4. EP-ACTIVITY… Enhanced Perception (EP) activity has emerged as the fourth proposed pattern of sensory response possibly unique to individuals with ASD in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-5). This DSM-5 version of the psychiatric manual is currently used by clinicians for the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
EP activity is characterized by sensory strengths in visual and auditory perception; plus, enhanced low-level discrimination or low-threshold detection, and hyper-systemizing cognitive styles. These powers could be enhanced motion perception, superior visual perception and/or auditory processing.
< My Thoughts > “…These powers could be enhanced perception, as in the following intelligences –“
- Musical – become proficient without previous training or practice.
- Mathematical – intuitively develop calculations quickly & accurately without aids or devices.
- Kinesthetic/tactile – knowing and working on the exquisite details of machinery without prior knowledge.
- Spatial & pictorial – creation of 3-diamensional drawings, paintings, sculptures and memorization of maps & geography without first studying them.
- Linguistic – ability to understand, read, write, speak & translate multiple previously unknown languages quickly & accurately.
Hagmann, et al. (2016) believe that their visually enhanced perception may allow for searching superiority by individuals with autism, compared to their typically developing peers. The study found that this enhanced ‘local’ processing was related to both detection and discrimination abilities, including performance on visual search tasks. Persons with these powers of enhanced perception were better at detecting a target in an array of distracters which shared common features, or in disembedding figures quickly and efficiently.
< My Thoughts > “…disembedding figures.”
When hearing about disembedded figures, my mind jumped to the game of ‘Finding Waldo’, or of finding the ‘Hidden Picture’ in the puzzles we love. And, the term ‘local processing, or ‘locally oriented’ brings to mind the idiom… “Can’t see the forest for the trees.” The person with EP will most likely uses their ‘local’ processing to immediately search out the tree. While their peers, without EP, using their ‘global’ processing to automatically see all the trees as a forest. Smiles.
Bouvet, et al. (2013) tell us that persons with enhanced auditory perception possess superior talents and abilities. An atypical pattern of expression resulting in being able to see enhanced perceptual patterns. These can be the discrimination of superior pitch among multiple musical examples. This ability allows for the person to recognize the differences in the increase and decrease in frequencies between two melodies. But, these individuals with superior perceptual processing are NOT always able to filter out auditory information from background noise.
< My Thoughts > “NOT always able to filter out auditory information…”
So this may be like visual pattern discrimination of finding the dark purple letter among the solid black ones. Only, this is auditory pattern discrimination - finding the superior pitch among several melodies with partially 'pitchy' refrains. Smiles.
Baron-Cohen, et al. (2007) talk about the mathematical challenge of systemizing, and the drive to analyze and/or build a system of any kind. These authors say that those with a combination of autism and EP often become obsessed by analyzing and memorizing things such as: train tables, calendars, calendrical calculation, traffic systems, electrical light switches, collections of objects, especially spinning objects. And how for that reason, many of those with Asperger’s are often found excelling in domains such as mathematic, physics, and computer science.
They tell us that when Jacob Barnett’s parents enrolled him in school they were soon told to forget about sending him to school. That their son would never be able to learn anything, he had Asperger’s. But his parents and teachers eventually discovered that Jacob had a tremendous memory. This memory allowed him to attend university classes, after learning the entire high school curriculum in just two weeks.
At nine years old, he went to Purdue University where he worked on Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. He has an IQ over 170 – higher than Einstein’s, but because of Asperger's, still is troubled by tying his own shoes. He’s a charmer as one can see by watching his TED Talks on You Tube. (See credits in References under Barnett, below).
< My Thoughts > Just an ‘aside’, for your information… Smiles.
Nader, et al. (2016) announces that the commonly given IQ test, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) doesn’t reveal any hidden intelligences an atypical child may have. Saying that Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM) scores have been reported as significantly, and sometimes even dramatically higher, than the Wechsler Full-scale IQ (FSIQ). And finally, that the new Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children- IV Perceptual Reasoning Index (WISC-IV PRI) is better suited to capture autistics’ visual and abstract reasoning abilities.
Another form of Enhanced Perception, Meilleur, et al. (2015) say is perceptual reasoning. In their article, they are calling it perceptual peaks (PP) which they believe are frequent features of autism. The prevalence of perceptual peaks includes special isolated skills (SIS), which they report as the ability of having enhanced visual pattern detection and manipulation. Thus, believing that their developed strengths and/or talents are genetically defined modifications to affect perceptual encoding.
