friends
* Feels betrayed by a child who plays with a different friend instead of him or her (autism spectrum; "has unrealistic expectations of friendships")Yes
* Susceptible to depression (depression)Yes

This list left off a few crucial traits, such as:
* prefers the company of older children and adults because of a need for intellectual peers (Autism spectrum: "can't maintain friendships with children own age")Yes, for adults as a child
* intellectual enthusiasms--topics of interest which will be pursued intensely, in depth, for a period of time and dropped when the child eventually loses interest (Autism spectrum: "special interests")Yes
* can concentrate for hours, even forgetting to eat, when interested in something, but can have trouble focusing when underchallenged (ADHD: "hyperfocus," "inattentive")No



Last edited by Tollorin on 06 May 2010, 7:00 am, edited 3 times in total.

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05 May 2010, 7:13 pm

@Horus: I think you are smarter that you give yourself credit for. But your intelligence can't shine fully because of your handicaps and problems.



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05 May 2010, 7:42 pm

Yeah writing completely wipes me out. Although it's easier in some respects than understanding language. (For me the two evolved differently and receptive lagged far behind expressive even though I have difficulties in both.) I have several shortcuts for writing though:

1. Write something often enough and it becomes more automatic each time. Often the hardest work that goes into writing something is the years where I have invisibly to others, and quite repetitively, bashed a concept against language so many times that words start forming.

2. Seeing someone else write something gives me more ability to write it. I have a friend whose brain greatly resembles mine and we help each other in this way. Often one of us will have written about something the other hadn't managed to put in words yet.

3. When I write, virtually everything else goes offline to help me write. Reading comrehension included. That's one reason I am terrible at either summarizing long posts or condensing short ones, it's hard to do that when you can't read what you've written easily. (And my writing vocabulary is also larger than my reading one.)

Of course writing like all language wears me out a good deal. But since I am a writer I choose to wear myself out in this way. My consent is wholly informed by long experience. (Also I'm hypergraphic -- compulsive writing and other creativity. So there is a very strong... I can't remember the word. Persuasion+reason.)

I have a few reasons I write besides compulsion though:

1. Because reading others writing helped me understand myself and I want to give others something back.

2. Because people like me are underrepresented just about everywhere.

3. Because I have a strong sense of justice and words are a useful tool to discuss that.

4. Because I want to communicate with people.

It's funny to rely so much on words and yet despise them as much as I do. In some ways they are the thief of truth and in other ways they can point at the truth if not directly state it. It's also strange to be considered a good writer and also to find language so completely exhausting and have a level of difficulty with them that some people who are worse at writing don't have. Yet more ways words can distort the truth, because I am certain outside of words it all makes perfect sense.


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05 May 2010, 7:59 pm

anbuend, does it help you feel "grounded" or participatory in the world when you communicate with others like this (via writing / posting)? or do you feel more alive when you don't speak, and just interact with your environment physically?


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05 May 2010, 8:19 pm

I was in all gifted classes in school. It said it on my printed schedule at the beginning of the school year. I was able to take a third year of art, which not everyone was able to do, and my art teacher, when checking my schedule on the first day of class, laughed and penciled in "gifted" next to his class listing. Today I got an ADHD diagnosis. So I have two official labels.



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05 May 2010, 8:58 pm

katzefrau wrote:
anbuend, does it help you feel "grounded" or participatory in the world when you communicate with others like this (via writing / posting)? or do you feel more alive when you don't speak, and just interact with your environment physically?


Definitely the second. Writing pulls towards abstraction which is the opposite of grounding. If I write or read too much I can get stuck in a terrible state where my head seems to be painfully full of words and I feel horribly cut off from the world. All I can do at that point is wait until it's over. And it's one of the most awful feelings I have ever had. It's like my head clangs and words sort of zip around and I can't find anything real and things seem completely devoid of meaning or valueas I normally relate to them. And it always feels as if it will never end and I am trapped there forever.

Writing does some good things for me but connecting me to the world is not one of them. Just... ick, no.


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05 May 2010, 9:10 pm

Whoever made that list of characteristics has been spying on me.
In childhood I was identified as "highly intelligent but odd"; I wasn't diagnosed with AS until recently.


