Child Genius Documentary 2013

Child Genius - Channel 4I watched Child Genius on Channel 4 last night and last week’s first episode too. I always find Genius documentaries interesting because all geniuses are autistic savants. But the word ‘Autism’ was not mentioned once throughout the documentary, because to most people, Autism is something WRONG with the brain; not something RIGHT with it.

So why is it important to mention that a child is autistic, as well as a genuis? Because many of the characteristics, such as bossiness, disruptiveness and arrogance are mistakenly thought to be either due to their genius, or because they have had a privileged life – due to their genius. But these characteristics are in fact due to high functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorders such as Aspergers Syndrome. These misconceptions are damaging to these kids, because they are resented by many people who think they are being deliberately difficult.

So the makers of the program choose to tell their own story. Incidentally there is no such thing as an impartial documentary. All documentary filmmakers make judgements about their subjects, and if you are able to read between the lines you will see their message. One of the ways these judgements are indicated, are by use of the comedy-style plink-plonk music that they always have to accompany social documentaries these days (yawn). The music is telling the audience: “Now THIS person thinks he is normal, but he’s really odd – you just watch!” Even when the audience is not consciously aware, they will pay attention when they hear this music, in anticipation of what they will learn about the person on screen.

Clearly, one of their messages in this case is that usual old chestnut; that all parents of gifted children are pushy parents. In the introduction of every episode so far, the narrator states “…but behind the child genius, there’s often a determined parent.”

The program makers want to tell us what is RIGHT with the children’s brains and what is WRONG with their parents’ brains. This is something that I think is very British. In the same narrow-minded way that Hollywood and the media want us to have a generalized view that poor people are good, and rich people are bad; so too do the British media believe that if a parent supports their gifted child and attempts to utilize their abilities as much as possible, then they must be making the child suffer in some way.

Another way the filmmakers get their point across is to show a father explaining why he has a strict routine of activities for his son, then they follow this explanation with a glum expression on his son’s face. As the father’s explanation is filmed when playing ping-pong with his son, and the son’s glum expression is filmed during a piano lesson, they have edited the two clips out of sequence to portray their particular biased opinion.

Only one parent came across as pushy, and she said “He doesn’t care if he doesn’t win… I do!” This sentence was used in isolation in the introduction, so she could even have been joking, but the filmmakers don’t want us to think that.

I believe the psychology behind this is to make the filmmakers (and therefore the viewers) feel satsfied that they are “normal”. They are compensating themselves for not being geniuses! It’s like when they do stories on lottery winners who go on to have a run of bad luck, or the marriage breakups of movie stars.

But once I got past the plink-plonk music and the promotion of pushy parents, I was able to enjoy watching the children’s quirks. The gifted children were contestants of the prestigious competition that High IQ Society MENSA held to find the most intelligent child in the UK.

For some, the competitive mindset was perfect and they loved to rise to the challenge, but for others, it produced too much anxiety. One of the most affected by nerves was 8 year old Chess Champion, Joshua Altman, and you could tell from his eyes that he had had very little sleep before his big day.

In contrast, 10 year old Hugo Goodwill was so headstrong and determined to only study for his favorite subjects, he didn’t seem to care how well he did in the competition. Although he came across as the most arrogant, he also seemed relaxed. He had a strong obsession with trains, and was not able to tolerate people less bright than him – so nearly everyone then.

His parents could certainly not be accused of being pushy, as trainspotter Hugo clearly ran that household. He had his parents wrapped around his little finger, and they seemed very lenient and unwilling to discipline him into studying harder for the competition. They did try to have a No-Laptop rule on study days, but were not able to enforce it properly. I didn’t judge them harshly though, as I could see they loved him a lot. But he did always get his own way, and that might produce a few problems for him in the real world as an adult.

Another child that caught my eye was Leo Buckley who was described as very theatrical. He made a joke to the judge about 13,000 GBP being deposited into a Swiss bank account, but it only produced awkward grimaces instead of smiles, as it seemed the wrong time to make a joke about bribery. He also got very emotional at the end when he was out of the competition, and didn’t appear to try and hide his pain. Leo loves history and has read thousands of books. His dad says he is very intense, and hungry for knowledge.

