TOM differences between aspergers, ADHD and giftedness?

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swbluto
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27 Aug 2011, 11:42 pm

In a nutshell, TOM stands for theory of mind and TOM deficits are basically problems understanding what a person knows, understands and how they think. Because much of the communication process is heavily dependent on figuring out what another person is thinking and knows, those with TOM deficits often have problems communicating with most people. I've heard that autistic, gifted and ADHD people have TOM deficits and I'm a bit curious about their differences.

In the case of autism, this is probably just straightforward lacking the same neurological structure as most people and so "pretending to be someone else" who's neurologically different is just plain hard, on top of an increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person as suggested by the Sally-Anne test.

In the case of giftedness, I speculate that they don't <necessarily> have increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person but, rather, don't usually hang around with "normal people" and they're different neurologically, so it's harder to imagine what the normal person is thinking since they themselves aren't neurologically normal. This isn't entirely true all the time (There are some fairly normal gifted people), but a lot of the time it's true, it seems.

ADHD people probably are able to think like a "normal person" but thinking of what other people are thinking in real time is difficult to a limited attention span since a normal attention span is needed to hold the information relating to what another person understands/is thinking.

So, any speculation?



Blueskygirl
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27 Aug 2011, 11:50 pm

swbluto wrote:
In a nutshell, TOM stands for theory of mind and TOM deficits are basically problems understanding what a person knows, understands and how they think. Because much of the communication process is heavily dependent on figuring out what another person is thinking and knows, those with TOM deficits often have problems communicating with most people. I've heard that autistic, gifted and ADHD people have TOM deficits and I'm a bit curious about their differences.

In the case of autism, this is probably just straightforward lacking the same neurological structure as most people and so "pretending to be someone else" who's neurologically different is just plain hard, on top of an increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person as suggested by the Sally-Anne test.

In the case of giftedness, I speculate that they don't <necessarily> have increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person but, rather, don't usually hang around with "normal people" and they're different neurologically, so it's harder to imagine what the normal person is thinking since they themselves aren't neurologically normal. This isn't entirely true all the time (There are some fairly normal gifted people), but a lot of the time it's true, it seems.

ADHD people probably are able to think like a "normal person" but thinking of what other people are thinking in real time is difficult to a limited attention span since a normal attention span is needed to hold the information relating to what another person understands/is thinking.

So, any speculation?


I'm not sure, but my daughter was just diagnosed with PDD-NOSa few weeks ago (a reavaluation) and when they tested her a year ago (almost 4 then) she tested "average". So I don't know...thought those on the spectrum were supposed to have significant impairment in TOM, but she doesn't.



Blueskygirl
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27 Aug 2011, 11:53 pm

Blueskygirl wrote:
swbluto wrote:
In a nutshell, TOM stands for theory of mind and TOM deficits are basically problems understanding what a person knows, understands and how they think. Because much of the communication process is heavily dependent on figuring out what another person is thinking and knows, those with TOM deficits often have problems communicating with most people. I've heard that autistic, gifted and ADHD people have TOM deficits and I'm a bit curious about their differences.

In the case of autism, this is probably just straightforward lacking the same neurological structure as most people and so "pretending to be someone else" who's neurologically different is just plain hard, on top of an increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person as suggested by the Sally-Anne test.

In the case of giftedness, I speculate that they don't <necessarily> have increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person but, rather, don't usually hang around with "normal people" and they're different neurologically, so it's harder to imagine what the normal person is thinking since they themselves aren't neurologically normal. This isn't entirely true all the time (There are some fairly normal gifted people), but a lot of the time it's true, it seems.

ADHD people probably are able to think like a "normal person" but thinking of what other people are thinking in real time is difficult to a limited attention span since a normal attention span is needed to hold the information relating to what another person understands/is thinking.

So, any speculation?


I'm not sure, but my daughter was just diagnosed with PDD-NOSa few weeks ago (a reavaluation) and when they tested her a year ago (almost 4 then) she tested "average". So I don't know...thought those on the spectrum were supposed to have significant impairment in TOM, but she doesn't.


I forgot to add that she tested gifted as well. In fact, a year ago, they said she definitely wasn't on the spectrum...just gifted.



Verdandi
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28 Aug 2011, 12:12 am

swbluto wrote:
ADHD people probably are able to think like a "normal person" but thinking of what other people are thinking in real time is difficult to a limited attention span since a normal attention span is needed to hold the information relating to what another person understands/is thinking.


ADHD does not have a limited attention span. That is far too simplistic an explanation. Depending upon the situation, someone with ADHD might have more, less, or an equal amount of attention to NTs. ADHD doesn't impair theory of mind in itself. In some situations someone with ADHD may appear to have less theory of mind, but they really don't - they're just distracted from paying attention and instead paying attention to something else.

