Thu. Jul 11th, 2024
A) Statistical deviation: The defining characteristic is uncommon behavior - a significant deviation from the average/majority. Many human characteristics are normally distributed. LIMITATION. This definition would mean a genius should be termed abnormal. Reliance on means and deviations implicitly sets up the identity average person = ideal person . Is the average the ideal? Are deviations from the average a signof abnormality?

Genius May Be an Abnormality:

Educating Students with Asperger’s Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism

By: Temple Grandin, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA

I am becoming increasingly concerned that intellectually gifted children are being denied opportunities because they are being labeled either Asperger’s or high functioning autism. Within the last year I have talked to several parents, and I was disturbed by what they said. One mother called me and was very upset that her six-year-old son had Asperger’s. She then went on to tell me that his IQ was 150. I replied that before people knew about Asperger’s Syndrome, their child would have received a very positive label of intellectually gifted.

In another case the parents of an Asperger teenager called and told me that they were so concerned about their son’s poor social skills that they would not allow him to take computer programming. I told her that depriving him of a challenging career in computers would make his life miserable. He will get social interaction by shared interests with other computer people. In a third case, a super smart child was not allowed in the talented and gifted program in his school because he had an autism label. Educators need to become aware that intellectually satisfying work makes life meaningful.

It is essential that talented children labeled either high functioning autism or Asperger’s be trained in fields such as computer programming, where they can do intellectually satisfying work. Click here (Choosing-the-Right-Job-for-People-with-Autism-or-Aspergers-Syndrome) to read my paper entitled ‘Choosing the Right Job for People with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.’ For many people with Asperger’s, and for me, my life is my work. Life would not be worth living if I did not have intellectually satisfying work. I did not fully realize this until a flood destroyed our university library. I was attending the American Society of Animal Science meetings when the flood occurred. I first learned about it when I read about it on the front page of USA Today, a national newspaper. I grieved for the “dead” books, the same way most people grieve for a dead relative. The destruction of books upset me because “thoughts died.” Even though most of the books are still in other libraries, there are many people at the university who will never read them. To me, Shakespeare lives if we keep performing his plays. He dies, when we stop performing them. I am my work. If the livestock industry continues to use equipment I have designed, then my “thoughts live” and my life has meaning. If my efforts to improve the treatment of cattle and pigs make real improvements in the world, then life is meaningful.

I have been reading, with great satisfaction, the many articles in magazines about Linux free software. People in the business world are not able to comprehend why the computer people give their work away. I am unable to think about this without becoming emotional. It is no mystery to me why they download their intellectual ideas into the vast, evolving and continually improving computer operating system. It is because their thoughts will live forever as part of the “genetic code” of the computer program. They are putting themselves into the program and their “intellectual DNA” will live forever in cyber-space. As the program evolves and changes, the code they wrote will probably remain hidden deep within it. It is almost like a living thing that is continually evolving and improving. For both me and for the programmers that contribute to Linux, we do it because it makes our lives more meaningful.

Continuum of Traits

There is a continuum of personality and intellectual traits from normal to abnormal. At what point does a brilliant computer programmer or engineer get labeled with Asperger’s. There is no black and white dividing line. Simon Baron-Cohen, an autism researcher at the University of Cambridge, found that there were 2 ½ times as many engineers in the family history of people with autism. I certainly fit this pattern. My grandfather was an engineer who was co-inventor of the automatic pilot for an airplane. I have second and third cousins who are engineers and mathematicians.

At a recent lecture, Dr. Baron-Cohen described three brilliant cases of Asperger’s Syndrome. There was a brilliant physics student, a computer scientist, and a mathematics professor. It is also likely that Bill Gates has many Asperger’s traits. An article in Time Magazine compared me to Mr. Gates. For example, we both rock. I have seen video tapes of Bill Gates rocking on television. Articles in business magazines describe his incredible memory as a young child.

There is evidence that high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome have a strong genetic basis. G. R. DeLong and J. T. Dyer found that two thirds of families with a high functioning autistic had either a first or second degree relative with Asperger’s Syndrome. Sukhelev Naragan and his co-workers wrote, in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, that educational achievement of the parents of an autistic child with good language skills were often greater than those of similar parents with normal children. Dr. Robert Plomin at Pennsylvania State University states that autism is highly heritable.