Both he and Hugo regularly got into trouble for disrupting the class. Their disruptiveness was put down to being bored because they were so clever. But it is not just that. Many people on the autistic spectrum need constant attention. They cannot just sit there quiet, even if they have extra stuff to do.

Longyin follows a strict timetable of activities set by his dad, but he seems to enjoy them all. Most of these activities involve input from his dad, so he is getting the attention and quality time he requires. He plays the piano at a very high level and is currently learning Chinese.

Shrinidhi loves literature and books. In facts she loves books a LOT. She always smells them, and obsessively loves the smell of old books. Her mother said she even licked one book she particularly liked. Now if this sensory behavior does not give you a major clue that autism is present, then nothing will.

Not only did the filmmakers fail to acknowledge that child geniuses are autistic but they managed to convince the nation that Hugo is the most annoying kid in the country. Yes, his mum did say he was in the top 5% of most irritating kids, but they isolated this quote and put it in each episode’s introduction. If you go to Twitter or a site like WhoTalking.com and type in #childgenius, you will currently see an army of sheeple tweeters who have been conned into believing Hugo is the rudest person in the world, and that his mum despises him. If either of those were true, he would be very unhappy above all, and he is certainly not unhappy.

The program has put the idea in the public’s minds that highly intelligent people are rude, when actually they have Aspergers syndrome.

To give you an idea of what Joshua has to contend with, for example, here is part of the text he has pinned on his wall, that I managed to jot down from pausing my recording of the first episode:

Joshua Altman

How My Brain and Body Work

My brain works differently
My thoughts get stuck
I feel pressure to shout or scream
Bad words come out that I don’t mean to say
I have to repeat phrases over and over
I have to do the opposite of what I’m told
I say “No!” before I say “Yes”

I spend more time worrying about what I need to do, than doing it
I especially worry about how to transition from one thing to the next
I get anxious when I don’t know exactly what to expect
I become angry or rigid when I am uncertain
I cannot understand people’s expressions or emotions
I cannot always express appropriate emotions
I cannot easily filter thru overlapping voices or instructions
I find it hard to navigate thru the day
It’s very hard to do my work…

…Playing chess helps me to be steady and redirects my brain

Notice how none of the statements refer to how bright he is. They all highlight his difficulty in making sense of the world.

Statements such as:

  • I feel pressure to shout or scream
  • Bad words come out that I don’t mean to say
  • I have to do the opposite of what I’m told

…should be a clear indication that Joshua cannot control his behavior, and that is what most people don’t understand.

In addition to this, Tourettes Syndrome is also an Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and the well-known swearing version of Tourettes is actually the least common type of the condition. Having ticks and making involuntary noises and actions is much more common. There is increasingly more evidence to suggest there might be an overlap between Aspergers Syndrome and Tourettes Syndrome.

This means the message of the program is very unfair on these kids and their parents. They already have an extremely hard time every minute of every day, and now as a result of this documentary, the nation thinks that the kids are obnoxious brats and that the parents are pushy, evil tyrants.

But hey, documentary makers have to have “an angle”, so as long as the nation is entertained, their job is done.

All four episodes of Child Genius are available at Channel 4.

 

JULY UPDATE:

Well done to all the finalists, and Congratulations to Shrinidhi Prakash who was a deserving winner.

How ironic that Andy Murray should become the first British Men’s Singles Champion in 77 years, only days after Child Genius last aired. Because he was one of the children who was believed to have a “Pushy Mum” in the 1990s. And now the whole of Britain is delighted with him, no matter how he achieved his goal.

Not only did Andy Murray love tennis as a child (it was also he who begged his mother to give him better resources; not her who forced him to do anything), but it’s nigh on impossible to force a child to do anything they don’t want to do, over a long period of time, without certain abuse.

So c’mon Britain; make your minds up.

Do you want parents to stop actively encouraging their talented kids?

Or do you want champions?

Because you can’t have it both ways.

