People with Aspergers, in my opinion, often have high verbal fluency and are able to think of many things about one given letter, topic, subject, item, etc.
Here is one example of my ability to think of many things based on one letter:
link to Dirty D’s Don’t you Weep (prior post)
I think that people with Aspergers have a high-intelligence that can be demonstrated by their ability to scaffold off of one given idea. Sometimes this processing ability adds to stress and misunderstandings, and the appearance of ADHD like behaviors.
As a person with Aspergers, my own high-verbal fluency can cause high anxiety. A simple action, like my husband showing me tile for a potential bathroom remodel, can trigger a reaction in my mind in which I am jumping from one image to another. In the case of the tile for the bathroom, the tile itself is an object trigger, triggering a series of sequenced events in my mind.
On seeing the tile, my thought process went like this:
We could make cosmetic improvements to our home’s bathroom, but we don’t own the house. If we improve the house, should we buy the house? If we don’t buy where will we live? Should we sell our other house? What should we ask for selling price? What if the house doesn’t sell? Well what is a fair price? Maybe we should continue to rent out the house. That makes sense. But what about….
All of these thoughts bombard me. Wherein my high verbal fluency can lead to fantastic writings and the successful completion of projects, the same fluency can cripple me emotionally. As a result of a number of triggers, I can find myself unable to be constructive for hours or even an entire day. Certain triggers can leave me immobile for most of a week. I get lost in the loop of my own thinking.
In the future, the tile could again trigger these same emotional responses in me, and therefor the tile could feasibly remain a trigger for an extended period of time.
Here is an activity that demonstrates the concept of verbal fluency.
This was a quick activity I did this morning. If you wish to partake in an easy four-minute activity, then read the first section “Preparation” and then stop before continuing onward.
Preparation: Without scanning down further to read, find a piece of paper, a pen, and a stopwatch. When you are ready to begin the activity, scan down and read the directions. (You can type a list instead of writing.)
Don’t read past this until your list is done.
1. Set a timer to four minutes.
2. Write a list of anything you can think of that you can do with a pencil.
3. Stop after four minutes.
Read below when done with your list.
My husband’s list (written)
Lever to lift
Stab with it
Stand it on end
Spear things with it
Build something with it
Paint the pencil or draw on pencil
Drumstick for music
Lift things with it
My list (typed)
Miniature sword for a mouse or small creature
Stabbing utensil for defense of intruder
A rolling device to place on table for a contest
A stick to poke bugs with outdoors
A shovel to pull up weeds
A massage roller for the arm or back
A way to make a fake mustache..hold up to face.
A tiny baton
Break it up to use as a pawn in chess game
Place on paper and use as a spinner
Use for spin the bottle on flat surface
Poke holes in something (or finger)
Break off lead and use the lead to draw and smudge on paper
Use to connect yarn and make a toy like sling shot
Bang on a drum or other object
Flag holder (use tape)
To keep a door from closing all the way (may need heavier object)
Take hair out of bathtub ring
Fidget between fingers when nervous
Write with (of course)
Play fetch with dog
Keep a plant held up in garden
Poke to see how dry the dirt in a plant pot is
Place under bedsheet to bug/irritate someone
Dress up in clothes and make a doll (add yarn)
Sketch, trace, smudge
Throw it away
Look at it
Dig into garbage disposal
My husband is a ‘neuro-typical.’ Also known as an NT. He is considered mainstream and typical when compared to a person who has a neurological syndrome such as Aspergers. I have Aspergers. When examining the two lists some interesting things come to mind. Of course I am a female and Bob is a male. So this aspect of gender also affects the results.
1. I saw what I would do with the pencil in full imagery and thusly often included exactly what the pencil would be used for. I added specifics. I didn’t just write ‘sword.’ I wrote “a miniature sword for a small mouse or creature.” Bob wrote a simple answer without specifics. It didn’t cross his mind to do it any other way. He thought he got the point of the question and answered accurately.
2. I paid attention to detail because in the back of my mind I didn’t want to confuse anyone that might read my list. Bob didn’t consider what other people would think at all.
3. I didn’t list logical things such as ‘write’ until the creative aspects were thought of. My mind immediately went to creativity. Bob’s mind immediately went to logical.
4. The question read what I “can do” with a pencil. In my mind I interpreted that question as actions and saw people or animals doing the action. In my mind someone or something always was attached to the pencil. In Bob’s mind it was only the pencil. He saw the pencil doing it in isolation.
5. I was actively involved emotionally with each thing I thought of, simultaneously evaluating if I’d like that action, how useful it was, and if it was truly feasible. I included minor details such as tape, flat surface, etc. to guide another or in essence to ‘prove’ it was feasible. Bob just thought about a pencil.
6. I knew in the back of my mind if I wrote short answers I could write a longer list but I had to add detail, even though I knew my list would be shorter. Bob didn’t even consider detail.
7. I saw the pencil naturally being used in my mind. Images popped up and I wrote what I saw. I used my environment to help me. If I saw I plant where I was sitting I could connect an idea. Bob didn’t look around his environment. He said he used ‘mental effort’ to come up with his answers.
8. I worried about my list. I questioned if all the ideas were valid. I questioned whether the one thing I started writing before the timer started counted. I worried about the time. I watched the clock. As the time ticked I evaluated in my mind how much time was left and the average number I was writing. I was distracted by the time and numbers. I thought about my typing speed and the typing speed verses writing speed. Bob worried about the amount of time left a little bit.
9. I pictured and evaluated each thing after I wrote it. As I went on to write the next thing on my list, I was still thinking about the first one. Had I used the right words, enough words, and described what I saw? For example I was concerned about the door wedge (to keep door from closing all the way) and thusly added ‘may need heavier object.’ I knew I couldn’t add more detail without taking up time, and that bothered me some. I could think of new items while still focusing on previous items at the same time. Bob just wrote his list. (He did say “that’s cool” when I read him this number nine; so there’s that.)
10. My thinking is complex. I wrote to keep a door from closing all the way (may need heavier object) and bang on drum or other object. Bob’s thinking was basic core segment from the start. He wrote wedge and drumstick.
My husband has a high verbal fluency. This is evident by the length of his list, and he was able to write without pause, until the timer stopped. He was able to think of many things. I have a high verbal fluency as well but my list was much different than my husband’s list. My list was affected by my imagination and thinking in pictures, and somewhat by my anxiety of time and worrying about what others would understand of what I wrote. Any person, NT or not NT, can have a high verbal fluency. But, as mentioned earlier, I think people with Aspergers generally will demonstrate high verbal fluency and use of imagination in their list.
Feel free to share your list and conclusions below in comment section.
Here is a study:
Verbal fluency in adults with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome