My Atypical Autistic Traits – Part 2: Intellectual, Education and Vocation

Continuing on from last week’s post, here’s the next part of the atypical traits list as it applies to me

Intellectual / Giftedness / Education / Vocation

“May have been diagnosed as Autistic when young, or may have been thought of as gifted, shy, sensitive, etc. May also have had obvious or severe learning deficits”

Not diagnosed, but was frequently described as “gifted”, “sensitive” and “shy”.

“Often musical, artistic”

I would love to be able to create music, or even art, but while I have the creativity and imagination to want to create things, I lack the artistic talent, so I don’t think this one really applies to me.

“May have a savant skill or strong talent(s)”

None that I’ve ever found, unless being a walking encyclopaedia is a talent. I sort of lost the skill a bit during university. My breadth of reading was replaced by a depth of study in my chosen topic. I was interested in the subject matter, but found it hard to memorise, as I approach computer science from a creative perspective more than a technical one.

“May have a strong interest in computers, games, science, graphic design, inventing, things of a technological and visual nature. More verbal thinkers may gravitate to writing, languages, cultural studies, psychology”

I love MMORPGs, I used to play Rubies of Eventide, somewhat obsessively, until it was shut down. I liked cataloguing the item information, and had my own spoiler website. Making that website got me interested in computer science, but only as a tool for inventing things. I did a lot of writing, most of which was destroyed when I subsequently re-discovered it and decided it wasn’t good enough.

“May have been a self-taught reader, been hyperlexic as a child, and will possess a wide variety of other self-taught skills as well.”

I’m not sure about being a self-taught reader, but I’m told I picked up a lot of words very quickly. I’m pretty much self-taught in computer science, as the university approach of chalk-and-talk went in one ear and out of the other. I just stuck around to get the degree certification. I’d have been better off in work experience, I think. I’m self-taught in sewing and crochet (though I’m hardly a master seamstress), and I’m something of a Jill-of-all-trades. I’ll read a tutorial and give it a try for practically anything I feel the need to do.

“May be highly educated but will have had to struggle with social aspects of college. May have one or many partial degrees”

BSc computer science. I had a lot on my plate during university, I was undiagnosed and oblivious that I was autistic for much of the time, and suffered from depression, social anxiety and the pressures of balancing my sensory problems against the odd requirement the lecturers had that I attend lectures, despite the fact that all the notes were published online and I don’t learn well from being talked at. I don’t think I actually engaged with the “social aspects” of university life, beyond teaming up with other oddballs. One example is a guy I met on the first day and identified as “like me” in that he didn’t fit neatly into the “normal” box. We got to know each other and supported each other. I’d provide caffeine and food, and he’d let me crash in his room on campus during the day between lectures. There weren’t enough spoons to manage a whole day on campus.

“Can be very passionate about a course of study or job, and then change direction or go completely cold on it very quickly”

I tend to hold onto anything that I’ve developed a real passion for. I might become less energetic or enthusiastic about it when I have limited spoons, and other concerns might pop up that require me to re-evaluate how I spend my energy. Anything that really matters to me, though, like computer science as a tool to invent things, doesn’t stop mattering. I work on my own projects in computer science less since I started working in the field. I attribute this to a lack of spoons in that particular drawer.

“Will often have trouble holding onto a job and may find employment daunting”

Doing OK so far *touch wood*. I was quite lucky to have acquaintances in the field already who pointed me in the right direction. I did find the world of work, and the uni-work transition quite daunting, though.

“Highly intelligent, yet sometimes can be slow to comprehend due to sensory and cognitive processing issues”

Urgh, intelligence. There are lots of different ways to be intelligent, and I’m not so sure that what I have is “highly intelligent”. I score a little above average on IQ tests, but I don’t really feel that they’re much more than an indication of aptitude in passing IQ tests. I am slow to comprehend some things. Sometimes words just sound like random noises, or like they’re in a foreign language. I quit learning to drive because I struggle to process things fast enough to feel that I’m a safe driver. I can’t always make sense of what my senses are telling me, so I can be slow to respond to things, or respond inappropriately if I feel like I have to make a quick response.

“Will not do well with verbal instruction – needs to write down or draw diagram”

All the time. My desk is covered with bits of paper where I’ve had to write down tips and tricks colleagues have shown me, or diagram out how I think something should work. It’s the same reason why university wasn’t great for me. While high school had been mostly about reading from a textbook, participating in discussions and putting together information from written sources, university was almost exclusively taught by projecting code at a screen and talking through it very quickly. This is almost definitely not the most material-appropriate way to teach people to *do* something like programming. I can understand this approach a little better when used for theoretical aspects like Software Engineering’s descriptions of design patterns, but for learning how to use a programming language or how to do maths, listening to someone read slides out to you is not going to help.

“Obsessions (passions / special interests) are not necessarily unusual”

I have some unusual ones. I like Live Action Role Play (LARP), during which I dress up as a fantasy character and hit other fantasy characters with weapons made of foam, and occasionally do some roleplay too. I like computer science, though inventing things in software is becoming a more mainstream interest. I like sewing, mostly as a way to cheaply manufacture costume for my LARP characters, and crochet (it’s like being able to 3D print, but in yarn!). I’ve taken lessons in yarn spinning, and would love to learn a great many more random skills. I have some pretty unique spiritual interests, they’re over on Painted Hide.

Up next: Emotional and Physical

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