"Limited attention span" should be right up there with "I can't have ADHD, I can pay attention to things I enjoy for hours."



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28 Aug 2011, 2:07 am

swbluto wrote:
In a nutshell, TOM stands for theory of mind and TOM deficits are basically problems understanding what a person knows, understands and how they think. Because much of the communication process is heavily dependent on figuring out what another person is thinking and knows, those with TOM deficits often have problems communicating with most people. I've heard that autistic, gifted and ADHD people have TOM deficits and I'm a bit curious about their differences.

In the case of autism, this is probably just straightforward lacking the same neurological structure as most people and so "pretending to be someone else" who's neurologically different is just plain hard, on top of an increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person as suggested by the Sally-Anne test.

In the case of giftedness, I speculate that they don't <necessarily> have increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person but, rather, don't usually hang around with "normal people" and they're different neurologically, so it's harder to imagine what the normal person is thinking since they themselves aren't neurologically normal. This isn't entirely true all the time (There are some fairly normal gifted people), but a lot of the time it's true, it seems.

ADHD people probably are able to think like a "normal person" but thinking of what other people are thinking in real time is difficult to a limited attention span since a normal attention span is needed to hold the information relating to what another person understands/is thinking.

So, any speculation?



Quote:
In the case of giftedness, I speculate that they don't <necessarily> have increased difficulty in imagining/pretending to be another person but, rather, don't usually hang around with "normal people" and they're different neurologically, so it's harder to imagine what the normal person is thinking since they themselves aren't neurologically normal. This isn't entirely true all the time (There are some fairly normal gifted people), but a lot of the time it's true, it seems.


No need to speculate on this one. I seen this out of the horse's mouth. Spot on here, sw.^

I'd say that my ToM developement was behind. I was "naive, a babe, a fledging." Why? Partially because my interests were non-people related due to "introversion." (I'm a hand sitter in a social sphere.) Can I read the non verbal? yes. Can I pay attention to it? Sometimes. For example: Once I communicated with a deaf woman in the Home Depot of what I needed, and she said back, "I'm deaf, and I can't read your lips because you're all over the place - stop moving please!" I'm picturing what I want to say without much eye contact or gestures. She said it 3 times, and she then got inches away to hold me still. I have this moving or roving of my attention habit.
I don't look long at you.

The other loss of ToM is "delay" as the data is too fast, or my attention 'tanked' from other reasons. I get into an amnesia type of thing to where I lose the feel of the situation; I can't relate emotionally; I can't predict your feelings and ride along with you and say," I know, I know," (verbally), and let alone exchange something non- verbal. It all bounces off, and it sinks in later. This is embarrassing. I've actually walked away from these scenarios, not knowing what was said. It is a fundemental loss in an ability to listen, a loss in ability to observe visually of the things surrounding "us." These "tanked" moments are somewhat rare, but there is a history of it and I dread when this lack in cognition surfaces. It's not rare enough.

"You look confused" is what people have said, going just my 'look' alone. You could say my ToM evaporates from an inability to recall--( probably) the non verbal here, of years of stored ToM experiences. I literally forget how to act in real time. Even, say if there is enough time, I still can't interact "normally" as I'm so cognitively divided. I'm scattered.



swbluto
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28 Aug 2011, 7:08 am

Verdandi wrote:
"Limited attention span" should be right up there with "I can't have ADHD, I can pay attention to things I enjoy for hours."


Oh gee, I guess that inference from the name "attention deficit disorder" was too assumptive. :roll: If you want me to be more technical, limited executive function reduces ones ability to store, recall and effectively use social information and to effectively mentally juggle the perspectives of everyone involved, or a given person, in real time.

But, I have heard that ADHD people can hyper focus although this one extroverted ADHD kid I know definitely doesn't seem to hyperfocus on anything (Well, maybe sex... but still.).

Although from mdyar's account, it seems like there's simply a loss of memory of what was said?



Last edited by swbluto on 28 Aug 2011, 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mdyar
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28 Aug 2011, 8:30 am

swbluto wrote:
Verdandi wrote:
"Limited attention span" should be right up there with "I can't have ADHD, I can pay attention to things I enjoy for hours."


Oh gee, I guess that inference from the name "attention deficit disorder" was too assumptive. :roll: If you want me to be more technical, limited executive function reduces ones ability to store, recall and effectively use social information and to effectively mental juggle the perspectives of everyone involved, or a given person, in real time.

But, I have heard that ADHD people can hyper focus although this one extroverted ADHD kid I know definitely doesn't seem to hyperfocus on anything (Well, maybe sex... but still.).

Although from mdyar's account, it seems like there's simply a loss of memory of what was said?