 

logo #ChildGenius Channel 4 and Nelmes Design

 

 

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24 Responses to Child Genius Documentary 2013

  1. Rod Thompson says:

    As the father of Cameron Thompson (“Growing Pains of a Teenage Genius”), I have been involved in the media for a number of years promoting the cause of bright and gifted children. A year ago when Cameron’s documentary was screened there was a lot of praise for the fact that finally we were seeing the emotional meltdowns, the Aspergers and the social problems, the need for targets, the overthinking….I felt that we had seen a portrayal of a gifted child that broke with stereotypes and showed both the positive and negatives. Some would argue (and Im not sure I would disagree) that high intelligence (such as can be found with ASD) is a disability. When you see the world differently to other people how can it now be a disability at times?

    I was saddened by “Child Genius” which I felt reinforced the stereotypes that parents of gifted children so desperately went to get rid of. Indeed even the title sequence shows a child in a bow tie (of course all gifted children wear bow ties!) The way the programme has been put together (and the fact that ASD isn’t mentioned) results in a lot of kids (and parents) that you struggle to warm to. As a result the public when they hear “gifted child” switch off.

    Fundamentally I disagree with the definiton they apply to genius. Genius can’t be learnt. Genius is a way of seeing things that is a natural talent. Remembering playing cards, whilst impressive, isn’t “genius”. Neither is mental maths nor general knowledge. Granted it can be a sign of intelligence. Episode 2 revision for a general knowledge test just seemed odd – how to you revise “genius”? And where did we get to the premise that “genius” had to be equally skilled in memory, mathematics, spelling? Imagine Mozart on the the programme….sorry Mozart you arent a genius you couldnt remember enough playing cards!

    Many many years ago the movie “Rain Man” caused a lot of damage to the term “autism” and for years afterwards many confused “autism” with “autistic savant”. I fear that this programme could do the same thing to the term “genius”. We have seen “genius” and “ASD” being confused and behaviours that seem clearly ASD are being attributed to “genius”.

    PS… Cameron completed his Maths degree a week ago at age 15! He stayed in normal high school, did GCSE’s with his friends and next year is off to 6th form college (age appropriate). He NEEDED the maths to stimulate his mind. He needed it to be a degree (or rather needed it to be the level he felt comfortable with) because his Aspergers always needed a goal. He needed to be at a regular high school to learn social and emotional maturity. Because of the “Child Genius” programme we declined any media interviews. We just didn’t want him to be associated with the controversy over this programme.

  2. Caroline Baldry says:

    I have watched the programmes with interest as my daughter displays signs of being “gifted” but as yet untested.

    Personally I though Hugo was one of the best characters in the show. I thought that the parents were open and honest at the struggle they were having with his giftedness. being the parent of an overly bright child is difficult and confusing.

    We are judges all the time parents in the playground and people in the street if your little one decides to have a melt down.

    We are alone essentially as know our kids are different, but we cant talk to other parents to make judgments as to how different they are, as we are judge and made to feel like show offs/pushy parents.
    Therefore, the parents of the children on ‘Child Genius’ may not know that their children are on the Autistic spectrum, if indeed they are.

    Articles like this one, for me are like a double edge sword. It maybe the eye opener that some parents need to take their child to be assessed for Autism disorders. But, it may also be yet another article to make parent worry about.

    There are many articles on the internet that state “gifted” children are misdiagnose as 2e. Therefore maybe comments such as “all geniuses are autistic savants” need to be further substantiated to allow clarification to worrying parnets

    I would also like to say that we have a very difficult job to do, we need to nurture our children,ensure that they have sufficient challenge (which is different for every child and could be perceived as pushy parenting by others) and help them to be grounded and have the social skills that are key to adult life.

  3. Autastic says:

    Hi Rod,

    Thanks for your comment. And Congratulations to Cameron for getting his maths degree!

    When you say he NEEDED to do maths at higher level, you reminded me how the extra activities that Child Genius portrayed as being cruel by the parents, are actually necessary stimulation for the children. Without these routines they would be extremely bored and frustrated.

    The program judged the world by the average person’s standards; that a higher level of maths for example, would be too much hard work for the child.

    You’re right about Cameron’s documentary being much more enlightened, in showing his (and your) difficulties, as well as just the giftedness.

    I also agree with you about the questions set in the MENSA competition showed on Child Genius. With all the millions of General Knowledge facts that exist, on science, history, geography and well – everything; how can anyone possibly revise for about twelve questions. This is testing their lack of ignorance; not their intelligence!

