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AS and Reading; analyses & comprehension

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AS and Reading; analyses & comprehension

Postby Speak-a-boo » Mon Oct 03, 2005 4:38 pm

Alright, if anyone could be so kind to breifly read, interpret and answer a few of these questions regarding reading books and havinng aspergers...

1. What are some issues/difficulties a typical aspie may encounter when reading books selected from school systems and standards (or in other words, the required reading material in school)? "School" may be considered anywhere between third grade and college level.

2. (a) Is it difficult to imagine charectors, settings, plots etc. in story books?
(b) Do aspies prefer material that is replete with facts, numbers, etc. instead of story books?
(c) Why?

*I think thats it, but I may post more if I can think of them*
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Postby betwixt » Wed Oct 05, 2005 6:34 pm

I can't speak for other Aspies but personally I didn't have a problem with your #2(a), and as to (b) I preferred books not replete with facts or numbers, but rather fiction that was either highly imaginative or poetic. The more skilled the writer, the better. I was and still am, easily bored by uninspired stories, and now, the typical best seller. As to non-fiction, obviously it has to have a near-replete content of facts and I enjoy learning about something I'm interested in. I think you'll find some Aspies like fiction more than non-fiction, whereas others prefer non-fiction.
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Postby Spektyr » Fri Oct 07, 2005 8:45 am

The only difficulties I had with the books I had to read for schools was that they were remedial compared to my actual reading ability. I was reading and writing decently well at age 3, and by the time I was in grade school pretty much anything I'd come across in the library was legible (the only problems I might have would be with "big idea" kinds of things I just didn't have enough knowledge and experience to frame yet). By sixth grade I had a college reading level. So yeah, the books for school were not a problem at all.

I lack the ability to visualize people effectively. They're a collection of parts to me, rather than a whole. I don't see people in my dreams, but rather get fuzzy but powerful "impressions" of who they are and where they are. It's strange really, I'm not sure if I simply never look them in the face in my dreams or whether I just can't clearly see the faces. Even close family members can't be visualized accurately when I'm awake unless I'm recalling a photograph I saw. I couldn't even describe someone I haven't seen in a year well enough for someone to pick them out of a line-up.

On the other hand, characterization is something that has always appealed to me greatly. In fact, I'd say it was a not insignificant source of my understanding for real people. That's the main thing I look for in a book - are the characters "real"?

Settings, plots, and other devices aren't any trouble for me.

As betwixt said, for my purposes fiction should be story-focused rather than centered around facts. I like a good science fiction with enough details to make the science feel real, but it's not a required component. And non-fiction should have all the information it is practical to pack into the book. If I'm going to pick up a book on the history of the automobile or sharks or something, I want it to answer more questions than it raises and leave me with the sense that I've absorbed a powerful quantity of knowledge.


Pound for pound, I'll take sci-fi over anything else, and fantasy as a second choice. That's also the way my preferences for writing fall, though it seems that the universe's irony may decide fantasy will be what I first see bear my name in print.
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Postby catmil » Fri Oct 21, 2005 4:25 am

I thought "mind blindness" was the cornerstone for AS. Seems like mind blindness makes it too hard to get into fiction and understand character intentions.

Maybe Sci Fi books are more plot than character driven.

Has anyone ever taken the online assessment at http://www.amenclinic.com

Dr. Amen claims there are 6 types of ADHD. Type 3 is innatentive-overfocused....which, it seems to me, can present like high-functioning autism and or AS.
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Postby betwixt » Fri Oct 21, 2005 1:56 pm

I think 'mind blindness' is misunderstood a little. Since our minds work differently than non-Aspergers people we have a hard time understanding them, just as they have a hard time understanding us. If there were more of us and less of you, we could describe you as mind blind for not understanding us. You assume others think like you and you are right. Before I knew I was Aspergers I would say things that I assumed others were thinking as well, such as 'this group of people is too big, I can't remember everyones' name and keep track of everyone, it is too overwhelming', assuming others would feel that way too--if it's too big to me, it must be so to everyone else. But others would get a puzzled look on their face and say they didn't think it was too big. (Incidentally, if non-Aspergers were in the minority we would say they have a remarkable skill in social relations :wink: ). Non-verbal cues that you have from childhood, from other children and adults and in the rules and systems of the world, teach you in ways that you take for granted, that you learn/absorb automatically that we don't 'get'--it takes us actual learning and focusing and analysis to learn. We're also described as not having empathy, but this is the same thing as with mind blindness, empathy must be learned by everyone, you just get the benefit of most others and a world geared toward you, so that empathy is picked up by you without your being aware of learning it. There have been several studies that show that empathy must be learned, it is not automatic. As an example, I have frail health and I have found that super healthy people cannot have empathy for me. I could say they are unkind or deliberately being difficult, but they literally don't understand poor health so they can't be empathetic. Whether or not they are sympathetic or compassionate depends on whether or not they are humble and can concede there is another understanding then the one they have and their willingness to care, but the actual empathy is not there. I try to appear well all the time as I try to appear socially adept and non-Aspergers, to relieve them of the burden of having to deal with an empathy or understanding of something that doesn't come easily to them.

