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.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Geek + Geek = ?

While mainstream media is in a tizzy about reports of an increase in the rate of autism, I've been pondering something related, topical and near and dear to my heart: Geek Syndrome.

According to a recent study, autism does not appear to correlate to geeks procreating with other geeks, as previously hypothesized by Wired Magazine:
One provocative hypothesis that might account for the rise of spectrum disorders in technically adept communities like Silicon Valley, some geneticists speculate, is an increase in assortative mating. Superficially, assortative mating is the blond gentleman who prefers blondes; the hyperverbal intellectual who meets her soul mate in the therapist's waiting room. There are additional pressures and incentives for autistic people to find companionship - if they wish to do so - with someone who is also on the spectrum. Grandin writes, "Marriages work out best when two people with autism marry or when a person marries a handicapped or eccentric spouse.... They are attracted because their intellects work on a similar wavelength."
But hold the phone. The same study indicates that mothers in "highly technical" fields were 2.5 more likely to have geek spawn...er.... a child on the spectrum.

I look at Brad. I look at myself. Coincidence? I wonder.


[Via Left Brain/Right Brain]


Nyx said...

I must say lately I've been very curious about the superADHD idea. My mother has been dx ADHD, and so have 2 of my husband's 4 nephews. It's also so clear to me now that attention issues are a major part of my son's problems. I also think it's an interesting fact that as far as I can tell a major component of both Floortime and ABA is that first you have to get the child's attention, and then keep it. Maybe you do it by sitting them in a highchair in an empty room, or maybe you do it by being an incredibly engaging, high energy person around, but get and keep that attention is a must and a major challenge. Maybe people with certain kinds of attention traits (er, attention to detail? hyperfocusing?) are attracted into technical professions? So I specialize in securities regulation and my husband is a pianist. Hmmm.

K said...

Just discovered your blog through goodfountain and having a marvelous time reading - I liked this post so much that I am starting from the very beginning - and reading it like a story book

Laura said...

Nyx, hmmm indeed. btw, I don't even know what ADHD is. I really don't. Not in the metaphysical sense, but the basic sense. I can't say I've observed a child who has it or that I'd know it if I saw it.

K, welcome, and thanks! The first month of my blog was...eventful. Ahem.

A little boy just 3 years old said...

sorry to post w/o reading first... I'll go back and read first chance I get. Do you think the Mislabeled Child is a good book for a parent facing the decision on whether or not to get a child assessed? I haven't read it, but I wondered if it would be good to read about different things FIRST... or if I should just point her to the professionals and HOPE she decides to take her son? (this would be an invited bit of info, she stopped me to ask questions)

Nyx said...

Well, like autism, I'm not sure ADHD is really a "thing" -- it is totally behavior based, checklist style and so you wind up with lots of different kids with different issues. The mislabeled child talks about all these different types of attention issues, because "attention" is a vague concept that actually is comprised of many different elements, any one of which can be impaired. I don't recall the checklist for adhd, but I think it is often characterized by excess distractibility or hyperfocusing or a combination of the two, and also often hyperactivity, restlessness type behaviors .... thus not surprising that studies showed an enormous percentage of kids with this dx were actually suffering sleep deprivation instead. I found the Eide discussion to be really very very helpful to me in conceptualizing the issue, especially the different components that make up attention. I'm not sure if I would get a dx or not. I got offended once when someone suggested I had it, but in all honesty some of my ... habits ... may not be typical. My husband loves to marvel at the way I skat in the same lazyboy chair for over 12 hours with the same law school casebook. I used to assume that everyone else was doing the same, but now I know they didn't. I guess that might be hyperfocusing. On the other hand, I have to do that, because the other 6 days of the week I CAN'T make myself sit still and focus on what I'm supposed to be doing. Like right now. But ... I don't think I really have ADHD, I'm just not impaired enough. But maybe I have subclinical traits. I have come across a study or two that claimed to have spotted subclinical autism traits in a significant percentage of parents of asd children, but then again the autism "traits" are so vague and general, who doesn't have any?

Kris said...

Laura, come to my house and you will see ADHD. Not so much with Alec, but my oldest has it, no question. The reason I have said I have a problem with ADHD and ASD being compared as being along the same spectrum is that my oldest does not have the classic ASD deficits. They are not the same thing. He does not have obsessions or stims, does not have social problems (other than when he was younger, he was out of it a lot and was seen as being not well behaved and "out of control".) HOwever, he is easily the most empathetic of all my kids and although he does often "speak without thinking", he is very caring and well aware of others' feelings and needs. He loves being around lots of people and hates being alone. His communication skills are bascially normal - never had speech or language problems, never had problems with social language, etc. Undertands irony, humor, sarcasm, etc perfectly.
He also makes those long-distance connections the Eides claim are a main deficit in ASD and SPD. He is able to give many solutions to problems, is a total out-of-the box thinker, and comes up with things I would never think of. He is interested in many different things and has many different types of friends, and other kids really like him. He is very creative, much more so than my NT son. His brain is in overdrive much of the time!
On the down side, he is completely unorganized, can't sit still to do anything (constantly paces or taps his foot,etc). He often does things and says things without thinking which can be embarrassing or downright dangerous. He does not have great common sense. He sometimes talks too much. He flits from one subject to another when he talks and sometimes leaves out important details. He is very smart but with schoolwork he is careless and messy. He often forgets his homework, loses his sweatshirt, forgets to tell me important things. Sometimes, it just like he doesn't know when to STOP, when enough is enough!! Other times he is just out of it, a "space cadet". He would not be described as "responsible". Some people say ADHD is a gift. I'm not sure I would go that far, but I can see why some would say it.
I have no doubt he will live a full and productive life, will get married, have kids and do just fine. He just won't be an accountant or something that requires extreme accuracy. I don't feel that way about Alec, I worry a lot more about his future. It is the social relationships with other people and the communication skills that set Alec apart and make me worry.

I'm not saying ADHD and ASD couldn't have some kind of genetic connection, and I know there is some overlap of symptoms, I just think they are separate and distinct disorders with different core deficits.

Laura said...

Nyx and Kris, thanks! I still wonder though. Statistically speaking, some of my classmates must have had it when I was growing up. But I can't picture it. Anyway, thanks again.

ALBJ3YO, that's a good question. I think the book is a good idea for an overview, and it's less, you know, bold to rec a book than it is to encourage some one to seek an eval.

Nyx said...

the more I think about this stuff the more confused I get

Anonymous said...

I have often wondered about the geek + geek thing, too! Back in my glory days I was a computer programmer and the husband is a pilot.

But Nyx's last comment basically sums it up for me.