Quote:
I don't know how familiar you are with the concept of "overexcitabilities," so here's the basic introduction: http://www.stephanietolan.com/dabrowskis.htm And here's a more in-depth discussion: http://www.sengifted.org/articles_socia ... fted.shtml

I've extracted the behavior associated with the overxcitabilities in gifted kids and put next to them, in parentheses, the way an unsympathetic clinician might describe them while diagnosing the child with a learning disability.

Psychomotor
* Needs lots of movement and athletic activity (ADHD: "hyperactive; impulsive")
* Has trouble slowing down one's thoughts so one can go to sleep (ADHD; insomnia is a common trait in ADHD)
* Fast talking (?)
* Lots of gestures (?)
* Sometimes nervous tics (OCD; often found in autism spectrum too)

Sensual
* Demands to have the label cut out of the shirt (SPD, autistic spectrum: "overly sensitive")
* love for sensory things -- textures, smells, tastes etc (for some reason, positive sensory experiences are NEVER discussed in writing about autism by non-autistic people, AFAIK).
* powerful reaction to negative sensory input (bad smells, loud sounds, etc.) (SPD, autistic spectrum, "overly sensitive")
* sensitive to bright lights; squints (SPD, autistic spectrum, "overly sensitive")
* sensitive to harsh sounds (SPD, autistic spectrum; if sounds are distracting, may be labeled ADHD)
* Aesthetic awareness -- awed to breathlessness at the sight of a beautiful sunset, cries hearing Mozart, etc. (if the trigger is a sunset or Mozart, the child will be labeled gifted. If the trigger is a spinning wheel or an opening and closing garage door, the child will be labeled autistic).

Imaginational
In my experience, the OEs that REALLY annoyed the hell out of teachers were this and emotional--as you can guess by the list of lovely adjectives I've put next to some of these traits.
* dreamers, poets, "space cadets" (ADHD; "inattentive," "distracted," "not paying attention," "head in teh clouds," "wasting time")
* strong visual thinkers ("poor verbal thinkers"; "disorganized work"; "poor writer")
* use lots of metaphorical speech (when a child tells elaborate stories as if they were real, he or she will be accused of telling "tall tales" or "lies" and "not knowing the difference between imagination and reality," when in fact part of the game is to pretend it's real. If an adult says "this isn't real," he's breaking the game, and acting like that annoying person who interrupts an exciting movie to complain about the special effects).
* day dream (ADHD; "inattentive," "distracted," "not paying attention," "head in the clouds," "wasting time")
* remember their dreams at night and often react strongly to them * take a long time to "grow out of" Santa, the tooth fairy, elves and fairies, etc.. ("immature," "doesn't know the difference between imagination and reality")

Intellectual
*highly logical, and expects the same from others (Autism spectrum: "extreme male brain," "splits hairs," "rude," if constantly correcting teacher or other students, "rigid")
* loves brain teasers and puzzles
* enjoys following a line of complex reasoning (if this comes with tuning out when the reasoning is simple, ADHD).
* enjoys figuring things out. (if this comes with insistence on working things out for oneself instead of being taught, may be diagnosed as oppositional defiant disorder, "rigid," "stubborn")
* love of new information, cognitive games, etc. (Autistic spectrum: "special interest," "little professor")

Emotional
This is where the differences from autism seem the greatest, although I would guess people here who describe themselves as empathic and overly emotional sensitive might identify.
* Emotions are very intense; happier when happy, angrier when angry, etc. (bipolar, depression; "explosive child," "strong-willed child," "mood swings," "drama queen")
* Very broad range of emotions
* Need for deep connections with other people or animals
* Wants to find close and deep friends, and may invent imaginary friends if they can't find them (autism spectrum; "loner," "doesn't make friends," "has unrealistic expectations of friendships," "immature")
* Feels betrayed by a child who plays with a different friend instead of him or her (autism spectrum; "has unrealistic expectations of friendships")
* Susceptible to depression (depression)

This list left off a few crucial traits, such as:
* prefers the company of older children and adults because of a need for intellectual peers (Autism spectrum: "can't maintain friendships with children own age")
* intellectual enthusiasms--topics of interest which will be pursued intensely, in depth, for a period of time and dropped when the child eventually loses interest (Autism spectrum: "special interests") * can concentrate for hours, even forgetting to eat, when interested in something, but can have trouble focusing when underchallenged (ADHD: "hyperfocus," "inattentive")


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06 May 2010, 1:08 am

Mosaicofminds wrote:
@penseive: "So does this mean I'm gifted? Or does it mean that I just like to waste time by answering lists?"

