Grand Unified Theory of Autism-Social and language problems

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btbnnyr
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29 Oct 2011, 8:23 pm

I don't think that ToM depends entirely on processing of non-verbal cues in person. What about reading between the lines in writing?

Autistics just don't think in terms of social hierarchies in person or in written communications, unless social hierarchy is the specific topic being discussed. Any autistic person who has somehow picked this up by adulthood should try to remember if they did so at an age-matched level in childhood.



Verdandi
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29 Oct 2011, 8:31 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I don't think that ToM depends entirely on processing of non-verbal cues in person. What about reading between the lines in writing?


I don't think so either.

Also: I'm better at reading it than I am at interpreting it in real time.

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Autistics just don't think in terms of social hierarchies in person or in written communications, unless social hierarchy is the specific topic being discussed. Any autistic person who has somehow picked this up by adulthood should try to remember if they did so at an age-matched level in childhood.


Right.

Most of the basis of my knowledge on this came from how social status was handled in a particular roleplaying game. I don't think about it most of the time, however.



Annmaria
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29 Oct 2011, 8:52 pm

We keep making language complicated maybe if we try less we would achieve more, simple if you understand why keep looking!


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peterd
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29 Oct 2011, 9:02 pm

ToM comes into being before there's any language there - that's why it's primarily about the non-verbal.

I can read between the lines without a ToM - it's just that the results bear less relationship to reality than they might when an NT does it.

If you're keen on the cause(s) of autism, you have to look at the roots of that coming into being of the awareness of others.



Annmaria
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29 Oct 2011, 9:46 pm

maybe I am misunderstanding, if its not language what lines are you reading!


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Annmaria
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29 Oct 2011, 9:51 pm

language/
Noun:
The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.
Any nonverbal method of expression or communication: "a language of gesture and facial expression


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Mdyar
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29 Oct 2011, 10:02 pm

wavefreak58 wrote:
Mdyar wrote:
The acid ToM test: Show me a spectumite who is non-verbally impaired and you have an autistic individual with "ToM." Can one intuit body language and be on the spectrum? Yes? No? Without the understanding of this language you have little reinforcement in the effectiveness in communication--my sense tells me it is literaly a shot in the dark without this.


Are you suggesting that spoken language is all that is required for ToM?


My typo, and sorry. Correction: not non- verbally impaired was the thought.

I really didn't feel up to the reply this morning..... not tired but me in my mentally fatigued spells.



btbnnyr
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29 Oct 2011, 10:12 pm

The whole idea of ToM as defined by NTs is that people who mentalize about others according to the NT pattern have the ability to mentalize about others. Everyone else who mentalizes about others according to some other pattern not recognized and understood by NTs is said to lack the ability to mentalize about others at all.

I think that NTs do spend far more time mentalizing about both themselves and others than autistics do. They have to do this, in order to think in terms of social hierarchies.



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29 Oct 2011, 10:18 pm

How did you reach that conclusion. through language!


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Mdyar
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29 Oct 2011, 10:38 pm

Verdandi wrote:
Mdyar wrote:
ar"]The acid ToM test: Show me a spectumite who is non-verbally impaired and you have an autistic individual with "ToM." Can one intuit body language and be on the spectrum? Yes? No? Without the understanding of this language you have little reinforcement in the effectiveness in communication--my sense tells me it is literaly a shot in the dark without this.


Not being able to read body language is not the same thing as lacking theory of mind, I suspect. That is, I do not think one necessarily implies the other.

Quote:
This non-verbal language is "fundamental" in ToM. There may be some that do not Sally Anne it, as there are cases of young 5 year olds on the spectrum that work this test out. But is this at the same NT level in quality and time?

Without the reinforcement of these 'checks' in body language, you are left with 'imagination' to work out a unique system in understanding the other mind. You might get a "Great Theory of Mind" here via imagination, but it is constructed atypically.

Someone who can read intonation well, likely will lead to a higher ToM. I'm aware of at least one of the diagnosed that understant this feature.

ToM impairment is central in Autism.


No, I don't think so. It's certainly common and I wouldn't argue otherwise, but going from there to "central" is not a logical leap.

Here's a more scholarly explanation of what I've been trying to say:

http://psych.wisc.edu/lang/pdf/Gernsbac ... odules.pdf


Quote:
No, I don't think so. It's certainly common and I wouldn't argue otherwise, but going from there to "central" is not a logical leap.


Really. So there are autistics that have NT ToM? And the inability to read body language is not central to having an NT ToM?

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Not being able to read body language is not the same thing as lacking theory of mind, I suspect. That is, I do not think one necessarily implies the other.


I wrote impaired. I didn't imply completely "lacking." This discussion of theory of mind here is the one that deviates from the NT mean or norm.



