Week 10
Autistic Savant and Ideas of Reference
The movie Rain Man brought to the public's attention a psychological disorder called the autistic savant. This used to be called (as in your packet) the idiot savant. The basis of this disorder lies in autism, a disorder that becomes apparent early in childhood, typically by the age of three.

Autism is characterized by repetitive, restricted or stereotyped patterns of behavior, activities and interests. There can be a preoccupation with one type of pattern of interest and a restriction in another. The DSM-IV describes impairment in several areas. In social interaction, the individual has impairment in nonverbal communication such as eye-to-eye gazes, failure in developing peer relationships, a lack of sharing enjoyment in life with others, and a lack of social reciprocity. In communication, there is a delay in or lack of spoken language, impairment in initiating or sustaining conversations, and repetitive language. In terms of patterns of behavior, the autistic has an abnormal preoccupation in one or more restricted patterns of interest, adheres rigidly to routines or rituals, and has repetitive motor mannerisms such as finger tapping or twisting. Our first story, Johnny Bear, deals with an individual who would be diagnosed as an atypical autistic.

Our second story, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, deals with a symptom of schizophrenia. This is called ideas of reference, of the idea that everything insignificant thing the individual notices in the world around them somehow pertains to them.

Our first story deals with atypical autism. The criteria for impairments in social interaction, communication and patterns of behavior from the DSM-IV for autism are described above in paragraph two. For atypical autism, the DSM-IV explains the following criteria:
  • severe and pervasive impairment in the development of social interaction or verbal communication or nonverbal communication or patterns of interest
  • presentations do NOT meet the criteria for autistic disorder because of the age of onset or atypical symptoms

OPTIONAL: Listen to a case study that involves paranoid schizophrenia and notice, in particular, the delusions or false beliefs the individual possesses. Read through all the following instructions before proceeding to the taped case study.

We proceed on to our first reading passage.

    1. What is meant by "one skill or one talent is enormously hypertrophied and precocious?"
    2. What is Johnny Bear's unique capability?
    3. What made the author's blood pound in his ears and go flush?
    4. What did Johnny want when he finished his recitation?
    5. Why did the young men in town take dogs along with them when they went out with their girls?
    6. How was Blind Tom different from Johnny Bear?
    7. To what extent does Johnny meet the criteria of atypical autism as described in the DSM-IV (you'll need to consult the criteria for autism in the introduction as well)?

Our second story deals with ideas of reference. The following are symptoms for ideas of reference:

  • irrational belief that irrelevant or coincidental events they observe or participate in are related to them or arranged for them

There is no audio case study on ideas of reference.

We proceed on to our second reading passage:

  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge is already included in the download for Johnny Bear.
  • Answer the following questions. Title these "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge Questions" (worth 5 points each):
    1. Describe the writer's thoughts about the old woman walking and standing beside him.
    2. What did the writer feel was the significance of the pencil in the old woman's hand?
    3. According to the writer, what type of an encounter happens each day?
    4. Does the writer meet the criteria for ideas of reference? Explain why or why not.

    When you've finished paste your work into an e-mail titled "Week 10 Homework." Then e-mail your work to me at aeaptl@gmail.com.

Week 10 homework is to be completed by 3:00 pm
Monday, May 4
for full credit. It will accepted after that date for half credit.

When e-mailing your work, be sure to paste your work INTO your e-mail.
Do NOT include your work as an attachment.

Copyright ©2009 Clay Sisman