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Odd Girl Out: An Autistic Woman in a Neurotypical World by Laura James
I love my work, but does it bring me joy? I think a lot about the point of the future. I might not strive for huge personal happiness, but is it wrong that I don’t try, even if it is just for Tim? Sarah Wild believes autistic happiness is different. She says: ‘We neurotypical people have to stop projecting what our concepts of happiness are onto the autistic population because autistic happiness is not the same. ‘Neurotypical professionals have ideas about living independently, having a job, being economically viable, having friends. But they’re all neurotypical indexes of happiness and no one has bothered to ask autistic people what makes them happy, what are the things they need to be able to function. That’s the next thing that needs to come. Much more voice from the autistic community.’ I love interviewing people.
When school became too much and the older girls screamed insults across the playground, or when I was alone in a room with a boy and knew he was about to kiss me, I would imagine I was her and do what I calculated she would have done. It often worked in calming my fears. I may not have been able to get my hair to flick in the way she did, but I could adopt her inscrutable expression, and power through the pain. Copying neurotypical behaviour is an exceptionally strong coping mechanism in most autistic girls. Unlike boys with autism, who are often happy to strike out on their own and just be themselves, girls tend to have a strong need to fit in. Mimicking the behaviour, style of speech, interests and social interactions of others provides something akin to a blueprint for life. While neurotypical girls have an innate understanding of how to behave, autistic girls tend to have to learn these behaviours by studying how others do them. In an effort to add detail to my blueprint for life, I have begun contacting a number of autism experts, including Professor Tony Attwood, author of The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome.
I think there are neurological and psychological reasons why the rate of anxiety is so high. When I talk to adults with Asperger’s in groups – sometimes several hundred – I will say, OK, guys, what are your biggest challenges? Most of them say managing anxiety and they say it affects their quality of life far more than any other ASD feature. ‘One [neurotypical] approach is to say to the person with Asperger’s that they should just relax. The person with Asperger’s says, I don’t know how to relax. Neurotypicals just switch on relax. The person with Asperger’s can’t find the switch. It’s like trying to fall asleep – the more you try to fall asleep, the more elusive it is.’ Dr Somayya Kajee, the psychiatrist who diagnosed me at the Anchor Psychiatry Group in Norwich, agrees that anxiety may be a factor of autism for many. When we talked about it, she said: ‘I think autistic people have anxieties generally and they have anxieties about a lot of things.
The Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships: Decoding Social Mysteries Through the Unique Perspectives of Autism by Temple Grandin, Sean Barron
That people with autism have to exist within a different culture on a day-to-day basis in order to survive—one that often blindly insists on conformity rather than respecting our cultural diversity—makes functioning in the world around us exceedingly difficult, often depressing and continually anxiety-laden. We offer this book in the hope that people of both cultures—those with autism and neurotypicals alike—can gain a deeper awareness of and appreciation for the other. To do that, we can think of no better way than sharing with you how we think about social relationships—this is how we each gain perspective of the other. We could enumerate any number of unwritten social rules, offer hundreds of bulleted examples of social behaviors we had learned in a neat and organized manner, but they would have little lasting impression on neurotypical (NT) people until they first understood what it’s like to be “in our heads,” to hear the conversations we have with ourselves about the people and the situations we experience.
I read that MIT—a school traditionally known for the highly skilled technical, engineering-type students who attend and graduate—is offering social skills classes because the students need to be taught these skills alongside the academic classes. Isn’t that interesting? You know there’s got to be many AS students in that school. But the conclusion I’m drawing is that more than just AS students need social skills training—the neurotypical “techie” students do too. Interestingly, there is a link between autism and engineering. Research by Simon Baron-Cohen indicated that there were 2.5 times as many engineers in the family history of people with autism as in their neurotypical counterparts. It makes sense: the really social people are less likely to be interested in building bridges or designing power plants. Today, teaching manners and etiquette just isn’t the priority it used to be when I was growing up. It’s an environment that makes growing up more difficult for ASD kids.
We each have our own definition of what is “important in life,” and it acts like a filter through which we see the world. It may be a moment of “A-ha!” awareness for some neurotypical readers that in many cases, the people who are guiding the lives of people with ASD do so through a filter of “emotional relatedness,” transferring all the importance they associate with that perspective onto a group of children or adults for whom that perspective may not be equally shared. It’s hard for them to see the world through the logical, less-emotion-driven perspective of their child with ASD, and even harder to accept that there are some aspects of autism—especially those that are part of the physical make-up of the brain—that may never change. Admitting that their child may never develop the emotional relatedness of a neurotypical person feels more like failure than it does acknowledging simply “another way of being.”
The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin, Richard Panek
Asperger Syndrome, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, double helix, ghettoisation, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, impulse control, Khan Academy, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, neurotypical, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, theory of mind, twin studies
A 2011 fMRI study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that the brains in a sample of high-functioning autistics and typically developing individuals seemed to respond to eye contact in opposite fashions. In the neurotypical brain, the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ) was active to direct gaze, while in the autistic subject, the TPJ was active to averted gaze. Researchers think that the TPJ is associated with social tasks that include judgments of others’ mental states. The study found the opposite pattern in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: in neurotypicals, activation to averted gaze; in autistics, activation to direct gaze. So it’s not that autistics don’t respond to eye contact, it’s that their response is the opposite of neurotypicals’. “Sensitivity to gaze in dlPFC demonstrates that direct gaze does elicit a specific neural response in participants with autism,” the study said.
“Sensitivity to gaze in dlPFC demonstrates that direct gaze does elicit a specific neural response in participants with autism,” the study said. The problem, however, is “that this response may be similar to processing of averted gaze in typically developing participants.” What a neurotypical person feels when someone won’t make eye contact might be what a person with autism feels when someone does make eye contact. And vice versa: What a neurotypical feels when someone does make eye contact might be what an autistic feels when someone doesn’t make eye contact. For a person with autism who is trying to navigate a social situation, welcoming cues from a neurotypical might be interpreted as aversive cues. Up is down, and down is up. Overconnectivity and underconnectivity. A highly influential paper published in Brain in 2004 introduced an underconnectivity theory—the idea that underconnectivity between cortical regions might be a common finding in autism.
