Autism and intelligence

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Malika, Jun 24, 2012.

  1. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    There is a character in the novel I am currently translating who is described when we first meet him as autistic. He is one half of a pair of bungling burglars and they are supposed to be comic. He speaks in short sentences, like a telegram, and seems to be very dim-witted. What he says is never connected to the matter in hand, but is always childish and silly.
    Am I correct in thinking that this really isn't an accurate portrait of an autistic person?
  2. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Very inaccurate. Most autistics are of at least normal intelligence. Also, most wouldn't be burglars because autistics are known to be rigid rule followers.
  3. buddy

    buddy New Member

    This sounds like someone wrote a character using some ideas of what they think autism symptoms are, but not a true person with autism.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sounds like the author is a ninny. Autistics would not be robbers and most speak with a lot of intelligence. They tend to sound like "Little Professors." If my son read this, he'd be scratching his head.
  5. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, I agree, it seems idiotic. And (unwittingly) offensive. I think I will mention it to the publishers because this is a book that hasn't actually been published yet - they see it as a probable best-seller and maybe film/TV series and it is being sold to the Brits and English as a possible translation now. I think if it does get published in the States, that is something the American publishers would want to change.
  6. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    People with autism can be in any range of intelligence. While it is not at all uncommon for people with classic autism to also have low IQ, those would not be likely people to become burglars. I think that co-morbidity between autism and mental retardation varies between 25 % and 70 % in different studies so many people with classic autism are mentally retarded, but still the character really doesn't sound like an accurate representation at all.
  7. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Really, SuZir? That's quite a high percentage, then. With this character, though, he is clearly meant to have Asperger's as he is obsessed with numbers and pedantic details about numbers... if I am correct, people with Asperger's usually have higher IQs? I just think the authors (there are several), have got a caricatured notion about autism and it could be offensive.
  8. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    If I'm not mistaken one of diagnostic criteria for asperger is normal or above normal IQ. Those numbers are for classic autism if I have understood correctly. I was also surprised when I heard that, but that was mostly because somehow I thought Rainman was accurate representation LOL

    I learned better while being member of local forum for autistic and ADHD kids. First I noticed that many people, whose kids had classic autism also mentioned their kids were with MR and after that I went looking for information and really, autistic savages are really rare, many severely autistic are also mentally retarded. And not even all or most asperger people are highly intelligent, they have normal range of intelligence and can be just as average as next person. Of course they often do have high amount of knowledge about their specific interests.
  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am pretty sure that in the US this wouldn't fly as we are pretty aware of what Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is. Here are some articles that refute the garbage printed about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It is a pity that there are still these stereotypes in some parts of the world and probably amongst many unknowing people all over. It is often very hard to tell autism from ADHD...and often they are co-morbid. Example: My son's IQ has tested from 85-110. Autistics do not do well on regular IQ tests, but this doesn't mean they are retarded by any means and it is very crude to base a character on a disability of any sort. Would they show a child with ADHD bouncing off the walls and screaming and hitting their mother or smarting off at a teacher or hitting another child? Same thing. WRONG! SICK! And, yes, offensive!

    Lack of ability to communicate is often a big Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) trait. It does not mean retardation. Poor social skills do not mean mental retardation either. Stuff like this makes me fume! No wonder it was so hard for my son to get a correct diagnosis. Guess he was too smart! Or he acts too normal. Even now most laypeople think he has ADHD

    Most studies with such high rates of MR were conducted before 1980. We know a lot more now, at least in these parts.

    Since I know a bit about publishing, it is rather arrogant and silly of the writers to think this will catch on. Of course, silly, stupid stuff catches on sometimes, but people with autistic kids would really come forward and make their lives difficult, including me.
  10. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Those with classic autism are believed to be MR, but their inability to communicate ect makes it impossible to tell. There are many, including parents of such children, who doubt the MR label and strongly believe it's more of an inability to interact with the world around them more than an actual intelligence thing. Think "trapped in their own version of the world" and imagine what that might be like.

    Travis is Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) which is further down the scale than aspergers..........and he has a genius IQ. The ability to communicate and interact socially in my opinion has no relevance on intelligence.......which is the same attitude more and more docs who specialize in this area (talking neurologist, and some psychiatrists) are beginning to believe. I mean seriously, if you have someone incapable of communication, making eye do you measure their intelligence? Standard testing won't work because they don't think/interact like others. So until they can come up with a way to help them communicate and interact.....they just don't really know.

    And yeah, I get more than a bit peeved on this subject. One because people seem astounded Travis has a genius IQ, and two because I've known someone who's child was classically autistic and I can say first hand there were moments if you watched very closely that you were certain he was NOT MR.

