A ? for the Visually Minded amongst us

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plantwhisperer
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13 Sep 2011, 12:07 pm

So, when I noticed some similarities between my mind and "the dyslexic mind", I decided to read a bit about dyslexia.

I've just finished a recently published book called, The Dyslexic Advantage written by Brock and Fernette Eide. Their description of the basic cognitive strengths of the dyslexic brain are, with a few key differences, an exact description of how I think. Without stretching language over far, they've come up with the acronym MIND to comprise the basic dyslexic strengths. See if this fits you.

M.--Material reasoning. Essentially very flexible visual spatial mental imaging. The visual part of one's brain actually incorporates neuro-real estate that is usually delegated to auditory and verbal tasks, resulting in predictable problems with auditory processing and verbal production.

I.--Interconnected reasoning. Grasping similarities. Pattern detection. Ability to identify a central essence.

N.--Narrative reasoning. The use of long-term personal episodic memory to compare cases/patterns, which gives us metaphors and analogies. General principles. Patterns are stored separately in memory rather than blurred into generalizations.

D.--Dynamic reasoning. The ability to use the above to predict outcomes, and imagine the unseen.

Important differences between a primarily dyslexic or Aspergian brain, would be the dyslexic tendency to grasp gist first (top down) reasoning, whereas the autistic brain goes from part to whole (bottom up ) thinking. So, mightn't that be I before N for primarily dyslexic, as opposed to N before I for autistics? And, if one were both dyslexic and autistic, what might that signfy?

I never had any problems learning to read. In fact, I could tell you the story of the day I learned to read using my highly detailed personal episodic movie of the event. I could, but my dynamic reasoning tells me you'd be bored to tears.

Interestingly, the Eides mention that dyslexic kids also have sensory issues. I'd heard that about ADHDers, of course, but never about those who are solely dyslexic. Many researchers have studied both dyslexia and autism. So, this can't really be news. Occassionally one hears that some people think both ADHD and dyslexics should be on the autistic spectrum. ADHD being a cousin of autism, has long made sense to me, but I finally feel I understand the similiarity with dyslexia.

It would seem this is a Type A (autistic) and a Type B (byslexia :) ) of the visual mind. I wonder if the Eides are missing the bigger picture when they dismiss all comparisons between the delightful, bright dyslexic kids they work with, and the dull minded, stuck on detail autistics, with whom they don't work. Ahem. (Unfortunate, that). Can one be on the extreme end of the visually minded spectrum without being either?

So, what do ya think? Is this the way your mind works? Thanks in advance for any responses.



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13 Sep 2011, 12:37 pm

I am most definitely a big-picture, top-down person. Haven't had trouble reading but I do take a very very long time to read something and understand it unless I am already anticipating the context. Read over and over it for it to sink in. Maybe not dyslexic... maybe an adaptation to dyslexia... anyway yes they sound related and your assessment of the main difference being big->small or small->big focus seems accurate. Except that would make me not autistic and just dyslexic.



plantwhisperer
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13 Sep 2011, 1:34 pm

Thanks for your response purchase. Interesting.

Of course, it's no more than a single, perhaps, coincidental illustration, but in your response, you do go from Narrative reasoning (using yourself as an example) --->Interconnected reasoning. N to I is the pattern I would associate with autistic mind.

Once I get a sense of where the similarities exist, grouping the relevant patterns, and then finding the patterns across patterns can go pretty quickly. Just starting to get a feel for this one, by holding it up, and seeing where the light sparkles off it. Thanks for your help.



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13 Sep 2011, 2:12 pm

The "M" and the "I" apply to me but....

I'm not sure how well the "N" fits me:

I definitely compare specific cases to look for patterns rather than generalizing (i.e. in a sense there is no "general" in my thinking; there are only examples that can be compared and combined), and I tend to use a lot of analogies in my thinking and communication.

But I have holes in my episodic memory--partly because my sense of time is non-existant and I have trouble with abstract sequencing, and partly because I have a hard time processing complex information (I take things in bit by bit in fragments).

The "D" doesn't seem to fit my thinking:

I'm terrible at predicting outcomes and I have a hard time with imagining the unseen. (Although I'm not sure what "imagining the unseen" actually means here....maybe that's an example of my difficulty with it?)



plantwhisperer
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13 Sep 2011, 4:14 pm

That's interesting animalcrackers.

The authors of the book equate D with creativity. Might I ask, do you consider yourself creative? I wonder if without being conscious of it, D slips in and fills holes in narrative episodic memory with imagined, but plausible bridges, and then that becomes the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. Possibly?

