AI and cognitive psychology rant (getting more and more OT - tell me if I should shut up)
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Sat Oct 18 14:16:30 CEST 2003
On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 09:41:31 -0700, Dave Kuhlman <dkuhlman at rexx.com>
>Asperger's syndrome? -- I did a search and read about it. And,
>all this time I thought I was a *programmer*. If I had only known
>that I've had Asperger's disorder, I could have saved myself all
>those many years of debugging code. It's been fun though,
>especially with Python, even if the DSM IV does authoritively say
>that I'm just crazy.
Actually, getting back to being serious...
There is a common misconception that Asperger syndrome is 'mild
autism'. In a sense this is correct, but in terms of causes it is
fairer to say that there are two types of neurological damage. One
damages social intelligence and is present in autism and asperger
syndrome. The other damages general intelligence and is present in
mental retardation and the certain types of autism. High functioning
autism and asperger syndrome are much the same thing, and some people
with asperger syndrome should be considered low functioning - low
general intelligence isn't the only way to become low functioning
('executive function' deficit - another prefrontal cortex issue -
seems to be a major cause of the 'low functioning' label).
Basically, the original Kanner autism is in fact a combination of two
disorders - mental retardation plus a disorder which includes all the
autism features that are not mental retardation. Because the parts of
the brain involved are close together, there is a significant
MR has a cutoff point at an IQ of 'around' 70 (there is room for
judgement, and additional symptoms are required beyond the low IQ),
but the IQ scale is continuous.
What I am getting at is that if you were to read that people with
mental retardation 'find academic study difficult', you might well
decide that you were retarded - after all, we all find academic study
difficult at some point, after all. But you may believe that even if
your IQ were actually 130.
There have been attempts to create a scale of autistic symptoms. You
might like to take the AQ (autistic quotient) here, for instance...
This test was one of those used in screening prior to my diagnosis. My
score then was 38. I just took it again and got 42. I guess I'm
feeling a bit more pessimistic these days.
What would it look like to have asperger syndrome, but milder?
So basically, yes, some of the autistic symptoms seem an aweful lot
like things that are common in normal people. Women will probably tend
to think that all men have asperger syndrome. And nerds will have more
autistic tendencies than other men. And many autistic symptoms can
arise through other causes.
But that doesn't mean Asperger syndrome doesn't exist. You can see the
effects of the neural damage on a PET or MRI scanner, so it is very
hard to claim it doesn't exist.
BTW - the criteria used for my diagnosis are the CLASS criteria, which
are stricter than the DSM IV criteria. They were very interested, for
instance, in symptoms such as my headbanging when I was 3 years old.
I don't think that is particularly typical of programmers.
Neither is the fact that almost everyone with Asperger syndrome
reaches adulthood with severe trauma related disorders due to the
stress in their childhood.
steve at ninereeds dot fsnet dot co dot uk
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