Some thoughts on Asperger's Syndrome:
Asperger's syndrome seems to be heavily present in those who are identified as gifted. I suggest anyone who has it or who has a child who has it get the person who may have Asperger's syndrome tested to see their IQ.
I was identified as having an IQ well over 180 when I was 6 - apparently, the methods they used were no match for my young brain. There is a possibility that I may have Asperger's syndrome, for which I am getting tested soon.
Some of the characteristics of gifted people are characteristics of Asperger's syndrome. Read these excerpts from NINDS's page on it:
The most distinguishing symptom of AS is a child’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Some children with AS have become experts on vacuum cleaners, makes and models of cars, even objects as odd as deep fat fryers. Children with AS want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else. Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors.
What they'd call obsessive I'd call simply high interest. I have known people who are highly knowledgeable on advanced topics such as the intricacies of quantum physics, prime numbers, the neurological bases of intelligence (my particular area of knowledge) - it's interest in a subject, plain and simple. High vocabulary is in addition found in the gifted in nearly every case.
Children with AS will gather enormous amounts of factual information about their favorite subject and will talk incessantly about it, but the conversation may seem like a random collection of facts or statistics, with no point or conclusion.
Their speech may be marked by a lack of rhythm, an odd inflection, or a monotone pitch. Children with AS often lack the ability to modulate the volume of their voice to match their surroundings. For example, they will have to be reminded to talk softly every time they enter a library or a movie theatre.
Unlike the severe withdrawal from the rest of the world that is characteristic of autism, children with AS are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. In fact, they may approach other people, but make normal conversation impossible by inappropriate or eccentric behavior, or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest.
Does one suppose that poor social skills and narrow interests might be triggered by a lack of exposure, in some cases? I was the 'weird kid' at school and did not always have situations in which to practice my social skills. In addition, I find the brighter a person gets, the less willing they are to do the small talk shit, even though most of us bright folk suffer through it for the sake of being social.
Children with AS usually have a history of developmental delays in motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. They are often awkward and poorly coordinated with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy.
Many children with AS are highly active in early childhood, and then develop anxiety or depression in young adulthood. Other conditions that often co-exist with AS are ADHD, tic disorders (such as Tourette syndrome), depression, anxiety disorders, and OCD.
A lot of these also happen with gifted people - ADHD and OCD, specifically, and depression and anxiety can be brought on by what a lot of gifted folk go through.
The DSM-IV criteria for Asperger's Syndrome are no less flawed:
- Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
- marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
- failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
- a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
- lack of social or emotional reciprocity
- Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
- encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
- apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
- stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
- persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
- The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
- 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)
- There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.
- Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.
Impairments in nonverbal behaviors: I dislike looking people in the eye because I find it a little scary and I don't know what it communicates to others. In addition, many people with Asperger's develop relationships appropriate to their developmental level or higher, and frequently seek enjoyment. One person I know who has Asperger's syndrome has a group of friends who, I would say, have fairly similar levels of maturity (they are not exactly the most mature group of twenty-year-old guys, but they're pretty similar in maturity to others in their group) and seems to join them in their activity . In addition, I have known others who have Asperger's to be very emotionally reciprocating, to the point of fussing when they don't.
Restricted, stereotyped behaviors : The people I have known who have Asperger's have never exhibited any routine behaviors. Honestly. The only repetitive behavior I've ever seen has been out of anxiety. Heavily focused interest is just very focused interest. I know many, many people who have very focused interests, and I highly doubt all of them have Asperger's.
Part C of the DSM seems to be the key part - do the impairments in nonverbal behaviors and the routine, repetitive behaviors cause them clinically significant impairment. This is a very nebulous statement and I wish the people that make the DSM would expand on this.
In general, as a student studying neuroscience, I have very little trust in psychologists.
I don't even know why they pathologize all this.