Happe, F., & Frith, U. (2011) found that autism and talent are often found to be synonymous. They suggest that detail-focused processing may be a “starting engine” for talent. The sensitivity to sensory information, attention to detail, and their systemizing ability, probably helps autistics with the ability to see multiple patterns at once. Plus, the enhanced skill of associating and linking that information together, is likely a key talent factor. These special skills in association with restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests emphasize their strengths to reduce ‘mentalizing’, or over-thinking input.
Little, et al. (2015) suggest that enhanced perception (EH) was found to support children’s participation in activities across contexts. These children reflected a unique processing style or an over-focus on detail which gave them advantages for perceiving and interpreting environmental stimuli with a super ability to complete puzzles or engage in extraordinary art activities.
Mottron, et al. (2006) propose that enhanced perception (EH) is a special ability of those persons whose brain regions typically allow for higher control over performance in certain areas. This, they say, is enhanced by exemplifying the restricted nature of the autistic interest, sometimes culminating in Savant Syndrome.
According to Treffert (2014), Savant Syndrome is not a new disorder, nor is it Autism. Hence, not all autistic persons are savants, and not all savants are autistic. Admittedly, savant skills do lie on a spectrum of abilities.
Most common are ‘splinter skill’ savants who have obsessive preoccupation with an remarkable need for memorization of music & sports trivia, birthdays, license plate numbers, historical facts, train or bus schedules; and remarkable navigation abilities of maps, for example.
Talented savants are those in who musical, artistic or other special abilities are more conspicuous. And prodigious savants have an extremely high threshold for special skills. They are often called a prodigy or genius.
Then Treffert, who studied savants throughout his lifetime, tells us there are the Acquired or Accidental Savants. Mr. Z, at age nine, after a bullet wound to the left brain produced muteness, deafness, and left-sided paralysis, demonstrated savant mechanical skills and traits.
A three-year-old child appeared to be a musical genius after a bout with meningitis. While an eight-year-old boy showed exceptional calendar calculating skills after a left brain hemispherectomy.
He tells of more instances of acquired savant syndrome after the person has had a blow to the head, been struck by lightning, or suffering from a cerebral stroke.
Thus raising the curious challenge – about the possibility that all of us have dormant savant capacity within us.
REFERENCES used here are:
Barnett, J. (2018). Forget What You Know; TED Talk; http://sciencevibe.com/2018/01/30/autistic-teens-iq-higher-einstein-says-forget-know-videos/; and https://www.physics-astronomy.org/2017/12/autistic-teenager-with-higher-iq-than.html; Boy Genius on You Tube.
Baron-Cohen, S., Bor, D ., Billington, J., et al. (2007). The Assumption That all Human Minds are Wired the Same; Journal of Consciousness Studies; V14:9 &10, p237-251.
Bouvet, L., Mottron, L., Valdois, S., & Donnadieu, S. (2013). Auditory Stream Segregation in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Benefits & Downsides of Superior Perceptual Processes; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V46, p1553-1561.
Happe, F., & Frith, U. (2011). Autism & Talent, edited book by Clarke, P.; Oxford University Press; p242.
Little, L., Ausderau, K., Sideris, J., et al. (2015). Activity Participation & Sensory Features Among Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V45, p2981-2990.
Hagmann, C., et al. (2016). Children with Autism Detect Targets at Very Rapid Presentation Rates, with Similar Accuracy as Adults; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V46, p1762-1772.
Meilleur, A., Jeleic, P., Motton, L. (2015). Prevalence of Clinically & Empirically Defined Talents & Strengths in Autism; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V45, p1354-1367.
Mottron, L., Dawson, M., Soulieres, I., et al. (2006). Enhanced Perceptual Functioning in Autism: An Update, & Eight Principles of Autistic Perception; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V36, p27-43.
Nader, A.M., et al. (2016). Does WIX-IV Underestimate the Intelligence of Autistic Children?; Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V46, p1582-1589.
Treffert, D. (2014). Savant Syndrome: Realities, Myths & Misconceptions. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V44, p564-571.
Note: NEXT BLOG #5-I SENSORY PROFILE
< My Thoughts > What I am offering here is a powerful story which may capture in a moment, what it is like to have this experience. (Amazing combinations of ability & disability.)
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon; eBook 2003 Edition. An Extended Book Review with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Focused Excerpts from the book (2% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers.)