Maybe? I don't think anyone knows for sure whether having most of these traits is enough to automatically make someone gifted, or whether they just happen to come with the territory. I'm pretty sure most people have a few. I'd love to know how many people have most of these.

If you're curious, this is one of the better checklists, although it's geared to children: http://www.ri.net/gifted_talented/character.html There's also a book called The Gifted Adult which takes the position that most people who are gifted, don't know they are and would deny it, because they think it's about success in school or making a lot of money.

Thanks for the link. Not a lot I can relate to. I'm what they call 'a late bloomer' which is quite the opposite to what being gifted is. But I am intelligent in my own ways. :wink:


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06 May 2010, 8:22 am

Just because I've got nothing else to do, going through the characteristics listed on that page quoted in the last post. 

Many gifted children learn to read early, with better comprehension of the nuances of language. As much as half the gifted and talented population has learned to read before entering school.

Er... sort of. I learned to read early but had terrible language comprehension. As I said, stereotypical hyperlexia is as much about limitations as anything. 
 
Gifted children often read widely, quickly, and intensely and have large vocabularies.

I would read anything I could get my hands on at times (again typical hyperlexia) but with very little comprehension and a small vocabulary.  I am not sure that's what they're after either.  
 
Gifted children commonly learn basic skills better, more quickly, and with less practice.

Absolutely the opposite of me.  This is why I nearly hit the bottom on tests of basic skills, and it's been true from the start when I didn't know how to nurse, hard to get more basic than that.  I either hit a lot of cognitive milestones late or not at all or frequently lost them again after learning them (when I am in my most basic mode of thought object permanence is tricky, hence starving all day because I couldn't always comprehend that food could exist in cupboards or the fridge). Also when I do learn more advanced skills it is often because my mind has found a way to divert itself around skills I lack, not because I've mastered the basics.    
 
They are better able to construct and handle abstractions.

Absolutely the opposite of me. That is what I mean when I talk about building mental towers.  Painful when possible. Not always possible.   
 
They often pick up and interpret nonverbal cues and can draw inferences that other children need to have spelled out for them.

While I have relied more on nonverbal cues than many autistics (because my comprehension of verbal cues was even worse -- and studies suggest this is more common in autistics with receptive language delays than previously thought) it's not that I pick up on them the same or better than nonautistic people, it's that I pick up different ones from nonautistic people. So no. 
 
They take less for granted, seeking the "hows" and "whys."

I don't know what that means. 
 
They can work independently at an earlier age and can concentrate for longer periods.

Depends on the area. In some areas I'm the opposite. But in some areas absolutely. However this is a common autistic trait. 
 
Their interests are both wildly eclectic and intensely focused.

Wildly eclectic no. Intensely focused yes. In other words I meet that one criterion for autism. 
 
They often have seemingly boundless energy, which sometimes leads to a misdiagnosis of hyperactivity.

Why is everything always considered a misdiagnosis if it happens to "gifted" kids?  But no I never had this.
  
They usually respond and relate well to parents, teachers, and other adults. They may prefer the company of older children and adults to that of their peers.

I didn't relate well to adults or to any people before I met people like me. But they were sometimes easier to handle than kids were. For autism-related reasons. 
 
They like to learn new things, are willing to examine the unusual, and are highly inquisitive.

I am inquisitive. I only like to learn some new things. And I don't know what willing to examine the unusual means.
  
They tackle tasks and problems in a well-organized, goal-directed, and efficient manner.

Absolutely the opposite of me. 

They exhibit an intrinsic motivation to learn, find out, or explore and are often very persistent. "I'd rather do it myself" is a common attitude.

Sometimes, sort of.  

They may show keen powers of observation and a sense of the significant; they have an eye for important details.

No. I was always in awe of kids who could figure out what was important. In fact a formative experience involved the teacher reading to us a book called Never Talk to Strangers. A girl said "Sounds like an important book." And I somehow knew I lacked the capacity to figure things like that out. I do have keen powers of observation but they don't focus only on what is important, they sometimes do the opposite.  
 