    As for the book? I'd write both the publisher AND the author and inform them that their character of the autistic man is not only horrifically flawed, but it feeds stereotypical ideas and reinforces them to the general public. This author should be smacked upside the head for failing to do his research. omg

    Oh, and there are times when Travis will say things that have nothing to do with what he is doing or what is going on around him that comes off as silly or stupid or just plain weird. Taking the time to ask him where his statement came from......well, it could be something you asked him about a long time ago or something he just happened to be thinking about at that moment and just blurted out. Or better yet, he could have been trying to crack a joke (which he's never been able to manage successfully except by accident a couple of times). And then there are tics, both verbal and non verbal......and some of the verbal can range from bizarre statements to bizarre noises.........same with the non verbal ones.

    Yup. That author needs to be reamed. How unprofessional.

    Climbing down off my soapbox now. Sorry, touchy subject for me.
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I have to agree that autism/Aspergers/Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) of any kind does NOT mean stupid. If they have problems with social skills, problems interacting with others then what would make ANYONE think they'd be able to take a "normal" IQ test?

    Also, it would depend on the person evaluating answers - about 7 years ago I did the MMPI for a court-ordered psychologist... I got written up as a doormat who was obsessed with sex. REALLY? Jett was almost 7 and the psychiatrist said he was MR and could not answer her questions properly... Bio and husband were both extreme narcissists who had a good grip on the world and how to interact.

    Hound can tell you, she has met both - husband can be a tad self-centered, but I'm dang sure that's his Aspie traits. Jett and Travis got along GREAT... because neither is stupid, and both have other issues.
  12. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well (understandably) I have provoked some strong feelings... this is a publisher with whom I have had a long and good relationship so I won't be writing to them as "Outraged of Oregon" or "Disgusted of Detroit" :) However, I will point some of these things out. Since I have got used to people generally understanding and knowing nothing about ADHD, I guess I am not astounded by this lack of sensitivity... though it does surprise me, yes.
  13. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Malika, the feelings weren't directed at you......they're just strong feelings due to dealing with such stereotypical ignorance for more than 20 yrs. When an author does a book with such a diagnosis in it (any diagnosis actually...medical, mental whatever) not only do they need to research facts of that diagnosis, but also some folks with that diagnosis or families of folks with that diagnosis to get a better all around grasp on it.

    Such ignorance isn't limited either, those working in the various medical fields can share the same sorts of ignorance just due to over generalizing a condition.

    I've read many authors that have used various dxes with their characters and have done a really good job......some an amazing job. Depends on how realistic you want your character to be. Know what I mean??

    And I'll admit up on my soapbox I was a tad cranky........turned out I needed a nap. ;)
  14. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Oh, no worries, Hound Dog, I knew you weren't cross with me! I just felt like I was being exhorted a little to take up arms with the publisher and this it wouldn't be politic to do, as I explained. In fairness to the book (I suppose), it is a lightweight, comic fantasy that isn't supposed to be an in-depth exploration of human personality or behaviour (just as well, you might say). However, this still comes across amiss and should be changed. Not sure what to, though - and risk upsetting another group of people or their defenders!
  15. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    If you have a long-standing relationship with the publisher, then surely the publisher would take it kindly if you enlightened them that this particular character is likely to be met with some degree of negativity on the other side of the Atlantic? All you're really saying is that you don't want the publisher (or the authors, by extension) to receive negative press if/when they publish in the US (Canada would likely be a similar reaction).
  16. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Yes, absolutely, IC - which is why I plan to tell them! But just diplomatically and politely, not all guns blazing :)
  17. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    LOL...I seriously doubt a book like that would ever get published in the US. Not unless the people self-publishsed and those books (self-published ones) don't really sell worth beans.
  18. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    I brought the issue up with the publishers and they replied saying they take this very seriously and it will be brought up and discussed with the author in their editorial meeting with him tomorrow. They are going to suggest he drops the reference to autism so as not to cause any offence.
    So there you go.
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It's still troubling.

    I googled up France and autism and the article I got said that, unlike the rest of the world, the French still see autism as a mental illness rather than a neurological issue and that it is treated as such by Freudian psychiatrists :/ I hope this isn't true because if it is, it is very sad for the autistic children in France. But it does explain why even ADHD is so taboo. I suspect it is seen as a behavioral problem rather than a neurological issue as well. I'll see if I can find that article again.
  20. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Well, I heard back from the publisher about the mentally retarded autistic character and she says: the author has decided to delete every mention of autism or Asperger's syndrome. Willy's habit to repeat words or sentences should only be a running gag. Maybe you can make the changes where you've noticed they appear or we'll do that on our side.
    So, a quick resolution and everyone was sensitive to the problem.