In my book, Thinking in Pictures, I devote an entire chapter to the link between intellectual giftedness and creativity to abnormality. Einstein himself had many autistic traits. He did not learn to speak until he was three, and he had a lack of concern about his appearance. His uncut hair did not match the men’s hairstyles of his time.

Genius is an Abnormality?

It is likely that genius in any field is an abnormality. Children and adults who excel in one area, such as math, are often very poor in other areas. The abilities are very uneven. Einstein was a poor speller and did poorly in foreign language. The brilliant physicist, Richard Feynman, did poorly in some subjects.

A review of the literature indicates that being truly outstanding in any field may be associated with some type of abnormality. Kay Redfield Jamison, from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has reviewed many studies that show the link with manic depressive illness and creativity. N.C. Andreason at the University of Iowa found that 80 percent of creative writers had mood disorders sometime during their life. A study of mathematical giftedness, conducted at Iowa State University by Camilla Persson, found that mathematical giftedness was correlated with being near-sighted and having an increased incidence of allergies. I recently attended a lecture by Robert Fisher at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. He stated that many great people had epilepsy, people such as Julius Ceasar, Napoleon, Socrates, Pythagoras, Handel, Tchaikovsky, and Alfred Nobel. An article in the December 2001 issue of Wired magazine discussed the link between autism and Asperger’s, and engineer and computer programming. The incidence of autism and Asperger’s has increased in the children of technology company employees. A little bit of autism genes may provide an intellectual advantage and too much of the genetic may cause a severe case of autism.

Types of Thinking

There appear to be two basic types of thinking in intellectually gifted people who have Asperger’s or high functioning autism. The highly social, verbal thinkers who are in the educational system need to understand that their thought processes are different. 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.

Every thought I have is represented by a picture. When I think about a dog, I see a series of pictures of specific dogs, such as my student’s dog or the dog next door. There is no generalized verbal ‘dog’ concept in my mind. I form my dog concept by looking for common features that all dogs have, and no cats have. For example, all of the different breeds of dogs have the same kind of nose. My thought process goes from specific pictures to general concepts, where as most people think from general to specific. I have no vague, abstract, language-based concepts in my head, only specific pictures.

When I do design work, I can run three-dimensional, full motion “video” images of the cattle handling equipment in my head. I can “test run” the equipment on the “virtual reality” computer that is in my imagination. Visual thinkers who are expert computer programmers have told me that they can see the entire program “tree,” and then they write the code on each branch.

It is almost as if I have two consciences. Pictures are my real thoughts, and language acts as a narrator. I narrate from the “videos” and “slides” I see in my imagination. For example, my language narrator might say, “I can design that.” I then see a video of the equipment I am designing in my imagination. When the correct answer pops into my head, it is a video of the successful piece of equipment working. At this point, my language narrator says, “I figured out how to do it.” In my mind there is no subconscious. Images are constantly passing through the computer screen of my imagination. I can see thought processes that others have covered up with language. I do not require language for either consciousness or for thinking.

When I learned drafting for doing my design work, it took time to train my visual mind to make the connection between the symbolic lines on a layout drawing and an actual building. To learn this I had to take the set of blueprints and walk around in the building, looking at the square concrete support columns, seeing how the little squares on the drawing related to the actual columns. After I had “programmed” my brain to read drawings, the ability to draw blueprints appeared almost by magic. It took time to get information in, but after I was “programmed,” the skill appeared rather suddenly. Researchers who have studied chess players state that the really good chess players have to spend time inputting chess patterns into their brains. I can really relate to this. When I design equipment I take bits of pictures and pieces of equipment I have seen in the past and re-assemble them into new designs. It is like taking things out of the memory of a CAD computer drafting system, except I can re-assemble the pieces into three-dimensional, moving videos. Constance Mibrath and Bryan Siegal at the University of California found that talented, autistic artists assemble the whole from the parts. It is “bottom up thinking,” instead of “top down thinking.”

Teachers and Mentors

Children and teenagers with autism or Asperger’s need teachers who can help them develop their talents. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of developing a talent into an employable skill. The visual thinkers like me can become experts in fields such as computer graphics, drafting, computer programming, automotive repair, commercial art, industrial equipment design, or working with animals. The music, math, and memory type children can excel in mathematics, accounting, engineering, physics, music, translating engineering and legal documents, and other technical skills. Unless the student’s mathematical skills are truly brilliant, I would recommend taking courses in library science, accounting, engineering, or computers. Learning a technical skill will make the person highly employable. There are few jobs for mediocre mathematicians or physicists.