In a good book, the writer is usually skilled at characterization, helping the readers to get into the mind of the main character(s) and to a lesser extent, other characters. Often I'll ask my non-Aspergers husband to explain how he feels or understands something. Often he can't, he says, 'I don't know, it just is.' He is not a writer (and never would be! :lol: ). Alas, the general public isn't skilled in the ways writers are, including descriptions and the use of illustrations, which is very instrumental in teaching something that is hard to understand in the way that can be understood by the person you're teaching.

Our love of science fiction is usually due the new ideas, imagination and philosophy expressed. Science fiction, besides having great imaginary worlds and people contained therein which is just plain fun, is full of allegory and ideas that are mind expanding. Sometimes questions are raised and by taking you outside the real world you can look objectively at issues, many philosophical. Sometimes it is a fight between good and evil and since many Aspergers have strong sense of justice, this appeals to us. Many non-Aspergers want stories about real life but we have to live real life why read about it? We care about people and their problems but don't want to read stories that go on an on about the problems. We would rather sympathise, then try to come up with a solutions (the male brain). I've been told by several people that I am better than the average person at perceiving intentions. I prefer science fiction with a good character (hero) that I can root for, which is the best of both.
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Postby Spektyr » Wed Nov 30, 2005 8:08 am

I haven't come across the term "mind blindness", but it sounds like another of those overly neat labels the "sympathetic" NT's cooked up to explain us without actually bothering to ask or understand. You know the ones - the ones that want to "fix" us all or try to convince the other NT's that they know how we feel and crap like that.


To "geekify" the issue let me put it this way. Aspies run Linux, neurotypicals run Windows. Sure, there's a crapload more people running Windows in the world, and it plays nice with other Windows applications. Unfortunately Windows doesn't have clue 1 what to do with a Linux box.

Both are a PC. They're made of the same parts and have roughly comparable capabilities, albeit with a few characteristic quirks. But because Windows is run by the massive Microsoft corp (which in this case represents again the power of being the vast majority in society), there is no real call for Windows to have a Linux emulator.

In order for a meeting of the minds to occur, the Linux (Aspie) must "learn" to bridge the gap between that operating system and Windows ("normal").

It's not a matter of each side being incapable of understanding each other, it's just that the native language is enough different that it causes problems in translation. We're not "mind blind", we're just on a different wavelength, running a different code book. With time and practice and study we can learn to translate.

It ain't perfect, and it's definitely not as fast as Windows talking to Windows, but it works. Rather than looking at it as an inability, think of it as a lack of natural ability. Subtle difference, but an important one.
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Postby catmil » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:37 pm

I appreciate your response. It's so hard for me to pick up how Aspie folks are different from non AS folks from reading the posts on this forum. Frankly, you all just sound like smart people who write well.
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Postby betwixt » Thu Dec 01, 2005 2:04 pm

We don't speak as well as we write! That's probably why we're judged more harshly in person--we may appear different. Some of us stare, some can't make eye contact, some of us have an unusual voice or walk differently, stutter, stammer, sometimes we appear aloof or cold, we don't know how to express ourselves or express affection, we get overwhelmed, we don't like bright lights or loud noises or other environmental conditions, we don't like small talk, we don't pick up cues, we don't like talking about ourselves. We're locked up inside ourselves and in writing we can be ourselves. I have learned various coping techniques and have gotten better at social aspects but most people think I'm a little different. I joke around and use humor as a bridge, smile a lot and show I care which has helped a lot (although it's resulted in people using me which is not good) but not all of us can do that or are there yet. I'm 41 so I've had years of practice and learning.
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Postby sagitta » Sun Dec 04, 2005 10:15 pm

Hello there Speakaboo

I'm Self diagnosed aspie, properly diagnosed hyperlexic. I was top of english all the way through school although I find words with meaning and writing difficult. I love visual fiction like Dickens and anything with a clear story. My weak spot in school was comprehension at the higher level as I just didn't get the idea of reading between lines. I started out preferring factual material. I like books that have a tabulated look at I am attracted to this and it is easier to read.
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Postby catmil » Sun Dec 11, 2005 5:22 am

mind blindness, I believe, refers to the absence of "theory of mind" or the ability to perceive the intentions of others.
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