Verdandi
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29 Oct 2011, 10:57 pm

Mdyar wrote:
Really. So there are autistics that have NT ToM? And the inability to read body language is not central to having an NT ToM?


Is the ability to read words central to having a ToM? Is the ability to tell hot from cold? Is the ability to listen to music and feel sad or happy because of it? Is the ability to look at, listen to, taste, smell, touch anything and derive something from it central to having theory of mind?

Not being able to read body language means not being able to intuit emotions or whatever from body language. It may very well be that having access to the information one gets from body language would show that theory of mind is present, but that one cannot - for whatever reason - access that information. Theory of mind does not need to cause a deficit in nonverbal communication, although the ability to exercise theory of mind can certainly be lacking without the ability to perceive and/or interpret the input.

There's really not very much to support the idea that theory of mind is central to autism except the assumption that the deficit always goes one way. Also, the use of linguistically complicated word problems to test people who typically have language comprehension difficulties. It seems like most of the people who are really wedded to the idea of "Theory of mind deficits are the core feature of autism" are not themselves autistic and don't seem to be all that interested in what autistic people have to say about this, or about the many various ways cognition and perception are affected.

Oh, and read that actual paper I linked. It goes into a lot of detail about the flaws in the research used to establish the theory that "theory of mind deficits are central to autism."



Last edited by Verdandi on 29 Oct 2011, 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

btbnnyr
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29 Oct 2011, 11:05 pm

If you define ToM as the ability to mentalize about others, then I'm pretty sure that most of the autistic people on WP have this ability. We can mentalize about others by simulating, subconsciously, that others are generally like ourselves in our thoughts and feelings in response to all kinds of stimuli. Call that autistic ToM.

If you define ToM as the ability to mentalize about others according to the NT pattern, aka NT ToM, then I'm pretty sure that autistics do not have this ability and must think things through like one would think about a science experiment. As NTs would have to do to gain any understanding of autistic ToM.

One example of autistic ToM: I like to be told blunt honest opinions, even if it means that e.g. my jeans make my butt look big. Someone asks me that same question. I simulate them, subconsciously, through my autistic ToM, know without any doubt that they want to be told what I really think, and tell them what I really think. This kind of thing I did all the time up until my diagnosis, when I learned for the first time that not everyone on Earth had my kind of ToM, and the large majority of people have a different kind of ToM, and the large majority of people do not want you to tell them what you really think. They want you to tell them that all is well with their outfit and by extension themselves. From my perspective, this way of thinking is approaching madness. Why ask me for my opinion if you don't really want to hear it? But now I understand that this is how a different kind of mind works.



btbnnyr
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29 Oct 2011, 11:16 pm

In terms of non-verbal cues, NTs definitely have deficits in non-verbal processing if the non-verbal cues of autistics are set as the standard.

For example, when I make and hold eye contact with someone, what I am thinking is that I want that person to go away and leave me alone. This cue is always interpreted as me wanting to the other person to stay and talk to me.

When I am writing on my computer and stimming, that means that I can be interrupted, but I will be somewhat annoyed. When I am writing on my computer and not stimming, that means that I cannot be interrupted at this time, not at all, and interruption may lead to meltdown. When I am staring into space and not stimming, that means that I can be interrupted, but interrupting me at that point is like waking me up from an awesome dream.



Verdandi
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29 Oct 2011, 11:20 pm

Oh, indeed. And several autistic people have reported being able to experience nonverbal communication from other autistic people. I know that I got along with a nonverbal autistic child like nobody else, including his own parents. He would show me his toys and follow me around, and we had interactions that his parents asked "How did you get him to do that?" He never showed anyone else his toys, nor did he follow anyone around. At the time, I didn't know I was autistic, but I've heard other autistic adults describe similar experiences.

I also find it extremely easy to read feline and canine body language where other people seem to wildly misinterpret their intentions and punish them for behavior that is extremely easy to accommodate.



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29 Oct 2011, 11:38 pm

Verdandi wrote:
Oh, indeed. And several autistic people have reported being able to experience nonverbal communication from other autistic people. I know that I got along with a nonverbal autistic child like nobody else, including his own parents. He would show me his toys and follow me around, and we had interactions that his parents asked "How did you get him to do that?" He never showed anyone else his toys, nor did he follow anyone around. At the time, I didn't know I was autistic, but I've heard other autistic adults describe similar experiences.

I also find it extremely easy to read feline and canine body language where other people seem to wildly misinterpret their intentions and punish them for behavior that is extremely easy to accommodate.


This seems to suggest that the "autistic perception" that underlies this "autistic ToM" is the same kind of fundamental perception shared by animals (Temple Grandin understood cows better than neurotypicals, too.), and that the "neurotypical perception" underlying the neurotypical ToM is a perception that's more evolved and advanced than the autistic perception, as (almost all) humans are obviously evolutionarily superior to animals.