On a computer screen, biological motion is nothing more than dots moving, but the dots are arrayed in such a way that they suggest an action a living person or animal would perform, like running. Studies have repeatedly shown that people with autism can identify biological motion, but they don’t do so with the same ease as neurotypicals. Nor do they attach emotions and feelings to the motions. What’s more, they use different parts of the brain than neurotypicals do. Neurotypicals show a lot of activation in both hemispheres, while autistics show less activation overall. The way the autistic brain engages with biological motion is reminiscent of Tito’s description of focusing on a door at the expense of seeing the room, or a description by Donna Williams I once read, of her being entranced by individual motes of dust.
Asperger Syndrome: A Love Story by Sarah Hendrickx, Keith Newton
If, added to this, you have a small or non-existent peer group, it can be impossible to establish if your desires, feelings and practices are ‘normal’ or even acceptable, because there is no one to share with or ask. Given that some people with AS are intensely private and do not share information willingly, this can exacerbate the difficulty. Someone with AS may wonder: How do I know if others with AS experience the same discomforts or pleasures? If I cannot compare myself to the neuro-typical (NT) population, which I do not feel an affinity to, how do I know if I am the only one who feels this way? How do I find a partner if I have no one to ask how to do it? Do others feel the same anxiety, fear and loneliness? Do others feel joy and contentment in their own company? What are the motivations behind relationship choices and sexual behaviour? Are they very different for those with AS than for anyone else?
The whole business of sexuality and interpersonal relations is confusing and fraught with complex and subtle intentions that require decoding (Hénault 2006). 15 16 / Love, Sex and Long-Term Relationships This chapter will focus on how people are finding and choosing potential partners, and it will include comments about how their experiences have affected them. Where to look An initial difficulty may be that someone with AS has a more limited social network than a neuro-typical (NT) person. Some people with AS have no one whom they could describe as a ‘friend’ and, given that any social opportunity is a possible chance of meeting someone, the fewer the social contacts, the fewer the invitations and the fewer the possibilities of finding a partner. We live in a social world full of signs and signals, and assumptions that everyone understands all these. The majority of NT people do understand most of them, but they still get confused and often make mistakes when reading other people.
This is an ability that develops in small children who, as they grow, begin to realise that they are not the only people in the world, and that others have different thoughts and knowledge from their own. Many adults with AS can find it very difficult to anticipate and comprehend that a partner may have different emotional needs. Many AS people express bewilderment at the emotional reactions of their neuro-typical (NT) partners. They may 31 32 / Love, Sex and Long-Term Relationships choose to do nothing in response to emotional outbursts rather than risk doing the wrong thing and unwittingly upsetting their partner further. Often the ‘doing nothing’ is exactly what makes things worse because this can be perceived as uncaring and cold to an NT partner. Doing something is usually better than doing nothing.
The Asperger Love Guide: A Practical Guide for Adults With Asperger's Syndrome to Seeking, Establishing and Maintaining Successful Relationships by Genevieve Edmonds, Dean Worton
There is a definite lack of literature available to assist people with AS in understanding the nature of relationships and how to go about developing and maintaining one. This is in contrast with the wealth of literature available for neurotypical people – just one of a multitude of examples of how poorly recognized, understood, and supported the needs of people with AS are. It is the duty of a just society to ensure that with the passage of time these needs are met, and from the perspective of people with AS and their families, the sooner the better. With written accounts by people with AS becoming more widely published the platform upon which to build better and more appropriate support services will grow stronger. It is then down to the neurotypical population to learn from the growing literature, and to use that platform to provide that support as and when it is needed. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, inherently wrong with having AS.
(See Useful Contacts.) Terminology used in this guide Aspie – The target group for the guide. This refers to an able, high functioning adult with Asperger’s syndrome, however, the book can be used for lower functioning adults on the autistic spectrum with support from a support worker, carer or trusted friend. NTs – a term used for the purposes of writing referring to mainstream neurologically ‘normal’ (neurotypical) individuals. AS – Asperger’s syndrome. Partner – a general term used for the purpose of writing for boyfriend, girlfriend or mate and to avoid cultural, sexuality, racial, regional, gender and related differences. ASD – Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Stims – self-stimulatory behaviour: repetitive motor or vocal mannerisms engaged in by people with ASDs. They are usually used to either calm or excite the nervous system and often as a response to strong emotion. 2 Chapter 1 Asperger’s Syndrome and Relationships: The Reality The science bit Aspies are seen to view the world in a logical, scientific and intellectual way rather than an innate way.
I have thought a lot about this issue over the past year or two and I tend to change my mind quite often. I suppose with no experience of either situation, then I cannot say for sure and of course, everyone is different, AS or not. My general thoughts are that I feel a relationship with an understanding person, without AS, would be preferable. When I’m functioning well, I am able to socialize comfortably with neurotypical friends and acquaintances and I imagine that having a partner who is slightly more outgoing than me could be beneficial for me. 70 Until I became a university student, I attended an all-boys school between the ages of 12 and 18. Before 12, I wasn’t really mature enough to understand the concept of love and relationships, however, since coming to university this issue has led me into a lot of depression.
Player One by Douglas Coupland
Religion strikes Rachel as reproduction-neutral, but Luke says he once had a vision of a spaceship headed heavenward — perhaps he is a poet? Neurotypical people are an endless source of puzzles. Religion is one of the biggest. In any event, when oil hits $250 a barrel, Rachel’s brain senses a threat to her body, making her amygdala kick in to create a duplicate recording of her cocktail lounge experience, which, afterwards, she will be able to scan for data that she can learn from, to protect herself in a similar situation. Her brain’s double recording of the event will make it feel as if it happened in slow motion. The doubling of neural information simulates the lengthening of time, and because Rachel is different, she is able to keep dual recordings of intense events running far longer than neurotypicals. Thus, Rachel will be able to revisit the arrival and departure of Leslie Freemont and his assistant, Tara.
But music, art, and humour? Rachel has to take it on faith that these human qualities exist. Rachel has never fit into the world. She remembers as a child being handed large wooden numbers covered in sandpaper to help her learn numbers and mathematics. Other children weren’t given tactile sandpaper number blocks, but she was, and she knows that she has always been a barely tolerated sore point among her neurotypical classmates. Rachel also remembers many times starving herself for days because the food that arrived at the table was the wrong temperature or colour, or was placed on the plate incorrectly: it just wasn’t right. And she remembers discovering single-player video games and for the first time in her life seeing a two-dimensional, non-judgemental, crisply defined realm in which she could be free from off-temperature food and sick colour schemes and bullies.
The bartender was speaking with a woman who looked about thirty-six — or perhaps thirty-four if she was addicted to alcohol. It’s much easier to determine a woman’s age, as nature is far more generous in offering visual prompts in that department. Seated at the bar was another man — early thirties? He appeared well-nourished, and Rachel tried to determine whether he was handsome. “Handsome” is the male equivalent of beautiful, and to neurotypicals handsomeness indicates good breeding stock. Having studied copies of InStyle magazine for years, trying to understand the language of looks, Rachel remained unable to calibrate any rules of attractiveness. On the other hand, the man at the bar, who had had two drinks since he had arrived, kept two large rolls of money in his jacket pocket. Rachel took this to mean he was rich and could be a good provider to a child.
Autism Adulthood: Strategies and Insights for a Fulfilling Life by Susan Senator
He said, “I don’t think you can do this, but we’ll give you everything you need to get this done.” Paul lent them his car wash, and in nine weeks over the summer, Tom recruited, trained, and employed fifteen young people with autism. They bought their first car wash a few months later, renovated it, and employed thirty-five guys with autism; they’ve been operating since then. Since opening, they have quadrupled their business, and they are profitable. Using supervisors who are neurotypical, Rising Tide manages to provide great job support for the employees with autism. Tom found that they did not need to give any special autism training to the supervisors; that the supports came naturally over time because the managers got to know their employees. Tom told me that he is, however, currently working on a “‘management guide’ for coaching and leading people with autism. It seems to be a helpful resource to draw on when they are working through an issue with an employee, and for new managers to feel more comfortable in their roles.”
John gives the clients plenty of advance notice for anything or anyone new or different. “I tell the clients ‘so-and-so is going to work with you, so you have to be a little more patient.’” Relationships, whether between a caregiver and a person who has a disability, or anyone else, are a two-way street. Perhaps this is the key to John’s great track record with Nat. As much as I hate to say it, too often we neurotypicals sometimes forget that our autistic loved ones are full-blown people, with all the quirks, irritations, emotions, flaws, hopes, and dreams that we have. Accordingly, John fully expects the individuals to do their part to form a successful relationship with the staff, to the extent they can. “Both the individuals and the staff have to be patient,” he said. “It’s easy for me to hear a client make a particular noise, for example, and know what he wants.
We have to remember that someone with autism might not want to talk to people or get kissed, and therefore might not be motivated to brush his teeth.” Therefore it is important to ask whether this autistic student actually needs this skill at this time. “We need to look at ways he can acquire skills that are of intrinsic value to him right now,” Peter says. In other words, we cannot take it for granted that autistic people will automatically value skills that neurotypical people value. Aim for the greatest efficiency of skill acquisition Another factor in teaching autistic people a particular skill is to consider how easy it is to put that skill in place. How much energy do you want to devote to this effort? Is there a natural context in which to learn this skill? According to Peter, “Context is a critical variable as we try to teach this cohort of skills.
The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby
affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, availability heuristic, backtesting, bank run, Black Swan, buy and hold, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, compound rate of return, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, endowment effect, feminist movement, Flash crash, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, housing crisis, IKEA effect, impulse control, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, longitudinal study, loss aversion, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, Nate Silver, neurotypical, passive investing, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, science of happiness, Shai Danziger, short selling, South Sea Bubble, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, stocks for the long run, Thales of Miletus, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, tulip mania, Vanguard fund
To the extent that emotional reactions ‘short circuit’ more complex decision-making faculties… it should come as no surprise that the result is poorer trading performance.”56 If inhibiting emotion is good, is it possible that doing away with it altogether is even better? This is the line of thought pursued in a Stanford University study titled, ‘Investment Behavior and the Negative Side of Emotion’. Within, the researchers pitted 15 individuals with brain damage to their emotional processing centers against 15 “neurotypical” peers in a gambling task. The study found that the brain damaged participants handily outperformed their no-damage counterparts through a combination of being willing to take bigger bets and being able to bounce back quickly after setbacks. The neurotypical participants played more safely throughout but became particularly risk averse after periods of poor performance (which in markets tend to coincide with attractive periods of investment). The brain-damaged participants, not feeling the need to lick their wounds or salve a damaged ego, maintained a consistent style throughout and emerged victorious.
Incredibly, the choice supportive bias is such a powerful tendency that it seems to exist somewhere so deep within us that it is even present in those unable to form short-term memories. Dan Gilbert and his team examined the impact of the Free Choice Paradigm on a group of subjects with anterograde amnesia; in other words, a group of hospitalized individuals unable to form new memories. Like their neurotypical (that is, without brain damage) peers, the amnesiac patients were asked to rank the paintings from 1 to 6 and were given the option to keep either painting 3 or 4. Upon choosing a painting, the researchers promised to mail the chosen painting in a few days and left the room.30 Returning just 30 minutes later, the members of Dr. Gilbert’s team reintroduced themselves to the amnesiacs who, unable to form new memories, had no recollection of having met with them before or having performed the exercise.
Gilbert’s team reintroduced themselves to the amnesiacs who, unable to form new memories, had no recollection of having met with them before or having performed the exercise. To ensure that the amnesic patients were truly unable to form memories, the researchers then asked them to point to the painting that they had chosen before, a task at which the patients performed less well than chance guessing! The patients were then put through the whole ranking exercise again, with astonishing results. Just as with the neurotypical control group, the amnesic patients “talked up” the choice they made and dismissed the painting not chosen, even though they had no memory of having made a choice at all! Our need to view ourselves as competent and maintain ego lives somewhere so deep within us that not even cognitive impairment can touch it. The science of belief The 2004 Presidential campaign pitted the incumbent President George W.
Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking by Cecilia Heyes
Asperger Syndrome, complexity theory, epigenetics, intermodal, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, phenotype, social intelligence, the built environment, theory of mind, twin studies
MINDREADING 2. An intriguing follow-up study found that, in the test used by Southgate, Senju, and Csibra (2007), neurotypical adults show the same pattern of anticipatory looking as infants, but adults with Asperger’s Syndrome look equally often to the left and to the right (Senju, Southgate, White, and Frith, 2009). According to the submentalizing interpretation, this suggests that, in adults, the anticipatory looking effect depends on explicit mentalizing or, more likely, that people with Asperger’s Syndrome are less susceptible to distraction by social stimuli, such as an agent turning her back. The latter possibility is consistent with Senju and colleagues’ observation that neurotypical adults spent more time than people with Asperger’s Syndrome looking at the agent’s face. 3. It is possible that everyday experience with arrows, in which interesting or important stimuli are more likely to be located near the head than the tail, results in habitual representation of what arrows can “see.”
However, the submentalizing view suggests that implicit mindreading depends on domain-general cognitive mechanisms, rather than mechanisms that are specialized for thinking about mental states (Heyes, 2014a; 2014b; 2015). The case of autism suggests that implicit and explicit mindreading depend on different mechanisms since explicit mindreading can be achieved in spite of continuing problems with implicit mindreading (Senju, Southgate, White, and Frith, 2009). Further evidence for this dissociation is found in studies of neurotypical adults. In tasks where adults make verbal judgments about other people’s thoughts and feelings (explicit mindreading), judgment accuracy is impaired by concurrent performance of an executive function task (Bull, Phillips, and Conway, 2008). In contrast, concurrent demands on executive function do not interfere with implicit mindreading (Qureshi, Apperly, and Samson, 2010). These results—indicating that explicit mindreading does, and implicit mindreading does not, depend on executive processes—are hard to reconcile with the continuity hypothesis but compatible with the two-systems and submentalizing interpretations of implicit mindreading.
Using an inanimate control procedure, Santiesteban and colleagues found that this effect also occurs when the central object is an arrow—an inanimate object rather than a human figure (Figures 7.2C and 7.2D)—suggesting that the effect is due to the domain-general mechanisms that mediate automatic attentional orienting (Tipples, 2008).3 7.2 Examples of the stimuli used by Santiesteban and colleagues to test implicit mindreading in neurotypical adults. (Reprinted with the permission of the American Psychological Association from Santiesteban, Catmur, Hopkins, Bird, and Heyes, 2014.) These three examples—involving infants, chimpanzees, and human adults—support the submentalizing interpretation of implicit mindreading; the view that it is due not to fast-and-efficient processes that represent mental states, but to the operation of low-level, domain-general cognitive mechanisms (for reviews, see Heyes, 2014a; 2014b; 2015).
NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
Albert Einstein, animal electricity, Asperger Syndrome, assortative mating, crowdsourcing, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, experimental subject, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mother of all demos, neurotypical, New Journalism, pattern recognition, placebo effect, scientific mainstream, side project, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, twin studies, union organizing, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War
Like any nascent subculture, this emerging community gave birth to its own in-group slang. The most enduring ANI neologism was the term neurotypical, used as a label for nonautistic people for the first time in the group’s newsletter. With its distinctly clinical air, the term (sometimes shortened to NT) turned the diagnostic gaze back on the psychiatric establishment and registered the fact that people on the spectrum were fully capable of irony and sarcasm at a time when it was widely assumed that they didn’t “get” humor. Carrying the meme to its logical extreme, an autistic woman named Laura Tisoncik launched an official-looking website in 1998 credited to the Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical. “Neurotypical syndrome is a neurobiological disorder characterized by preoccupation with social concerns, delusions of superiority, and obsession with conformity,” the site’s FAQ declared.
“autistic space”: “Autism Network International: The Development of a Community and Its Culture,” Jim Sinclair. 2005. http://www.autreat.com/History_of_ANI.html Its founder, Ray Kopp, was the father of a legally blind girl named Shawna: “My Affiliation with Autism,” Ray Kopp. http://www.syr.edu/~rjkopp/data/history.html, accessed through archive.org Kopp launched the list in 1992: Autism List FAQ. Archived at http://kildall.apana.org.au/autism/autismlistfaq.html neurotypical: “Neural connections in Toronto,” Steve Cousins. Our Voice, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1993. “Neurotypical syndrome is a neurobiological disorder”: Institute for the Study of the Neurologically Typical. Muskie, 1998. http://isnt.autistics.org/ “Saying ‘person with autism’ suggests that autism is something bad”: “Why I Dislike Person-First Language,” Jim Sinclair. Autism Network International, 1999. “Autistic people seem to have an affinity with computers”: Carolyn Baird, interviewed by Wouter Schenk, Jan. 8, 1998. https://web.archive.org/web/19990128120401/http://web.syr.edu/~rjkopp/data/casinter.html At a conference in St.
If Leo jumped up and hopped up and down for a minute because he got excited, that was okay. Shore acted like there was all the time in the world. The little tasks he gave Leo quickly became self-rewarding, because they played to a classic autistic strength: pattern recognition. Together, they turned the eighty-eight keys on the keyboard into a map that Leo could then explore by playing the notes. Shannon had never seen anyone “get” Leo so quickly. (Shore confesses that he finds neurotypical kids harder to teach, because he doesn’t understand how their minds work.) By the end of the hourlong lesson, Leo could play a simple, pleasing sequence of notes—and he had also learned that he could be good at doing something he had never tried before. One of the most important lessons that Shannon and Craig have learned on their journey with Leo is patience. Instead of comparing his arc of development to an idealized set of milestones, they have come to accept that he is unfolding at his own pace.
Be Different: Adventures of a Free-Range Aspergian With Practical Advice for Aspergians, Misfits, Families & Teachers by John Elder Robison
“People who don’t have Asperger’s” sounds pretty clumsy when you say it too often. “Everyone else” is too vague. You might think the correct word would be “normal,” but we’ve all heard the psychologist’s pronouncement “There is no such thing as normal.” Professionals have coined the word “neurotypical” to describe any human who does not have some form of autism. “Neurotypical” has been in use for a number of years, but I’ve never liked it. Try it yourself. Say it in front of a mirror and watch your mouth. It’s like you’re chewing something just to spit the syllables out. It’s so clinical—you can almost smell the doctor’s office when you say it. “Neurotypical” is the kind of word you hear in science fiction movies, when they select the specimens for dissection. I wanted a friendlier word, something that didn’t remind me of tongue depressors and needles. I wanted a word I wouldn’t stumble over if I said it late at night.