    And yes, genius cannot be learned, as it is part of ASD. Terence, Longyin’s father, said he wished he could find the formula and make every child like his son. This made me wonder whether he knew his son was on the autistic spectrum. I suppose there is still a lot of ignorance around the subject, and like you say, stereotypical views like the ones shown in this film are only going to thwart progress in people’s awareness.

    Take care

    • Terence says:

      Dear Autastic

      I read your article by chance (from another twitter)

      I always remind my boys, ‘Many people say things for their OWN interests.’

      I also remind my boys, ‘Never Ever Jump Conclusion.’

      Because this is will blind one’s vision, unfair to oneself and others.

      If you really want to know about Longyin’s life, please visit my Blog, http://www.myboysmyboss.blogspot.com, and enjoy the following clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gbk_u_l9rgk

      Best wishes
      Terence
      Be Honest. Be fair. Be Prepared.

      • Autastic says:

        Hi Terence,

        Thanks for your comment. So sorry you were set up by the filmmakers. But you appear to laugh a lot and have a thick skin.

        Thanks for the links to your blog and the YouTube video. (Longyin has the same keyboard as me!)

        I tried to give the video a Thumbs Up, but couldn’t. I don’t blame you for having comments and ratings turned off though.

        I noticed most of the people who posted negative things on Twitter are adolescents, with hardly any life experience or perception of human psychology. Also, people on Twitter also tend to tweet comments as soon as any silly idea pops into their head (often from their smartphone). So three minutes later, they could quite well have changed their mind!

        It’s very unfair that they say you are a control freak or a pushy parent. If they had any sense they would see that you love Longyin very much and just want to utilise his talents. Anyone who spends as much time with their son as you do, must adore him. They said similar ignorant comments about Joshua’s mother too, for getting him a private chess tutor – but he LOVES chess! How is that cruel?

        The program makers and most of the public think it’s ok to be a slacker as a child, then live the rest of their life in a haphazard way; never amounting to anything; just following the crowd of “sheeple” and underachievers.

        If Longyin was overworked he would be unhappy, and it’s very clear he is not unhappy.

        It is also nice that many people have warmed to Longyin as well though.

        Best wishes for the future

  4. Autastic says:

    Hi Caroline,

    Thanks for your comment. But the fact that you say it is worrying to be told that your child might be on the autistic spectrum, means autism’s stigma is alive and well, and you have been conned into believing it is a negative thing. ASD is as positive or as negative as you want to make it.

    How do you know the reports of “misdiagnosis” are true? Anyone these days who hears the words ‘Apsergers’, ‘Autistic’, ‘Bi-polar’ and ‘ADHD’ too often for their liking, will claim that healthcare professionals are too quick to diagnose these conditions. They don’t over-diagnose; they UNDER-diagnose. That is the whole point of this site.

    Many parents are aware that their gifted child is on the autistic spectrum. But clearly not enough are aware. If you saw the documentary Rod refers to, about his son Cameron, “Growing Pains of a Teenage Genius”, a Cambridge professor states that all gifted people either have Apsergers Syndrome or are on the the autistic spectrum, (although he was referring to maths ‘geniuses’ in particular as he is a maths tutor). Does your daughter share any of the characteristics with those in the Young, Autistic and Stagestruck video on the home page? Or any of the Symptoms on this site?

    Don’t be scared – It is not a bad thing! It must surely be a lot more difficult to not know why a child is different to other kids, socially, than to know that ASD is the cause?

    And at least here in the UK, you don’t have to remortgage your house to get a diagnosis, like you do in The States.

    Don’t feel alone as a parent. There are plenty of parenting forums online and most have a Gifted Child section where you can talk to other parents going through the same as you.

    Best Wishes

  5. J says:

    It’s dangerous to make “informal diagnoses”, particularly as a non-doctor. But from my experience with high-functioning autists, and non-autists, I would be very reluctant to classify Hugo as autistic. I immediately read into his antics a general personality type and tongue-in-cheek, deadpan humour that is instantly recognisable amongst engineers and the like. Yes, he is extroverted and cocky, but I think that is due to his inexperience, and something that will almost certainly be tempered as he learns more and realises how much he doesn’t know. From the Child Genius show, and from other clips such as this one: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01b6h32 there are just things Hugo says with a degree of sincerity: about how he enjoys meeting the other children, how he disparages swatiness, how he likes to be at least somewhat normal, that just don’t square with my experience of children, or young people generally, who I have known to be autistic.