This story is a wonderful work of fiction about a 15 year old mathematically gifted Autistic boy. Author Mark Haddon tells us that Christopher was NOT a “15 year old savant…” but just very good at Maths.
2% My name is Christopher John Francis Boone. I know all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057.
6% I watched the sky as we drove toward the town center. It was a clear night and you could see the Milky Way. I have decided to give my story chapters’ prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, and so on because I like prime numbers.
This is how you work out what prime numbers are. First you write down all the positive whole numbers in the world. Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 2. Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 3. Then you take away all the numbers that are multiples of 4 and 5 and 6 and 7 and so on.
The numbers that are left are prime numbers.
< My Thoughts > “…islands of genius…”
Treffert (2014) tells us that other central nervous system (CSN) disorders have some spectacular ‘islands of genius’ that stand in jarring juxtaposition to overall limitations.” Talents which are waiting to be tapped by recruitment, rewiring, and/or release. This may be genetic memory which is based on the fact that particular people “know things they’ve never learned.” That is, knowledge which had to be ‘factory installed’ and genetically transmitted; amazing combinations of ability and disability.
REFERENCES used here are:
Treffert, D. (2014). Savant Syndrome: Realities, Myths & Misconceptions. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V44, p564-571.
< My Thoughts > What I am offering here is a powerful story which may capture in a moment, what it is like to have this experience. (G/T & 2E students)
The Aspie Parent, the First Two Years A Collection of Posts from the Aspie Parent Blog by Liz Cademy, eBook 2013 Edition; an Extended Review with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Focused Excerpts from the book (8% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers.)
< Short excerpt from Liz’s Alphabet Soup >
8% - 11% Hello, before I get into any topics of substance, I thought I would ‘define my terms’, as the professor would say. And, if I use any other terms, I will define them in context in hopes of clarifying the meaning.
Aspie and AS – are both short for Asperger’s Syndrome, condition where the brain is wired differently than normal. In severe cases, this rewiring can cause autism. Most Aspies are able to be productive members of our modern world, even if seen as a bit quirky…
Gifted, GT – Lots of people with Asperger’s are smarter than average, either in a few areas or overall. The term Gifted refers to anyone of above average intelligence, and sometimes those with excellent visual learning pattern abilities.
Twice Exceptional, 2E – 2E simply means a person is both Gifted and has some other issue, usually a learning difference such as AS (Autism Spectrum), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), or similar.
She goes on to explain that some on the spectrum are described this way –
- May have a savant skill or strong talent.
- May be a self-taught reader (hyperlexic). Being hyperlexic is a syndrome characterized by an intense fascination with letters or numbers and an advanced reading ability.
- May be highly educated but will have had to struggle with social aspects of college. May have one or many partial degrees of this.
- Highly intelligent, yet sometimes can be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues.
54% Aspies tend to have slower processing speed than neurotypicals – we’re not less intelligent, we just think a bit slower. We need to be given time to think before being pressed for an answer.
< My Thoughts > “…need think time before answering.”
Except with those things they are passionate about! Smiles.
What I am offering here is a powerful story which may capture in a moment, what it is like to have this experience. (Answering Questions)
What Color is Monday? How Autism Changed One Family for the Better by Carrie Cariello; eBook Edition 2015 with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Focused Excerpts from the book (21% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers.)
21% Jack’s limited working memory results in significant communication challenges. In his mind words are as slippery as falling snowflakes, and as quickly as he grabs hold of one idea, another one slides out of his cerebral grasp.
When he’s asked a question it’s as though he has to mentally bend down and retrieve that one idea out of many, re-examine it, and figure out if it’s what he needs. It takes him a while to answer.
< My Thoughts > “It takes him a while to answer.”
“When he’s asked a question it’s as though he has to mentally bend down and retrieve that one idea out of many, re-examine it, and figure out if it’s what he needs. It takes him a while to answer.” This so perfectly states what I think that many children on the autism spectrum go through. Some high-functioning autistics are literal thinkers. Literal boys like Jack. Smiles.
57% Literal boys like Jack, boys who start looking around wildly for giraffes when their mother announces that the Walmart parking lot is a zoo!
< My Thoughts > What I am offering here is a powerful story which may capture in a moment, what it is like to have this experience. (Hyper-systemizing)
A Spot on the Wall by Martha Squaresky, eBook 2014 Edition; an Extended Review with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Excerpts from the book – (14% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers).
