About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Thinking in pictures, thinking in words and...?

As I blogged, Professor Temple Grandin describes her thought process as thinking in pictures. Speaking for myself as a neurotypical thinker, I think in words. Grandin explores the possibility of yet another way of thinking in her essay "Genius May Be An Abnormality." She writes:

There appear to be two basic types of thinking in intellectually gifted people who have Asperger's or high functioning autism...The two types are totally visual thinkers like me; and the music, math and memory thinkers which are described in Thomas Sowell's book, Late Talking Children. I have interviewed several of these people, and their thoughts work in patterns in which there are no pictures. Sowell reports that in the family histories of late talking, music math and memory children, 74 percent of the families will have an engineer or a relative in a highly technical field such as physics, accounting, or mathematics. Most of these children also had a relative that played a musical instrument.

As I've blogged about here, Sowell asserts that the subjects of his book, including Albert Einstein, are not autistic. While Grandin disagrees with this point, she appears to acknowledge that there is a fundamental difference in the way a Sowell late talker thinks versus the way she thinks. Which begs the question: is "music, math and memory" thinking a third category of thought process, or is it really just neurotypical thought? Or maybe late talkers are just A Little Bit Autistic, thus the distinction in thinking process?


Missy said...

Per the DSM-IV definition of Asperger's Syndrome:

"There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)"

Reference: http://www.agre.org/program/criteria.cfm?do=program#aspergers

Laura said...

Thanks for your note.

First, Grandin is referring to a subgroup of aspies AND autistics. Second, I'm sure there are many in the late talker who group who would qualify as aspie on the DSM-IV def. They're joining the group at 18 months now! Lots of the children in the late talker group acquire speech between ages 2 and 3. Disagree?

Last, anecdotally, the manner in which the "aspergers" label is applied is inconsistent among practioners, many of whom just recharacterize auties as aspies as they become higher functioning. I'm not arguing that's good practice. I'm merely arguing that the autie/aspie line is not as bright as you might think.