    • Autastic says:

      Thank you for your comment “J”

      Why did you leave a fake email address?

      There’s a huge difference between a regular autistic person and a very high functioning, exeptionally gifted child with ASD.

      Not only does Hugo have High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder, but all the kids on Child Genius do. Autism is what causes both social disorders and high intelligence. High Functioning autism is very hard for most people to detect, even “doctors”, but most parents of these kids have done their research and know that they are on the AS.

      Also just because some of his charactaeristics are not consistent with ASD doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it. You don’t have to have them all! Most people think a lack of perception is one of the biggest signs of Aspergers, but I can read people very well, yet I still have Aspergers. I can also spell well, yet I still have dyslexia. There are still too many characteristics that Hugo has, for him not to be on the autistic spectrum.

      His cockiness is not only due to inexperience. It is also due to being emotionally immature, and unable to recognise that his words and actions are inappropriate. He also cannot empathise with others, which is part of the autistic spectrum.

      In addtition Hugo has severe obsessions with planes and trains.
      He only does what he wants to do, and refuses to do anything he doesn’t want to do.
      He’s unable to suffer fools gladly
      He’s blunt and attracts unwanted attention
      He takes phrases literally
      (did you see how he questioned the intelligence of the crew when they asked “what do you mean?” He thought they did not know the meaning of a word, but they just wanted him to elaborate).
      He’s such an alarmingly lateral thinker, he can get out of trouble simply by making his parents laugh (out of shock)
      He’s unable to admit he’s wrong
      He has a huge lack of social skills
      He’s not afraid of rocking the boat
      Unable to see other people’s perspective – (classic Aspergers Syndrome)
      He has ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome – (like Prince Philip)
      He’s extremely inflexible

      = textbook ASD.

      I also believe both his parents (and most of the parents on Child Genius) were on the Autistic Spectrum themsleves, although obviously not as much as Hugo.

      Also look at Rod’s comment. His son Cameron is a gifted child, and I wrote about his documentary Here.

      You say:
      “I immediately read into his antics a general personality type and tongue-in-cheek, deadpan humour that is instantly recognisable amongst engineers and the like”
      - Most people drawn to engineering are on the autistic spectrum. Have a look at the Symptoms page.

      How dangerous exactly is it to say he has ASD? It’s not as dangerous as letting 95% of viewers of the show believe he is a rude, evil child, who needs a punch. Because that’s what most people are saying on social networking sites (but they’re not phrasing it quite so nicely). They need to know he can’t help the way he is.

      Also look at the home page for a broader section of people who potentially have ASD. They inlcude all your favourite people.

      Take care

  6. J says:

    Apologies for the fake email; I simply wish to remain anonymous.

    I think it is very dangerous to say so confidently that “all the kids” on the show, and even most of their parents, have ASD. I may have misunderstood you, but you seem to believe that being highly intelligent requires autism, which is simply not the case. I do note that you seem to use a definition of autism which, at least to my limited understanding, is much wider than that used by medical science.

    As for Hugo, in my view he lacks any of the fundamental characteristics required for ASD. That is, I think he demonstrates social awareness, has no difficulty with communication, does not display the sort of anxiety I would associate with autism, and his style of learning is very much of the imaginative, creative type than the collection and organisation type. (His obsession with trains and planes is, I think, quite incidental; even “creative” types also enjoy learning facts and figures as a prerequisite to being knowledgeable about their subject). You may find these claims surprising. The trouble is, in my experience, the cocksure attitude is very common amongst scientists, engineers and mathematicians, not because they are autistic, but because they practise subjects in which certainty and correctness are seen to be paramount. It is very common for youngsters interested in these subjects to want to project an outward appearance of having crystal clear, logical minds, not because they are autistic, but because they think it demonstrates aptitude for their subjects. Furthermore, it is very common for youngsters to want to impress adults with their knowledge and ability. This is what I see in Hugo.