I have sequencing issues too. A predominately right brained, specific, visually based style of thinking probably mitigates against a more typical understanding of time. I've often wondered if that's one of the reasons why so many of us look really young for our age. One of the collateral benefits of lifelong immaturity. :) Thanks



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13 Sep 2011, 4:53 pm

My thinking style is definitely closer to the dyslexia stereotype than the aspergers stereotype which is probably why I come out as "half Aspie, half NT" on the rdos quiz as well as others. As an adult, I'm definitely a big-picture / top-down thinker, I'd say more so than most NT's. I need to understand the big picture in order to answer the question "why?". Yet at the same time I can still be somewhat perfectionistic and obsessive with details, especially details that I deem logically necessary (the details of a mathematical proof for example).

I'm not sure how psychologists exactly judge creativity. As a child I did sometimes do things like lining toys up, ritualistically watching/doing certain things over and over again. I also always found things with order and symmetry soothing and pleasing, enjoyed learning math and geometry later in my life also for this reason. I was also very obsessed with maps as a child and would spend hours drawing my own fantasy maps with various roads, trails, and topographic features. It was a very soothing, almost spiritual feeling activity for me. Yet unlike NT children I didn't always make up stories surrounding my fantasy maps, and some psychologists might regard that as "dull" or "unimaginative". Psychologists seem to have a bias that insists creativity and imagination must involve people and social scenarios. But even so, some of my "pretend play" with my younger brother did involve characters and such.

Anyways, I'm not sure exactly where I'm going here. Other than to say that I'm much more complex than anything any particular psychological stereotype can describe.



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14 Sep 2011, 1:00 am

plantwhisperer wrote:
Might I ask, do you consider yourself creative?


I think I'm creative in some ways:

I like to design and build things, draw, and paint. I also like to play with patterns of sound (sit down at the piano and just play whatever comes to mind, then make small alterations to what I've played.)

plantwhisperer wrote:
I wonder if without being conscious of it, D slips in and fills holes in narrative episodic memory with imagined, but plausible bridges, and then that becomes the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. Possibly?


I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but it sounds very interesting....would you be able to think of a concrete example for what you're talking about?



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14 Sep 2011, 11:59 am

marshall,

Your maps seem entirely creative to me, and certainly fit the definition of Dynamic reasoning.

I would agree with you, that often many psychologists prioritize their own strengths, from which they derive satisfaction and happiness, and equate them with a universal definition of human mental health. The blind man describes the entire elephant according to the bit he gets hold of. And to be human is to be both half-blind, and partial, which is to say both incomplete, and preferring our own personal ways. Would you agree?

However, I doubt that anyone would say that an individual is not more complex than a stereotype. ( I'm not just being over literal here.) Somehow we still feel driven to try to communicate about types, and tendencies, and cognitive styles. I suspect that the Eides, the authors of the book I was talking about, are doing no more than trying to fight the good fight for the dyslexic community, (to which, one or both, probably belong), and which, like us, has been underestimated, and overstigmatized. Unfortunately, by disavowing any comparison with the autistic community they are ironically, (my irony, of course, not their's) missing the bigger picture.

Thanks for you response,
Julia



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14 Sep 2011, 12:46 pm

animalcrackers,

Designing, building, drawing, painting, improvising music, if that's not the description of a creative mind at work, I don't know what is.

Dynamic reasoning is practical in creation. In designing, you're creating in imagination the final product which you then build, which is to say, you're predicting outcomes.

Narrative reasoning, or personal episodic memories, are the cases without expiration date, one stores, compares, and contrasts, and uses to build, and to disprove a pattern. Precisely this is what makes aspergians seem so nitpicky and contrary. ex. Your NT friend, sibling, teacher, whoever, comes up with a generalization about which they're quite proud. You or I, or any autistic will counter with some tiny example from personal memory which disproves their (to us) flabby, vague general principle. Just trying to be helpful. If the rule doesn't fit all cases, it's inaccurate, and they ought to go back to the drawing board. After all, accuracy is all. Right?

Part to whole thinking ends in a grasp of "gist". People have told me that I'm a big picture thinker, simply because they don't see all the bits and fragments that had to be sorted thru, compared, contrasted, angled correctly, lined up, and built into the framework, which now supports whatever the big picture is, that they happen to be commenting upon. Sometimes there's nearly a freaking techtonic plate sized continent of framework beneath one of those little glaciers they happen on. What they don't see is a facility for hard work with bits, and patterns. Rather like fitting together a mountain out of pieces of rock.

