Sunday, September 23, 2007

Take a Guess

Check out these descriptions of several individuals. Who would you guess they are? Are they well adjusted neurotypicals? Are they perhaps some quirky persons pretending to be "Aspies" for some nefarious reason? (The bastards!) Are they autistics who emerged thanks to early and intensive behavioral intervention?

The answer will be posted later in the comments section.

  1. At 12 years of age, he was at the top of his class in the sixth grade... Thomas' marks were excellent. He spent one term each in the school's athletic association, art club, and newspaper, and helped the librarian after school. He also took on a central part in a demonstration during a folk dance. Teachers liked him because of his good academic performance... Thomas owns a house which he bought several years ago, drives his own car, and plays the piano and tape recorder when at home....

  2. Sally had the ambition to go to college but added: "I may be hitching my wagon to a star." ... She expressed concern about her brother who was expelled from school because of drinking and misconduct and had a job at a gasoline station. Sally called him "a strong victim of adolescence — he needs real psychiatric help." ... After finishing high school, Sally was successfully enrolled in a woman's college, graduating with a B average...

  3. For the last few years, he has been working at a government agricultural research station in a "blue collar capacity." Edward does not like this too well preferring to associate with "educated people." He has his own apartment and entertains himself with his Hi-fi set. He has bought a car with money that he has saved. He enjoys an active social life, belonging to hiking clubs and he has led hikes. His knowledge of plants and wild life brings him respect. He has begun to date girls. He comes home on weekends when he has time, and he is very welcome.

  4. Clarence graduated from high school in June, [year], with excellent marks and superior achievement test scores. After spending the summer with his parents, he was admitted to a college in Illinois, where he received his B.A. degree in [year]. While there, he "socialized" with a girl for a while. Going then to a college in Massachusetts on a scholarship, he felt isolated, and went home to write his thesis. After obtaining his Master's Degree in economics, he studied accounting at his home state university. Clarence got a job with the state planning office and promptly decided to study planning; he did everything required for another Master's Degree except for the thesis... Although he dated a girl, she "broke off" after about nine months. Clarence feels that he ought to get married but that he "can't waste money on a girl who isn't serious." He likes driving a car and, as a hobby, collects time tables to maintain his interest in trains.

  5. On June 29, [year], at 19 years of age, he entered the armed services. Upon completion of basic training, he was assigned to one of the intelligence services, received a top security clearance, took courses until December 6, [year] (the nature of which he could not disclose because they were of a "highly confidential nature"), and received an honorable discharge on January 18, [year]. Then follows a list of various jobs held in California and later in Pennsylvania, (six altogether) mostly as a "general office worker"; at present he is "chief inventory controller in a Motion Picture Laboratory" where he has received "several healthy pay increases." After drifting around, he feels that "perhaps at last, I have found a place worthy of my talent for settling down in." All six jobs were described in great detail, giving dates, description of responsibilities, names and telephone numbers of supervisors, and reasons for leaving the jobs. Generally speaking, "I have never been dismissed from any place of employment because of any working habits or lack of working habits." ... "I am in excellent health with no history of any severe illnesses or injuries. I have an automobile and a permanent residence. I am also draft exempt and have no criminal record of any kind."

  6. George's mother took him out of school when he was in the eleventh grade so that he could concentrate on music. He had played violin in a number of youth orchestras and took courses at a prominent Conservatory. Concerned about not getting a high school diploma, George has, in recent years, spent much of his time subscribing to correspondence courses. He is especially interested in languages, having learned Spanish in school, teaching himself French, and having "a working knowledge" of Italian. At present George is employed as a page in a library and is also in charge of mailing books (mostly to foreign countries).

  7. Since June [year], he has worked at a small restaurant as a dishwasher and bus boy... He seems to enjoy his work, has pleased his employers, and has never missed a day. He is a handsome young man, takes complete care of himself and of his room, and is neat and clean at all times. There are no behavior problems. He helps with the housework and takes care of the yard, including complete care of the power mower.

  8. He hates clothes, drives a car, does best if not pressured and helped his father in the drug store... His chief interest is the streetcar museum. He is a member of a club that goes there on Sundays, laying track, painting cars, etc. They take trips. He used to like history, is up on world politics, and reads the newspapers.

  9. When tested at 16 years, he was found to have a full scale WISC IQ of 118 (verbal 126 and performance 104). His arithmetic score was at the ceiling with quick answers on the tests, and comprehension, similarities and rote memory were rated as being of high average... At 23 years of age, Fred is doing well at a university where he has a B plus average and is gifted in mathematics. He has adjusted well in college life and his schoolmates respect his academic prowess... Fred drives a car skillfully, with full knowledge of all the parts, and in his spare time has done some composing and built a telescope.

  10. Since receiving his A.B. degree in [year], he has worked in the local bank as a teller. He is satisfied to remain a teller, having no real desire for promotion. He meets the public there real well. His chief hobby is golf, playing four or five times a week at the local country club. While he is no pro, he has six trophies won in local competition. . . . Other interests are Kiwanis Club (served as president one term), Jaycees, Investment Club, Secretary of Presbyterian Sunday School. He is dependable, accurate, shows originality in editing the Jaycee program information, is even-tempered but has a mind of his own.... He owns his second car, likes his independence. His room includes his own TV, record player, and many books. In College his major was French and he showed a particular aptitude for languages. Don is a fair bridge player but never initiates a game.

  11. Since November 25, [year], he has been working in the office of the National Air Pollution Administration (HEW) every day, and all day." A letter from the Acting Director, dated April 29, [year], says, "Creighton is an outstanding employee by any standard. Outstanding to me means dependability, reliability, thoroughness, and thoughtfulness toward fellow workers. In each case Creighton is notable."


  1. Superfund sites in human form? Soulless automatons? Threats to the very fabric of American society?

  2. Space aliens who have managed to pass as humans?

  3. You left out one who "was doing exceptionally well in college" and another "who excelled in mathematical physics on a scholarship at Columbia University," who are mentioned in the same paper.

  4. Well I know that number 10 was one of the original children diagnosed by Leo Kanner (though obviously at the time of this writing he's now an adult), but I can't ermember who.

  5. Donald, that's who.


    Good guesses everyone. Bullet was close, and Michelle has obviously read the paper.

    These are autistics, of course; truly classical ones in a Kannerian sense. Their case histories can be found in Kanner (1972). Two are from Kanner (1971).

    They lived before the notion of autism interventions was conceived.

    They were not "mild" as children, but one characteristic they did have is some expressive language by age 5. Another characteristic Kanner noted is that they spent effort to fit themselves in their middle to late teens.

    The only environmental factor Kanner was able to determine as critical was complete lack of institutionalization. He notes that some autistics did not have this outcome even if they were not institutionalized, though. But after reading his 1971 follow-up, it's clear that the only autistics whose functioning deteriorated were those who were institutionalized for most of their lives.

    So when someone claims that developmental progress is evidence that some treatment is "working", you can be sure that's (forgive my French) a crock of shit. It's only evidence that the child has not been placed in an institution.

    As Michelle notes, there were two more not mentioned: "the gifted student of mathematics killed accidentally and the young man whom we have so far lost track after 1962 when he was in college."