They may read a great deal on their own, preferring books and magazines written for children older than they are.

I read a great deal on my own but had no age preference in books and indeed no preference for books over anything else. As my language comprehension began to kick in, which was years later than usual, I developed a preference for books for younger kids. Today my absolute favorite type of books are books designed for children. I comprehend them much faster than adult books. 

They often take great pleasure in intellectual activity.

Intellectual activity makes my brain hurt. 
 
They have well-developed powers of abstraction, conceptualization, and synthesis.

I don't know what synthesis is and I'm shaky on what conceptualization means. My well-developed powers are in recognizing patterns from concrete events, not in abstraction.  I have put that pattern sensingto use in place of traditional abstraction, but that can only go so far before it's revealed for what it is (hence my massive crash in adolescence).   
 
They readily see cause-effect relationships.

Hoo boy. No. I was very late learning these. So late my dad gave up on spanking me because I was unable to relate it to what I had done wrong, and simply developed a fear that things would randomly appear out of thin air and hit my butt. With no sense of cause and effect, shaky object permanence, and the lack of many cognitive things people seem to be born with or acquire early, the way I perceived the world as a child involved a whole lot of total random appearing and disappearing of things in all of my senses. 
 
They often display a questioning attitude and seek information for its own sake as much as for its usefulness.

I don't know what a questioning attitude means. I don't know whether I learn for its own sake or not, that may be too much of a generalization. 
 
They are often skeptical, critical, and evaluative. They are quick to spot inconsistencies.

I don't know what evaluative means. I don't think I am naturally skeptical. I am the sort of person where when I first heard gullible wasn't in the dictionary I thought it might be true. One reason that people have thought me to be making up my motivations and fears, is "Anyone with any sense would know that is not true." Such as when a boy taught me that our minds had a telepathic link that could not be broken without causing insanity or death. Or a psychologist told me he would get inside my head and kill my mind and replace it with a better mind. Or kids who would teach me absurd things just so they could laugh at me. I also often don't spot inconsistencies and am in awe of people who do, like I will repeat something I heard and someone will immediately with no prior knowledge in the area tell me what is inconsistent.  

The one area where I might have something that at first glance appears this way, is that once I have gotten a sense of many patterns around something, I am able to perceive when something seems glaringly out of place, or what I call "force-fitted". However I think this is different than using logic to spot inconsistencies.  
 
They often have a large storehouse of information about a variety of topics, which they can recall quickly.

I have a friend who is like that, meets all these other characteristics of giftedness, and made a mathematical discovery in high school that had never been made before (and won an international science fair that way). She tells me that my brain seems like an enormous storehouse of incredibly detailed observations about the world around me. Except that I can't recall any of it at all on demand. Nor can anyone else force it out of me. But if somehow the situation is just right, it will trigger a small glimpse of a piece of that information, like a door opening just a crack. 

Because our skills are mirror image opposites of each other, she often tries to find ways to get more of that information out of me. And then a little bit will come out. And then... without warning she will go into abstraction mode, I will try to follow her. And find my way blocked. And fall down again with a massive headache and a feel like my mind is cracking to pieces. And then both of us are frustrated by the massive gap between us.  I am getting better though about sensing when something is too abstract and stopping there rather than following her up into the air.   

So not quite. I can't retrieve such information on demand. And it's usually not very abstract. 

They readily grasp underlying principles and can often make valid generalizations about events, people, or objects.

I honestly don't know. The sentence is a kind that is hard for me to understand. (I am getting better at saying that too instead of my lifelong policy of pretending to have an answer any plausible answer as long as it soubds right.)
 
They quickly perceive similarities, differences, and anomalies.

I don't know. Are these sentences getting more abstract or is my mind wearing out?  I don't know if what that means applies to the way I deal with patterns or not. 
 
They often attack complicated material by separating it into components and analyzing it systematically.

Absolutely not. I attack complicated material either by going "blaaaargh I can't do this" or by reading through the whole thing and hoping a pattern will reveal itself. If it doesn't I'm screwed.  

Gifted children are fluent thinkers, able to generate possibilities, consequences, or related ideas.

I'm not fluent at that.

They are flexible thinkers, able to use many different alternatives and approaches to problem solving.