Mayhaps, you can't conciously recall all the stories behind how you came by your fragments, but without the accumulated trial and error experience (cases in action)) with the bits and pieces, you couldn't have learned which bits fit well together and which do not. When you build your designs, do they do what you expected them to do?

I hope in trying to clarify, I haven't made this more obscure. Sorry if that's the case. :(
Julia



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14 Sep 2011, 3:54 pm

plantwhisperer wrote:
marshall,

Your maps seem entirely creative to me, and certainly fit the definition of Dynamic reasoning.

I would agree with you, that often many psychologists prioritize their own strengths, from which they derive satisfaction and happiness, and equate them with a universal definition of human mental health. The blind man describes the entire elephant according to the bit he gets hold of. And to be human is to be both half-blind, and partial, which is to say both incomplete, and preferring our own personal ways. Would you agree?

Yea.

Quote:
However, I doubt that anyone would say that an individual is not more complex than a stereotype. ( I'm not just being over literal here.) Somehow we still feel driven to try to communicate about types, and tendencies, and cognitive styles. I suspect that the Eides, the authors of the book I was talking about, are doing no more than trying to fight the good fight for the dyslexic community, (to which, one or both, probably belong), and which, like us, has been underestimated, and overstigmatized. Unfortunately, by disavowing any comparison with the autistic community they are ironically, (my irony, of course, not their's) missing the bigger picture.

I think the issue is researchers most interested in statistical facts that apply when comparing large groups as a whole while diagnosed individuals like myself are most interested in how we fit the assumed mould from a self-referential perspective. The statistics may paint autism and dyslexia as opposites, but my personal intellectual strengths are clearly closer to the dyslexic side of things. I always felt slightly slow in performing rote activities but learned intuitive concepts quickly and easily. So not only do I not fit this author's picture of autism, in some ways I'm the opposite of that picture. Not only am I more complex than the stereotype, I'm not even close to it. Of course the author may say my autism is too mild/atypical or I have too high of an IQ to fit the study.

Quote:
Thanks for you response,
Julia

You're welcome. Responding doesn't require too much effort on my part when I can't resist talking about myself. :)



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14 Sep 2011, 10:13 pm

plantwhisperer wrote:
I hope in trying to clarify, I haven't made this more obscure. Sorry if that's the case. Sad


Don't worry, I got a lot from your clarification--thank you! :)

I didn't really understand what you said about narrative episodic memory (I don't really understand what anyone says about it) but I found the rest of your clarification very helpful--this part in particular, because I can translate it into a visual schematic:

plantwhisperer wrote:
Part to whole thinking ends in a grasp of "gist". People have told me that I'm a big picture thinker, simply because they don't see all the bits and fragments that had to be sorted thru, compared, contrasted, angled correctly, lined up, and built into the framework, which now supports whatever the big picture is, that they happen to be commenting upon. Sometimes there's nearly a freaking techtonic plate sized continent of framework beneath one of those little glaciers they happen on. What they don't see is a facility for hard work with bits, and patterns. Rather like fitting together a mountain out of pieces of rock.


If I understand you correctly, you're saying that D puts together fragments of knowledge (compensating for N?) and that this is, at times, an unconscious process .... (?)

This idea makes sense to me, and I think it applies to how my language skills have developed (maybe? sorry if I'm still not really getting this):

I consciously remember fragments of language (things people say, bits of writing) and my brain unconsciously takes all those bits and processes the visual and (to a lesser extent) sound patterns. With some conscious effort, I can reproduce those patterns--most of the time (there are very noteworthy exceptions), the way I speak gives others the impression that my language processing is quite smooth and efficient....

In reality, I can have an entire conversation with someone and have absolutely no idea what either of us is saying--I just know all the words I add "fit" with the other person's because I've accumulated a vast knowledge base of word-strings and language patterns.

The synthesis and analysis of patterns is part of how I come to understand the semantics of words, too--although I couldn't give you a narrative about the process.

plantwhisperer wrote:
Mayhaps, you can't conciously recall all the stories behind how you came by your fragments, but without the accumulated trial and error experience (cases in action)) with the bits and pieces, you couldn't have learned which bits fit well together and which do not. When you build your designs, do they do what you expected them to do?


Yes, most of the things I build work the way I want/expect them to work.

I think the acronym would fit me better if it was "M.D.I.":

"M" is the basis of my thinking;

I can apply "D" to anything that can be conceptualized in a visual-spatial manner;

"I" depends on the above.

I don't think narrative reasoning belongs in a list of my strengths....it's more of a weakness, I think.