Which autism theory sounds most accurate to you?

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Which theory sounds most accurate?
Weak central coherence 22%  22%  [ 11 ]
Extreme male brain 8%  8%  [ 4 ]
Mind-blindness 12%  12%  [ 6 ]
Intense world theory 43%  43%  [ 22 ]
Executive function 16%  16%  [ 8 ]
Total votes : 51

Kon
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31 May 2011, 7:45 pm

If you had to choose just 1 of these 5 autism theories which sounds closer to the truth? A brief summary:

Weak central coherence
Sees autism as a failure to integrate sensory information in a holistic or "gestalt" manner.

Extreme male brain
An excess of testosterone during early development magnifies typical male cognitive traits, such as systemising, at the expense of empathy, sociability and other more typically "female" thinking styles.

Mind-blindness
An underactive amygdala -a brain structure central to the processing of emotional information, especially fear leads to severe problems with empathy and theory of mind.

Intense world theory
Proposes that the root cause of autism is a supercharged brain: excessive neuronal processing may render the world painfully intense.

Executive function
Impairment of the brain's frontal lobes causes loss of the top-down "executive" controls which build the big picture at the expense of minutiae.



draelynn
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31 May 2011, 8:01 pm

Considering its a spectrum, ALL of them are possible. There isn't one autism.



marshall
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31 May 2011, 8:04 pm

Weak central coherence seems to have the most backing in terms of actual neurological evidence. The term "weak central coherence" is kind of a missnomer though as it doesn't necessarily imply there is a direct relationship between white matter irregularity in the brain and "failure to see the big picture" in a cognative/psychological diagnostic test. It has more to do with certain "shortcuts" in the brain being unavailable to autistic people. The "intense world" might just be a consequence of this as the lack of certain evolutionarily selected "shortcuts" for coordinating certain brain activities causes compensatory over-development and overcharged activity in other areas



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31 May 2011, 8:52 pm

A combination of intense world and weak central coherence make sense to me from a personal experience point of view.

"The world is painfully intense" describes how I experience the world most of the time. Hyperfocus allows me to withdraw from the intensity. I feel shielded from the painfully intense world, and it's a great feeling. That's why I seek it out again and again and again, just like other people seek out social interaction, because that's a great feeling for them. Special interests stimulate my mind and allow me to easily enter a state of hyperfocus and stay there for hours at a time. It's very refreshing, like a good night's sleep. I feel great after I "wake up" from it. I can go out into the world and interact with people for limited amounts of time as long as I take steps to protect myself from the intensity, such as by wearing earplugs and baseball caps and giving myself plenty of hyperfocusing "down-time" when my mind is actually most active and "up". I use repetitive behaviors, such as stimming and routines, to reset my overloading mind or to keep it in order to prevent overload.

In terms of weak central coherence or sensory integration, I cannot process non-verbal cues because there are too many of them coming in at the same time, and my mind can only focus on one thing at a time. Indeed the many channels do not integrate into a holistic experience in real-time. I can read facial expressions on a computer screen while alone in my room, but I have trouble doing that out in the world. I prefer sameness and routine because my mind cannot easily integrate changes, even small disruptions to the experience that it has internally generated to prepare itself for getting hit with the painfully intense unintegrable world.

But what about internal stimuli such as emotional signals and hunger/thirst signals? A lot of autistic people experience hyper or hyposensitivity to internal stimuli as well. I often experience total intellectual vs. emotional detachment. I don't have much in the way of emotions most of the time. I'm mostly content, like a flat line. Is this a sign of lack of integration or weak central coherence? The feelings, the signals themselves, are not getting through to conscious awareness or integrated with the unfeeling thoughts? But when they do get through, they are intense. I don't think this supports the mind-blindness theory or theory of mind though. My hunger/thirst signals are not consistently communicated to conscious awareness either. Why is that? Is that the same problem as communicating the internally generated emotional signals from one part of the brain to another? Is there a problem in communication between different parts of the brain?

What about language? I was diagnosed with AS, not AD, but I don't think that my verbal processing is normal either. It's hard to understand what people say and what the words mean. It's hard to translate words into meaning and meaning into words. So I take the words at face value, literally and without hidden nuances or connotations. But outgoing is easier than incoming. This statement sounds bizarre, but I write better than I read. I make up neologisms constantly, because it's easier to create my own words to express meaning than to find the standard words or phrases. It's hard to process external pictures too. I have to generate the pictures in my own mind before I can manipulate them, but once generated, I find it easy to manipulate them. It's easiest of all to generate my own pictures in my own mind. Once generated, everything gets associated with everything else. The intense world theory mentioned hyperconnectivity, but I don't know if it was talking about associative thinking. It's hardest of all to communicate my internally generated pictures and concepts to other people, hardest through speech rather than writing. I have to use many many many words to describe the giant associative mass in my brain. That's why I ramble so much, because the giant mass doesn't even have a clear end or clear beginning, and everything is intertwined. During social interactions, all these extra steps and extra stuff slow me down, so I come across as slow compared to others. I don't know much about the neuroscience, but the social difficulties seem to be high level manifestations of the low level processing differences. The processing may be radically different, so I think that's where the neuroscience should start. Intuitively, without much knowledge or evidence beyond personal experience, I think the theories based purely on socialization are incorrect.