I have basically one approach. Or one and a half approaches. The first is as always hope a pattern reveals itself and follow it to the solution. That is solid for me. The, er, "half", is to attempt to analyze it and hope my analytic thought doesn't fall apart before I find the solution.
  
They are original thinkers, seeking new, unusual, or unconventional associations and combinations among items of information.

I am by necessity an original thinker. Because I am completely incapable of using the ordinary path or way of thinking that leads to understanding for most people.  Most people (including many autistic people) use a lot of cognitive shortcuts that I call mental widgets.  Here is the post I made on widgets. Widgets allow people to learn whole chunks of information as if they are single concepts. This makes things faster but it loses accuracy. 

When I do things without the aid of many widgets, it means I can't fall back on conventional ways of thinking about something even when I want to. I am left with only the option of going through the raw information and finding patterns and then reporting in detail on the patterns I find. 

This means I have no choice but to be an original thinker. It's not because of what I want to do. It's because my ability to use widgets, if I ever had one, burned down to nearly nothing a long time ago. I can't follow the usual path so I have to find my own.

This has led to my working with researchers because instead of knowing lots of autistic people and saying "They exhibit poor theory of mind, weak central coherence, poor empathizing, and excellent systemizing", I instead can describe accurately our many and varied experiences. 

What truly frightened me and taught me a lot about the power of widgets, were two experiences with the researchers. They had all seen a video of autistic people and reported that the children in the video were uniformly nonverbal, lacking in empathy, and lacking in interaction and connection. I showed the video to them again and showed them the kids making eye contact, speaking, interacting, and showing empathy. They hadn't seen it because widgets told them not to. I later talked about the ability of many autistics to pick up on and be overwhelmed by others emotions. She said she hadn't heard of it. I asked her "How many parents do you know who told you their children pick up on and are stressed out by tension in the household?" She said all of them told her that but she discounted it because she heard we couldn't pick up body language. More widgets at work. Terrifying. 

So yes I am an original thinker. Not because I do the same kind of thinking as usual but am just better at it. But because I can barely do that kind of thinking at all.   
 
They can also see relationships among seemingly unrelated objects, ideas, or facts.

I can pick up patterns as I've said before. I don't know if the ones I puck up are seemingly related or not. It's just what I do, what I can't help doing. 
 
They are elaborate thinkers, producing new steps, ideas, responses, or other embellishments to a basic idea, situation, or problems.

I don't know. I definitely can't do the kind of elaborate chains of abstractions my friend can do. As repeated many times I can see patterns though. Not from a basic idea though. Just between different parts of the world. 
 
They are willing to entertain complexity and seem to thrive on problem solving.

I do not thrive on problem solving.  I don't understand why so many people do.  
 
They are good guessers and can readily construct hypotheses or "what if" questions.

No. 
 
They often are aware of their own impulsiveness and irrationality, and they show emotional sensitivity.

I don't understand how any of those things relate or what is meant by them.  I have spent a lot of time around "gifted" people though and they can be as insensitive and cruel as the next person. Some of them more so than usual because they have learned the lesson of many gifted programs -- that they are a superior caste who can't even figure out how to speak to a person of average IQ let alone less. (And they are so sure they can tell the difference.) The cruel ones are scarier than any other people I have met -- they have the intellectual resources to do terrible things to mess with the heads of whoever they see as beneath them. Like me and many other neuro-atypicals.  I've seen things that you'd have to see to believe in their complexity and their precise design of making a person doubt their own sanity, believe they will be killed, etc. Such people saw me as little more than a toy. I will never buy that "gifted" people are any more sensitive to others than any other group of people. That's just ego-massaging nonsense, I know people with MR just as sensitive as anyone.  
 
They are extremely curious about objects, ideas, situations, or events.

About objects, yes.  

They often display intellectual playfulness and like to fantasize and imagine.

I know exactly what they mean. This is big in parts of geek culture. I have always felt outside it all -- why would I play with abstractions when abstractions hurt?
 
They can be less intellectually inhibited than their peers are in expressing opinions and ideas, and they often disagree spiritedly with others' statements.

Sort of, in some situations. Sometimes the opposite. Really depends. 
 
They are sensitive to beauty and are attracted to aesthetic values.

Yes, but that's hardly more common among "gifted" people.  


