February 4th, 2019
High Functioning Autism (AKA Asperger's) Part 1
A Brain Setup With Many Strengths
We know that everyone is different, and science shows us that everyone’s brains are different too—in how they process information and how they function in work, school and relationships.
The What is Asperger’s? Information Sheet below is intended to celebrate some of the differences—especially the unique strengths and abilities—commonly found in people with High Functioning Autism (also known as Asperger’s).
WHAT IS ASPERGER’S?
It can be helpful to think of High Functioning Autism, often known as Asperger’s, as a brain setup that affects people’s thinking and learning styles. Most people with this brain setup are very intelligent. People with this brain setup can see the details and the pattern of those details. They can see the flow of things. This helps them come up with unique solutions and approaches to problems that other people don’t see or notice. They want facts.
These unique talents have allowed individuals in many fields to excel. People with Asperger’s are original thinkers, innovators, and a driving force in our culture. Some famous people who are thought to have Asperger’s are Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Aristotle, Charles Darwin, Andy Warhol, Bill Gates, Dan Aykroyd, Isaac Asimov, Alfred Hitchcock, Dr. Temple Grandin, Vernon Smith, and Emily Dickinson.
Beneficial Asperger Traits
“Most people with this brain setup are very intelligent. They can see the flow of things.”
People with Asperger’s have many desirable traits in common, but possess these traits to varying degrees. Consequently, they may identify with some traits very strongly, while other traits may apply only moderately or slightly. It is also important to realize—because all strengths have potential to become a disadvantage at some point—that these traits may become problematic at certain times, in certain situations, and with certain people. Below are the most common strengths and abilities associated with this brain setup:
Attention to Detail: Ability to remember and process minute details, which gives them a distinct advantage when solving complex problems
Seeing Patterns and Connections (i.e., Higher Fluid Intelligence): Ability to find the connections and patterns among multi-disciplinary facts and ideas. People with Asperger’s have higher than average fluid intelligence, which allows them to draw inferences and understand the relationships between various concepts. This ability allows them to create new, coherent, and meaningful insights that others do not see.
Focus and Diligence: Ability to focus on one objective over long periods of time without distraction. They can work alone for long periods without needing supervision or incentive.
Internal Motivation: Rather than being swayed by social convention, other’s opinions, social pressure or fears, they can hold firm to their own purpose and opinion with conscience and personal pride. They do not give in to naysayers. They also have strong impulse control in many situations.
Independent Thinking: Willingness to consider unpopular or unusual possibilities, which allows them to generate new options and opportunities and can pave the way for others.
Visual Thinking: Some are very visual in their thought processes, which gives them a unique perspective when designing and creating solutions. They may learn better when they can see how something is done.
Going Against the Flow: Ability to recognize and speak the truth that is being ignored or set aside by others, which can be vital to the success of a project or endeavor.
Logical Decision Making: Ability to be very logical in their approach to problem solving; can make logical and rational decisions without being swayed by impulse or emotional reactions (although, they can be very emotional at times).
Loyalty, Dependability, and Honesty: In relationships, exhibiting an absolute loyalty, impeccable dependability, and a determination to seek and speak the truth. They say exactly what they mean.
Exceptional Memory in Certain Areas: Often possess an exceptional rote memory and/or recall of details often forgotten or disregarded by others (for example: names, dates, schedules, routines).
Strength in Individual Sports or Games (particularly in sports/games involving endurance or visual accuracy): Often prefer and excel at individual rather than team sports.
Metaphors and Puns: Ability to use advanced pictorial metaphors and a fascination with word-based humor, such as puns.
Intuition: May have an intuitive “sixth sense.”
Concrete: Prefer concrete, rather than abstract, concepts.
Value of Precision and Accuracy: Ability to be very precise and accurate with tasks and words. This ability allows them to perform very complex and technical projects with no or minimal error.
Higher Capacity for Routine Activities or Things: Ability to do the same things over and over without getting bored.
Sensitive (or Under-Sensitive) to Sensory Experiences: Acute awareness (or a lack of awareness) of sensory experiences (such as, sounds, lights, touch, colors, and/or smells). An example of this is having an acute sense of smell that allows them to pick up on scents that others don’t notice.
The above text is from “What Is Asperger’s?” Information Sheet, © Copyright 2015 by Carol York, MSSW, LCSW, and Christine Molina, LCSW. Revised February 2019. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Christine Molina, LCSW, is a champion of neurodiversity and a skilled clinician at Therapy Austin. Christine and her former clinical supervisor, Carol York, developed an information sheet on Asperger’s that lays out the strengths of people with this brain setup. Christine has generously given us permission to share this information on our blog.