I blathered a lot in this post, but this is what I came up with in the moment. I could be totally wrong though. It's the mass! The mass! The mass!


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ocdgirl123
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31 May 2011, 9:17 pm

In order of which ones make the most sense to the least sense:

1. Executive Function

2. Intense World Theory

3. Weak Central Coherence

4. Mind-Blindness

5. Extreme Male Brain



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31 May 2011, 9:31 pm

:arrow: Executive Function with Weak Central Coherence in a close second.

I'm not entirely sure whether I consider these to be causes or effects of the Autism Spectrum.
As in, I feel that I experience executive dysfunction because of AS, not the other way around.
But then again, I'm no neuro-psychologist... by a long shot. :roll:


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31 May 2011, 10:17 pm

Executive dysfunction can be worse in people with ADHD. We may at least have a good memory and can be organised. And the repetitive does not bore us. Well, not counting those with it co-morbid.

I chose weak central coherence.

My own theory is that we have weak communication between the frontal lobes and the rest of the brain so the rest of the brain doesn't function as effectively as it should. So there is some executive dysfunction in there and some processing issues.
I also believe in a 'atypical social brain' theory where areas of our brain that should be activated when we socialise just don't light up. I have read some research on it too.


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nara44
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31 May 2011, 10:30 pm

Kon wrote:
If you had to choose just 1 of these 5 autism theories which sounds closer to the truth? A brief summary:

Weak central coherence
Sees autism as a failure to integrate sensory information in a holistic or "gestalt" manner.

Extreme male brain
An excess of testosterone during early development magnifies typical male cognitive traits, such as systemising, at the expense of empathy, sociability and other more typically "female" thinking styles.

Mind-blindness
An underactive amygdala -a brain structure central to the processing of emotional information, especially fear leads to severe problems with empathy and theory of mind.

Intense world theory
Proposes that the root cause of autism is a supercharged brain: excessive neuronal processing may render the world painfully intense.

Executive function
Impairment of the brain's frontal lobes causes loss of the top-down "executive" controls which build the big picture at the expense of minutiae.


this theories contradicts each other,for instance, "too much systematizing" doesn't sit well with lack of "gestalt"
they maybe all true
,relatively
from the point of view of NT
An AS look at this theories would reveal a very coherent, interesting new identity where all the contradictions stem from the negative ,narrow mindset,and egocentric view of the so call researchers
integrating all those theories in a positive light ("lack of top to down control" as progressive perception that transcends the hierarchical ) would provide true understanding of autism and much better chance to an honest and even beautiful existence not just to the AS but also for anyone else
it would also be a much better,more ethical science.



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31 May 2011, 10:55 pm

I think they all may have some validity, though I chose extreme male brain, since it is one of the top two that fit me. My latest psychologist kept pointing out that things I have thought or done tend to be more "male" in nature than female. I would definitely like to see more research in that area, but I doubt it'll be anytime soon.



StuartN
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01 Jun 2011, 7:20 am

I think the set of choices is very odd. Autism is probably the combination of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors that lead to traits, abilities and character that sometimes matches one or more of your choices. You are asking people to select from a list of (possibly overlapping) outcomes as the cause.



b9
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01 Jun 2011, 8:17 am

i have read your poll question and i truly think that my answer is not able to be placed into your slots of "all available possibilities".

Kon wrote:
Which theory sounds most accurate?
weak central coherence

what does that mean really? do you expect everyone to understand what you mean?

"weak central coherence" means to me (after much consideration) "flimsy fundamental foundations of trust in ones belief in ones credibility".

that is not what i experience.


Kon wrote:
Extreme male brain
An excess of testosterone during early development magnifies typical male cognitive traits, such as systemising, at the expense of empathy, sociability and other more typically "female" thinking styles.


i do not know exactly what "extreme male brain" means, but i do not have an excess of testosterone.
i do not have enough testosterone, and so i am not well developed in a sexual sense. i am physically normal (except for my lack of bodily hair), but i have no interest in physical things like touching other people.
Kon wrote:
Mind-blindness
An underactive amygdala -a brain structure central to the processing of emotional information, especially fear leads to severe problems with empathy and theory of mind.



what? you are just a student of AS i guess. i have no fear of anything much.
i do not consider that i am going to be harmed by anything in my day most often. it has been this way all my life.

empathy is something that others have for me, not something i have for them. many people like to look at me going about my life (when i am outside), but no one knows what is in my heart when i am alone. "empathy" can never drill through what i feel.