    A few points on which I disagree with you: I did not see Hugo’s misinterpretation of “what do you mean” as an indication that he takes things literally. Firstly, the words were not used metaphorically; the two possible interpretations were both literal. I saw this as more of an example of a slight arrogance; he assumed that because he used a “difficult” word, the interviewer must not have been familiar with it. As for “Unable to see other people’s perspective – (classic Aspergers Syndrome)” and “He has ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome – (like Prince Philip)”, I cannot recall any evidence of either. Indeed, as to the former I found much evidence to the contrary. For example, where Hugo is asked if he is a genius, he hesitates and apologises before answering in the affirmative. Another example is the very final clip of Hugo, where he says “yeah, fuck off, scripps”, then notices the camera and clearly immediately feels very guilty and hides his face in shame, which I find very telling as to how he actually feels.

    Overall, I must confess, my opinion is very much of the “I know it when I see it” type, rather than of the formal diagnosis type. Perhaps you are right; perhaps Hugo is ASD, or at least mildly so. But for me, he falls into an entirely different category.

    • Auga says:

      I agree, I wouldn’t be too quick to diagnose Hugo.

      But just to note that if you read Hugo’s twitter (assuming it is genuine), he displays an incredible lack of empathy and says some really insulting, and sometimes inappropriately sexual comments. I don’t see any sign that he can see things from other people’s point of view. But that again might be down to his age and just being arrogant, and well, a little asshole.

      https://twitter.com/HugoChildGenius

      • Autastic says:

        Thank you. You say Don’t be too quick to diagnose Hugo, but then you list traits of Aspergers! Your 2nd paragraph contradicts your first!

        No I don’t think the twitter link is really him, as it stopped tweeting in July. I doubt Hugo has nothing to say!

  7. Donna Mawbey says:

    As a parent of two children with autism I’d agree that a fair few of the children shown are on the spectrum (not sure I’d plonk Oscar, Catherine and Longyin on there though).
    I don’t really think it was a showcase for genius though more a showcase for memory and mental arithmetic. My own ASD daughter found the questions pretty easy and she is no genius she just has an exceptional memory and a firm grasp of arithmetic most likely down to the autism.
    I don’t doubt there was clever editing involved and feel quite sad that Hugo was shown to be a brat but then again his Father’s reaction to his exit does make you wonder whether in fact he doesn’t have anyone putting in the boundaries that any child needs and even more so a child on the spectrum.
    I know with my own ASD children teaching them the academics has been far easier than giving them the insight as to how others might perceive them and teaching them how to adjust their behaviour so that they are more socially acceptable.

    • Autastic says:

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, a few people on various forums have said they didn’t think the competition was just for “geniuses”. If you go to Channel 4′s site they have the same type of questions available to do online. I had a go, and was good at the shape puzzles, and I got an average of 6 out of 10 over all, and I’m certainly no genius.

      Regarding Hugo, I was laughing while saying “Oooh!” at the same time when Hugo’s Dad told him “They can all F*** off” because I knew he would be slaughtered online and accused of bad parenting. But I could also see that he and his wife were just trying to console Hugo for being knocked out, and they do both have quite dark humour. But despite his lack of perception and empathy in some areas, Hugo has behaved well and displayed impeccable manners while on various TV shows to promote the documentary!

      Maybe if his parents can guide him along the academic path to realising his dream of designing his own aircraft, he will be able to comply without much resistance. But he, like me as a child, is not very good at sticking with things he’s not that interested in, so it could be a tough journey, as part of it will require tasks that seem mundane to him.

      Best wishes to you and your children

  8. Donna Mawbey says:

    Hey I got ten out of ten on all those sections and I’m definitely not a genius :p some days it feels like an achievement to have got through the day ;)
    I’m not sure why anyone would sign up their child for either the competition or the programme tbh I don’t think it was an assessment of genius ability and the parents on the whole came out looking badly.
    I don’t really like programmes that portray children with ASD as rude and badly behaved as well as highly intelligent as a matter of course because I think it perpetuates the Rainman myth when true savants are incredibly rare.
    I’d prefer documentaries that focused more on what life is like for families of children with Autism, show parents surviving on no sleep, show the frustration and sadness they feel, the battles just to get an education, the lack of support from health and social services.
    Show the child’s sadness when they are excluded from friendships and parties, the abuse from Joe Public because they stim, the discrimination that is rife because hidden disablities are yet to get the recognition they deserve. Show how despite their incredible gifts most people with autism never gain employment and how parents are caring until their deaths because of a lack of supported living spaces.
    Anyway off my soapbox now but wanted t say your blog is very interesting and so have bookmarked it.