Since social skills are weak, the person can make up for them by making themselves so good at something that people will hire them. Teachers need to council individuals to go into fields where they can easily gain employment. Majoring in history is not a good choice because obtaining a job will be difficult. History could be the person’s hobby instead of the main area of study in school.

Many high functioning autistic and Asperger teenagers get bored with school and misbehave. They need mentors who can teach them a field that will be beneficial to their future. I had a wonderful high school science teacher who taught me to use the scientific research library. Computers are a great field because being weird or a “computer geek” is okay. A good programmer is recognized for his/her skills. I know several very successful autistic computer programmers. A bored high school student could enroll in programming or computer-aided drafting courses in a local community college.

To make up for social deficits, autistic individuals need to make themselves so good that they are recognized for brilliant work. People respect talent. They need mentors who are computer programmers, artists, draftsmen, etc., to teach them career skills. I often get asked, “How does one find mentors?” You never know where a mentor teacher may be found. He may be standing in the checkout line in a supermarket. I found one of my first meat industry mentors when I met the wife of his insurance agent at a party. She struck up a conversation with me because she saw my hand embroidered western shirt. I had spent hours embroidering a steer head on the shirt. Post a notice on the bulletin board at the local college in the computer science department. If you see a person with a computer company name badge, approach him and show him work that the person with autism has done.

Cited from Indiana Resource Center from Autism

Geniuses With Autism

When you think about autism, you likely consider the challenges that people face. You might not realize that many people with autism are also geniuses. They excel in certain areas, from mathematics and technology to music.

Find out what an autistic savant is. Then, get the details on 15 geniuses with autism. Finally, find out how ABA therapy can help autistic geniuses reach their full potential.

What Is an Autistic Savant?

People with autism have some challenges that others don’t face. These challenges might include:

  •   Social phobias
  •   Excessive worrying
  •   Avoidance behaviors
  •   Obsessive-compulsive disorder

It’s also not unusual for people with autism to be rigid in their routines.

Even with these challenges, numerous autistic children and adults demonstrate nearly super-human abilities in specific areas. These people are identified as autistic savants.

If you’ve ever watched the movie “Rain Man” with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, you’ve seen an autistic savant in action. Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond, is autistic. He portrays characteristics such as strict adherence to routines and isn’t emotionally expressive.

However, he has a photographic memory. He can quickly rattle off phone book listings or baseball statistics as if he’s reading from a book.

His character was based on a real person named Kim Peek. Just like the character in the movie, Peek has an unbelievable memory.

15 Famous Geniuses With Autism

Now, let’s look at 15 geniuses with autism. These geniuses have either been diagnosed with or are thought to have autism.

1.     Elon Musk

If you watch Saturday Night Live, you might have seen Elon Musk announce he has Asperger’s during his monologue on May 8, 2021. As the co-founder of The Boring Company, Neuralink, SpaceX, and Tesla, Musk is a tech genius, with many more exciting things to come.

2.     Albert Einstein

While not formally diagnosed, many believe that Albert Einstein had Asperger’s. He showed many signs, including some difficulties with small talk.

Those challenges didn’t prevent him from winning the Nobel Prize for Physics. The world as a whole is still benefiting from his many discoveries.

3.     Isaac Newton

Experts also believe that Isaac Newton had autism. He immersed himself in his work, rarely speaking. He was so passionate about his work that he’d even forget to eat.

His passion paid off, as he is credited for leading the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century and is responsible for discovering the laws of gravity.

4.     Charles Darwin

“On the Origin of Species” is one of the most important works ever published and cemented Charles Darwin’s place as a groundbreaking biologist. He was passionate about his work but withdrawn socially. Many believe that’s because Charles Darwin had autism.

5.     Nikola Tesla

Many experts also believe that Nikola Tesla had autism. He had the ability to hyper-focus on projects and ideas, and that led to the development of the groundbreaking alternating-current electrical system.

His true power came from his ability to visualize concepts. This allowed him to turn concepts into reality.