Kon wrote:
Intense world theory
Proposes that the root cause of autism is a supercharged brain: excessive neuronal processing may render the world painfully intense.


i have not a supercharged brain. i just have an ability to see what is real and what is not (as it tests out in my mind)


Kon wrote:
Executive function
Impairment of the brain's frontal lobes causes loss of the top-down "executive" controls which build the big picture at the expense of minutiae.


i have no impairment of my frontal lobes. i have impairment as to the connectivity of the neuronal pathways that my "self" is at the center of. my life and consciousness is quite difficult for anyone else to understand. probably impossible really, but i am not a failure to thrive.

autism for me is a starkness that rips the decorations from all that i see, and i see beyond the ripped decorations that flap in a degrading way on the flagpoles lining the path of my expectation into a world that is incontrovertible.

anyway i have now exited the world of conversation, and i have nothing more to say.



roseblood
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01 Jun 2011, 8:19 am

None of them sounds plausible to me.

Extreme male brain theory is the one whose flaws I'm most interested in though, because I'm very interested in gender.

1) Maybe working in science and academia has sheltered Baron-Cohen from what male-correlated behaviour actually looks like. Professional scientists as a group are not entirely typical of either sex in the general population, but it seems as if those are the people he's using to define masculinity and that he thinks being typically masculine means being a nerd (I'm not using that derogatorily by the way, I'm a nerd too).

I've never known an autistic person act macho or hypermasculine. In fact they/we seem LESS masculine than average in certain ways, e.g. less likely to enjoy physical activity and sports, be competitive, have low base anxiety levels and high risk-taking tendencies. For every autistic trait that appears similar to something found more often in NT males, there's another that appears similar to something found more often in NT females. It also doesn't make sense for autistic males to have higher rates of asexuality and homosexuality than NT males, if their brains are more masculinised than those of NT males (though this observation hasn't been properly studied or confirmed yet).

2) Compare autistic traits to the traits associated with XYY individuals. In XYY the brain is excessively masculinised. So we already know what biological hypermasculinity looks like, and it's not autism.



Last edited by roseblood on 01 Jun 2011, 8:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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01 Jun 2011, 8:36 am

StuartN wrote:
I think the set of choices is very odd. Autism is probably the combination of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors that lead to traits, abilities and character that sometimes matches one or more of your choices. You are asking people to select from a list of (possibly overlapping) outcomes as the cause.


This.



Kon
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01 Jun 2011, 10:01 am

StuartN wrote:
I think the set of choices is very odd. Autism is probably the combination of genetic, epigenetic and environmental factors that lead to traits, abilities and character that sometimes matches one or more of your choices. You are asking people to select from a list of (possibly overlapping) outcomes as the cause.


Is "autism" defined by those genetic/epigenetic/environmental factors or the secondary outcomes/traits? Might it not be those secondary traits/outcomes (many different causes) we are really labelling as "autism"? Is there a true syndrome called "autism" with specfic micro-biological correlates? Here's an interesting quote:

"There's no one gene for autism, but all of the genes for autism might be related, or rather, they might form a team that works together. If you want to look at it this way, you could say that autism is a bit like blindness. People can go blind for lots of different reasons: it could be damage to the surface of the eye, or the retina, or the optic nerve which carries information to the brain, or the brain itself. All of these parts depend on all the others to work, and if one of them goes wrong, the whole system suffers."



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01 Jun 2011, 11:25 am

I've never felt female, so I've voted for Extreme Male Brian.


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Kon
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01 Jun 2011, 1:55 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
I've never felt female, so I've voted for Extreme Male Brian.


What would an "extreme male" be like? Rightly or Wrongly, here's one of many such lists, I've come across. Do people on the ASD spectrum really have more "masculine" traits (assuming the list has any meaning)? I'm not sure?

Feminine Traits
Submissive
Dependent
Unintelligent and Incapable
Emotional
Receptive
Intuitive
Weak
Timid
Content
Passive
Cooperative
Sensitive
Sex object
Attractive because of physical appearance

Masculine Traits
Dominant
Independent
Intelligent and competent
Rational
Assertive
Analytical
Strong
Brave
Ambitious
Active
Competitive
Insensitive
Sexually aggressive
Attractive because of achievement