    • Autastic says:

      Hi Donna,

      Well done for getting 10 out of 10!

      I have found a huge difference in what is statistically considered to be high intelligence.

      Previously people were considered a genius if they had an IQ of 170 or over, but now I’m finding sources that say over 140, and even 130. Well I’m 135, so in some circles even I’m a genius! Sadly my ADHD and abysmal short-term memory take care of any illusions I may have about being clever.

      Cameron Thompson’s documentary “Growing Pains of a Teenage Genius” did a good job of showing the challenges that he and his parents went through. But of course that was about a maths genius. They rarely do helpful documentaries about regular ASD kids. They’re much more likely to stick them on a stage and call it “Young, Autistic and Stagestruck” (see Home page), even though half the participants didn’t want to be on stage!

      Glad you found this site useful. The fact that ASD is invisible is the key problem. If others could see a deformity or physical disability, they would always be reminded that the child has the condition, but even if you tell them your child has ASD, and they say they understand, they will still be alarmed when the child behaves “oddly” because most of the time, they probably present really well, and this inconsistency in behaviour is confusing to most people. They find it a threat, and once that happens, they are scared because they don’t know what to expect in future. So they just want to avoid that feeling.

      Maybe you could start a blog to tell of your journey with your ASD children, or join some online forums where other parents can give you support.

      Good luck

  9. Mandy says:

    Couldn’t have put it any better Donna, I am the parent of an autistic child, but he is not at the high functioning end of the spectrum. Things have got slightly easier now he is older and can communicate with us. But I fear for his future as there is just no support available. Programmes such as this feed all the myths around ASD, I know it hasn’t been mentioned in the programme, but alot of the social media comments reflect just how badly misunderstood this condition is and this makes the outside world a very difficult place for people with this condition to be in. What is needed is more understanding of this highly complex and disabling condition. Rainman has a lot to answer for and so will this programme.

  10. Chia says:

    I find it quite bizarre that you believe that they are all on the autistic spectrum – I would say maybe 2 or 3 out of the 21 were.

    The chess player I totally agree with and some others (not Hugo) I’d say could be but you’re the one making the assumption that they are and it just wasn’t mentioned.

    As a teacher I’ve taught a lot of gifted children and a lot of children with ASD – the two cross over less than you think. In my current class I have 3 children with ASD – one is good at writing but just below average at maths. The other not good at writing but fairly strong in maths and the last is poor in both.

    My gifted children do not have ASD and one child (who is actually 9 but is with 11 year olds) is just gifted.

    So to make the assumption that your just not being told is a bit hasty. From experience: gifted children can be a bit quirky – it doesn’t mean that they are on the autistic spectrum.

    • Autastic says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      Guess you haven’t seen the rest of this site then.

      A “teacher” that doesn’t know your from you’re. Interesting.

  11. Jessica P. says:

    I have to admit that I agree with you on practically every level, as this programme enfuriated me just like several others. It’s for two reasons mainly; not only the fact that it causes high misconceptions of the Autistic society, but also because of how innacurate the genius is measured overall.

    I am a 13-year-old with Asperger’s syndrome, and it’s because of the media that I find it harder to achieve and impress. In schools, ‘intelligence’ is practically measured through end-of-topic tests, which really measure how much knowledge you can cram into your head the night before. However, this means that potentially gifted students aren’t being recognised, especially those on the autistic spectrum. For most of the time, a child obtains gifted status only because of test results and performance.

    I find that the methods MENSA use to find their child genius have some sort of reflection on what was mentioned above. Obviously, this makes it very inaccurate and unfair.

    Diverging a bit, the term genius in the dictionary states something along the lines of: “Someone that is exceptional in a particular field”. Totally untrue of course; I have a vast expanse of knowledge for general relativity and the sci-fi franchise ‘Red Dwarf’, but does that make me a genius? No, unfortunately not.

