Only in recent years have I done a little bit of research on the very broad ‘Autism Spectrum.’
The boy in the movie, ‘The Horse Boy’, see previous blogpost; his precise diagnosis was PDD (NOS) – Pervasive Development Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified), which his father Rupert translates as “like autism but not entirely and so therefore we don’t quite know”.
I have zero experience with PDD-(NOS) , nor with similar “full-on autism”, but several close friends have either been diagnosed with the highly-functional autism known as ‘Asperger’s Syndrome’, or in the case of some of my dearest friends, there is so much overlap with their unique brain functioning, that it appears very similar (but they never received an “official diagnosis”).
In any case, the insights on Asperger’s are helpful whether the “fit” for the diagnostic box applies or not. My interpersonal communication with “Aspies” has benefitted enormously from increased awareness about this topic.
This graphic might be more telling about the differences across the spectrum:
Having some traits of possibly being Aspie myself, I’ve done the quick “Asperger-Spectrum Quotient Test” (many times), decribed as:
“Psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues at Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre have created the Autism-Spectrum Quotient, or AQ, as a measure of the extent of autistic traits in adults. In the first major trial using the test, the average score in the control group was 16.4.
80% of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher. The test is not a means for making a diagnosis, however, and many who score above 32 and even meet the diagnostic criteria for mild autism or Asperger’s report no difficulty functioning in their everyday lives.”
Take the test: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aqtest.html
When I fill that out today, my score is 32. I’ve filled it out at very different times over the years, and nuance in how I feel can leave me scoring up as high as 35 on the English AQ test. Interestingly, when I take the same test in Dutch, the result is always just a little bit lower, even as “low” as 28.
(In Dutch, today’s test result is 31.) Why I score a little less in Dutch than in English, may be because the literal meaning of a question might be the same, but the subtle different FEEL of the question apparently makes me answer differently. I found it odd enough to look at where the differences lie. I won’t go over every question, but here’s one example:
The difference in wording of Question 1: “Ik heb er een voorkeur voor om dingen samen met anderen te doen in plaats van alleen” versus “I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own.” is basically the difference between a very soft indirect question, literally: “I have a preference for doing things together with others, instead of alone“, which makes me go ‘slightly agree’, while “I prefer to do things with others rather than on my own.“ makes me go “slightly disagree”. (In this case, it’s the combination of liking “having a preference” over the more decisive “I prefer”, and “alone” (perhaps indirectly associated with ‘being alone’) sounding less preferable than [doing things] “on my own”.
Anyhow, as far as the test goes, I’m right there where the Autism Spectrum starts, hinting of having Aspie tendencies. And that, for sure, is true. My best friend allowed me to share she scores 41. ;-) Discovering this about a year ago helped to make sense of so many things, which stopped being problematic as we improved our understanding of being “wired differently”.
- (See here for the Autism Quotient test in many languages: http://www.autismresearchcentre.com/arc_tests (Español, Chinese, Croatian, Deutsch, Suomi, Français, Έλληνες, עבריים, Hungarian, Italian, 日本の, Latvian, Mandarin, Nederlands, Norsk, فارسی, Polish, Portugues, Română, Slovensky, or Svenska), but since the downloads don’t give you an automatic answer, you can then still enter your answers in the English test on Wired link above).
- For the test in Dutch/Nederands, there’s this automatic-answer one: http://www.aspergersyndroom.nl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12&Itemid=13
There’s much ongoing discussion about the links between Autism, Epilepsy and Shamanism (Add search words, Google around and you’ll see), but that would take this post too far for my time…