The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry by Gary Greenberg
addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, back-to-the-land, David Brooks, impulse control, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Snow's cholera map, Kickstarter, late capitalism, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, McMansion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, phenotype, placebo effect, random walk, selection bias, statistical model, theory of mind, Winter of Discontent
Now she’s telling me about a benefit she did not mention in her talk: the way the Asperger’s label changed her sense of herself. “Spending time in an environment where the diagnosis is embraced as a difference, I started to see my diagnosis differently.” The fact that it wasn’t a “mental illness,” at least not by her definition, had become good news, a “gift” even. There were advantages to not being neurotypical, as people with Asperger’s sometimes describe the rest of us. “There are certain things that neurotypical women in particular are obsessed with, shoes and clothes and makeup, that I’m very glad I’m not,” she said, adding that it isn’t just the girly preoccupations she was pleased to be relieved of. “In general, I’m very content with being completely outside of the popular culture fray.” Her diagnosis had helped her to do what is demanded of all of us but comes easier to some than others: to build a self out of the raw materials of nature and nurture.
A parent called them “perfect counterfeit bills,” convincing facsimiles of normal children until they tried to engage others. Fred Volkmar weighed in, saying that “their social interactions are a disaster.” But Osborne had some good news to report. Although, as the school director said, “everything has to be taught to them,” it was proving possible to do that. In classrooms, support groups, and doctors’ offices, Asperger’s patients were learning how to negotiate the neurotypical world. A teacher demonstrated how her students had memorized facial expressions so they could read other people’s signals. With techniques like this, according to Osborne, “Asperger’s children can at least learn to imitate social behavior that other kids learn intuitively.” Like Frankenstein’s monster observing human life through a window, they were forced to watch the rest of us from a distance.
And its charms are on the increase, at least according to the Aspie who predicted to Osborne that “society will actually become more and more dependent on people with Asperger’s to usher it through the difficulties ahead.” That was more than a decade ago, and since then, interaction has come to rely less and less on the nonverbal cues that Aspies are so bad at decoding and more and more on the tablets and handhelds, the binaries of emoticons and tweets, that they are more suited to. While the neurotypical among us grow more and more bewildered by the barrage of information fed to us by our devices, the burdens of Asperger’s, at least in the view of some of the diagnosed, increasingly become a gift. Even for those who think this is an ominous sign—like the novelist Jonathan Lethem, who speculated that people with Asperger’s are “canaries [who] sensed before anyone else28 that we’d entered a coal mine”—the fit between disease and society is striking, the temptation to claim the label obvious.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Demi-autistic, genetically speaking; single-track tunnel-vision minds, a marked degree of social ineptitude – these were not your sharp dressers – and luckily for everyone there, a high tolerance for mildly deviant public behaviour. More than at HelthWyzer? asked Jimmy. Compared to this place, HelthWyzer was a pleebland, Crake replied. It was wall-to-wall NT s. NT s? Neurotypicals. Meaning? Minus the genius gene. So, are you a neurotypical? Jimmy asked the next week, having had some time to think this over. Also to worry about whether he himself was a neurotypical, and if so, was that now bad, in the gestalt of Crake? He suspected he was, and that it was. But Crake never answered that one. This was his way: when there was a question he didn’t want to address, he acted as if it hadn’t been asked. You should come and see this joint, he told Jimmy in late October of their sophomore year.
He couldn’t see eating a ChickieNob. It would be like eating a large wart. But as with the tit implants – the good ones – maybe he wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. “They’ve already got the takeout franchise operation in place,” said Crake. “Investors are lining up around the block. They can undercut the price of everyone else.” Jimmy was becoming annoyed by Crake’s way of introducing him – “This is Jimmy, the neurotypical” – but he knew better than to show it. Still, it seemed to be like calling him a Cro-Magnon or something. Next step they’d be putting him in a cage, feeding him bananas, and poking him with electroprods. Nor did he think much of the Watson-Crick women on offer. Maybe they weren’t even on offer: they seemed to have other things on their minds. Jimmy’s few attempts at flirtation got him some surprised stares – surprised and not at all pleased, as if he’d widdled on these women’s carpets.
Asperger Syndrome and Alcohol: Drinking to Cope? by Matthew Tinsley, Sarah Hendrickx
• There are also high levels of co-morbidity between anxiety and admittance to alcohol rehabilitation units, with around 65 per cent of those admitted demonstrating both conditions (Mental Health Foundation 2006). 34 / ASPERGER SYNDROME AND ALCOHOL In a number of small steps, we have moved from Asperger Syndrome via social anxiety to alcoholism. It is very likely that Matt is not the only person with AS who has used alcohol as a coping strategy for tolerating the neuro-typical world. The final word is from a young woman with Asperger Syndrome: Q: Is there a link between anxiety and drinking alcohol for you? A: Yes, because when I am drunk I don’t care as much whether people secretly don’t want to talk to me. Normally I am constantly aware of the possibility that I am not acting appropriately, and I stress out about it. Being drunk enables me to be someone else, superficially closer to the way that other people are.
They drink for a very sound reason: it’s the only way they know to exist in the world. Removing this protective layer against the confusions and expectations of a social world may unearth high levels of anxiety and depression. The management of anxiety must go hand in hand with the withdrawal of alcohol. It is important that support workers have a good knowledge of AS, as the perspective of the AS alcoholic may be somewhat different to a neuro-typical alcoholic. Underneath the alcoholism there will always be a person with autism who has to learn to cope with the world without the crutch of alcohol. The desire to return to alcohol as a medication against that anxiety will be particularly strong for this person. There may also need to be a programme in social skills to enable the person to feel more confident about social situations and reduce the need for the substance.
Switched On: My Journey From Asperger's to Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison
One idea that I’ve come back to throughout this book is the notion that my brain (or anyone else’s) might differ from the brain of a typical person. But the truth is, there is really no such thing as a “typical” brain, because every human is atypical in some or many ways. The “neurotypical person” is a construct, established by scientists who need parameters by which to measure the disparate statistics of different individuals. Last year, Dr. Just tried a new kind of experiment with interesting implications for what “neurotypical” and “different” mean. Marcel put thirty-four young adults in his fMRI scanner and asked them to imagine the following verbs: compliment, insult, adore, hate, hug, kick, encourage, and humiliate. Then he asked them to consider the verbs from the perspective of applying them to another person, as well as to themselves.