    Sorry for the essay of a comment, I won’t go on too much more now. Although I have to disagree with you on one basis. You seem to make it clear that all geniuses are on the spectrum. This is not true, as I know of many neurotypical intellectuals that walk amongst us. Indeed, I’d think that only a few in the CG competition have Asperger’s as well. Whilst I have great difficulty understanding other people, I can instantly recognize an Aspie when I see one.

    Before I finish off, I recall you saying in a previous comment that you have Dyslexia but can spell perfectly fine? Is it, then, that you have comprehension difficulties instead? Because wouldn’t that be Hyperlexia? Just wondering!

    • Autastic says:

      Hi, thanks Jessica for your comment,

      When I say all the kids on the program are on the autistic spectrum, I am coming from the persective that this site is all about the possibility that many human faults and a lot of human creativity and excellence could be caused by the autistic spectrum (the Home page is also the About page). Also if everybody on the autistic spectrum is different, then what’s to stop some people being on the spectrum only a bit?! It’s those people that I am trying to make people aware of. Not just the people who are obviously on the spectrum.

      So while people are upset with me for saying all geniuses are autistic savants, the same people would probably be a lot more upset if they knew that I believe that possibly more than half of everyone is on the spectrum!

      I understand what you’re saying about Dyslexia, and it is often thought of as mostly being a spelling disorder, but poor spelling is just one symptom. Dyslexia also involves poor eye tracking and poor short-term memory more than anything else. So we read words in the wrong order. The way I differ to most people with dyslexia is that I still do have the ability to recognise a word by its “shape” without reading every single letter. This is how I can spell relatively well, because I can see at a glance if it looks wrong (in most cases). Many dyslexic folks do not have this ability. I wrote more about Dyslexia here.

      take care

  12. Alex says:

    I was in school with a guy who was so annoying and he only had one friend but he was very clever an always got top grades. Some people said he was a genius, I think he could ‘ve been a genius and he could ‘ve had autism, but if he did I don’t think anyone knew. He didnt use to brag about grades or anything, he was annoying cause of his obsessions and told lots of boring useless facts on technology and the military.

  13. Shen says:

    it is shame I cant watch this in my country

  14. zolene says:

    I have very limited knowledge about autism and these are just some questions that confused me while I was reading your article

    Is it possible that maybe there’s really no person who is deliberately arrogant and rude, but actually they all are autistic to some extent, do you think?
    And could it be that bossiness, disruptiveness and arrogance, are all characteristics accrued to disorders, and nothing to do with personality?

    If that is so, then what is personality?

    If it isn’t, why are you so certain that these traits are in fact due to autism?
    and wouldn’t saying that all genius are autistic then be like giving them an excuse to be as rude and disruptive as they want?

  15. Autastic says:

    I think it’s a possibility that all behavioral “faults” could be due to ASD. But here’s the irony: even if that’s true, it must be meant to happen, because the same people who have those faults are usually the mavericks who make great changes in society – geniuses or not. So (if that theory is true) without high functioning ASD no progress would ever be made.

    Would this give all bad behavior an excuse? Yes and No. In a way the subject can’t help themselves because their brain works differently. But the more behavorial coaching the subject receives, the more aware they become of other people’s perspectives. Temple Grandin says she is glad she was disciplined by her mother, and made to socialize because it improved her behavior and perception. She says she has become “less autistic” as she has got older. Even from her 40s to her 50s, you can see and hear in her presentations how she seems more at ease and less rigid. By socializing and watching others it is possible to learn more about what is acceptable behavior. In that regard, the better behaved the person becomes, the fewer excuses they have.

    Behavioral coaching includes discipline, but there’s a fine line between effective and ineffective discipline. The carrot rather than stick approach is best with all kids, but using the stick approach with autistic kids is like setting a time bomb. The only way to get through to them, even the high functioning ones, is to get invloved in what they are interested in, and using that to tailor-make a rewards scheme. Also full explanations as to WHY certain behavior is wrong will yeild better results. Full explanations always yield good results, because the explainer has taken the time to communicate without talking down to the listener. It’s about mutual respect.

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