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EIGHT PROFILES OF THE ADHD & AUTISM SPECTRUM
Our goal here is to shed some light on the source of those behaviors and struggles by looking more deeply into how ASD persons perceive and process sensory information.
In the previous chapters we looked at the flow of sensory information and how our dominant neurological functions can dramatically effect our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Reactive (Sympathetic Dominant) vs.
Responsive (Parasympathetic Dominant)
Visually Dominant vs. Auditory Dominant
Logical/Thinker vs. Emotional/Feeler
Sensory-Seeker (Under-Stimulated) vs.
These four neurological functions combine to form 16 basic personalities or sensory profiles.
Of these 16, we will focus on the eight sensory profiles common to dyslexia, ADHD, and the Autism Spectrum.
These sensory profiles are NOT a diagnosis. Each Sensory Profile and each function occur as a spectrum from mildly dominant to severely dominant.
This level of dominance will have a profound effect on a person’s strengths and weaknesses—on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding THESE NEUROLOGICAL FUNCTIONS ARE NEITHER BINARY NOR EXCLUSIVE!
Even within the Autism Spectrum, the dominance of each function occurs as a SPECTRUM.
For example: one Autistic person may be Dominant Sensory-Avoider (Over-Stimulated) to the point that they go into sensory overload when the lights are too bright or if one or two people near them get excited.
Another Autistic person may be mildly Dominant Sensory-Avoider such that they can attend a concert or lecture attended by dozens of people.
The fact that these functions are not binary allows for an almost infinite variation of abilities and weaknesses within and beyond the Autism Spectrum.
The intention of looking at these eight sensory types is NOT to limit or define us, but to open a conversation to the neurological diversity within the Autism Spectrum.
Rather than close ourselves off to new possibilities, we want to emphasize that by examining our individual strengths and weaknesses, we are better equipped to maximize our natural abilities and to become more fully self-expressed human beings.
One more important point about neurological dominance. A well-documented phenomenon is that when severely stressed, angry, or anxious, many persons will often switch to one or more of our non-dominant traits.
We call this our stress-based or trauma-based personality.
This means that a person who is normally outgoing and friendly (extravert) can become withdrawn and unfriendly when anxious or stressed.
We’ll discuss stress and trauma in a later chapter.
Note that this is NOT masking or pretending. This is a genuine stress-induced personality shift.
When afraid, anxious, or stressed, most people tend to become more reactive, more distracted, more logical and dissociated from their emotions.
Note: The above graphic was added for historical reference. PDD-NOS and Sensory Processing Disorder are no longer in common use.
When afraid, anxious, or stressed, even persons who are naturally Sensory-Seekers may become Sensory-Avoiders.
Some persons who, under normal conditions, have fundamentally sound reasoning and good judgment (strong executive functioning), when afraid, anxious, or stressed, may suffer moderate to severe executive dysfunction.
Some persons may even suffer a full or partial loss of their ability to effectively process verbal information.
In addition, masking and adapting to our world can cause persons to adopt a wide variety of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are completely contrary to their neurological personality traits.
This is one more reason why getting to know our Neurological Sensory Profile is so important to understanding ourselves.
We cannot be defined by our behaviors. And we certainly should NOT be led to believe that all we are is our behaviors.
Every person, every Sensory Profile, has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses.
Given the right situation or application, every personality trait can become a strength. And in the wrong situation, even our strengths can become a weakness.
In the following chapters, we’ll outline the eight sensory profiles of the Autism Spectrum. One of those profiles is Type #7: Aspergers.
Feeling: Responsive (Parasympathetic Dominant)
Access: Visual-Spatial (Intuitive)
Excitement: Sensory-Avoider (Over-Stimulated)
Type-7, Aspergers persons share much in common with the Type-8, Autism (classic) profile, however there are key differences in their respective sensory profiles.
While Type-8, Autistic persons are Emotionally Dominant, Type-7, Aspergers persons are Logical/Thinker Dominant.
Notwithstanding this difference, both Aspergers and Autistic persons exhibit many similar behaviors.
For example, both Autistic and Aspergers persons frequently exhibit behaviors giving the appearance of a lack of empathy.
However, the underlying sensory needs driving these behaviors are completely different for Autistic and Aspergers persons.
Logically Dominant Type-7 Aspergers persons naturally evaluate sensory information logically rather than emotionally. For this reason, they frequently lack the sensory acuity which facilitates strong empathy and an emotional response.
Conversely, Type-8 Autistic persons tend to evaluate sensory information emotionally rather than logically.
As a result, we may observe very similar behaviors driven by exactly opposite sensory experience.
In general, Type-7 Aspergers persons are typically Sensory-Avoiders (Over-Stimulated), but some persons may fit the diagnostic criteria for Aspergers and be mild to moderate Sensory-Seekers n(Type-5).
Unlike Type-1 ADHD-Impulsive and Type-3 Aspergers/ADHD, Type-7 Aspergers does not typically struggle with significant lack of focus/attention.
However, Type-7 persons may hyper-focus. This hyper-focus and dissociation can appear as a lack of focus and attention.
Because Aspies are Sensory-Avoiders they may exhibit minor dissociative behaviors and may suffer sensory overload and shutdown. Unlike Type-8 Autistics, Aspies are far more likely to experience meltdowns due to issues related to failure, injustice, or sudden and unexpected changes to circumstances.
While some Type-7 behaviors may appear as impulsive, the actions taken are rarely impulsive but instead are generally thought out using an almost amoral logic and a lack of awareness of long-term consequences.
Strengths common to Type-7 persons typically include high intelligence, creativity in the engineering or sciences, and excellent pattern recognition.
Oddly enough, while Type-7 Aspergers persons are Visually Dominant, they are often aphantasic and my struggle with consciously visualizing their internal eidetic images in their mind’s eye.
While many Type-7 Aspies will struggle in a typical K-12 educational setting, with appropriate support, many Aspies go on to higher education and may become successful scientists and engineers.
Generally, speaking, Type-7 persons do not typically exhibit the same level of language development delays and/or impairment frequently seen in Type-8 Autistic persons.
One reason that Type-7 persons may not suffer the same language delays as Type-8 persons is Type-7 persons do not seem to develop the more extreme level of Visual Dominance as many Type-8 Autistic persons.
Another reason is that Type-7 Aspergers persons are Dominant Logical rather than Emotional. This may give Type-7 persons greater order and sequence with respect to processing verbal information.
For the most part, Type-7 persons are sensory avoiders and are typically shy (introvert) by nature.
This shyness may be exacerbated by a difficulty reading social cues and decoding complex or conflicting verbal and non-verbal communication.
Similar to Type-5 persons, if a Type-7, Aspergers child is not a troublemaker and his symptoms are not too severe, it is possible that a Type-7 person will slip through the cracks and go undiagnosed, sometimes until 14-16 years of age or when social struggles become more apparent.
Feel free to contact us directly for support and information on Aspergers and the Autism Spectrum.