When I talk to doctors or psychologists about TMS, I’m always asked about findings. It’s great to hear your story, they tell me, but what did the peer-reviewed journal accounts say? In July 2011, Shirley, Lindsay, Alvaro, and others involved in the research published the results of the first TMS study in the European Journal of Neuroscience, under the heavy title “Brain Stimulation over Broca’s Area Differentially Modulates Naming Skills in Neurotypical Adults and Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome.” The three-year lag between our participation in the TMS lab and publication of the results is typical in medical research. Reading their paper feels funny, because it’s a very dry account of what was a very emotional and transformative time for me, and I’m sure for the other subjects. Our experiences in the hours and weeks after TMS are not mentioned at all; the published findings are limited to the results of the before and after testing in the lab, and an analysis of what they may mean.
The Age of the Infovore: Succeeding in the Information Economy by Tyler Cowen
Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, cognitive bias, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, Flynn Effect, framing effect, Google Earth, impulse control, informal economy, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, Marshall McLuhan, Naomi Klein, neurotypical, new economy, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, phenotype, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, selection bias, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind
The more we study the human mind, the more we can see the beauty and the uniqueness of the individual. General labels, such as “autistic,” can be useful. But we need to remain aware of how much labels are imperfect substitutes for more detailed forms of knowledge about particular individuals. They are placeholders for a deeper understanding that is yet to come. And that’s not just for the autistics. Most so-called neurotypicals aren’t typical at all and if we think they are it’s because we don’t yet appreciate their uniqueness in a sufficiently informed manner. The deeper our understanding of human neurodiversity, and the deeper our appreciation for the individual, the more we can appreciate how many different ways the human mind can contemplate the beauty and wonder of creation. That sounds a bit corny but yes, it is part of the happy ending of this book.
The greater focus of autistics does require qualification. Often the autistic can be less focused if they are distracted and in some regards they are more easily distracted than non-autistics; remember the discussion of the startle reaction? For a discussion of this issue, see Dermot Bowler, Autism Spectrum Disorders: Psychological Theory and Research (cited above), 115–17. In any case, one can think of neurotypicals as trying, through education, to attain the non-distracted maximum focus found in many autistics. For the Department of Education figure, see www.ed.gov/about/overview/budget/budget03/summary/app1/edlite-index.html. CHAPTER 6: THE NEW ECONOMY OF STORIES You’ll find Schelling’s essay in his Choice and Consequence: Perspectives of an Errant Economist (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984).
Copenhagenize: The Definitive Guide to Global Bicycle Urbanism by Mikael Colville-Andersen
active transport: walking or cycling, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, business cycle, car-free, congestion charging, corporate social responsibility, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Enrique Peñalosa, functional fixedness, if you build it, they will come, Induced demand, intermodal, Jane Jacobs, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kickstarter, Mahatma Gandhi, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, out of africa, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, self-driving car, sharing economy, smart cities, starchitect, transcontinental railway, urban planning, urban sprawl, Yogi Berra
As she put it to me, kids with autism need a system designed for them. You have to learn how to communicate with them. It’s all about trying to figure them out. Teaching them, however, involves giving them the tools and skills to navigate a world that isn’t at all designed for them. Teachers have to learn how to pantomime a system that is alien to these kids but completely normal for those of us who are neurotypical. They will always be autistic and will forever be forced to try to act in ways that appease the neurotypical society around them. At this point I said to her, “Just like cyclists in cities.” She nodded. “Exactly. A city like Portland has been designed for years to be car-centric. A system was developed. People in the suburbs learned this system early and car dependency is the result, simply because there is really only one system. Cyclists are expected to adapt to that system.
Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World by James D. Miller
23andMe, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, barriers to entry, brain emulation, cloud computing, cognitive bias, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, invention of agriculture, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, Netflix Prize, neurotypical, Norman Macrae, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, phenotype, placebo effect, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, transaction costs, Turing test, twin studies, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture
I’ve done extensive research on autism, and when I went to my first Singularity conference, I was struck by how many people there seemed to be somewhere on the autism spectrum. Others in the Singularity community agree that it attracts autistics. If the Singularity is a realistic and dangerous possibility, and if autistics have some special gift for understanding it, then embryo selection against autism would lower humanity’s survival prospects. Autistics often consider themselves “born on the wrong planet” because neurotypical (“normal”) humans are so different from them.213 If, therefore, embryo selection reduced the number of autistics, parents would have even greater reason to fear having an autistic child, causing them to even more strongly select against autism-prone embryos. Governments could correct a bias against autistic children by paying parents to have them. Although it seems unlikely that the United States would do this, I can easily imagine that Singapore would.
Although it seems unlikely that the United States would do this, I can easily imagine that Singapore would. Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister of Singapore, described his daughter’s child, diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, as being “intellectually normal . . . good-natured and the best-behaved and most likeable of my grandchildren.”214 Technology might soon reduce the social costs of autism. Much human-to-human communication takes place on an unconscious, nonverbal level. Most neurotypicals send nonverbal signals and automatically incorporate the signals they receive into their behavior. These signals are analogous to your sense of balance, which keeps you from falling over without your conscious mind having to do much work. High-functioning autistics’ blindness to this kind of communication makes it challenging for them to fit in socially. But I foresee wearable computers that decrypt nonverbal signals by analyzing body language, facial expressions, and word tone.
Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson
2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 4chan, 8-hour work day, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, call centre, cellular automata, Chelsea Manning, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, don't repeat yourself, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, HyperCard, illegal immigration, ImageNet competition, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, lone genius, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, microservices, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Nicholas Carr, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, planetary scale, profit motive, ransomware, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, sorting algorithm, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, the High Line, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zimmermann PGP, éminence grise
Cohen does, in fact, have Asperger syndrome. I was initially surprised to hear it. Although he was obviously a bit bombastic and prone to launching into minilectures on just about any subject that came up, I liked him a lot and found him witty and frequently charming. He seemed quite good at picking up on the emotional cues of those around him. But it was, he said, the result of years of practice, training himself to act “neurotypical.” “I learned how to do it,” he said, one night as we drove to a local bar for a drink. He was raised in New York by parents who were intellectuals: a mother who was an elementary-school reading teacher; a father who ran a socialist newspaper. (It was among the first US publications to be designed entirely digitally, Cohen recalls, which is one reason he grew up with computers around the house.)