So basically the traits I have on that list are either things that aren't truly related to "giftedness" anyway, or things related to that one particular form of pattern sensing. Which is probably why when I was finally examined by a child psychiatrist he declared immediately thar I had "idiot savant features" -- all my cognitive skills are bound up in that one area, and if it looks like they're not it's only because I used pattern sensing to do things that are normally done without it, meanwhile I have enormous gaps in areas that most people (and most "gifted" people) have skills in, to the point where my brain won't do things that even babies and small children do. It's like I've got one really tall spike and little else.
 

Also, being "gifted" and a "late bloomer" are not mutually exclusive. I was regarded as gifted in childhood. However, as I grew older, the areas that had got me called "gifted" mostly either disappeared or failed to advance much at all. A bunch of other traits nobody noticed began to appear and ended up becoming my biggest strengths as I got older. So I was regarded as gifted because I got some advanced or seemingly advanced skills early, but most of those did not pan out for me over the long run. And the skills that I am still good at, I was either a late bloomer in, or were invisible to others until later.

For instance...

I was a terrible writer until sometime in adolescence when suddenly I became able to write well.

My ability to find patterns in things was always there, but there was a massive shift in adolescence that changed it dramatically. I was no longer as able to use it to fake the presence of skills I didn't have (the skills that covered my deficiencies somewhat and were some of the things it was wrongly assumed I was "gifted" in). And I experienced at the same time this massive surge in using that ability in its own right that completely dwarfed whatever skill I had previously had in that area to insignificance.

I was a terrible artist in childhood and suddenly became good at it in adolescence and adulthood.

I never baked in my life until I was in my twenties. The skill emerged full-formed and I excelled at it.

I had a terrible time learning to attach words to thoughts (a totally separate skill from the act of writing or speaking). If I ever had that skill before adulthood, I lost it and had to learn it in young adulthood. And now I still have trouble with it and yet I write my thoughts nearly every day now.

I had very little conscious self-awareness growing up. Now it's one of my best skills.

So I learned some things early enough to be temporarily categorized as gifted, but learned all my best skills after the age of twelve or so, and the ones I learned early barely panned out if ever. As usual classifying me is annoyingly difficult (annoying in that sometimes it would be nice to just find a nice neat category to sink into and stay there, but fat chance).


_________________
"In my world it's a place of patterns and feel. In my world it's a haven for what is real. It's my world, nobody can steal it, but people like me, we live in the shadows." -Donna Williams


Mosaicofminds
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

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06 May 2010, 10:46 am

Yeah, one problem I have with these checklists is that they assume every gifted person is an early bloomer. I tend to mentally "scale up" the different traits and imagine how they'd look in an adult. I get frustrated with things like "good at puzzles," "good at reading," or "good at math," which do appear on some, because they seem to be more about the type of intelligence a person has than their general ability to think well.

Gifted children commonly learn basic skills better, more quickly, and with less practice.
I interpreted "basic skills" here as basic academic skills, not life skills, like phonics. I wonder what the question actually meant.

They are better able to construct and handle abstractions.
This one is the closest to my personal understanding of "gifted," I guess.

They often pick up and interpret nonverbal cues and can draw inferences that other children need to have spelled out for them.
I guess this one rules out anyone with autism or a nonverbal learning disability...

They take less for granted, seeking the "hows" and "whys."
It means something like this. On the job, a gifted person might be taught a data entry procedure (so typing on the computer, filing papers, etc.). The gifted person will learn how to do the procedure, understand the purpose (to make information easy for people in the company to access, for example, or to have records in case the business gets audited), but he or she will automatically ask, "why are we doing it this way? Is there a better way to do it?" Or, in class, a gifted child might be taught a mathematical formula. Math is something that's supposed to express an absolute truth about the world, so the child won't just memorize the formula, he or she will ask, "why is this formula true?" I could write a book about the terrible responses gifted people get to these sorts of questions.

Their interests are both wildly eclectic and intensely focused.
I dunno how "wildly eclectic" gifted people actually are; it seems more like a personality trait than anything else. I think it was mostly put in there to differentiate from autism. (Yeah, some problematic attitudes there, I know).