Yes. Fundamentally, It's an inability to use your working memory. If you cannot hold two thoughts together, and compare these, then you're stuck there. V. is correct in her concise description, too.
Your executive functioning is shot. It's a whirl or kaleidoscope of data - absolutely meaningless in real time. I guess I wasn't clear with this in what I wrote.



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28 Aug 2011, 1:33 pm

swbluto wrote:
Oh gee, I guess that inference from the name "attention deficit disorder" was too assumptive. :roll:


Do you ALWAYS have to act like a prick? You open a thread seemingly intent on some form of rational discussion and when someone wants precision you toss out this?


:roll: :roll:


Quote:
If you want me to be more technical, limited executive function reduces ones ability to store, recall and effectively use social information and to effectively mental juggle the perspectives of everyone involved, or a given person, in real time.


Technically, not just social information. Executive function effects processing ALL information. Some might have more difficulties than others in various forms of information.

Regarding giftedness and TOM, a gifted person has problems not because they hang out with different people (though often the case) but because their thoughts and perceptions are on a different level. Suppose a gifted person clearly understands the relationship between information and entropy - the vast majority of people would be clueless to the concept and able to understand it only partially even when exposed to it. But the gifted person CAN interact socially with other gifted people because the TOM mechanisms are still in place. But a gifted person on the spectrum cannot interact socially even with other gifted people.


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TPE2
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28 Aug 2011, 2:00 pm

swbluto wrote:
In a nutshell, TOM stands for theory of mind and TOM deficits are basically problems understanding what a person knows, understands and how they think. Because much of the communication process is heavily dependent on figuring out what another person is thinking and knows, those with TOM deficits often have problems communicating with most people. I've heard that autistic, gifted and ADHD people have TOM deficits and I'm a bit curious about their differences.


I never heard anything about gifteds and ADHDers having any problem with TOM; even about autistics (specially of the Asperger type), it is very polemic if they have really a problem of TOM, or only difficulty in understanding the "TOM problems" that are proposed to them.



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28 Aug 2011, 3:10 pm

I think the ideas in this thread are generally make-sensical. I'll add a few of my own.

1) So-called "normal" people have the "social brain" - the structures and functions in the physical brain that somehow give rise to social cognition. Normals are on a spectrum as well. Each of them varies in their level of social cognition, but these differences are small compared to our differences from them.

1) People with ASD lack the social brain. Social people are more-or-less synchronized with each other. When they look at a photo of a human face, their eyes track an inverted triangle with the three vertices at the eyes and mouth. This has been determined using eye-tracking studies measuring subconscious responses at the millisecond level. (Too lazy to dig up link right now) Autistics are not synchronized with social people. When we look at a photo of a human face, our eyes track all over the place, e.g. from the eyebrow to the hairline or the mouth to the ear. There may be a general pattern of eye movements from facial features to facial boundaries, but the specific pattern is different for each person and probably each trial as well. For social people, even the specific patterns are synchronized, and the differences are confined to the triangle. One person may look at the right eye first, and another may look at the left, but they will both track the triangle. Inevitably, whether they want to or not. Basically, social cognition may be just the synchronicity of social people with each other, from eye movements to facial expressions to thoughts and feelings to complex ToM. They all simulate each other intuitively, primarily by acting, thinking, and feeling alike. Hence, social. Their differences from each other are not as great as our differences from each other and not nearly as great as our differences from them. By adulthood, many of us are able to systemize and apply the social cognition that we have not developed as a matter of course. Each person varies in their systemization and application of this "pseudo-social cognition", and these differences give rise to a spectrum of social dysfunctions.

2) People with ADHD have the social brain, but executive dysfunction interferes with the application of social cognition, both reception and expression.

3) People with giftedness have the social brain, and they vary in their application of social cognition, just like people without giftedness. All people can more easily simulate people like themselves, so gifted people tend to get along with gifted people, and not as much with others. Since gifted people are outnumbered, they are stereotyped as socially awkward, when in fact, their social cognition is just fine, and they are naturally synchronized with each other.

4) People with ASD and ADHD have the same disadvantages as people with ADHD alone. Executive dysfunction interferes with the systemization and application of pseudo-social cognition. They may appear more socially dysfunctional due to the effects of ADHD. Someone who is less severely affected by ASD but more severely affected by ADHD may appear more socially dysfunctional than someone who is more severely affected by ASD and less severely affected by ADHD.

5) People with ASD and giftedness have some advantages compared to people with ASD alone. Giftedness enhances the systemization and application of pseudo-social cognition. They may appear less socially dysfunctional due to the effects of giftedness. Someone who is less severely affected by ASD but less severely affected by giftedness may appear more socially dysfunctional than someone who is more severely affected by ASD and more severely affected by giftedness.