14% My husband Jay has a tremendous memory for numbers, and I speak Spanish and French. There is no question about our son Greg’s genetics. I remember events from the past with ease, and Jay adds long figures of numbers in his head. When we examine Greg’s idiosyncrasies, we find that both Jay and I possess many of those ourselves.
Autism affects Greg’s speech, hearing, touch, taste and smell. Too much of something mired his brain. As a toddler, the smell of chicken cooking made him cry. He screamed and resisted wearing a crinkly snow suit. We picked and chose our battles, because Greg outlasted us in everything.
< My Thoughts > “…Too much of something mired his brain.”
Hughes et al. (2018) tell us that practice alone does not act as the only catalyst for talent to emerge. Talent can emerge from autism traits such as – attention to detail and hyper-systemizing, which could allow the increased detection of patterns. And, savant syndrome can co-occur with developmental conditions such as autism. Yet, they say, it is not clear why some with ASD develop savant skills while others do not.
REFERENCES used here are:
Hughes, J., Ward, J., Gruffydd, E., et al. (2018). Savant syndrome has a distinct psychological profile in autism; Molecular Autism, published online.
< My Thoughts > What I am offering here is a powerful story which may capture in a moment, what it is like to have this experience. (Spatial, pictorial, & linguistic EP)
The Journey to Normal: Our Family’s Life with Autism by I.D. Johnson, eBook 2014 Edition; with < My Thoughts > by Sara Luker
Focused Excerpts from the book (11% indicates location in the Kindle version of the book, instead of page numbers.)
11% Despite the fact that the PALS (scores) showed that Sophie was behind in cognitive and linguistic skills, neither of the professionals mentioned during this initial evaluation that they felt that she may be autistic.
12% Let’s face it, it’s a lot easier to get along in this world if you can speak and understand verbal communication. So, why would I want my child to try to navigate in life without those basic skills?
Of course I want her to continue to have all the amazing gifts she has. Sophie is extremely gifted in many areas, especially when it comes to math and spatial reasoning. I’ve literally watched in amazement as she has put together complicated puzzles quickly, just by glancing at the shape of the piece she needs next…she doesn’t even need a picture.
< My Thoughts > “I’ve literally watched in amazement as she has put together complicated puzzles quickly…she doesn’t even need a picture.”
Surprising talents and strengths are reported in studies of Meilleur (2015), state the prevalence of Special Isolated Skills (SIS). These are exceptional strengths or talents which appear suddenly, are somewhat of a mystery. Having SIS may be dependent upon exposure and materials available in the child’s environment. These strengths and talents also seem to increase with one’s age; and are more common in girls than boys with autism. Some SIS won’t surface until adolescence.
There also seems to be a genetic component, but some ‘performances’ may be the result of independent mechanisms. Mottron, one of the authors of this Meilleur study believes that this is explained by the way the brain allows for or approaches tasks. She calls this a “regional cerebral synaptic response”, or how plasticity in the brain reacts to the environment or to an event. Some authors on the subject refer to the appearance and prevalence of these talents and strengths as a sort of ‘adaptive functioning’. Lots to consider here. Smiles.
22% The school psychologist who had performed Sophie’s autism evaluation suggested that we look into hyperlexia.
It is not a stand-alone diagnosis, but it was possible this was part of Sophie’s gift.
Hyperlexia is the opposite of dyslexia. It has different forms, like all conditions, but it is generally characterized by an over-emphasis on a fascination with letters, letter sounds, numbers, reading, and the alphabet it general.
“This sounds like my daughter.” Unfortunately, very few people are familiar with hyperlexia and there is no “treatment” program for hyperlexia.
< My Thoughts > “…very few people are familiar with hyperlexia.”
Hyperlexia is when a child’s natural ability to read is far above what is expected for that age level; usually without being taught. The trade-off is that the child often has difficulty with verbal skills and may even need to have everyday communication put in written form for better understanding. Some children are encouraged to follow a written ‘script’, in order to interact with others socially. Retrieved from: www.csld.org/HyperlexiaDefinition.htm.
Hyperlexia is the opposite of dyslexia. Dyslexia is a learning disability that includes trouble spelling, reading and writing. Often, the words and letters may appear backward. This makes comprehension quite difficult.
REFERENCES used here are:
Meilleur, A., Jelenic, P., Mottron, L. (2015). Prevalence of Clinically & Empirically Defined Talents & Strengths in Autism. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders; V45, p1354-1367.
Note: Next BLOG is #5J - SENSORY INTEGRATION