While he was a successful inventor, he struggled with sensitivity to sounds and lights and had various phobias.

6.     Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson will always be remembered as the author of the Declaration of Independence. A prolific writer and gifted inventor, his legacy lives on today.

Many people believe that Jefferson likely had autism. This is largely because of his adherence to routines. He couldn’t stand it if his established routines were interrupted for any reason.

He was also known as being emotionally distant, with poor communication skills. That didn’t hold him back from achieving success.

7.     Michelangelo

Michelangelo was an artistic genius with numerous world-renowned works of art, including the sculpture of David and the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.  Experts state that he exhibited many traits of autism, including adherence to a routine and emotional distance.

These traits might have helped him with his work. He was able to lock into a project and see it through to completion with little interruption.

8.     Steve Jobs

As the co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs transformed personal computing and mobile devices. If you use an iPhone or a Mac, you can thank Jobs.

There’s also speculation that he had autism. He was known for perfectionism and managed to think outside of the box. Being on the spectrum might have helped him turn Apple into the tech giant it is today.

9.     Alfred Kinsey

A famous biologist and sexologist, Alfred Kinsey, redefined the way people think of sex and sexuality. Like many others on this list, he threw himself into his work with little time for social interaction. He didn’t have many relationships, leading many to believe that he was autistic.

10.  Bobby Fischer

A chess prodigy from a young age, Bobby Fischer went on to become an American grandmaster. His genius-level IQ helped him defeat opponents and turned him into a household name.

He was obsessed with chess and had issues with personal relationships. Experts have attempted to diagnose him, with many believing he was autistic. It’s possible that he had autism and another disorder, such as schizophrenia.

11.  Tim Burton

Tim Burton is a creative genius. He manages to manifest ideas that others couldn’t even begin to think of, which is why he’s had so much success.

He hasn’t been formally diagnosed with autism but identifies with the condition. After watching a documentary on the subject, he mentioned that he felt the same way as a child.

12.  Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol changed the art world for the better. He was a creative force during the Pop Art movements in the 1960s. He also likely had autism.

People point to the repetitive nature of his work as a sign of autism. He was also known for providing monosyllabic responses to interview questions, which might have been due to autism.

13.  Stephen Wiltshire

Stephen Wiltshire is a British architectural artist who became a household name due to his photographic memory. He can tap into his memory to draw complete city skylines. He now has a gallery and has contributed numerous pieces to the art world.

He received his autism diagnosis when he was only three years old. Language was difficult for him early on, but that didn’t slow him down. He created his first commissioned piece when he was eight and had been going strong ever since.

14.  Ludwig Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein is often considered the greatest philosopher of the 1900s. His genius was clear in the early days, when he made a sewing machine at the age of 10, using his own design for the project. While his mind was agile, he had trouble making friends and was often teased.

His contributions to ethics, logic, and metaphysics are still important to this day. Along with his work, experts have been discussing the possibility that he was autistic.

15.  Amadeus Mozart

A child prodigy, Mozart started composing music at the age of 5. His musical memory was like nothing people had seen before. It was clear early on that he was a musical genius.

While autism wasn’t even a concept during his lifetime, experts now believe that he was on the spectrum.

Mozart was bothered by loud sounds and had trouble controlling his impulses. You can also find lots of repetition in his musical pieces. Instead of hindering him, the characteristics of autism likely helped him achieve greatness.

How ABA Therapy Can Help Autistic Geniuses

Autistic geniuses can feel like they are trapped in their own worlds. While this can help some achieve greatness, the characteristics of autism can hold others back. In other words, for every Mozart, there’s a musical genius who cannot move beyond the rigidity of routines to compose something great.

Many autistic geniuses find that applied behavior analysis (ABA) can help. Autistic geniuses can use this therapy to improve their communication and language skills. The therapy also boosts focus and memory while decreasing problematic behaviors. It can even help autistic geniuses become more social.

The therapist begins by determining the cause of behaviors. This includes the circumstances under which a patient engages in a behavior. Then, the therapist helps the patient replace problem behaviors with new, healthier options.

After successful treatment, people with autism will have new skills to use in various situations. They will also have finetuned existing skills and should notice a decrease in problem behaviors.

As an autistic genius, this can be quite valuable. It helps people maximize their potential by reducing roadblocks that get in the way of achievements. cited