***Of course, there are plenty of gray areas in this framework. Each person with ASD varies in how much they lack the social brain. One person may have 1% of the requisite neuronal connections, and another may have 10%. Each person with ADHD varies in the type and severity of executive dysfunction. Each person with giftedness varies in their level of social cognition. All these individual differences and combinations make up the different people who are all lumped together as socially awkward or dysfunctional, seeming to lack the ToM of the majority of people not affected by ASD, ADHD, or giftedness.



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28 Aug 2011, 3:51 pm

it seems to me that gifted [as described in lewis terman's book "the gifted"] people [more often than not] don't have any but an abstract [at best] feel for the struggles of normal folk, and vice-versa- IOW most socially successful folk simply cannot imagine being any other way. i believe this type of ethnocentrism is at the root of our cultural divide.



Last edited by auntblabby on 28 Aug 2011, 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Verdandi
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28 Aug 2011, 4:03 pm

swbluto wrote:
Verdandi wrote:
"Limited attention span" should be right up there with "I can't have ADHD, I can pay attention to things I enjoy for hours."


Oh gee, I guess that inference from the name "attention deficit disorder" was too assumptive. :roll: If you want me to be more technical, limited executive function reduces ones ability to store, recall and effectively use social information and to effectively mental juggle the perspectives of everyone involved, or a given person, in real time.


One of the foremost experts on ADHD says that the name is a terrible name and should probably be changed - but that such a name change is unlikely to go happen. He says it would be like calling autism "hand flapping disorder."

I don't know that ADHD presents a direct social impairment. My understanding is that it doesn't, although the tendency toward distraction makes it easy to miss things.

Looking at Wavefreak's reply I get the impression this was sarcastic? I wasn't trying to insult you, just provide more information about what ADHD is like.

Quote:
But, I have heard that ADHD people can hyper focus although this one extroverted ADHD kid I know definitely doesn't seem to hyperfocus on anything (Well, maybe sex... but still.).

Although from mdyar's account, it seems like there's simply a loss of memory of what was said?


That seems likely. mdyar mentions not being able to hold two thoughts at the same time - I know my verbal comprehension is shot when I try to hold a piece of information. Like if someone gives me directions, trying to remember them practically shuts off my comprehension of English. It's like I can do one or the other. That could be ADHD or autism.



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28 Aug 2011, 4:06 pm

Giftedness can be described to have some ToM issues because of not understanding why others don't understand what they understand. However this is very specific and not an overall social difficulty.


btbnnyr wrote:
Someone who is less severely affected by ASD but less severely affected by giftedness may appear more socially dysfunctional than someone who is more severely affected by ASD and more severely affected by giftedness.


This is completely true, and incredibly frustrating for the people who are actually more severely affected.



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28 Aug 2011, 4:41 pm

wavefreak58 wrote:

Technically, not just social information. Executive function effects processing ALL information. Some might have more difficulties than others in various forms of information.


This is absolutely true. It extends into everything one does.

Working Memory is central in planning , receiving and executing of tasks. Working Memory, whether of the verbal or visual, or both, is central to "executive functioning."

One notable ADHD/ASD difference I could say is that I don't have this severe problem that I posted above, 100% of the time. There are times to where I interface social and non -social cognition effectively. ASD types are consistently the same? IDK.

How about you WaveFreak, do you experience better "functioning" with say. better sleep, less stress, or some unknown variables at play-- but it seems like "it is better?" Mine fluctuate between rock bottom and "good."



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28 Aug 2011, 5:01 pm

Verdandi wrote:
swbluto wrote:
Verdandi wrote:
"Limited attention span" should be right up there with "I can't have ADHD, I can pay attention to things I enjoy for hours."


Oh gee, I guess that inference from the name "attention deficit disorder" was too assumptive. :roll: If you want me to be more technical, limited executive function reduces ones ability to store, recall and effectively use social information and to effectively mental juggle the perspectives of everyone involved, or a given person, in real time.


One of the foremost experts on ADHD says that the name is a terrible name and should probably be changed - but that such a name change is unlikely to go happen. He says it would be like calling autism "hand flapping disorder."

I don't know that ADHD presents a direct social impairment. My understanding is that it doesn't, although the tendency toward distraction makes it easy to miss things.


Okay, I agree that names can be terribly misleading. I could be mistaken by the "popular impression" of ADD/ADHD that I have.

Quote:
Looking at Wavefreak's reply I get the impression this was sarcastic? I wasn't trying to insult you, just provide more information about what ADHD is like.


Not really, rolling eyeballs mean absolutely nothing. :roll:

:wink:



swbluto
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28 Aug 2011, 5:21 pm

Verdandi wrote:
I don't know that ADHD presents a direct social impairment. My understanding is that it doesn't, although the tendency toward distraction makes it easy to miss things.


I'm not really convinced it does, either, since some ADHD people I know seem fairly social although it's understandable it would affect ones ability to apply TOM to various social situations, so it'd probably affect interactions in a few particular ways.