Why is everything always considered a misdiagnosis if it happens to "gifted" kids? But no I never had this.
Good question. The assumption that "gifted kids are like this" helped prevent my parents from realizing that I had nonverbal learning disabilities. That said, I do think there are lots of overlaps between gifted and ADHD and gifted and autism, but not every gifted person has enough of the traits or has them strongly enough to actually be diagnosable as ADHD or autistic. (e.g. there are socially skilled gifted people and there are gifted people with good working memory and ability to focus and organize themselves). I think the issue here is that diagnosis is based on behaviors rather than neurology, and gifted kids will be "misdiagnosed" if clinicians don't take into account the REASONS for the behaviors (e.g., boredom), and whether these behaviors appear in a setting where the child is understood and challenged appropriately.

They like to learn new things, are willing to examine the unusual, and are highly inquisitive.
Willing to examine the unusual could mean...well, you've probably noticed people don't like what they don't understand. You've talked about people who don't like what you have to say because it's so different from their views about autism. And then there are other people who just ignore or avoid you, for the same reason. According to this, a gifted person would be more likely to ask you questions and try to understand you better.
.


They have well-developed powers of abstraction, conceptualization, and synthesis.
Conceptualization means the ability to reach those higher levels of abstraction you find so painful. Synthesis is the ability to put ideas together and get a new idea, like putting puzzle pieces together. What would be a good example of the sort of concrete pattern sensing you do?

the way I perceived the world as a child involved a whole lot of total random appearing and disappearing of things in all of my senses.
Oh wow...that sounds terrifying!

They often display a questioning attitude and seek information for its own sake as much as for its usefulness.
A questioning attitude is like what I described before--it means always asking questions about things. Lots of people--including many smart people--don't like to ask questions and are more likely to do it if they want to challenge you without being rude.

The one area where I might have something that at first glance appears this way, is that once I have gotten a sense of many patterns around something, I am able to perceive when something seems glaringly out of place, or what I call "force-fitted". However I think this is different than using logic to spot inconsistencies.
What is this like?

They readily grasp underlying principles and can often make valid generalizations about events, people, or objects.
This is related to the earlier questions. The theme here is that gifted people want to know not just how to do something, but what the point is. They don't just want to learn a fact, they want to understand how it relates to other facts they know, what new facts you can figure out if you know that fact, and why the fact matters in the first place. Being able to make generalizations is going from a few examples ("my friend likes pancakes") to a larger idea ("maybe people in general like pancakes"). Making a valid generalization means that the larger idea is actually true. Making generalizations lets you make predictions about the future. If you think "people in general like pancakes," then you can predict that if you offer a pancake to your neighbor, your neighbor will be very happy and will eat it. Stupid example, but hopefully that makes it more concrete.

I've found that having a nonverbal learning disability interferes with this process a lot. When it comes to figuring out how to do something, such as making a drink at Starbucks, I've been told there are inferences everyone else makes that I don't.

"What truly frightened me and taught me a lot about the power of widgets, were two experiences with the researchers. They had all seen a video of autistic people and reported that the children in the video were uniformly nonverbal, lacking in empathy, and lacking in interaction and connection. I showed the video to them again and showed them the kids making eye contact, speaking, interacting, and showing empathy. They hadn't seen it because widgets told them not to. I later talked about the ability of many autistics to pick up on and be overwhelmed by others emotions. She said she hadn't heard of it. I asked her "How many parents do you know who told you their children pick up on and are stressed out by tension in the household?" She said all of them told her that but she discounted it because she heard we couldn't pick up body language. More widgets at work. Terrifying."
! Terrifying indeed.

They are willing to entertain complexity and seem to thrive on problem solving.
Why? Because it's fun. :) You were talking about geek culture...I completely understand why you feel left out. On the other hand, for those of us who engage in it, it's the one time we feel like we can be ourselves, and let our minds do what they were meant to do.

They often are aware of their own impulsiveness and irrationality, and they show emotional sensitivity.
You're right that gifted people are no more moral than anyone else. I think they were talking about having intense emotions, being easily hurt, being moved by other people's suffering, stuff like that. But it's hard to say, cuz the question is vague. :)

Also, being "gifted" and a "late bloomer" are not mutually exclusive.
Yeah, I agree.

"As usual classifying me is annoyingly difficult (annoying in that sometimes it would be nice to just find a nice neat category to sink into and stay there, but fat chance)."
lol, but would you WANT to be someone who was easy to classify? :D

Sorry if this is hard to read. I don't have time to edit--I have to go to class.