It was the early ’90s, before Asperger’s was a well-understood condition, so his parents never suspected it or had him diagnosed; they just figured Cohen was, well, nerdy. When Cohen was in his early twenties, he read an article about the behavior of people with Asperger’s, though, and felt a jolt of recognition. So he decided to hack his behavior much in the way he’d probe and tweak a computer system. He read books on Asperger’s, and as he walked around the city, he closely studied how neurotypical people interacted, gathering reams of what was, in essence, test data. “I intentionally studied interactions and eye contact in particular,” he told me. “I’m really big on duration of eye contact.” Indeed, he’d even debugged the Asperger’s therapy recommendations; though all the books highlighted the importance of eye contact, they rarely mentioned duration. “So people who have been trained with that often get that really wrong because there’s really important subtleties to eye contact duration,” he noted.
Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future by Joi Ito, Jeff Howe
3D printing, Albert Michelson, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, buy low sell high, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, Computer Numeric Control, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, double helix, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Ferguson, Missouri, fiat currency, financial innovation, Flash crash, frictionless, game design, Gerolamo Cardano, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, microbiome, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pirate software, pre–internet, prisoner's dilemma, Productivity paradox, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Coase, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Singularitarianism, Skype, slashdot, smart contracts, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, universal basic income, unpaid internship, uranium enrichment, urban planning, WikiLeaks
Eventually Finn would not only laugh, but develop a vocabulary of cackles and giggles and shrieks that has become one of his most winning qualities, standing in as they often do for verbal communication. As I write this Finn is nearing his ninth birthday. He faces an array of physical and intellectual challenges that include, but are not limited to, autism. None of this is meant to garner sympathy. My wife and I are incredibly lucky to possess the resources, financial and otherwise, to provide Finn and his neuro-typical sister a good life. This story is meant to illustrate that many of these principles have profound personal implications. Finn excels at many things—he does a mean headstand, and is a cunning strategist in a water fight—but his greatest talent may lie in disrupting our own humble status quo. I never really know when we might need to leave the house—it could be for the emergency room, or to sate an urgent need to run up and down the aisles of our local grocery store—or return to it.
Shorter by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
8-hour work day, airport security, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, centre right, cloud computing, colonial rule, disruptive innovation, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, game design, gig economy, Henri Poincaré, IKEA effect, iterative process, job automation, job satisfaction, job-hopping, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, labor-force participation, longitudinal study, means of production, neurotypical, performance metric, race to the bottom, remote working, Second Machine Age, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, women in the workforce, young professional, zero-sum game
In a 2018 survey of 12,500 workers in the software industry, 39 percent described themselves as depressed, and 57 percent said they felt burned out. A lot of this was thanks to toxic workplaces: 48 percent said that their workplaces contributed to their poor mental health, and 91 percent said that burnout was a problem at their companies. A 2019 Stack Overflow survey found that 30 percent of software developers deal with mental health challenges like ADHD, emotional disorders, and anxiety, or are not neurotypical. While almost two-thirds of the companies in this book are from these three industries, the remaining third are quite varied. They include manufacturers of rice-milling machines and bespoke pressed-metal parts, organic cosmetics companies, nursing homes, an auto repair shop, insurance and financial companies, hotels, online and print publishers, and call centers. Two—Japanese e-commerce company Zozo and Korean O2O company Woowa Brothers—have over a thousand employees; most are much smaller, with under a hundred employees.
JPod by Douglas Coupland
Asperger Syndrome, Drosophila, finite state, G4S, game design, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, neurotypical, pez dispenser, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, Ronald Reagan, special economic zone, wage slave, Y2K
Most people are able to sift out the day's excess information without ever thinking about it, but to the tech worker exhibiting autistic—okay, let's just say the word: geek—to most geeks, a hug is not a hug, it's the physical equivalent of holding a novelty marine foghorn up to the ear and blasting it directly into the central nervous system. When you hug a geek, you're overloading them in a manner they find intolerable. They feel and express shock and revulsion when touched. Here's a personal example. Low-grade autistics have problems with sensory input, sound being a biggie. My boyfriend, Ethan, is a seemingly average NT (neurotypical), and yet he exhibits a specific autistic variant called hyper acuity. He has a small, specific band of sound frequencies that make him go mental. If I'm in the bathroom with the door closed and Ethan is in the living room watching a Wrestling Entertainment marathon with the volume set on high, all I have to do is clip one of my toenails with a small generic nail clipper and his entire cerebral system shuts down.
Heart of the Machine: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emotional Intelligence by Richard Yonck
3D printing, AI winter, artificial general intelligence, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Berlin Wall, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, friendly AI, ghettoisation, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of writing, Jacques de Vaucanson, job automation, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Loebner Prize, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Metcalfe’s law, neurotypical, Oculus Rift, old age dependency ratio, pattern recognition, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Skype, social intelligence, software as a service, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing test, twin studies, undersea cable, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, zero day
They wouldn’t be identical to humans and perhaps not even the least bit similar, but by these standards they could nonetheless be conscious. Consider that even human intelligence and consciousness aren’t all that uniform across the population. While we tend to think of all or most human beings as self-aware, it’s worth bearing in mind that as with so many aspects of intelligence, emotional awareness, and personality, this may exist along a spectrum. In autism, for instance, fMRI brain scans reveal that while neurotypical subjects show increased activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex when engaged in self-awareness tests, those diagnosed with autism did not show the same increase in activity.7 The study reports that those “individuals whose ventromedial prefrontal cortex made the largest distinction between mentalizing about self and other were least socially impaired in early childhood, while those whose ventromedial prefrontal cortex made little to no distinction between mentalizing about self and other were the most socially impaired in early childhood.”
Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender, and Identity―and Why This Harms Everybody by Helen Pluckrose, James A. Lindsay
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, centre right, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, desegregation, Donald Trump, equal pay for equal work, European colonialism, feminist movement, germ theory of disease, Isaac Newton, late capitalism, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, neurotypical, phenotype, sexual politics, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, transatlantic slave trade, white flight, women in the workforce
“Disableism,” on the other hand, denotes prejudice against disabled people, including the idea that their disabled status exists outside of the usual understanding of “normal” and the belief that an able-bodied person is superior to a disabled person. This oppression is part of a constellation of different forms of bigotry. As the self-described autistic, disabled, asexual, and genderqueer activist Lydia X. Y. Brown defines it, [A]bleism might describe the value system of ablenormativity which privileges the supposedly neurotypical and ablebodied, while disableism might describe the violent oppression targeting people whose bodyminds are deemed deviant and thus disabled. In other words, ableism is to heterosexism what disableism is to queerantagonism.5 Accordingly, queer Theory, with its focus on deconstructing the normal, has proven particularly compatible with disability studies. Just as queer Theorist Judith Butler evoked Adrienne Rich’s concept of “compulsory heterosexuality”—the social enforcement of heterosexuality as the normal, default sexuality—so does Robert McRuer in disability studies.
Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures With Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison
Brain researchers wonder the same thing when it comes to autistic people. My next book will tell the story of scientists who are working to unravel the secrets of intelligence and perhaps make us all smarter. Autism is described as a developmental delay, and researchers at CMU/Pitt and elsewhere are now exploring the idea that autistic people may develop certain brain pathways much later in life than “neurotypical” people. I’ve always wondered how my son could be “nearly normal” in first grade, and “nearly a genius” on a different IQ test fifteen years later. The question remains to be answered. I mentioned executive function and organization several times in this book. That’s a big problem for many autistic people; indeed, it’s a problem for many people of all sorts. Last year I worked with a team from Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Ivymount School in Rockville, Maryland, to develop a book called Unstuck and on Target, which describes a new therapy intended to develop better executive function in kids.
Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought by Barbara Tversky
Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, clean water, continuous integration, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, fundamental attribution error, Hans Rosling, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), John Snow's cholera map, Lao Tzu, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, neurotypical, patient HM, Richard Feynman, Steven Pinker, the new new thing, theory of mind, urban planning
If you are interested in how well you can read faces, there’s a five-minute test you can take and that thousands of others have taken, the Mind in the Eyes test. It shows you photos of only the eyes and eyebrows of real people and asks you to select which of four emotional states the eyes express. On average, more-educated people outperform less-well-educated people, women outperform men but only slightly, and neurotypical people outperform people with conditions that compromise recognition of emotion such as Asperger’s, schizophrenia, and anorexia. An analysis of more than eighty-nine thousand people who completed the test and volunteered their genetic information confirmed a genetic basis. A separate study showed that performance of identical twins is more similar than performance of unrelated people, more evidence for a genetic basis.
The Village Effect: How Face-To-Face Contact Can Make Us Healthier, Happier, and Smarter by Susan Pinker
assortative mating, Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, facts on the ground, game design, happiness index / gross national happiness, indoor plumbing, invisible hand, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, neurotypical, Occupy movement, old-boy network, place-making, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, randomized controlled trial, Ray Oldenburg, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steven Pinker, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Tony Hsieh, urban planning, Yogi Berra
There may be other therapeutic applications to such basic research, including promoting mobility in amputees or those with spinal cord injuries. 14. Marco Iacoboni, Mirroring People: The Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others (New York: Picador, 2008). 15. Ibid. 16. In The Age of Empathy, Frans de Waal points out that, remarkably, children on the autistic spectrum are immune to the yawns of others, which is just one sign that they don’t perceive social signals the same way as “neurotypicals.” De Waal, Age of Empathy. 17. Iacoboni, Mirroring People; Seymour M. Berger and Suzanne W. Hadley, “Some Effects of a Model’s Performance on an Observer’s Electromyographic Activity,” American Journal of Psychology 88, no. 2 (1975). 18. Jared Curhan and Alex Pentland, “Thin Slices of Negotiation: Predicting Outcomes from Conversational Dynamics Within the First Five Minutes,” Journal of Applied Psychology 92, no. 3 (2007); Alex Pentland, Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2008). 19.
The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy by Seth Mnookin
Albert Einstein, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, en.wikipedia.org, illegal immigration, index card, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, neurotypical, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, selection bias, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
This is a common scenario even for parents with children on the milder end of the autism spectrum. “It makes people uncomfortable,” says Jane Johnson, who is the managing director of the Autism Research Institute and is a member of the family whose ancestors founded the multinational pharmaceutical and medical devices company Johnson & Johnson. “Particularly for women, many of our friends are based around child rearing. . . . If you’re sitting there with your neurotypical child and your friend Suzy is there with her autistic child, you’re going to feel really uncomfortable when your child is running up and saying, ‘Mommy, mommy, I just went down the slide’—and Suzy’s child can’t speak. You’re going to cringe if you’re a sensitive person with every word that comes out of your child’s mouth, knowing how Suzy doesn’t get those same experiences. I suppose they don’t know what to say.”
Gnomon by Nick Harkaway
Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Burning Man, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive dissonance, fault tolerance, fear of failure, gravity well, high net worth, impulse control, Isaac Newton, Khartoum Gordon, lifelogging, neurotypical, pattern recognition, place-making, post-industrial society, Potemkin village, Richard Feynman, Scramble for Africa, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, the market place, trade route, urban planning, urban sprawl
Lara? Trisa. Trisa, from St Albans, paternal grandmother born in Okinawa, mother once sang solo at the Albert Hall. Likes dancing but not alone, doesn’t drink, plays piano. Trisa Hinde. Hinde wears a badge with a rainbow on it. A few decades ago this would have meant something about her sexual orientation, but now it’s a polite signal to Neith and anyone else Hinde interacts with that she is not neurotypical. Her brain touches a particular peak of the modern medical taxonomy that includes some autisms and various perceptual and processing functions such as synaesthesia, and structural (rather than acquired) hypervigilance. It is not actually a spectrum in the linear sense, more a graph on several axes. In Hinde’s case it means that she has a superb set of tools for the consideration, recall and analysis of her sense data – making her an excellent medical examiner – but she has no mind’s eye in which to conjure counterfactuals or even remembered scenes, and dislikes having to reach for what is implicit in the way others cringe at emery boards or biting into a block of ice.